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1 and 2 Thessalonians Through the Centuries

ISBN: 978-1-4443-9014-8
336 pages
January 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
1 and 2 Thessalonians Through the Centuries (1444390147) cover image


This unique commentary on Paul’s early letters by an outstanding New Testament specialist, provides a broad range of original perspectives of how people have interpreted, and been influenced by, Paul’s first two letters.
  • Addresses questions concerning the content, setting, and authenticity of the two Thessalonian letters, drawing on responses from leading scholars, poets, hymn writers, preachers, theologians, and biblical scholars throughout the ages
  • Offers new insights into issues they raise concerning feminist biblical interpretation.
  • Provides a history of two-way influences, as exemplified by Ulrich Luz, Hans Robert Jauss, and Hans-Georg Gadamer
  • Written by Anthony Thiselton, a leading commentator on the Greek New Testament
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Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Abbreviations xv

Introduction 1

The Aims of Reception History 1

The Situation and Substance of 1 Thessalonians 7

The City of Thessalonica 10

Traditional and Nineteenth-Century Arguments about the Authenticity of 2 Thessalonians and Their Criticism 11

The Situation and Substance of 2 Thessalonians 15

Some Key Interpreters in the Reception History of 1 and 2 Thessalonians 19

1 Thessalonians 21

Paul’s Address, Thanksgiving, Prayer, and Reflection on His Visit (1 Thessalonians 1:1–10) 23

Address, Thanksgiving, and Prayer (1 Thess. 1:1–6a) 23

Introduction and Overview 23

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Era 25

The Medieval Period 27

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 29

The Eighteenth Century 33

The Nineteenth Century 35

Paul’s Reflection on His Visit: The Readers are an Example to Believers from Greece (1 Thess. 1:6b–10) 38

Introduction and Overview 38

The Subapostolic and Patristic Era 39

The Medieval Period 41

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 43

The Eighteenth Century 46

The Nineteenth Century 48

Paul’s Autobiographical Reflections and Defense (1 Thessalonians 2:1–8) 50

Introduction and Overview 51

The Patristic Era 52

The Medieval Period 55

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 58

The Eighteenth Century 61

The Nineteenth Century 62

How the Readers Received the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:9–16) 65

Introduction and Overview 65

The Patristic Era 68

The Medieval Period 70

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 72

The Eighteenth Century 75

The Nineteenth Century 76

Paul’s Longing to See the Thessalonians and Timothy’s Visit and News (1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13) 79

Introduction and Overview 79

The Patristic Era 81

The Medieval Period 85

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 88

The Eighteenth Century 90

The Nineteenth Century 92

The Call to Holiness, Especially to Holiness and Love in Personal Relationships (1 Thessalonians 4:1–12) 95

Introduction and Overview 95

The Patristic Era 98

The Medieval Period 101

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Periods 103

The Eighteenth Century 108

The Nineteenth Century 110

The Living and the Dead Share Together in the Parousia and in the Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18) Introduction and Overview 115

The Patristic Era 120

The Medieval Period 129

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 132

The Eighteenth Century 137

The Nineteenth Century 140

Note on “the Rapture” in Dispensationalist Views of 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17 143

The Day of the Lord: Timing and Light (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11) 146

Introduction and Overview 146

The Patristic Era 148

The Medieval Era 151

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 154

The Eighteenth Century 156

The Nineteenth Century 158

Various Christian Duties and Closure (1 Thessalonians 5:12–28) 161

Introduction and Overview 161

The Patristic Era 162

The Medieval Era 167

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 168

The Eighteenth Century 173

The Nineteenth Century 174

2 Thessalonians 177

Address, Greetings, and Thanksgiving (2 Thessalonians 1:1–4) 179

Introduction and Overview 179

The Subapostolic and Patristic Eras 180

The Medieval Period 182

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 185

The Eighteenth Century 188

The Nineteenth Century 189

Encouragement and Prayer: The Judgment of God and the Revelation of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:5–12) 191

Introduction and Overview 191

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Era 193

The Medieval Church 197

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 201

The Eighteenth Century 206

The Nineteenth Century 209

The Day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:1–12) 211

Introduction and Overview of 2 Thess. 2:1–12 211

The Advent of Christ and the “Man of Sin” (2 Thess. 2:1–6a);

Note on the Antichrist 213

Introduction and Overview 213

Note on the Antichrist 213

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Period 217

The Medieval Period 223

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 226

Eighteenth Century Pietism 229

The Nineteenth Century 230

“He Who Now Restrains” and “The Lawless One” (2 Thess. 2:6b–12) 231

Introduction and Overview 231

The Patristic Era 233

The Medieval Period 236

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 239

The Eighteenth Century 242

The Nineteenth Century 242

Thanksgiving, Exhortation and Benediction (2 Thessalonians 2:13–17) 245

Introduction and Overview 245

The Subapostolic and Patristic Eras 246

The Medieval Era 248

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 249

The Eighteenth Century 251

The Nineteenth Century 253

Further Prayer and Exhortation, Largely New Issues (2 Thessalonians 3:1–18) 256

Further Prayer (2 Thess. 3:1–5) 256

Overview 256

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Period 257

The Medieval Era 259

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 260

The Eighteenth Century 262

The Nineteenth Century 263

Exhortation and Admonition about “Idlers” or Undisciplined People (2 Thess. 3:6–13) 264

Introduction and Overview 264

The Subapostolic and Patristic Periods 265

The Medieval Period 268

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 270

The Eighteenth Century 272

The Nineteenth Century 273

Final Exhortations, Greetings, and Benediction (2 Thess. 3:14–18) 274

Introduction and Overview 274

The Subapostolic and Patristic Periods 274

The Medieval Period 275

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras 277

The Eighteenth Century 278

The Nineteenth Century 279

Brief Biographies 281

Bibliography 288

Index of Biblical and Jewish Texts (Canonical and Deuterocanonical Order) 300

Index of Names 306

Index of Subjects 312

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Author Information

Anthony C. Thiselton is Professor of Christian Theology, University of Nottingham, and Emeritus Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Chester. He is the author of The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (2000), and numerous other works including Interpreting God and the Postmodern Self (1995), A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion (2002), and The Hermeneutics of Doctrine (2007).
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“The book is valuable for its historical coverage – there are 89 ‘brief biographies’ at the end of the book – and also for Thiselton’s own brief but wise comments.”  (Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 1 November 2012)

"I can think of no person better qualified to write a reception-history commentary than Anthony Thiselton, because he knows what reception history means and how it plays out in interpretation. This commentary is a treasure trove of exegetical and theological insights gleaned from the vast and interesting array of those who not only have interpreted these important letters to the Thessalonians but have responded in prose and poetry to their major themes and ideas."
 —Stanley E. Porter, President and Dean, and Professor of New Testament, McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

"With an uncanny grasp of the "afterlife" of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Anthony Thiselton demonstrates why it is crucial that we understand that we aren’t the first people to encounter these Pauline letters. Not surprisingly, with this foray into the emerging area of reception history, Anthony Thiselton has set a high bar for those who will follow."
Joel B. Green, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Fuller Theological Seminary

"It will be a key resource for all who would endeavour to understand how Paul has been read and should be read. Lucid in style, this volume is not only immensely scholarly it is also an accessible and extremely enjoyable read!"
Professor Alan J Torrance, Chair of Systematic Theology, University of St Andrews

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