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List price: $34.99|
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ISBN/ASIN : 080541097X
Manufacturer : Broadman & Holman Publishers|
Release data : August, 1999
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Covers a Lot of Ground, but Not In Much Depth
Paul and His Letters is something of a hybrid. On one hand its a Pauline history, in the vein of Bruce's Apostle of the Heart Set Free, and on the other hand it offers commentaries on all of Paul's epistles. Taken as a whole I do not think the format is a complete success, but Polhill knows his stuff and has a lot to offer the layperson.
The history of Paul is ably covered, with Polhill discussing Paul's background, conversion, and missionary activites. On occasion he offers some insights not always emphasized by others, such as the unique inclusion of the Greek proverb about kicking "against the goads" only when giving his testimony to a very hellenized client-king.
The discussion of each letter covers most of the bases, but not in much depth. Still, in addition to questions of authorship, he covers many notable issues, such as whether Philemon is actually three redacted into one and the authorship of 2 Thessalonians. But you do not get anywhere near the depth of discussion you do in most commentaries devoted to one or two letters. There is no passage-by-passage analysis and little discussion of the Greek text. Again, a helpful introduction, but not much more.
Though I realize Polhill is accomplishing a lot in one book, I wish he had spent more time on some issues of particular importance. One example is his dismissive attitude towards the early authorship of Galatians. He notes the theory, but sets it aside with little explanation. Such an issue seems crucial not only to the Pauline chronology but to understanding one of Paul's most important letters--The Epistle to the Galatians. Still, it is the price of admission for covering so much ground in one book.
If you are looking for a broad overview of Paul and a broad introduction to each of his letters, all in one book, Paul and His Letters fits the bill. Otherwise, you might want to shell out the money and buy a few books on the same subjects.
Excellent introductory material
Dr. Polhill has given us a well written introduction to Paul and his letters that reflects his many years of scholarship. He argues from a conservative evangelical perspective, but includes diverging opinions concerning authorship, provenance, etc. One of the strengths of this book is his detail in defining terms, people and places relating to Paul in Acts and his epistles. This will be a resource that I use often in the ministry and for personal use. I recommend highly to laypersons, seminarians and pastors.