Hansen’s Philippians Commentary (Part I)

After having it collect some dust on my shelf, I am finally cracking the pages of Walter Hansen’s Pillar commentary on Philippians (Eerdmans). To be frank, I have not found the Pillar series to be especially impressive in the area of creative and “new” ways of reading the text. However, they hardly will ever lead you astray or into speculative indulgences. They are great as “the only commentary on own on ___”. I have yet to see what Hansen contributes to the study of Philippians, but so far he has proven to be judicious and fair in the reading.

So far I have read the introduction and the commentary of 1:1-11.

Introduction

Alongside other perfunctory introductory matters, H. contributes a few other elements. He considers Philippians to be, essentially, a deliberative speech, though he shows reservation in applying rhetorical categories directly to Paul as if that were Paul’s intention. Especially in terms of sub-diving Philippians into rhetorical components, H. writes, “A preoccupation with rhetorical form over substance is an obstacle to understanding the meaning of the theological themes and practical exhortation in Paul’s letter” (pp. 14-15).

He also treats some key themes including: disunity, suffering, opponents, “gospel,” and “community.” In terms of the theme of “opponents,” I appreciate his perspective on the “enemies of the cross”: “The result of giving in to the pressures of their culture would cause Christians to lives as enemies of the way of the cross: walking in the way of destruction, obeying their physical appetites as their god, making their boast in shameful activities, and setting their mind on earthly things” (p. 30).

Exegesis

(1) Why “with the overseers and deacons” – “…because they were the potential solution to the problem of disunity in the church” (p. 42)

(2) meaning of phroneo – “…refers to interior thoughts, attitudes, and feelings that motivate exterior directions and actions” (p. 51)

Again, I found much of what Hansen said already in Bockmuehl, O’Brien, Fee, Silva, Hooker, or Fowl. Nevertheless, he is a close reader of the text and an articulate communicator. More to come!

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One thought on “Hansen’s Philippians Commentary (Part I)

  1. I thought that Hansen (p 32)has a more favorable appreciation of Sampley’s understanding of ‘societas’ than the other commentors that you cite.

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