The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon
The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon

The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon

in New International Greek Testament Commentary

by James D. G. Dunn

4.68 Rank Score: 7.02 from 13 reviews, 8 featured collections, and 20 user libraries
Pages 406
Publisher Eerdmans
Published 3/29/1996
ISBN-13 9780802824417

In this volume in the celebrated New International Greek Testament Commentary series, James D. G. Dunn, author of numerous well-received works on the historical origin and theological interpretation of the New Testament, provides detailed expositions of the text of Paul’s letters to the Colossians and to Philemon.

Dunn examines each of these letters within the context of the Jewish and Hellenistic cultures in the first century, and he discusses the place of Colossians and Philemon in the relationship between the Pauline mission and the early churches that received these letters. He places particular stress on the role of faith in Jesus Christ within and over against Judaism and on the counsel of these two important letters with regard to the shaping of human relationships in the community of faith.


This book appears in the following featured collections.


Add Your Review

Nijay K. Gupta Nijay K. Gupta September 13, 2019
Dunn is a seasoned commentary writer, with Romans as his most well-known volume (WBC). He brings the same attention to detail to Colossians, combined with penetrating theological analysis. In this commentary, Dunn proposes that perhaps someone else (like Timothy) wrote Colossians at Paul’s behest. [Full Review]
G Ware G Ware April 24, 2018
The Philemon portion is a bit disappointing. But the Colossians commentary is excellent, though perhaps a bit too certain in the suggestion that Colossians is pseudonymous, which colours some interpretive conclusions. That said, this is more engaging and user-friendly than some of the other volumes in this series, and provides more theological insights. That said, the focus of the series is to do deep analysis of the Greek text, which Dunn does. So for upper-level students and those with formal training in Greek, this is very helpful.
Phillip J. Long Phillip J. Long June 26, 2012
Dunn is always interesting to read and the New International Greek Text series is always excellent. Based on the theology of the book, Dunn thinks that the book was not written by Paul, even if it is “Pauline.” The issue of authorship is not as critical an issue as for other books, Dunn refers to the writer as Paul despite expressing doubts that he was the actual author. He is warm to the possibility that the book was written from a hypothetical Ephesian imprisonment, but cannot state this (or any alternative view) with certainty. The opponents addressed by the letter are from the local Jewish synagogue. As Dunn says, to call this a “heresy” is “quite inappropriate” since the “competing philosophy” does not come from within the church. The body of the commentary is based wholly on the Greek text, with detailed lexical and syntactical comments. Dunn is well-versed in Second Temple Period Jewish literature as well as Greco-Roman works and integrates this material into his commentary well. In particular, material from the Dead Sea Scrolls is used to illustrate the “Jewishness” of Paul’s opponents. [Full Review]
Scot McKnight Scot McKnight August 2, 2009
Then I turn to James D.G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary) . As always, rigorous, creative, and theologically suggestive. [Full Review]
R. Hansen R. Hansen February 21, 2009
There are parts of this commentary that were very helpful. For students doing more in depth study on the book of Colossians, this book would be recommended, but if you are a pastor or Bible study leader, perhaps Garland and Wright would be better places to start. I will say here that I have always avoided commentaries in this series feeling they would be to technical since the title included “Greek.” I have not studied Greek and though I enjoy when commentaries can help me understand Greek words or structures and how it effects the meaning, I do not like when commentaries will write long sentences in Greek and then not explain or transliterate. I assumed this series might fall in the second category – technical and for scholars. But I checked this one out on Google Books and was pleasantly surprised at its ease of reading. It is based on the Greek text and he explains it where needed. But he does not let Greek get in the way of communicating clearly and effectively his ideas. Do not let the label “technical” on this commentary scare you away. I am now looking forward to checking out some other commentaries in this serious I had stayed away from.
James D. G. Dunn's well-known and formidable exegetical skills are amply displayed in his new commentary on Colossians and Philemon for the New International Greek Testament Commentary series. On both these texts Dunn offers balanced and reasonable readings that will certainly become essential moments in scholarly discussion of these texts. One of the expressed purposes of the NIGTC series is that the commentaries “interact with modern scholarship" (p. x). Few persons could manage that task as well as Dunn has here. He is consistently fair to scholars with whom he does not agree and to exegetical options he does not hold. At each point of debate, he states clearly and equitably the readings he himself does not maintain and then provides forceful argument for his own readings. This volume thus becomes a wonderful exegetical resource for at least two reasons: first, Dunn offers persuasive and plausible readings of these texts and, second, he provides a wealth of information on scholarly debate on these texts. Typical of Dunn's balance and fairness is his decision about authorship. After giving sympathetic accounts of the arguments both for and against Pauline authorship, he attempts to strike a balance between them. Colossians, he argues, was written by Timothy under Paul's direction (from either Rome or Ephesus in the mid-50s). Thus Dunn can state that “the distinction between ‘Pauline' and ‘post-Pauline' as applied to Colossians becomes relatively unimportant" (p. 38). In some ways, this is a satisfying solution to the peculiar puzzle of the relationship of Colossians to the rest of the Pauline corpus. It is by Paul; it is not by Paul. [Full Review]