Review: Colossians (NTL)

5398149Jerry L. Sumney is Professor of Biblical Studies at Lexington Theological Seminary where he has served for nearly two decades. He received his MA from Harding University and his PhD from Southern Methodist University. Sumney is author of numerous books related to Paul and the Pauline Epistles, including Philippians: A Handbook for Second-Year Greek Students, Paul: Apostle and Fellow Traveler, and the present commentary on Colossians in the acclaimed New Testament Library series.

Colossians: A Commentary is a solid volume in the New Testament Library series and characteristic of what many have come to know therein. Sumney begins with an introduction that covers some of the standard introductory matters, including authorship and date, audience and occasion, and many theological themes. Sumney approaches the epistle from a moderately critical perspective. Regarding authorship, he quickly joins the critical consensus and advocates that the epistle is pseudonyms. That said, Sumney dates the epistle remarkably early (AD 62-64) and seems to be unsettled about pseudonyms authorship at times.

The commentary proper is much more historical-critical in its approach than most will desire, and some of his discussions are likely leave the reader lacking. That said, Sumney is judicious in his interaction with the text and appears to be well-acquainted with the peripheral Pauline issues. Like the other volumes in the NTL series, Sumney provides an original translation and textual notes. I have continually found this to be one of the most useful features of the NTL series, but Sumney’s contribution here isn’t as good or as plentiful as the other volumes in the series. Nevertheless, I think the reader will find them insightful at points.

There is no shortage of commentaries on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. And while I don’t see Colossians: A Commentary by Jerry L. Sumney replacing the first-rate work of Bruce (NICNT, 1984) and Moo (PNTC, 2008), I do believe that Sumney has provided a commentary that is well-positioned to complement these and other major works. If you are looking for a brief, historical-critical approach to Colossians that will function well alongside other work on the epistle, Colossians: A Commentary by Jerry L. Sumney is an excellent option.


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