Paul, the Letter Writer.
M. Luther Stirewalt's expertise in ancient epistolography has produced the excellent book Paul, the Letter Writer (Eerdmans, $22). He argues that Paul's letters adapt the form of the "official Roman letter," a novel view. He discusses the logistics of letter writing and delivery, then turns to five aspects in the classification and form of the official letter and Paul's modified use of them, then to a more detailed examination of the seven certainly authentic letters. He compares 1 Corinthians to the Emperor Claudius's letter to Alexandria and Philippians to a letter of Antiochus to Erythrae. He identifies Romans as a "letter-essay." His final chapter assesses the significance for the interpretation of Paul. An appendix contains text and analysis of sixteen relevant letters. An extensive bibliography and index of Scripture passages complete the book. This analysis illuminates many facets of Paul's letters, though it does not give a compelling argument for preferring official letters over others as parallels to Paul.
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