Cover

Contents

Series Editors’ Preface

Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

Introduction

The Aims of Reception History

The Situation and Substance of 1 Thessalonians

The City of Thessalonica

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

The Situation and Substance of 2 Thessalonians

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

1 Thessalonians

Pauls Address, Thanksgiving, Prayer, and Reflection on His Visit (1 Thessalonians 1:1–10)

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

Introduction and Overview

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Subapostolic and Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

Pauls Autobiographical Reflections and Defense (1 Thessalonians 2:1–8)

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

Pauls Longing to See the Thessalonians and Timothys Visit and News (1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13)

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Periods

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

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

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Era

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Era

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

2 Thessalonians

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

Introduction and Overview

The Subapostolic and Patristic Eras

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Era

The Medieval Church

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

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

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

Introduction and Overview

Note on the Antichrist

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Period

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

Eighteenth Century Pietism

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Patristic Era

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Subapostolic and Patristic Eras

The Medieval Era

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Further Prayer (2 Thess. 3:1–5)

Overview

The Apostolic Fathers and the Patristic Period

The Medieval Era

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Subapostolic and Patristic Periods

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

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

Introduction and Overview

The Subapostolic and Patristic Periods

The Medieval Period

The Reformation and Post-Reformation Eras

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

Brief Biographies

Bibliography

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

Index of names

Index of Subjects

Praise for 1 & 2 Thessalonians Through the Centuries

“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. For some it might have been enough simply to document centuries of encounter with these New Testament texts, but Thiselton takes us further, showing where the history of influence has been relatively stable and also where that history provokes our fresh reflection. 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

“This superb commentary deals with some of the earliest Christian writing we possess. The reception history exemplified here considers not simply how different readers at different times interpreted these important texts but the whole manner in which they have shaped the history and direction of the church and its thinking. This sheds immense light not only on the suppositions that we naturally bring to the themes of these texts but how we should and should not interpret Paul. All this is undertaken not only with the scholarly depth that one would expect from one of our foremost Biblical and hermeneutical scholars of our time but also with profound insight into the theological issues at stake. Of interest equally to church historians, Biblical scholars, theologians and ministers alike, it is 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

Blackwell Bible Commentaries

Series Editors: John Sawyer, Christopher Rowland, Judith Kovacs, David M. Gunn

John Through the Centuries

Mark Edwards

Revelation Through the Centuries

Judith Kovacs & Christopher Rowland

Judges Through the Centuries

David M. Gunn

Exodus Through the Centuries

Scott M. Langston

Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries

Eric S. Christianson

Esther Through the Centuries

Jo Carruthers

Psalms Through the Centuries: Volume I

Susan Gillingham

Galatians Through the Centuries

John Riches

The Pastoral Epistles Through
the Centuries

Jay Twomey

1 & 2 Thessalonians Through
the Centuries

Anthony C. Thiselton

Forthcoming

Leviticus Through the Centuries

Mark Elliott

1 & 2 Samuel Through the Centuries

David M. Gunn

1 & 2 Kings Through the Centuries

Martin O’Kane

Psalms Through the Centuries: Volume II

Susan Gillingham

Song of Songs Through the Centuries

Francis Landy & Fiona Black

Isaiah Through the Centuries

John F. A. Sawyer

Jeremiah Through the Centuries

Mary Chilton Callaway

Lamentations Through the Centuries

Paul M. Joyce & Diane Lipton

Ezekiel Through the Centuries

Andrew Mein

Jonah Through the Centuries

Yvonne Sherwood

The Minor Prophets Through the Centuries

By Jin Han & Richard Coggins

Mark Through the Centuries

Christine Joynes

The Acts of the Apostles Through
the Centuries

By Heidi J. Hornik &
Mikeal C. Parsons

Romans Through the Centuries

Paul Fiddes

1 Corinthians Through the Centuries

Jorunn Okland

Hebrews Through the Centuries

John Lyons

James Through the Centuries

David Gowler

Image

Series Editors’ Preface

The Blackwell Bible Commentaries series, the first to be devoted primarily to the reception history of the Bible, is based on the premise that how people have interpreted, and been influenced by, a sacred text like the Bible is often as interesting and historically important as what it originally meant. The series emphasizes the influence of the Bible on literature, art, music, and film, its role in the evolution of religious beliefs and practices, and its impact on social and political developments. Drawing on work in a variety of disciplines, it is designed to provide a convenient and scholarly means of access to material until now hard to find, and a much-needed resource for all those interested in the influence of the Bible on western culture.

Until quite recently this whole dimension was for the most part neglected by biblical scholars. The goal of a commentary was primarily if not exclusively to get behind the centuries of accumulated Christian and Jewish tradition to one single meaning, normally identified with the author’s original intention.

The most important and distinctive feature of the Blackwell Commentaries is that they will present readers with many different interpretations of each text, in such a way as to heighten their awareness of what a text, especially a sacred text, can mean and what it can do, what it has meant and what it has done, in the many contexts in which it operates.

The Blackwell Bible Commentaries will consider patristic, rabbinic (where relevant), and medieval exegesis as well as insights from various types of modern criticism, acquainting readers with a wide variety of interpretative techniques. As part of the history of interpretation, questions of source, date, authorship, and other historical-critical and archaeological issues will be discussed, but since these are covered extensively in existing commentaries, such references will be brief, serving to point readers in the direction of readily accessible literature where they can be followed up.

Original to this series is the consideration of the reception history of specific biblical books arranged in commentary format. The chapter-by-chapter arrangement ensures that the biblical text is always central to the discussion. Given the wide influence of the Bible and the richly varied appropriation of each biblical book, it is a difficult question which interpretations to include. While each volume will have its own distinctive point of view, the guiding principle for the series as a whole is that readers should be given a representative sampling of material from different ages, with emphasis on interpretations that have been especially influential or historically significant. Though commentators will have their preferences among the different interpretations, the material will be presented in such a way that readers can make up their own minds on the value, morality, and validity of particular interpretations.

The series encourages readers to consider how the biblical text has been interpreted down the ages and seeks to open their eyes to different uses of the Bible in contemporary culture. The aim is to write a series of scholarly commentaries that draw on all the insights of modern research to illustrate the rich interpretative potential of each biblical book.

John Sawyer
Christopher Rowland
Judith Kovacs
David M. Gunn

Acknowledgments

Many people deserve special thanks for their part in making this project possible. The two New Testament editors of this series, Professor Chris Rowland of Oxford University and Professor Judith Kovacs of Virginia University gave me useful advice on how to reduce an original total of nearly 150,000 words to about 125,000 words. Professor Kovacs also helped to familiarize me with the “premillennial” and “rapture” approaches to the text, mainly in the United States.

Facilities for continued teaching and research, virtually until the age of 75, were granted generously by Professor Sir Colin Campbell, then Vice Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, and by Professor Alan Ford, now Dean of the Faculty of Arts. I thank them and my wife Rosemary for their encouragement and support for this sixteenth book. I wish particularly to thank Mrs. Karen Woodward, my ever patient and competent secretary, for typing the whole manuscript throughout. She and Rosemary have also performed the marvelous work of proofreading the text. Ms. Lucy Boon, Production Editor of Wiley-Blackwell, has also given helpful advice on the production of the book, for which I thank her.

For the use of the illustrations or images of three Apocalypses, I thank the Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge, for their kind permission to use The Trinity College Apocalypse; I thank the Librarian of the Lambeth Palace Library, London and the good offices of Mrs. Clare Brown for permission to use The Lambeth Apocalypse; and the Staatsbibliothek Bamberg, Lucerne for kind permission to use The Bamberg Apocalypse. I am also glad to acknowledge the kind permission of Cambridge University Press to quote from Pelagius’s Expositions Thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, ed J. Armitage Robinson (1926); of Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, MA to quote from Theodoret’s Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul (2001); of The Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, to quote from Second Thessalonians: Two Early Medieval Apocalyptic Commentaries: The Commentaries of Haimo of Auxerre and Thietland of Einsiedeln, intro. and tr. Steven R. Cartwright and Kevin L. Hughes (2001); of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishing of Wheaton, IL, to quote extracts from John Calvin, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, ed. Alastair McGrath and J. I. Packer (1999); of Lutterworth Press, to quote from John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, tr. Henry Beveridge (1957); and of Mr. Tom De Vries of Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, to quote from Ben Witherington III, I and 2 Thessalonians (2006). Other quotations are shorter, or taken from older sources now out of copyright, including J.-P. Migne (ed.), Patrologia Latina.

Anthony C. Thiselton
University of Nottingham

Abbreviations

ANF The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to AD 325, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, rev. A. Cleveland Coxe. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956–62 [1885–96].
CCSL Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina
FC Fathers of the Church
LCC Library of Christian Classics, vols. 1–26, gen. eds. John Baillie, John T. McNeill, and Henry P. Van Dusen. London: SCM, 1953–69. Vols. 20 and 25 published Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960.
NPNF1 A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 1st series, ed. Philip Schaff. 14 vols. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1886–9.
NPNF2 A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd series, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. 14 vols. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
PG Patrologiae cursus completus: Series Graeca, ed. Jacques-Paul Migne. Paris: Garnier, 1857–66. (Popularly known as Patrologia Graeca.)
PL Patrologiae cursus completus: Series Latina, ed. Jacques-Paul Migne. Paris: Garnier, 1844–65. (Popularly known as Patrologia Latina.)