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Supplying The Missing Body Of Onesimus: Readings Of Paul'S Letter To Philemon

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Chapter Summary

The Apostle Paul's letter to Philemon is just that - a letter. It is a personal letter to a "dear friend" about a particular situation that involves Paul, Philemon and a certain man named Onesimus. This chapter focuses on the nature of this text as a both a personal letter about a particular experience in the life of Paul and an authoritative canonical text. The discussion is guided by ideas raised by the literary perspective known as the New Historicism. It highlights some ideas that are of special interest in exploring Paul's letter to Philemon. It then explores the implications of Philemon's double status as both a strikingly particular text and as a text bearing canonical authority. The chapter examines how the history of the reception of Philemon has been affected by its dual identity.

Keywords: authoritative canonical text; dual identity; new historicism; Onesimus; Paul's letter; Philemon



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