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Embassy of Onesimus: The Letter of Paul to Philemon (New Testament in Context) [Paperback]

By Allen Dwight Callahan (Author)
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Item description for Embassy of Onesimus: The Letter of Paul to Philemon (New Testament in Context) by Allen Dwight Callahan...

Paul's letter to Philemon is generally read as a plea to forgive and accept back a runaway slave named Onesimus. Starting with John Chrysostom in the fourth century AD, commentators have invariably maintained that the apostle was interceding on behalf of a thieving slave in flight from his rightfully angry master. But Chrysostom's interpretation had more to do with his own situation in the 300's, in a day when a serious anti-slavery movement had been challenging Roman hegemony. Chrysostom repsonded to this situation with a theological interpretation that was "humane while conservative", enjoining masters to treat their slaves fairly, slaves to obey their masters and eschew rebellion. Paul's letter to Philemon, for the first time, was interpreted as a moral commending "genteel despotism and servile obedience".

Publishers Description
Virtually all modern commentaries on Philemon agree with the interpretation from late antiquity that the letter treats the case of Onesimus, a pilfering runaway slave, who Paul is attempting to rehabilitate in the eyes of Philemon, his rightfully angry master. In this commentary, however, Allen Callahan tells another story. His reading of the rhetorical situation and reconstruction of the historical context provides a new narrative for the letter. He interpretation for which he argues is that of several nineteenth-century American abolitionist interpreters. Here, then, is not the story of a runaway slave but a story of the estrangement of two Christina brothers, Onesimus and Philemon. Professor Callahan proposes that his alternative reading of the letter offers a paradigm for Christian reconciliation that necessarily includes diplomacy, persuasion, forbearance, and reparations for injured parties. In other words, the letter speaks of the challenging implications of Christian love and the imperative of Christian justice. If there is an interpretation of great moment to be offered for this otherwise unremarkable piece of correspondence, then the treatment of these themes holds the promise of such an interpretation. Allen Dwight Callahan teaches New Testament at Harvard Divinity School.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Trinity Press International
Pages   96
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.46" Width: 5.51" Height: 0.34"
Weight:   0.36 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1997
Publisher   Trinity Press International
Series  New Testament In Context Comment  
ISBN  1563381478  
ISBN13  9781563381478  

Availability  90 units.
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More About Allen Dwight Callahan

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Allen Dwight Callahan is director of the Instituto Martin Luther King, Jr. in Salvador, Brazil.

Allen Dwight Callahan has published or released items in the following series...
  1. New Testament in Context

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > New Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Commentaries
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Concordances
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament > Study
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > New Testament
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Topical

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Books > Bible Study > Commentaries > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Embassy of Onesimus: The Letter of Paul to Philemon (New Testament in Context)?

A distorted view of this glorious epistle  Jan 15, 2000
Dr.Callahan must be commended for submitting this intriguing proposal the the world of NT scholarship. Callahan must be applauded for bringing to light the fraternal/paternal bonds that dictated the tempo of Greek society. But, contrary to Callahan's argument, Philemon and Onesimus are not blood brothers. The slave readings that he has so wilfully dismissed is erroneous. His final thesis is fueled by his rhetoric more than anything else. Most of all, he twists the recognized variant of the Greek text to lend credence to his thesis. In my view, S.S. Bartchy's recent presentations tender the best hypothesis surrounding the epistle. That is, Paul is urging a honor-encrusted master, Philemon, to embrace his honorless slave. Modern readings of this epistle is needlessly haunted by images of American slavery. Neither should Enlightenment ideas of freedom be imposed on the text. On the contrary,what is crucial to an understanding to the text is an understanding of honor and brotherhoood as practiced among the Greeks and early Christians. I am intrigued by the comments of the previous reviewer who has applauded Dr.Callahan while completely being oblivious to the gist of the book.
Thought-Provoking view of a largely ignored NT epistle  Apr 5, 1998
Doctor Callahan has done New Testament studies a wonderful service with this thought-provoking, and stimulating exegesis of the largely ignored Epistle to Philemon. Challenging the historical view of Onesimus (from the time of Chrysostom-forward), Callahan brings a depth of historical analysis and greek exegesis that is scarcely found elsewhere. That a noted Harvard theologian could write so succinctly and clearly with such tremendous impact is in itself cause for rejoicing. This commentary will serve the Christian church well, for years to come, in how we view Pauline theology in light of Philemon. According to Callahan,the Epistle to Philemon is more than just a letter about a slave, and we will do well to understand it as such.

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