Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Provenance of Philippians

The three options for the provenance of Philippians are Rome, Caesarea, and Ephesus. The two most argued places of composition are Rome [See the commentaries by O'Brien; Fee; Bockmuehl and Hooker] and Ephesus [See the commentaries by J. H. Michael; Carolyn Osiek and Frank Thielman's, "Ephesus and the Literary Setting of Philippians"]. Traditionally, Rome is the preferred option, although there is an increase in interest in Ephesus. Interestingly, The Acts of Paul note Paul's incarceration at Ephesus:

Now they who drew up the travels of Paul have related that he did many other things, and among them this, which befell when he was at Ephesus. Hieronymus being governor, Paul used liberty of speech, and he (Hieronymus) said that he (Paul) was able to speak well, but that this was not the time for such words. But the people of the city, fiercely enraged, put Paul's feet into irons, and shut him up in the prison, till he should be exposed as a prey to the lions. But Eubula and Artemilla, wives of eminent men among the Ephesians, being his attached disciples, and visiting him by night, desired the grace of the divine washing. And by God's power, with angels to escort them and enlighten the gloom of night with the excess of the brightness that was in them, Paul, loosed from his iron fetters, went to the sea-shore and initiated them into holy baptism, and returning to his bonds without any of those in care of the prison perceiving it, was reserved as a prey for the lions.

[Translation by M. R. James]

Interestingly, Charles Cousar in his latest commentary on Philippians suggests this, and notes that "Ephesus [is] the least problematic option of the three options... Ephesus seems the better choice and the one I use in the commentary."
Resident blogger, Mike Bird appears to opt for an Ephesian setting as well. Mark Keown argues strongly against this in his monograph, Congregational Evangelism in Philippians. Since Mark will be my teacher next semester, we'll have plenty of opportunity to thrash this around.

1 comment:

Michael F. Bird said...

You forgot Francis Watson and his book "Paul, Judaism, and the Gentiles:Beyond the New Perspective" which also argues for an Ephesian provenance for Philippians and Philemon. One of my main arguments is that we have no evidence of Timothy visiting Rome.