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Commentaries for the Old and New Testaments
 You're here » Christian Books Index » Books » Commentaries for the Old and New Testaments » Embassy of Onesimus

Embassy of Onesimus

Author: Allen Dwight Callahan
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       Virtually all modern commentaries on Philemon agree with the interpretation from late antiquity that the letter treats the case of Onesimus, a pilfering runaway slave, who Paul is attempting to rehabilitate in the eyes of Philemon, his rightfully angry master. In this commentary, however, Allen Callahan tells another story. His reading of the rhetorical situation and reconstruction of the historical context provides a new narrative for the letter. His interpretation for which he argues is that of several nineteenth-century American abolitionist interpreters. Here, then, is not the story of a runaway slave but a story of the estrangement of two Christina brothers, Onesimus and Philemon. Professor Callahan proposes that his alternative reading of the letter'offers a paradigm for Christian reconciliation that necessarilyincludes diplomacy, persuasion, forbearance, and reparations for injured parties. In other words, the letter speaks of the challenging implications of Christian love and the imperative of Christian justice. If there is an interpretation of great moment to be offered for this otherwise unremarkable piece of correspondence, then the treatment of these themes holds the promise of such an interpretation.'

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