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RBL Review: Philippians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition (Flemming)

My review of Dean Flemming’s commentary on Philippians in the Review of Biblical Literature is now available online. I had the pleasure of meeting Dean earlier this year at the Wesleyan Theological Society and seeing him again at Society of Biblical Literature. I was excited to hear about the kinds of projects he is working on and look forward to his forthcoming work. 

This commentary on Philippians will be extremely beneficial to pastors and students in the Wesleyan-Methodist tradition. And interested readers in other traditions will find it useful in gaining a better understanding of the biblical basis for key elements of Wesleyan theology, the doctrine of Christian Perfection not least. There aren’t a lot of commentaries out there that take an explicitly “Wesleyan” perspective. And as winner of the 2012 Smith/Wynkoop Book Award, this one is certainly worth your time. Here’s an excerpt from the review that highlights the value of this commentary for the Wesleyan tradition: 

Another important issue for Flemming’s Wesleyan approach is Paul’s self-description as one of the “perfect”  (τέλειος) in 3:15. He rejects the common suggestion that Paul is speaking ironically and argues instead that the apostle has in mind the adoption of the mind of Christ. Flemming expresses his dissatisfaction with the common translation of this term with the English “mature,” which falls short of the comprehensive wholeness that Paul has in mind, a sentiment shared by this reviewer. Drawing on the writings of John Wesley, who is  well-known for his doctrine of Christian  perfection, Flemming argues for an understanding of perfection that is not static and absolute but dynamic and relative and that corresponds to Paul’s insistence on describing the present experience of some Christians in terms of perfection. This portion of the commentary is immensely valuable for its articulation of a Wesleyan distinctive that is faithful to Pauline thought and that needs to be discovered afresh among present-day Wesleyans.

Read the whole review here.

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