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The apostle Paul's letter to his friend and fellow Christian Philemon, which focuses on the question of slavery, has long inspired debate. Onesimus, one of Philemon's slaves and a Christian himself, has left his master's house and sought refuge with Paul. In a letter to Philemon, Paul assures his friend that he is sending Onesimus back into captivity, but pleads for mercy on the slave's behalf, asking Philemon to treat him as a beloved brother and as he would treat the apostle. Examining Paul's letter within the context of the social, political, and economic realities of the times, Fitzmyer sheds light on the question of whether Paul was suggesting that Onesimus be granted freedom from slavery or whether he was simply advocating a lenient treatment of this particular slave. His insights not only clarify Paul's position but show why the letter is relevant in the Church today.
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.