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Pastor Paul

Pastor Paul: Two new commentaries on Philippians that should be on your bookshelf.
1996This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Paul's Letter to the Philippians, by Gordon D. Fee (Eerdmans, New International Commentary on the New Testament, 497 pp.; $36, hardcover)

The NIV Application Commentary: Philippians, by Frank Thielman (Zondervan, 256 pp.; $19.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Wendy Murray Zoba.

Two new commentaries on Philippians offer complementary approaches: one (Gordon Fee) primarily for readers who want extensive engagement with the Greek text and with current scholarship, the other (Frank Thielman) primarily for readers who want a reliable synthesis with a strong emphasis on application.

Fee, who serves as the general editor for the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), following F. F. Bruce and, before him, Ned Stonehouse, wrote this commentary to replace the 1955 NICNT study by J. J. Müller(which covered Philippians and Philemon in a single volume). While these two volumes may not introduce any earth-shattering disclosures, they offer a rigor (Fee) and freshness (Thielman) that can benefit students, teachers, and (especially) church leaders.

Fee "enters a plea" early on for grammar, which, he says, "counts for something." A master of detail (Fee's footnotes document the secondary literature chronologically), he goes to great lengths to present his exegetical conclusions and interpretations in light of the syntactical data: "This first paragraph is a single sentence in Greek, composed of an informational clause (v. 12), plus a compound result clause (vv. 13, 14), indicating the two ways the gospel has been advanced … ": so goes a typical bit of analysis. Anyone who has studied under Fee will be immediately reminded of his trademark "sentence flows." At first glance these syntactical diagrams might not look like ...

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