Ephesians comprises volumes 34 and 34A of the Anchor Bible, a new book-by-book translation with introductions, notes, and comments by individual scholars, each known for outstanding contributions to biblical studies. Markus Barth, son of Karl Barth, held a New Testament chair at the University of Basel, Switzerland.
Encompassing the body of Pauline theology, Ephesians has been called “the crown of St. Paul’s writings,” yet both its authorship and addressees are the subject of continuing dispute. Through line-by-line examination of its vocabulary, its difficult style, its Qumran and Gnostic affinities, its parallels with and distinctions from the undisputed Pauline corpus, its use of the Old Testament, and its dialogue with orthodox and heretical Judaism, Markys Barth demonstrates that Paul was almost certainly the author. And after exploring previous explication of this hymnic and admonitory epistle in detail, he concludes that it was intended for Gentile Christians converted after Paul’s visits to Ephesus.
On this basis, Barth reexamines the relationship between Israel and the Church, discounting the thesis that Ephesians suggests an “early Catholic” or high-ecclesiastic or sacramental doctrine. Instead, he finds in this letter a statement of the social reconciliation that conditions the salvation of the individual. And reevaluating the section describing the relation between husband and wife, he offers and alternative to the traditional notion that Paul degrades women or belittles their rights and their dignity.
In these two volumes Barth has followed the structure of Ephesians: upon the praise of God (chapters 1-3) are based the admonitions (chapters 4-6). But just as the epistle is an integral whole, so is the author’s commentary. Through his special understanding and love of the apostle Paul, Markus Barth reopens to modern man the ancient message of love, worship, and joy.