COLOSSIANS AND EPHESIANS (Sacra Pagina) by Margaret MacDonald ($44.95)*

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No two works in the Pauline Epistles resemble each other as closely as Colossians and Ephesians. Often recognized for their majestic tone and powerful theological statement, Colossians and Ephesians also present many challenges of interpretation. Most commentaries on these letters seem preoccupied with the same few issues, particularly the question of authorship. As MacDonald addresses these classic questions, she offers a fresh perspective on Colossians and Ephesians by making use of insights from the social sciences. Moreover, by paying attention to subtle differences between the two letters, she brings their distinct perspectives into sharp relief.

MacDonald highlights the interplay between Colossians and Ephesians and the social life of New Testament communities. She illustrates how the texts reflect ancient cultural values and are influenced by particular aspects of community life such as worship and household existence. In particular, she reflects on the issues faced by these communities as they formed institutions and interacted with the society around them. She shows the struggles of the New Testament communities to survive and maintain a distinct identity in first-century society.

Chapters under Colossians are:

  1. "Greeting (1:1-2)," "Thanksgiving for the Colossians (1:3-8),"
  2. "Prayer on Behalf of the Colossians (1:9-14,)"
  3. "The Christ-Hymn (1:15-20),"
  4. "Application of Hymn to the Situation in Colossae (1:21-23),"
  5. "Paul's Authority in Colossae and Laodicea (1:24-2:7),"
  6. "Debate with the Opponents: The Power of the Risen Christ (2:8-15),"
  7. "Debate with the Opponents: Warnings Against Ascetic Practices (2:16-23),"
  8. "New Life in Light of the Resurrection (3:1-4),"
  9. "Ethical Guidelines for a New Life (3:5-17),"
  10. "The Households of Believers (3:18-4:1),"
  11. "Prayer, Mission, and Contact with Outsiders (4:2-6),"
  12. "Conclusion: Personal Notes and Greetings (4:7-18)."
Chapters under Ephesians are:
  1. "Greeting (1:1-2),"
  2. "Blessing (1:3-14),"
  3. "Thanksgiving and Prayer (1:15-23),"
  4. "The Consequences of Life Together with Christ (2:1-10),"
  5. "The Unity of Jews and Gentiles Created by Christ (2:11-22),"
  6. "The Apostle as Interpreter of the Divine Mystery (3:1-13),"
  7. "Prayer and Doxology (3:14-21),"
  8. "The Unity of the Spirit (4:1-16),"
  9. "The Sons of Disobedience and the Children of Light (4:17-5:20),"
  10. "The Households of Believers (5:21-6:9),"
  11. "Doing Battle with Evil (6:10-20),"
  12. "Conclusion: Personal Matters and Final Blessing (6:21-24)."
Margaret Y. MacDonald is a professor in the department of religious studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

"This entire series, and MacDonald’s volume is no exception, ought to be essential reading for the preacher, the teacher, the college or high school student, and anyone who wants to read the new Testament texts with deeper insight and understanding."
- Catholic Library World

". . . offers solid, nuanced interpretations of both letters. Its pressing of social-scientific questions should help readers rethink the relation of theology and ethics to historical context."
- Interpretation

". . . a superb addition to the corpus of commentaries on Colossians and Ephesians. . . . This excellent commentary will be accessible and useful to a broad range of readers, including scholars, clergy, students and any others interested in these letters. The social scientific-approach, readable style and appropriate attention to the afterlife and impact of these letters make the community concerns and struggles reflected in Colossians and Ephesians come alive in a manner rarely found in the commentary genre."
- Studies in Religion

Sacra Pagina is a multi-volume commentary on the books of the New Testament.

The expression "Sacra Pagina" ("Sacred Page") originally referred to the text of Scripture. In the Middle Ages it also described the study of Scripture to which the interpreter brought the tools of grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, and philosophy.

This series presents fresh translations and modern expositions of all the books of the New Testament. Written by an international team of Catholic biblical scholars, it is intended for biblical professionals, graduate students, theologians, clergy, and religious educators. The volumes present basic introductory information and close exposition, with each author adopting a specific methodology while maintaining a focus on the issues raised by the New Testament compositions themselves.

The goal of Sacra Pagina is to provide sound, critical analysis without any loss of sensitivity to religious meaning. This series is therefore catholic in two senses of the word: inclusive in its methods and perspectives, and shaped by the context of the Catholic tradition. The Second Vatican Council described the study of "the sacred page" as the "very soul of sacred theology" (Dei Verbum 24). The volumes in this series illustrate how Catholic scholars contribute to the council's call to provide access to Sacred Scripture for all the Christian faithful. Rather than pretending to say the final word on any text, these volumes seek to open up the riches of the New Testament and to invite as many people as possible to study seriously the "sacred page."

"Sacra Pagina represents the best of contemporary and pastorally sensitive biblical interpretation for a general readership. A must for any library." —Catholic Library World

"I wholeheartedly recommend this commentary in particular and this series in general for those who regularly preach—Catholic or Protestant." —The Clergy Journal

"Sacra Pagina is a valuable addition to any professional library. And it can communicate well to the Greekless who are willing to work along with it." —Book Reviews

"I have seen Matthew, Luke, Acts, and Galations and intend to ensure that the whole series is in our library." —Vidyajyoti

"For the preaching of text. . . I wholeheartedly recommend this commentary in particular and this series in general for those who regularly preach—Catholic or Protestant." —The Clergy Journal

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