I am delighted to announce that I have signed a contract to write a volume on Philippians and Philemon for the New Testament Library Series (Westminster John Knox). I really enjoy writing commentaries and consider them a resource for students, scholars, and pastors. I’ve long enjoyed the NTL series, dating back to Brevard Childs’ classic Exodus commentary, NT volumes like Marianne Meye Thompson’s John and Luke Timothy Johnson’s Hebrews. (And I’m especially looking forward to the highly anticipated volume of Beverly Gaventa’s Romans.)
Wait, haven’t you already posted a comment on Philippians?
Yes! I co-wrote the volume on Philippians with Mike Bird for New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Mike and I split Philippians, he wrote most of Philippians 1 and 3, and I wrote most of Philippians 2 and 4. This NTL volume will give me a chance to write my own commentary with all of my own ongoing analysis . Mike and I are like-minded, which is why the Cambridge volume process worked so well, but I’m excited to have the opportunity to develop my own exegesis (the NTL volume will be considerably longer and more technical; more of 50% Continued). Additionally, I have researched and published new scholarship that does not appear in the NCBC volume, on Paul and Emotions, Politics, Cruciformity, Women, and Church Leadership. So there will be a lot of “new” material.
Wait, isn’t there already an NTL volume on Philippians and Philemon by Charles Cousar?
Yes! And Cousar is an excellent scholar, I learned from his great work in Pauline studies. But its specific volume in the NTL series is very short (106 pp.), offering only about ten pages in total on Philemon. I am delighted to write a longer volume overall, but especially to devote about 100 pages to Philemon. Did you know that not only are most Philemon commentaries short (and apparently an afterthought with another Pauline text), but to my knowledge there is only one Philemon commentary by a scholar of color in a major commentary series (Cain Hope Felder, NIB; Callahan’s work is a classic, but not in a major series). I could be wrong (please tell me in the comments). Regardless, what excites me most about writing this volume is the opportunity to delve into some of the latest research on Philemon, a burgeoning field of study these days.
When will this new comment be published?
Since I haven’t written a single word of it yet, it won’t be happening anytime soon. My hope is to see the volume published by 2027/2028.
Does the world need more comments (*eyeroll*)?
Believe it or not, people keep buying them because certain voices and certain series have something substantial to offer. NTL has done a good job of choosing great scholars with fresh eyes on biblical texts. I’m honored to write for NTL and hope I can make the show proud. I think there are too many commentary series, some have discontinued their series (i.e. failed), some have sold very well. I am prepared to “let the market decide” on these matters. I think I have some new and interesting things to say about Philippians and Philemon, and I hope readers find my research useful, but that’s for them to decide in due time.
In the meantime, what are my favorite comments (from Nijay) in Philippians and Philemon?
Philippians: I love the work of Joseph Hellerman, Morna Hooker, Markus Bockmuehl, Lynn Cohick, Steve Fowl and more recently Elsa Tamez (and check out Jeannine Brown’s new TNTC volume).
Philemon: Meet Scot McKnight, Seth Ehorn, Cain Hope Felder, Bruce Longenecker and Marianne Meye Thompson.
Also, be on the lookout, in the coming months I will be posting an annotated bibliography on Philemon Fellowship for Oxford Bibliographies Online (behind a paywall, FYI).