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Title: Der Brief an Philemon
Author: Ebner, Martin
Publisher: Verlagsgruppe Patmos; Publication Date: 2017
Paperback; ISBN: 9783843609296
Volumes: 1; Pages: 144
List Price in Paper: $38.00 Our price: $29.99
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English summary: The "Letter to Philemon" gets to the essence about what Christianity (which is was not yet called in Paul's time) is really all about as few other of Pauls' epistles do: about how a change founded in faith and compelled by faith creates a new social context within social-political spaces that starkly contrast to that faith. The text, which was originally an accompanying note, was sent by Paul through a slave returning to his master, with the exhortation that the slave-owner and the slave should deal with the slave as with a brother. This request for leniency was offered because the slave was a believer and had been baptized (cf. Gal 3: 27) and thus belonged "to the sons of God," an indication that the ancient division of humans into "slave" and "free" no longer applied to the emerging Christian community. The "Letter to Philemon" is therefore exemplary for how Paul as a theological diplomat of the highest order works out the practical realization of the consequences of his gospel within the household of a rich Christian to the best of his ability.
This commentary analyses the writing along the lines of philosophy (tracking the clarification of Greek terms), epistemology (in terms of the habits of letter writing at this time), social history (the social and historical context of the letter) and, typically for the commentaries in this series, the reception of this text with a focus on the important themes that have emerged in Catholic thinking about the "Letter to Philemon."