Reflections on Cousar’s new Philippians/Philemon commentary

I am a pretty glass-is-half-full kind of guy, so I usually am able to spin a new book in a positive direction.  With this new commentary (WJK, 2009), I am having trouble coming up with reasons (or even a reason) why someone would buy it.

The first thing you will notice when picking it up is how thin it is – a slender 106 pages of text.  This is strange for a new commentary and a world that demands large technical and exhaustive resources.  What is more unusual is that last year WJK release Jerry Sumney’s commentary on Colossians (a short book than Philippians) which is over 3x longer than Cousar’s!  And Cousar’s also includes Philemon (though the actually commentary on Philemon is a mere 6 pages)!

As for the content of Cousar’s work, he focuses mostly on literary issues and standard exegetical questions.  As for interest and influences, he comes from a perspective appreciative of apocalyptic and cosmology, and when he does quote a scholar, he turns to Barth’s commentary on Philippians more often than anyone else.

What Cousar how been known for is a helpful theological discussion of the death and resurrection of Christ – thus, he has some interesting and useful things to say when you get to the Christ hymn in chapter 2 and also Phil. 3.9-10.

All things considered, I really don’t think this commentary will attract many readers.  It lacks length, depth, and the series doesn’t really have its own niche, so it is bound to just be ‘another commentary’ that a student consults for an exegesis paper.

If one is looking for a ‘short commentary’ for sermon prep or quick reference, I would prefer Gordon Fee’s shorter treatment in the IVP NT commentaries (the litle blue books).


‘Interested in NT PhD’? post just reached….

….8000 hits.  It is, of course, my most popular post (totalling about 35 pages or so).  For a couple I years I have toyed with the idea of expanding it into a book.  Now, I am quite close to closing the deal on getting it into print.

But – why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?  Well, I expect that the book will have three main parts – (1) getting into a phd program, (2) doing well on your dissertation and surviving your defense, and (3) preparing to be a scholar (publishing, book contracts, book reviews, networking, conference presentations, job interviews, etc…).

My PhD post covers primarily the first part of the projected book, but many students will find themselves in need for parts (2) and (3) if they listen to me on part (1)!  Also, I may trim down what I offer on that blog post -keeping bare minimum info, but encouraging readers to get the book.  Hopefully it can be reasonably priced.

So, I will keep you updated on whether I can make this work or not!  I hope so!

This Just In: My Thesis Will Be Published By…

My thesis will be published by Walter de Gruyter in their BZNW series.  I just got word yesterday!

This is very exciting, as they are very professional and come highly recommended.  Here were the main factors for me to consider in choosing a publisher: I wanted

1) A german publisher because, If I choose to apply for a German von Humboldt fellowship, they like it when candidates have gone with a German verlag.

2) a german publisher because they tend to require little or no corrections (other than typos) and require no limiting of pages (at this point, I want to move on to other projects rather than fine tune my thesis).

3) a nice-looking book.  While I like the content in, let’s say, Mohr Siebeck’s work, I think the WUNT II books are very austere and bland in appearance.  BZNW, though, is “handsome,” as one person remarked.

4) to do something a little different.  People go with WUNT and LNTS for a reason – quick, easy to work with, professional…But, I wanted not just to fade into the crowd.

5) a highly respected, international publisher – and WdG is good.