Monday, November 04, 2013

complete books on Philemon by Larry J. Kreitzer and Harry O. Meir

Amazon Blurb:
This latest volume in the Readings series offers a helpful guide to the shortest, and arguably the most personal, as well as enigmatic, of Paul's letters. It surveys the range of interpretations put forward over the years, and identifies the strengths and weaknesses in the traditional reading of Philemon as addressing the estrangement that has arisen between Paul's friend Philemon and his runaway slave Onesimus. Recent alternatives to this reading are assessed, with particular attention to the light they shed on Paul's own attitude to slavery and his understanding of reconciliation. Historically, the Letter to Philemon has been the focus of much debate between abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates, and the use made of the Letter in the 18th and 19th centuries is here uniquely chronicled. In addition, the story of Onesimus and Philemon, as traditionally conceived, had a great appeal to writers of historical fiction, and a number of examples of that genre are summarized. The book also highlights the way in which Philemon has featured in filmic treatments of Paul's life, including a new and fascinating film in Arabic entitled The Runaway (2006). The volume offers an excellent introduction, not only to the main historical and critical issues raised by Philemon, but also to the rich legacy that the Letter has created for subsequent generations of readers who remain fascinated by the subtlety of its depiction of human relationships.
Note also this from Harry O. Meir (whose commentary on Philemon is also a free read, link at bottom):

The Reception of Philemon in Art and Literature
The place of Philemon in the visual arts and literature has been magnificently charted by Larry Kreizer.[81] He takes up the over one dozen fictional treatments of Philemon that have appeared in the last 350 years. His study offers a thorough discussion of the letter in poetry, novels, film, and even Christian video games. Of particular interest are especially evidence of Philemon’s influence on fiction related to debates over slavery, as well as popular uses of the letter in fictional biographies of Paul as well as Philemon and Onesimus themselves. Onesimus the slave occupied nineteenth century abolitionist poets and novelists.[82] At the end of the nineteenth century full-fledged novels dedicated to the lives and relationship of Philemon and Onesimus began to appear, often with a view to a hagiographically inspired reinforcement of moral values of love and compassion.[83] From the 1950s a number of novels in the same genre of romantic historical-fiction also appeared.[84] Several late twentieth-century playwrights also brought Philemon to the stage.[85] Historical fiction also became the means of New Testament scholars to tease out social and cultural questions of communal identity the letter could well have presented to its audience and listeners. Stephen Barton has Philemon pose and Paul answer questions that arise as a result of Paul’s letter.[86] Cinematic versions either dedicated to Philemon or in which the dramatis personae of Philemon and Colossians appear as part of a larger biographical treatment of Paul were produced in the 20th century as a means of religious education.[87] In 2006 The Runaway, directed by Yassen Esmail Yassen, on behalf of the Arab Vision, an Arab Christian trust, offered a 120 minute dramatization of the Philemon which was later serialized into 12 episodes for television under the title, Onesimus: From Slavery to Freedom.[88] Research will also explore its presence and influence on hymnody, specifically as it relates to celebrations of Christians as freed or as slaves of Christ. In visual represenation there are a number of interesting appearances of Philemon and its characters. Onesimus for example appears as a young man in a ninth-century fresco on  the vault of the Yilanli “Snake” Church in Cappadocia.[89] The depiction of imprisoned Paul writing a letter to Philemon in prison is a favoured topos. From the Medieval period onward another commonplace is the representation of Onesimus returning to Philemon with Paul’s letter, or the reconciliation of Onesimus with his master.[90] “Bible Visuals International” offers a cartoon strip of Philemon to illustrate the many vices of Onesimus who, once converted, becomes a righteous Christian.[91] Most recently, a Christian video game entitled Onesimus: A Quest for Freedom has been created that features Onesimus as a fugitive fleeing from Philemon. The player seeks to lead Onesimus through 30 levels and is rewarded by texts from Paul’s letter that appear on the screen as levels are successfully reached.[92]  
           Link and full commentary


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