Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Letters to Colossians and Philemon by Douglas Moo

This is the latest volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary (D. A. Carson is the general editor of the series). Douglas J. Moo, professor of New Testament at Wheaton Graduate School, has already written the commentary on James in this series, and he is also well-known for important commentaries on Romans for other publishers. As is common with most commentaries on Colossians, a section of the volume is given to dealing with Paul’s letter to Philemon.

The church in Colosse was not very significant if judged by its size, yet the fact that Paul wrote a letter to it because he was concerned about problems within it is a reminder that smaller congregations facing spiritual dangers cannot be ignored by church leaders elsewhere. As with other New Testament letters, the dangers in Colosse became a means for Paul to explain his body of doctrine of salvation, particularly aspects of his teaching about Christ, the church, cosmology, and the nature of the Christian life. Moo provides a substantial introduction in which he considers important background issues connected to the problems in Colosse, which helps users of his commentary understand the matters raised by Paul in his letter. The commentary is divided into sections and sub-sections, and the layout of the volume makes it easy to locate a particular verse. In addition, the volume includes a useful set of indexes. Throughout the commentary, Moo bases his comments on the Greek text, which is transliterated right through the main body of the text. Footnotes also provide extra information throughout the volume.

While there are occasions in the commentary when the author has to interact at a high scholarly level with other scholars, his comments throughout are given in accessible language suitable for pastors and others who wish to engage in studying these two New Testament letters. For any preachers who intend to deal with Colossians (whether as a whole or by particular passages) in their pulpit ministry, this commentary will be great help. It is up-to-date as far as developments in various aspects of New Testament study are concerned, the bibliography indicates that the author read widely as he produced his commentary, and in addition to explaining the meaning of the contents of the letter he also applies the meaning to situations facing modern readers. Needless to say, this commentary is highly recommended.

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