Studies in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, by Hans Dieter Betz


Series: Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament (Book 343)

Hardcover: 200 pages

Publisher: Mohr Siebeck (February 1, 2015)

The figure of the Apostle Paul, as well as his writings, has been historically subject to detailed scrutiny and criticism. New researches and studies are being periodically published, with the Apostle to the Gentile as the matter of study. Sometimes, these studies or essays are put together as a book. That is the case of the book Studies in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, by Hans Dieter Betz, (Mohr Siebek, 2015).

This book is a collection of essays mainly dedicated to the study of the Apostle Paul and his letter to the Philippians. In his introduction, Betz clarifies the purpose of this book and how this volume differs from biblical commentaries in purpose, nature, and content. He states, “Generally, the difference is that while a commentary’s task is to explain a given document in its entirety, ‘studies’ present further investigations regarding specific passages or problems yet unresolved or even undiscovered” (p. 1). This statement sets the nature and objective of this work, and it is crucial readers are aware of that difference.

The book contains seven essays forming the seven chapters this book offers:

  1. Introduction
  2. A Statement of Principle (Phil 1:21–26)
  3. An Autobiographical Memorandum (Phil 3:1b–21)
  4. On Being a Paulinist (Phil 4:8–9)
  5. On Self-Sufficiency (Phil 4:10–13)
  6. The Cost of Missions: A Look at Paul’s Finances (Phil 4:10–20)
  7. On the Question of the Literary Genre

The author begins by addressing issues pertaining to textual criticism, literary criticism, and the complexities resulting from not having access, for obvious reasons, to the original manuscripts. The author emphasizes the origin and nature of the Biblical text we have today and the variants that have resulted in different versions. Betz’s main point concerning this issue is that the Biblical text we got is a copy of copies, and that to some extent we must be cognizant of the textual challenges we can find in doing exegesis.

The rest of the book is devoted to the study of some passages that present critical challenges for both readers and scholars. Betz disseminates Biblical passages under discussion in a remarkable way. He writes in a skillful way making use of the Greek language when necessary. Readers must be aware of that; a basic knowledge of classic Greek is required in order to be able to read this book; at least ability to read in Greek.

How can this book serve us in our ministries? As it was mentioned before, this book is not a commentary on the whole letter to the Philippians. However, it can be used as a primary resource for pastors who are planning on preaching or conducting a series of biblical studies on Philippians, as this book offers deeper perspectives on selected passages. This is a book any pastor should have in consort with commentaries on the letter to the Philippians. This is a very informative volume that serves Bible students for the purpose of gaining new perspectives on some passages from the letter to the Philippians. It contains insightful points Biblical commentaries do not offer dues to the own nature and purpose of the book.

I anticipate this book is going to remain for years as an outstanding work on Pauline studies.

You can buy the book here from the publisher, for those living in Europe, or at Amazon for those living in the USA.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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