maandag 11 februari 2013

Review of: John Reumann, Philippians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB), Yale University Press, 2008; in: Interpretation

John Reumann, Philippians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB), Yale University Press, 2008.

Review in: Interpretation 2009 63: 428
Review door: Ross Wagner
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Philippians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary
by John Reumann
Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008.
808 pp. $65.00 (cloth). ISBN 978-0-300-14045-3.

JOHN REUMANN'S IMPRESSIVE commentary harvests the fruit of over thirty years of research, writing, and teaching on Philippians. In keeping with the format of the series, Reumann supplies a general introduction followed by a section-by-section analysis consisting of "Translation," "Notes," and "Commentary." The introduction succinctly lays out Reumann's view that the canonical Letter to the Philippians comprises three originally separate Pauline letters composed in Ephesus: Letter A (4:10-20), dating from 54 CE.; Letter Β (1:1-3:1, parts of 4:1-9 and 4:21-23), sent late 54-early 55 from prison; and Letter C (3:2-21, parts of 4:1-9), written in 55 CE. after Paul's release. The individual letters, preserved by the Philippian church, would have been edited into a single missive circa 90-100 CE. The remainder of the commentary both presumes and further defends this three-letter theory, which of late is more commonly encountered in continental scholarship than in English-language commentaries. Reumann rightly recognizes that the most significant evidence for and against the hypothesis lies within the letter itself: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The notes, indexed to individual words, phrases, and clauses, present dense catalogs of interpretative opinions with copious references to scholarly literature in English, German, and French. Although the choppy, often telegraphic, prose makes for laborious reading, these notes, together with the generous bibliographies, provide an encyclopedic compendium of modern critical research on Philippians. While Reumann punctuates his recital of scholarly opinions with brief evaluative comments, it is in the lengthy commentary that follows every section of notes that his own perspective comes fully into view. Each of these commentaries falls into two parts. The first examines the "Forms, Sources, and Traditions" that underlie Paul's letters. In the second, Reumann discusses the "Meaning and Interpretation" of the text, considering each passage both in its putative original context, as part of one of the three (reconstructed) letters of Paul to the Philippians, and in its current setting as a component of the (composite) canonical letter.

This hefty volume complements recent commentaries of more modest proportions (e.g., Bockmuehl, Fowl, and Silva) that offer the reader a clearer sense of the dominant themes and flow of thought of Philippians considered as a unified whole. A valuable resource for scholars and students, Reumann's opus stands as a worthy memorial to an accomplished scholar, beloved teacher, and devoted servant of God.


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