Scholarship on 1-2 Thessalonians

In my pauline research, I am working through Paul’s letters (chronologically, hypothetically as they were written) and looking at how cultic metaphors are used.  My last couple of months have been in 1 Thessalonians.  Compared to Galatians and Romans there is very little good research on 1-2 Thess., but that is slowly changing.  As far as commentaries go,  my favorite has been Charles Wanamaker, in many ways because his attention to social and rhetorical aspects are well balanced with the more traditional interest in history and ‘theology’.  After that, certainly Malherbe and Bruce are worthy of note, though I do not like the format of either the Anchor Series or the WBC.  One major advantage of the WBC is the bibliography that appears before each pericope or section, but Bruce’s commentary is old enough to be a bit outdated and does not account for the excellent research that has appeared in the last couple of decades.

 After that, I appreciate the briefly but still informative commentaries by Beale (IVP) and Gaventa (Interpretation) who both have expertise in things apocalyptic.  Raymond Collins has authored a series of essays on 1-2 Thessalonians and has edited a collection of essays (both from Leuven UP) and these represent the best of scholarship on Paul’s letters to Thessalonica.  In the future, we look forward to a commentary by Helmut Koester (Hermeneia) and by J. Weima (Baker) – both from very different theological backgrounds, but will have useful perspectives.

4 thoughts on “Scholarship on 1-2 Thessalonians

  1. And just so you know, Bruce’s commentary is being updated. Hopefully it won’t be like some of the other WBC “updates” (like the Gospel of John).

  2. Have you had a chance to check out Witherington’s new commentary? I’ve read positive reviews thus far.

    Also, what are your thoughts on Nichol’s published dissertation (did you have him at GCTS?). And, have you heard if it’s going to be published at a much more reasonable cost?

    Enjoying your website.

  3. As far as Witherington, the conclusion is mixed. On the one hand, the ‘socio-rhetorical’ approach is refreshing with a view towards Paul’s literary techniques and applying his thought with a view towards the contextualization of the letter. On the other hand, aside from some excellent excurses, there is not a great deal of ‘original’ material. IF I were to buy one commentary, it would be Wanamaker – still the reigning champion, though Malherbe is a close second.

    Vis-a-vis Nichol’s work, he has done an excellent job trying to propose a situation that would explain the nature and purpose of Paul’s two Thessalonian epistles. Those with a presuppositional attitude that Paul did not write 2 Thessalonians will probably not buy his proposal. But, those that hold to the genuiness of 2 Thess will see this historical reconstruction as viable. He offers a sane, balanced perspective and in many ways it demonstrates good exegetical work. I have not read it cover to cover, but from my interactions with Dr. Nichol, I’m sure it holds to the highest standards of academic scholarship.

    As for a ‘cheaper’ printing – probably not in the works.

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