Events General News News Releases

CMU to celebrate publication of Philippians with book launch event

Commentary by Gordon Zerbe emphasizes citizenship, partnership, and joy

Canadian Mennonite University invites the public to a book launch celebrating the release of Philippians, a new Bible commentary by New Testament scholar Dr. Gordon Zerbe.

The event takes place Thursday, November 24 at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). In addition to hearing from Zerbe, who will lead attendees on a “virtual tour through Paul’s Philippi,” people will have the one-time opportunity to purchase copies of the book at a 30 per cent discount at CommonWord Bookstore and Resource Centre.

Philippians Book Launch PosterAdmission to the book launch is free, and all are welcome to attend.

Published by Herald Press, Philippians is the 31st volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series.

In the commentary, Zerbe challenges readers to allow Paul’s prison letter to interpret their own lives—not by extracting lessons out of historical and cultural context, but by imagining themselves in the ancient Roman world.

“Paul’s wisdom in the letter can mirror back to us some of our own circumstances and questions,” says Zerbe, who is Vice President Academic at CMU. “Once we live into the world of that text, we can look back at ourselves in a new way.”

He adds that to understand Paul and his beloved and beleaguered congregation in Philippi, we must learn to see him as a leader transformed by grace and passionate about enlivening patriotic loyalty to Jesus alone.

In the commentary, Zerbe emphasizes four main themes: citizenship, partnership, high-low inversion, and joy.

“What it means to fully realize the vision of partnership and mutuality that Paul articulated, and what it means to faithfully practice the way of being in solidarity with the lowly, are imperatives as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago,” Zerbe says.

He adds that he accepted the invitation to write the commentary because he has been absorbed in work on Paul and his letters ever since the days of his doctoral studies at Princeton Theological Seminary.

“This was a great opportunity to deepen my understanding of one letter,” Zerbe says. “In addition, I was already convinced that some new thinking about Paul and Philippians could make for an exciting new venture in a commentary.”

The Believers Church Bible Commentary series is designed to be accessible to lay readers, useful in preaching and pastoral care, helpful for Bible study groups and Sunday school teachers, and academically sound. The series also carries an underlying Anabaptist reading of Scripture.

The volumes are a cooperative project of Brethren in Christ Church, Brethren Church, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Brethren Church, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

In addition to a PhD from Princeton, Zerbe holds degrees from Western Washington University, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary, Tabor College, and Columbia Bible College. He is the author of Citizenship: Paul on Peace and Politics.

After growing up in Japan as a child of mission workers, a highlight in his career was a series of years (1996–98, 2002–04) in the Philippines as visiting professor at the Silliman University Divinity School under the auspices of Mennonite Central Committee.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

General News News Releases

Gordon Matties’ Book, Joshua, Launched

May 28, 2012  – Taking a fresh new look at an age-old and often misunderstood  book, Dr. Gordon Matties has written Joshua, the newest volume in the Believers Church Bible CommentaryJoshua was launched in May 2012 by Herald Press. The commentary series is a joint project of six Anabaptist-related churches:  Mennonite Church (USA and Canada), Mennonite Brethren Church, Church of the Brethren, Brethren Church, and Brethren in Christ. 

Matties, professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg and CMU’s former Dean of Humanities and Sciences, builds on the idea of Scripture as dialogue partner.

“Over the years, Christians have often used the Old Testament book of Joshua to justify warfare, conquest, colonialism, and even ethnic cleansing,” says Matties. “This commentary imagines the book of Joshua as a participant in an intra-biblical conversation in which Joshua interprets other texts, and other texts interpret Joshua. Viewed that way, the Bible itself bears witness to a lively, if painful, debate about the relationship between violence and the identity and mission of God’s people.”

“Joshua is troubling, especially to those for whom divinely commanded warfare and conquest are major stumbling blocks to their reading of the Bible,” writes Tom Yoder Neufeld, professor of religious studies at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo.Matties takes up the challenge, letting the text have its say while inviting readers to an often difficult conversation.”

“Matties invites readers to enter a conversation marked by hermeneutical hospitality, giving Joshua its say as well as providing opportunity to listen to other biblical texts… a masterful treatment,” writes Lynn Jost, professor of Old Testament, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.

In his book, Matties cautions Christians about hearing what they want to hear when they read Joshua and other difficult sections of the Bible. This includes those who believe Joshua justifies war as well as those who reject war. “We do well to foster an openness to the unexpected,” says Matties.

He suggests that reading Joshua care­fully will open windows into how and why we read Scripture at all, and will push Christians not to settle for easy answers.  

“In a time of religious justification for terrorism and counter-terrorism, Joshua may be a book for our time,” says Matties.

“Be prepared for surprises,” writes Elmer A. Martens, professor emeritus of Old Testament, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, on reviewing Joshua.  “While some commentaries offer definitive answers, Matties encourages dialogue—with other biblical texts, with the early Church Fathers, Origen, and with Tolkien and modern films.”                                                                                                                                                                                            

W. Derek Suderman, assistant professor of religious studies, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, comments: “Attentive to the often negative legacy of Joshua, Matties provides profound insight, and exemplifies a commitment to both Scripture and community that reflects the peace church tradition at its best. Sometimes resources for peace can be found in the most unexpected places.”

Matties holds a PhD in Old Testament from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. His doctoral dis­sertation, Ezekiel 18 and the Rhetoric of Moral Discourse, was published by the Society of Biblical Literature.

He also contributed to Abingdon Press’s The New Interpreter’s Study Bible and to the forthcoming Common English Bible Study Bible.  Matties is a member of the Editorial Council of the Believers Church Bible Commentary.

Before coming to CMU, Gordon worked at Mennonite Brethren Bible College and its successor, Concord College.

For information or to place an order for Joshua, Believers Church Bible Commentary, visit