Philemon help?

Here is (from syllabus) the instructions on the Philemon paper. Read carefully, then read below for extra help. Remember, no research is required, but it would help:

Due: one week from last class session, midnight, via email or Google Docs


The summary paper for Biblical Perspectives is to be a 5-7 page paper that addresses the meaning of the New Testament book of Philemon. Using the skills developed in the course, develop a paper that combines an understanding of the historical, literary and contemporary worlds.


The paper is meant to demonstrate the student’s own analysis and ability to work with a biblical text and as such need not to utilize other resources as in a traditional research paper.

Thesis:           The paper should include a clear thesis statement in the form of “the book of Philemon is about…”
Body:            The body of the paper should demonstrate a recognizable structure that articulates why the thesis is viable. The body of the paper may take the form of a verse by verse analysis, follow the categories of historical/literary/contemporary worlds, or use any thematic analysis that is most useful.
Conclusion:    The conclusion should restate the thesis and the support in summary fashion. The conclusion is also a place for reflection on the implications of Philemon for your life and work.
Symbol:         Throughout this course we have been using one guiding symbol for each night, corresponding to the theme of the evening.  Based on your study of the book of Philemon, develop your own symbol that you feel adequately conveys the message of the book and explain it in a paragraph.

Grading is based upon how well the thesis is stated and supported, by the clarity of the structure, by the depth of thought and by the quality of mechanics (spelling, grammar).
Don't forget your symbol...many do.
Here is some help on how to draw a diagram in WORD.

Here's a video on how to do it in Microsoft PAINT.

PHILEMON HELP? It would help to start collecting notes for your final paper on Philemon as soon as possible, as in a sense the whole class is preparing you to apply your "Three Worlds" skills to it.  I would start by reading it over (click here to read it a a few different translations) and listening to it a few times (audio below) and then going through the questions on pages 26 and 28 of your student guide (even though we will walk through those pages in class on Week 5),

Take a look at the "HOW TO STUDY A TEXT VIA THREE WORLDS" tab on our website, and consider using it as the lens for studying and writing your paper

Come up with a working written definition of what the book seems to be about.  Then you might want to branch out and watch some of the videos and commentaries linked below, remembering that they may not all get it "right," and you will see some things that the "experts" don't.  The commentaries will be helpful in understanding "historical world" background.  Pay careful attention to the instructions on the syllabus.  You do not have to cite any sources, but if you do, be sure you attribute them in your paper.

>>>N.T. Wright's  sermon (video excerpt and complete audio  here) will be helpful, as are his comments about the letter here, and his study questions on pages 55-57 here)

Here's a "word cloud" representation of word frequency in Philemon.  What do you notice?:

Philemon Word Cloud
Philemon  Word Cloud

(all New Testament word clouds here)

What's Philemon about?:

Three readings of the letter:


  • If, for your paper, you want to consider chiasm in Philemon, after searching out any such structures yourselves (which you are getting good at!) 



>>Here is a simple and helpful online commentary on Philemon

>>Here is an excellent one from IVP

>>several advanced online ARTICLES AND COMMENTARIES

If you want help on the "three worlds" of the Philemon paper ( after you have done most of your own research and preparation) here are  selections from two good resources.  Remember, the paper is what YOU think.

The first three pages below are from "The Bible Background Commentary"(very helpful) and the last page is the text and study notes from "The NIV Study Bible."  They both cover some good historical and literary world background, which you may quote in your paper (not required), and which may help you decide the theme of the book.  

Click a page to enlarge and read.  Once you have a page open, you can click to magnify it.

Kurt Willems, an FPU seminary student, has posted a helpful 5 part series on Philemon (text links below, audio here):

  1. Philemon: Forgiveness that Leads to Reconciliation, part one
  2. Philemon: Forgiveness that Leads to Reconciliation, part 2 (Business / Partnership Metaphors
  3. Philemon: Forgiveness that Leads to Reconciliation, part 3 (A Slave, a Master, and Forgiveness)
  4. Philemon: Forgiveness that Leads to Reconciliation, part 4 (Radical Reconciliation)
  5. Philemon: Forgiveness that Leads to Reconciliation, part 5 (New Possibilites!)

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