Trainor’s little book makes an elusive character, mentioned only three times in the New Testament, come to life. Through careful word study he unlocks layers of meaning, and presents sociological and anthropological models in easily comprehensible language. The use of network analysis enables the social networks implied in the Letters to Philemon and the Colossians to be so illustrated that it actually gives us something of a commentary on the two Letters. Trainor effectively maintains the balancing act between various positions on Pauline authorship. This study also illustrates some of the breadth of the Lycus Valley project at Flinders University, that is not confined to archaeology but expands to include all possible aspects of ancient life there.
Carolyn Osiek, Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas
This new series of books is a welcome and promising initiative. While Paul still continues to attract scholars’ attention, his closest collaborators, friends, and relations remain all too often in the dark or are dealt with only incidentally. Yet giving proper consideration to Paul’s web of social relations can help us understand the Apostle himself and his legacy.
God’s Word Today
Complementing his archaeological work at Colossae, Michael Trainor here makes skillful use of insights from sociology and cultural anthropology to cull a remarkable amount of information concerning Paul’s trusted co-worker Epaphras and the network of churches that he founded and served in the Lycus Valley. While accessible and rewarding for Bible study-groups in contemporary parish communities, this study also offers a reliableand I believe uniqueresource for scholars on a neglected but significant early Christian leader.
Brendan Byrne, SJ, Professor of New Testament, Jesuit Theological College, Parkville (Victoria), Australia