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Encompassing the body of Pauline theology, Ephesians (volumes 34 and 34A of the acclaimed Anchor Bible Series) has been called "the crown of St. Paul's writings," yet both its authorship and addressees are the subject of continuing dispute. Through line-by-line examination of its vocabulary, its difficult style, its Qumran and Gnostic affinities, its parallels with and distinctions from the undisputed Pauline corpus, its use of the Old Testament, and its dialogue with orthodox and heretical Judaism, Markus Barth demonstrates that Paul was almost certainly the author. And, after exploring previous explications of this hymnic and admonitory epistle in detail, he concludes that it was intended for Gentile Christians converted after Paul's visits to Ephesus.
On this basis, Barth reexamines the relationship between Israel and the church, discounting the thesis that Ephesians suggests an "early Catholic," or high-ecclesiastic or sacramental doctrine. Instead, he finds in this letter a statement of the social reconciliation which conditions the salvation of the individual. And reevaluating the section describing the relation between husband and wife, he offers an alternative to the traditional notion that Paul degrades women or belittles their rights and their dignity.
In these two volumes Barth has followed the structure of Ephesians: upon the praise of God (chapters 1-3) are based the admonitions (chapters 4-6). But just as the epistle is an integral whole, so is the author's commentary. Through his special understanding and love of the apostle Paul, Markus Barth reopens to modern man the ancient message of love, worship and joy.
THE ANCHOR YALE BIBLE COMMENTARY SERIES is a project of international and interfaith scope in which Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish scholars from many countries contribute individual volumes. The project is not sponsored by any ecclesiastical organization and is not intended to reflect any particular theological doctrine.
The Anchor Yale Bible is committed to producing commentaries in the tradition established half a century ago by the founders of the series, William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. It aims to present the best contemporary scholarship in a way that is accessible not only to scholars but also to the educated nonspecialist. Its approach is grounded in exact translation of the ancient languages and an appreciation of the historical and cultural context in which the biblical books were written supplemented by insights from modern methods, such as sociological and literary criticism.