I received this volume a month ago, and have been eagerly devouring it bit by bit. I was enthusiastic about obtaining it, and more enthusiastic after reading it. This is the sort of NT studies volume which I love: one that thoroughly examines some aspect of the historical/cultural context of the NT and brings the results of that research to bear on text and theology, resulting in plausible solutions to challenging questions.
In his volume, Richards minutely examines the practice of letter-writing in the first-century Greco-Roman world. Among other conclusions, he finds that (1) Paul’s “co-senders” were in reality “co-authors” (although Paul’s was the prominent voice), and this may account for differences in style and content within a letter or among letters; (2) Paul almost certainly utilized drafts and revisions of most of his letters; (3) Paul very likely retained copies of his letters (and occasionally drew from them for material in later epistles), a notion which informs proposals of pseudonymity based on close similarity between two letters (e.g., 1 & 2 Thessalonians).
Much more awaits the reader of this volume. I only regret that I was not aware of this work when it was first published. I will be relating some of Richard’s particularly salient points in upcoming posts.