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Ephesians and Colossians

series: Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament

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"Talbert's work succeeds wonderfully in fulfilling the vision for the Paideia commentaries--the seasoned work of a scholar-teacher made accessible for theological students--and if subsequent volumes match the standard set here, this series will indeed be one to watch in coming days."--Timothy G. Gombis, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Ephesians and Colossians is the first of eighteen volumes in the new Paideia commentary series. In this inaugural volume, leading New Testament scholar Charles Talbert distills interpretive insights for students in theology, biblical studies, and religion.

The Paideia series approaches each text in its final, canonical form, proceeding by sense units rather than word-by-word or verse-by-verse. Each sense unit is explored in three sections: (1) introductory matters, (2) tracing the train of thought, and (3) key hermeneutical and theological questions. The commentaries shed fresh light on the text while avoiding idiosyncratic readings and attend to theological meaning without presuming a specific theological stance in the reader. Aimed squarely at university and seminary students, this series is eminently useful for professors and preachers. It will also be of interest to theological libraries.

About the series:
Paideia commentaries explore how New Testament texts form Christian readers by:

Forthcoming volumes in the Paideia series include:

Mikeal C. Parsons on Acts

Frank J. Matera on Romans

Pheme Perkins on First Corinthians

Raymond F. Collins on Second Corinthians

James W. Thompson on Hebrews

Editorial Board: Paul J. Achtemeier (emeritus, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia), Loveday Alexander (University of Sheffield), C. Clifton Black (Princeton Theological Seminary), Susan R. Garrett (Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary), Francis J. Moloney, SDB (Salesian Province of Australia)


"Charles Talbert initiates Baker Academic's new Paideia series, which promises a fresh approach beneficial especially to beginning students but of value to the more advanced as well, with an accessible, user-friendly commentary on Ephesians and Colossians. Talbert's contribution shines forth as a concise yet comprehensive gem illustrating his mastery of the present state of research. His vast erudition enlightens readers with new insights into not only the theological content but also the cultural and literary contexts to facilitate an appreciation of the contemporary relevance of two closely related but sometimes neglected Pauline letters."--John Paul Heil, professor of New Testament, Catholic University of America

"The Pauline letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians are extraordinarily rich texts. Drawing on his many years of distinguished teaching and scholarship, Charles Talbert is a most trustworthy guide (paidagōgos), for students and all who love Scripture, to the literary, historical, and theological treasures in these marvelous early Christian writings."--Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, professor of New Testament, Weston Jesuit School of Theology

"Here is a commentary that has about everything you really want and almost nothing you don't want! Talbert is clear, concise, informative, and interesting, providing solid exegesis and exhibiting judicious and balanced wisdom throughout. This is a most auspicious beginning to a new commentary series. I recommend it very enthusiastically."--Donald A. Hagner, George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This commentary is vintage Talbert. He is an expert at summarizing in a clear but comprehensive manner interpretations of biblical books that serve the intended audience (especially students) well. The attempt to address 'rhetorical units' of these two letters, rather than each verse, helps readers comprehend more easily the message of the biblical text. The presence of some illustrations, sidebars, and outlines is also a great help. They provide a convenient and useful supplement to the detailed explanation of the text. If subsequent volumes in this new series are done as well as this inaugural commentary, this series will indeed be very attractive to students, seminarians, and pastors."--Ronald D. Witherup, SS, Provincial of the US Province of Sulpicians

The Author

  1. Charles H. Talbert

    Charles H. Talbert

    Charles H. Talbert (1934-2021; PhD, Vanderbilt University) was distinguished professor of religion emeritus at Baylor University. He wrote many books, including Ephesians and Colossians in the Paideia series, Reading the Sermon on the Mount,...

    Continue reading about Charles H. Talbert


"Contributors to this series comprise scholars of international reputation. . . . If successful, this series will be helpful not only for theological students but also for anyone who is interested in the final form and theological interests [of] the New Testament. It may also prove to be useful for lay teachers and preachers in the church. While this series is aimed at students, it is hope[d] that seasoned scholars will also find this series engaging."--Kar Yong,

"This offering on Ephesians and Colossians does fill a gap for these two epistles. . . . Talbert's strengths are in a close reading of the text, careful attention to structure, and his catalogues of relevant background texts. . . . There is a wealth of helpful insights in this volume and, unlike many commentaries, one doesn't have to wade through voluminous amounts of less necessary information to find them. The commentary is a model of brevity and clarity, yet with sufficient detail to fulfill the editors' stated purposes of the series. . . . Sidebars that address select issues in greater detail are scattered throughout the book and generally well chosen. . . . The layout of the volume is well conceived, visually pleasing, and almost entirely free from typographical errors. . . . This work is a welcome addition."--Craig L. Blomberg,

"This is the first of a projected eighteen-volume commentary series addressed expressly to students of theology and related disciples. Veteran and highly respected biblical scholar and teacher Charles Talbert is a fine choice to lead off this new series. . . . The clear and theologically rich exposition of these letters is enhanced by numerous graphs and illustrations, a thorough bibliography, and full indexes."--Donald Senior, CP, Bible Today

"[Talbert offers] sure-footed comments and knowledge of the wider social context of the ancient world. His justification for studying these letters together, along with the tables of synoptic comparisons between Ephesians and Colossians, is of great benefit. . . . One feature that deserves recognition is the use of maps, photographs of inscriptions, and primary texts highlighted in text-boxes--this not only makes the book more visually appealing, but functions to highlight important material. . . . Talbert sequentially highlights important interpretational issues without any sense of skimming over material in the text. . . . Talbert has written a hugely impressive commentary on these two epistles. His comments offer close historical-critical exegesis, coupled with insightful theological reflections and a superb marshalling of the Greco-Roman and Jewish background material. This is a first-rate treatment of these texts and it should definitely become a key reference for students and scholars alike. It is to be hoped that forthcoming volumes in this series are able to maintain the excellent standard that has been set by Talbert."--Paul Foster, Expository Times

"A serious work for serious students of the New Testament. . . . The commentary's great strengths lie in Talbert's familiarity with ancient literature, and in his ability to set the letters to the Ephesian and Colossian churches in literary and historical context. . . . Incredible insights about ancient literature, biblical backgrounds and history [are] available in this volume."--Ken Camp, Baptist Standard

"The commentary examines each paragraph according to three categories: introductory matters, tracing the train of thought and theological issues. This format is very helpful, and I found that it answered more of my questions than many other formats. Talbert provides a good overview of interpretations making sane observations. This will be helpful for preachers."--Ray Van Neste, Preaching

"The Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament series is designed to be used, in particular, by students and to provide them with a theological understanding of the text in its final form, placing it firmly in its ancient context, while addressing the interests of the contemporary readers. This first exponent of the type provides an excellent model. . . . A desire to be accessible and the aim of dealing with the text in larger blocks make for a readable and flowing commentary. . . . Throughout the commentary, the reader is provided with illustrative examples and parallels drawn from Jewish or Greco-Roman literature, or inscriptional and artefactual evidence. Thus students are led easily into the ancient world that forms the context for these letters. . . . Students, pastors and scholars will be well served by this commentary to understand the ancient context of these letters with fresh clarity and insight. They will find here clear discussion of the scholarship and theological exposition to fuel and enliven their own reflections on the text and its application to their lives and their world."--Derek Tovey, Colloquium

"Talbert draws on his long experience of teaching students, writes clearly and accessibly, summarizes scholarly debates helpfully, and presents material in a user-friendly manner. . . . Talbert generally proves to be a sure-footed guide, and students should emerge from their reading with a clear impression of the thrust of the letters' arguments and of the main interpretative issues. . . . [Talbert] comment[s] succinctly on issues of translation, syntax, and exegesis of key words, phrases, and sentences, suppl[ies] a rich amount of comparative material from ancient sources, and ensur[es], through the use of boxed outlines, especially in the case of Ephesians, that the overall flow of the unit's argument and its place in the letter is kept in view. . . . The commentary's bibliography is relatively comprehensive and up-to-date and will make students aware of a wide range of secondary literature. . . . Talbert has provided a fine resource with which serious students will be able to explore these two letters within their first-century setting. Use of his commentary will give them a very valuable orientation for their own further study of and reflection upon these canonical texts."--Andrew T. Lincoln, Review of Biblical Literature

"For each section of text, [Talbert] begins with introductory matters, follows with a lengthier section called 'Tracing the Train of Thought,' and draws to a close with a discussion of theological issues. . . . In each case there are no wasted words; each discussion is fitted to the need of the moment. The benefit of this format is the model for students of moving from the shape of the text and the flow of the argument to theological reflection. . . . There is also, included throughout, a healthy number of charts and boxes in which other issues are covered. . . . The layout is visually attractive and Talbert is consistent in keeping the information contained therein succinct and relevant. . . . Talbert's commentary is impressive for combining succinct expression of thought, thorough examination and treatment of most major interpretive issues, subtle grasp of the flow of argument, and brilliant articulation of the theological impulses in Ephesians and Colossians. Talbert's work succeeds wonderfully in fulfilling the vision for the Paideia commentaries--the seasoned work of a scholar-teacher made accessible for theological students--and if subsequent volumes match the standard set here, this series will indeed be one to watch in coming days."--Timothy G. Gombis, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Written for students of religious and theological studies, the commentary contains helpful information about the ancient cultural setting of Ephesians and Colossians, as well as a short theological reflection at the end of each thought unit. . . . Talbert's knowledge of parallel ancient literary sources provides a valuable resource for students who may be unfamiliar with these works as they relate to Ephesians and Colossians. He successfully utilizes these texts in a way that will not overwhelm the student who has had little exposure to this area of research."--Justin G. Winzenburg, Religious Studies Review

"This first volume [in the Paideia series] by one of the [series] editors, a highly respected senior American New Testament scholar, is exemplary. . . . The issue of pseudepigraphy is fairly and squarely faced and sensible critical conclusions reached. The author's extensive knowledge of the classical world is deployed to good effect, always illuminating and never obtrusive. There is an excellent bibliography and good indices. The Commentary itself is comfortable to read and deserves to be very widely used. All theological libraries at whatever level should regard this as a priority."--Robert Morgan, Theological Book Review

"This book is outstanding. It should appeal to its target audience [advanced undergraduate and seminary students] and be a useful resource in the classroom. Talbert's knowledge of Greco-Roman culture is extensive, and his grasp of Second Temple Judaism is good. . . . I found this a very helpful commentary."--Thomas B. Slater, Interpretation

"To help today's reader there are outlines of the whole of each letter, and then of each discerned section, followed by useful reminders of the train of thought so far, which also assists part consultation. Each section ends with clear and sensitive wider theological reflections that still stay in touch with the text. . . . Here is a fine succinct commentary on each text."--F. Gerald Downing, Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"An original feature of the [Paideia] series is the illustration of how NT texts are shaped by educational categories and ideas, leading to new insights about Ephesians and Colossians and their theological and moral visions. . . . Talbert's work reveals mastery of both ancient literature and previous scholarship. Careful explanation of difficult concepts and worldviews of the documents will assure a large audience among the students to whom this commentary series is primarily aimed. The use of charts, images, and primary sources set apart from the main commentary assist with this didactic goal."--Margaret Y. MacDonald, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"The Paideia commentary series aims to explore the final form of New Testament writings by focusing on the social-cultural settings to which they are initially addressed. Talbert's combined commentary on Ephesians and Colossians meets that aim in a highly satisfying way. . . . The results are fresh readings that offer new insights into the messages of each letter. . . . The commentaries' major contribution is their ongoing engagement with primary sources that illumine the letters' points. . . . Well researched, with a 21-page bibliography, and well organized, with subject, author, and primary-source indexes, the joint commentary provides a useful tool for in-depth study of Ephesians and Colossians. Scattered throughout each commentary are handy tables and insets that summarize important data or quote at length relevant primary sources. The commentary could serve capably as one of the textbooks for a specialty course exploring either of those epistles. The combined commentary is a definite must-read for those studying Ephesians and Colossians."--Peter W. Gosnell, Bulletin for Biblical Research

"Talbert's approach is excellent. He acknowledges that to understand Ephesians (and by implication, the entire New Testament) it is important to determine as much as possible the context in which the letters were written. . . . The volume includes many helpful sidebars, which often contain outlines or highlight specific topics. . . . Talbert deals effectively with many major issues and gives a clear interpretation of the text. If this volume is representative of commentaries in the Paideia series, the forthcoming volumes promise to be helpful tools for interpreting the New Testament."--Joseph D. Fantin, Bibliotheca Sacra

"Talbert offers a masterful account of how the social-cultural elements of the first century are reflected in the two letters. . . . He successfully combines close attention to the two letters with appreciation of numerous historical-theological concerns. Thus, Talbert's work contributes significantly to the understanding of the formation of the theological convictions of the text. Moreover, his adhering to the final form of the text helps us to appreciate the text in terms of its larger rhetorical units. . . . This is a very useful commentary for those who want to expand their approach to looking at the text. Many tables, charts and pictures are especially useful in acquainting the reader with both the socio-religious features and the developing historical-theological issues of the world of the first readers of Ephesians and Colossians. The easy style without footnotes makes it approachable and the wide-ranging bibliography is very helpful to readers as well. For many reasons, therefore, Talbert's work deserves to be read widely."--Byung Pill Choi, Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism

Praise for the Paideia series
"The Paideia commentary series has established itself as a solid series of concise works that focus on the final form of the biblical text, highlighting narrative flow, rhetorical devices and structure, and commenting particularly on relevant historical background and theological significance."--Craig L. Blomberg, Denver Journal

"[I] continue to be impressed by the contributors' skill in combining academic rigor with accessibility. . . . The [series] authors . . . combine historical and linguistic analysis with theological reflection, which makes these commentaries useful for those interested in bridging the gap between the ancient world and contemporary Christianity (seminarians, clergy). . . . Frequent inserts with asides [offer] additional explanations or attempts to relate ancient texts to contemporary issues."--Michael Gilmour, Catholic Biblical Quarterly