The Captivity Epistles

Field: New Testament
Unit Code(s): BN2319T (Online only)
Unit value: 18 points
Level: Undergraduate (Level 2)
Delivery mode: Online
Prerequisites: Introductory unit in NT

This unit provides an in-depth study of a group of letters from the Pauline corpus which are explicitly associated with Paul’s imprisonment (Philippians, Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians). The study of these letters will focus on the social and religious contexts out which the letters arise. It will examine the theology which emerges from each letter. Attention will also be paid to the question of authorship: whether Paul wrote all four or whether Colossians and Ephesians arise from a later context. The unit will consider the ways in which the letters address issues that are of continuing relevance for the life and mission of the church. 

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • critically interpret key aspects of Philippians, Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians in the light of critical scholarship
  • discuss, with exegetical support and consideration of a range of secondary scholarship, the rhetoric and theology of the four letters in their context
  • provide a critically informed account of sections in the letters which explore the relationship between theological conviction, ecclesial identity, and missional practice
  • demonstrate an understanding of hermeneutical principles in relation to the interpretation of early Christian letters.
  • 1,500-word exegetical essay (40%)
  • 1,500-word thematic essay (40%)
  • Tutorial engagement across six forums, equivalent to 1,000 words (20%)
Recommended Reading:

* recommended for purchase

Best, Ernest, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Ephesians. London: T&T Clark, 2004.

Bockmuehl, Markus. The Epistle to the Philippians. 4th ed. London: A & C Black, 1997.

Fee, Gordon. D. Paul's Letter to the Philippians. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Fowl, Stephen E. Ephesians. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2012.

Fowl, Stephen E. Philippians. Grand Rapids / Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2005.

Hay, David M. Colossians. Nashville: Abingdon, 2000.

* Schnabel, Eckhard J. Paul the Missionary: Realities, Strategies and Methods. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2008.

Sumney, Jerry. Colossians: A Commentary. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2010.

Tolmie, D. Francois, Philemon in Perspective: Interpreting a Pauline Letter. Berlin / New York: de Gruyter, 2010.

Ware, James. The Mission of the Church in Paul's Letter to the Philippians and in the Context of Ancient Judaism. Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2005.

* Wright, N.T. The Paul Debate: Critical Questions for Understanding the Apostle. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2015.