Two New Books on Corinthians

Paul Barnett
Paul: A Pastor’s Heart in Second Corinthians
Sydney: Aquila, 2012.
Available from CEP.

This book by Paul Barnett, former Anglican Bishop of North Sydney, is his third work on 2 Corinthians. Barnett has already written commentaries on 2 Corinthians for the BST and NICNT series respectively. (See also his other fairly recent Corinthian book, The Corinthian Question: Why Did the Church Oppose Paul?). In this volume, we have not so much a commentary as such, but a series of studies on the overall message of the book.  Barnett’s book is a learned yet non-technical journey into 2 Corinthians covering subjects such as an introduction to the letter, the story of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians, opposition in Corinth, Paul’s defence, Paul’s love for the Corinthians, Paul’s collection, the third visit, and the unity of 2 Corinthians. A helpful book for anyone beginning a study on his letter of Paul and Barnett is particularly apt at showing the pastoral side to the Apostle Paul. Quite ideal for an Adult Sunday school class or Bible study group. Barnett concludes the book with these poignant words:

Churches that today stand in the tradition of Paul’s mission share his commitment to spreading the knowledge of God through the preaching of the gospel of Christ, crucified and risen. Like Paul they seek to be bold in their declaration of the apostolic gospel, placing the emphasis in culturally sensitive ways, and employing innovative means to do so. Sometimes, though, these very emphases if pursued apart form prayer and careful communication to the members can issue in serious division and alienation. Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians demonstrate the importance of love, mutual respect and holiness within the congregation and good repute within the community. where these are present the congregation will be one that outsiders will happily join and one from which the “word of life” will be extended to those who are outside its membership.


Ben Witherington
A Week in the Life of Corinth
Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2012.
Available at

Whenever I think of BW3 I somehow think of Alexander the Great. For when Alexander the Great conquered parts of India he wept because there were no lands left to conquer. I wonder if BW3 wept when he finished his last NT commentary because there were no NT books left to write commentaries on.  BW3’s commentary on 1-2 Corinthians I think is one of his better one’s (along side Acts, Galatians, Mark, and Revelation as his best … yes, I’ve read pretty much most of them). But this is something different. This is more like Gerd Theissen’s classic book Shadow of the Galilean. The short novella follows the week of Nicanor a freedman belonging to the house of Erastos and all the complications of life in Corinth. Many helpful excurses to get into the world of ancient Corinth.

See also Nijay Gupta’s review.

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  • Patrick

    Another good one is “Paul through Mediterranean Eyes” by Kenneth Bailey