Reviews – March 2014

Joseph Hellerman, Embracing Shared Ministry

The work of academic-practitioners always interests me and this was no different.  Hellermann writes as a scholar with considerable understanding of the cultural background to the Philippian church (see his earlier monograph) yet also as a pastor whose heart is to express how any of this matters to today’s church.  The book is divided into three main sections, the first two of which explore the honour culture embedded in Roman society and its implications for our reading of Philippians, particularly to servanthood in the context of the Christ-hymn.  The third section purports to apply his conclusions from the earlier sections to contemporary ecclesial ministry.

I have to say that I really enjoyed all of the sections.  However, although this is largely pitched as a more popular-level offering than a monograph, I do think that not everyone whose interest is shared ministry in the ecclesial context will necessarily appreciate the level of detail in the first two sections!  I also struggled to see that the connections between these and the third section were as robust as I think Hellerman intended.  That said, the third section was very much grounded in practice and concrete case-study examples and I appreciated the author’s comments concerning shared ministry which is something close to my heart.

Despite my slight reservation, I consider this book to be a helpful reflection on power and status in the Philippian context and will be assigning portions of it for a UK-based seminary course on leadership.

I received a free e-copy of this book from Kregel in return for a fair and honest review.

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