From: Jim Oxford (JOxford@easy.com)
Date: Wed Feb 05 1997 - 12:13:09 EST
At 8:40 PM 2/4/97, Perry L. Stepp wrote:
>"A personal letter"? ". . . to Philemon . . ., to Apphia . . ., to
>Archippus . . ., and to the church that meets in your home" (Phm 1.1).
>That doesn't sound like a personal letter to me.
Fair enough, though in comparison to other letters in which Paul addresses
the recipients as "to saints in Rome, to the church in Corinth, to the
churches in Galatia, to the saints in Philippi, to the church of the
Thessalonikans," his letter to Philemon "does" give the appearance of being
a personal letter.
>Perhaps our impression of Philemon as a personal letter is based more on
>our knowledge of its contents, and our impression of how we would feel if
>someone read such a letter publicly if we were Philemon (or Apphia--don't
>the subscriptions in many manuscripts indicate that many scribes thought
>her to be the master of Onesimus?), than what's in the text. (How's that
>for tortured English?)
Perhaps you're right, though the identification of the recipients in the
letter to Philemon does differ from other letters customarily regarded as
"church letters." Furthermore, as Jerome Murphy-O'Connor has pointed out,
throughout the letter to Philemon, "you" is always in the masculine
singular, suggesting that this letter was indeed personal, and that some
other explanation must be proferred to account for the plurality of
addressees (Paul the Letter Writer, pp. 52-53). Note also the personal
touch in v. 7.
Perhaps we now have something to discuss on Monday nights other than
rhetorical criticism. No offense to rhetorical critics intended.
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