58 Comments


  1. This little Letter of St. Paul says more about his pastor-shepherd’s heart, than most realize. Would that the Church read it and read more! Thanks Joel, great effort!

    One “old man” myself,
    Fr. Robert

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  2. My brother, this Text warms my heart, oh to be more like this “old man”…St. Paul! You will have to print your translation of Philemon up. I sure will. It will become (with the ESV) my text for both personal reading and preaching. I can see it now, the Epistles of St. Paul, translated by Joel L. Watts! Many started off with just Paul’s letters, like JB Phillips, and I believe William Barclay also? Have you ever read their translations? Just NT as I remember. ( I have a personal audio tape by Phillips, on Christ and the Incarnation. And Barclay on the Lord’s Prayer. Classic stuff!)

    Do ya think that both Apphia, was perhaps Philemon’s wife, and Archippus also maybe his son? (See, Col.4:17)
    Fr. R.

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  3. “he carries my compassion”

    And so does your translation!

    “Having been confident of your obedience, I write you, knowing that you will exceed even my request.”

    It’s almost as if Paul was confident of your abilities!

    Let me echo what Fr. Robert says: “great effort!”

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  4. What I like about Philemon is the impression it gives of Paul twisting Philemon’s arm, like a Jewish mother laying down a layer of guilt to get him to do what he wants. Almost like, “Do this for an old man, will you?”

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  5. Geez Paula, I hope you are not going to try and put a feminist twist on Philemon? There is nothing here to twist, St. Paul “the old man” or ‘aged man’ if you will for clarity here, is simply asking in both Christian “brotherhood” and Christian love, but also as a “prisoner” for Christ Jesus. What could be more beautiful?
    Fr. R.

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  6. Well what would you call it? There is no Jewish mother in the text here.
    Fr. R.

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  7. Jeff,
    Just like us, the blog and blogger cannot be neutral. If I jumped too quickly, it is because I have chatted with Paula before. And you better check the culture more closely, it is squarely postmodern, and often feminist. I am just a bit older than you are mate, and my life experience has taught me a few things also. My point about none of us are neutral.
    Fr. R.

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  8. J.K. Gayle,

    I hope not? But as I said, none of us is in a netural place. St. Paul certainly was not! I read my Greek NT every day, usually morning. I am not sure we can pull too much out of Paul here? The motive is spiritual, and all good Roman writers used rhetoric. But the letter is certainly a masterpiece of persuasion. I still don’t see a Jewish mother here though. That is a stretch to my mind? I lived in Israel myself for several years. And had some close Hasidic friends.
    Fr. R.

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  9. It is a personal touch to Paul, Fr. Robert, and my favorite of the ‘forgotten books.’

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  10. I love Barclay’s work – although his total theology would leave a bit to be desired. Phillips is an honest paraphrase, which I have on my shelf.

    I would say that you are correct about his family members being mentioned. (Which does give credence to Calvin’s theory, doesn’t it?)

    I appreciate the kind words. I am toying with a translation of Mark which might not go other well. Maybe I’ll post it late one night when no one will likely read it.

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  11. St. Mark, now there is a Gospel! I have R.T France’s NIGTC there also. It is kind of a quick run to the Atonement. But Mark 13 is very profound! But Mark 14:32-42 is in many ways one of my favorite Gospel texts. But note, verses 51 & 52 also.

    Yes, I did translated Phil. 2:5-11 years back. It was morphe theou, that got hold of me! I have always maintained here the preexistence of Christ.

    Well keep at the translation work, perhaps that is your forte? The Church needs conservative and classic work here!
    Fr. R.

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  12. From both of you, that means a great deal to a novice. Thank you beyond words.

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  13. I will attempt to be brave enough to post my translation of Mark 1 tomorrow, Fr. Robert.

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  14. Sweet, and there are no mistakes, just new replacement words, if and whenever?
    Fr.R.

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  15. I can see that – as he said, he could use his office, but wanted something voluntarily.

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  16. Which is why he didn’t – because things done in the community of Christ in love trump any office’s mandate

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  17. She was just making an analogy of Paul’s tone, not saying that Paul is like a mother. Maybe she can clarify.

    Not everything is postmodern or feminist.

    I disagree with the guilt part but that too may be analogous.

    BTW Joel said, “When is why he didn’t” I have no idea what that means. Maybe it’s postmodern.
    Jeff

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  18. It was just a figure of speech, nothing more.

    I think we often treat Bible writers too woodenly, almost as if they are inhuman and have no emotions. I’ve studied Paul’s writings for a long time and have come to see that he has a great sense of humor, unlike some of his readers. Paul can also be very sarcastic, occasionally crude, and gets exasperated with people, especially the Galatians.

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  19. You’re not unconsciously doing to Paula what her figurative Jewish mother does, now are you Fr. Robert?

    Going back to Paul, and to Paula’s astute if younger and less-masculinistic and less-modernistic perspective of what Paul’s doing – there’s really something in Philemon to notice.

    Paul is clever! Notice how he butters up Philemon, playing on the themes of the letter recipient’s own manner and even his own name. “our dearly beloved and fellow-worker” “your love and your faith” “the communion of your faith” “your full capacity for good” “great joy and comfort from your love” “refreshed through you”

    Then he lowers the boom! “on account of love” he takes the high road being old and imprisoned, helpless and in need of help. Who would help Paul in this condition? Who could be so useful? Oh, it’s his own child. It’s this one named Useful. So Paul mentions him by name: Onesimus

    Now he goes into rhetoric about obligation and freedom and slavery and brotherhood – as if Philemon has free choice to with respect to enslaving Onesimus or setting him free, again.

    It’s some of the more powerful rhetoric ever written. If your mother (or your Jewish friend’s mother) ever used it – kindness in lowliness and in conversion – then you get what Paula means. You get what Paul means too.

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  20. “I’ve studied Paul’s writings for a long time and have come to see that he has a great sense of humor, unlike some of his readers. Paul can also be very sarcastic, occasionally crude, and gets exasperated with people, especially the Galatians.”

    careful Paula. you’re sounding like my mother (who sounds like Paul). :)

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  21. U got it, J. K. ! :-)

    I probably should have clarified that I had the quintessential American Jewish mother in mind, the one who says things like “My son never calls me” and lays down thick layers of guilt to a comic extreme.

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