Interview with Paul Holloway on Philippians (Hermeneia)

Holloway PhilippiansPaul A. Holloway (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is the University Professor of Classics and Ancient Christianity. He teaches courses in both the School of Theology and the College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to teaching at Sewanee, he was senior lecturer in New Testament and Christian origins in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies in the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

A member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, he has published articles in such journals as Harvard Theological Review, Novum Testamentum, New Testament Studies, Byzantinische Zeitschrift, Vetus Testamentum, Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, Early Christianity, and the Journal of Biblical Literature.

He has written Consolation in Philippians (Cambridge 2001), Coping with Prejudice: 1 Peter in Social Psychological Perspective (Tübingen, 2009), Philippians: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, 2017), and has edited Women and Gender in Ancient Religions (Tübingen, 2010). He is currently preparing a monograph on Romans for the German series Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament published by Mohr Siebeck, as well as a commentary on 1 Corinthians for the International Critical Commentary (ICC; ed. Christopher Tuckett, Oxford).

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Philippians?

I first became interested in Philippians at Rice University when I wrote a paper on the letter in a seminar on Paul for Prof. Werner Kelber. That became the inspiration for my University Chicago dissertation, which treated various Stoic themes in the letter.

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The commentary is written for the generally educated reader. As in all commentaries in the Hermeneia series, sources are cited in the original language but with an English translation. It is unapologetically critical and historical, but I am also very interested in Paul’s thought.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Philippians?

Two distinctives come to mind: the commentary argues that Philippians is a letter of consolation; I also pay a good bit of attention to Paul’s mystical side.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I did not think I was going to enjoy writing on the so-called Christ Hymn in Phil 2:6-11, since so much has been written on it. But in fact it was great fun.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I was repeatedly struck by Paul’s courage and his obvious affection for the Philippians. It is easy to forget that this is one of the earliest “letters from prison” that we have. To read it alongside Martin Luther King’s profound Letter from a Birmingham Jail is deeply moving.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Philippians?

Frankly, I find John Chrysostom’s homilies on Philippians to be unsurpassed. There is also a short Latin commentary by Jerome that is full of insights, but it has yet to be translated.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I am writing the commentary on 1 Corinthians for the International Critical Commentary (ICC).

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