It has recently come to my attention that Princeton Theological Seminary has archived thousands of older theological works and made them freely available online. Since I am writing on 1-2 Thessalonians, I did a quick search and found dozens of 19th and 20th century commentaries – for free! Some are still well known and respected (e.g., Eadie, Plummer), but others are less known, and yet still insightful.
One might think that commentaries from such a long time ago have little to contribute to ongoing exegetical discussions, but I was struck by the fact that these men (sadly only men have I found so far) knew their ancient history and their Greek. Also, they regularly demonstrate a kind of wit and eloquence all too often missing in our so-called “productive” culture. Here is a quick word from Eadie on Paul’s language of the labor (kopos) of love (1 Thess 1:3).
Kopos is earnest and toilsome service, into which the whole heart is thrown, travail of soul, often self-denial and exhaustion…The noun kopos comprises all the labour which belongs to Christian love. This love, the image of Christ’s, is no ordinary attachment, resting on the slender basis of mere professional fellowship, but is embodied in travail, and busies itself in kindness of all shapes, in the doing of which it spares no pains and grudges no sacrifice” (36-37); John Eadie, 1877