Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Restoring what was Taken

Well, my study of Thessalonians may now resume, with my books being happily replaced by someone in my Church being frustrated that I could no longer continue with my series on Thessalonians due to my car being stolen with my laptop and all my commentaries and books on Thessalonians inside! God's people are so good, and gracious!

I'm hoping to explore 1 Thess 2:13-16, that tricky little piece which some have assumed and argued is an interpolation. I'm also wanting to explore further the view that 1 Thess 5:14ff. is addressed to the leaders. I'm trying to get my paws on a copy of Jeff Weima's book: Neglected Endings: The Significance of Pauline Letter Closings. Incidently, Weima is writing the Baker commentary on Thessalonians which should be quite good. I'm also looking forward to finishing Fee's tome, which I only got half way through!

As you can see, my summer reading will consist of books on the epistles of Peter. I'm hoping to plough through Green, Jobes and McKnight (or Michael's) and then move on to Davids, Bauckham and Neyrey (perhaps adding Reese) on 2 Peter. This is for a series we're doing at Primal. Should be good, and informative. Hopefully, Thessalonians won't distract me further [nor will Michael Pahl, who's posts on Thessalonians were the first to entice me to survey and study, briefly, these letters!].

Anyway, back to studying...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's All about Q...

And all this for Q...
Well, almost. There seems to be a bit of a "Q" fe(a)st on at the moment, so I'll just recap for those not familiar with the discussion. "Q" is short for the German word, quelle, which means "source". I'm not sure who coined the term [somebody in the blogosphere should know], but it's been around for some time now. Basically, "Q" is the designation for material common to Matt and Lukas, but not found in Mark. It is a hypothetical source/(document?) that is postulated to account for corresponding material in Luke and Matt's gospel. An easier solution to the problem is to say that Luke used Matt, that's my view, but much scholarship today still feels the need for "Q" and so the investigation continues.
Mark Goodacre alerts us to some of the discussion going down in his post: Christmas without Q. I must plead guilty to not fully understanding all the techinical issues involved, and I am "Q" sceptic because I just can't see how or why we need to postulate a hypothetical document, when a real one [Matt] exists which explains most, but probably not all, of the difficulties in our problem. Inference to the best explanation leads me to accept Markan priority, although there were times when I favoured the Griesbach Hypothesis and still think about it, and that Luke used both Matt and Mark [cf. Luke 1:1-4].
I am particularly sceptical about much of Q scholarship, and find myself echoing a quiet AMEN when I read Meier's causcious advice:

The affirmation of Q’s existence come close to exhausting my ability to believe in hypothetical entities. I find myself increasingly sceptical as more refined and detailed theories about Q’s extent, wording, community, geographical setting, stages of tradition and redaction, and coherent theology are proposed. I cannot help thinking that biblical scholarship would be greatly advanced if every morning all exegetes would repeat as a mantra: “Q is a hypothetical document whose exact extension, working, originating community, strata, and stages of redaction cannot be known.” This daily devotion might save us flights of fancy that are destined, in my view, to end in scepticism.

J. P. Meier, A Marginal Jew II, pg. 178

So, if you're interested, get reading as this is a fascinating, though technical at times, area of research into the gospels and early Christianity.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Unfortunately, my car was stolen last week. Along with it, my laptop and every commentary on Thessalonians that I own [Malherbe, Witherington, Green, Best, Bruce], along with Fee's Pauline Christology and God's Empowering Presence, so I'm taking some time out to sort things out, and catch up on all the work that's now behind... All I can hope for is one educated thief! Bless them LORD!
Hope to return to the blogosphere soon...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fee vs. Pahl on “The word of the Lord”

Gordon Fee in his massive tome, Pauline Christology, [reviewed by Tilling] suggests that the complex phrase “the word of the Lord” (1 Thess 1:8 and 4:15) refers in 1:8 to the gospel and in 4:15 to “that which is spoken by (or about) the Lord Jesus.” Fee writes:

For Paul, “the word of the Lord” is now that which is spoken by (or about) the Lord Jesus. Indeed, it seems most likely that in the first passage here (1:8), where the phrase is articular, Paul intends it to stand for the gospel; that is, it is the “word” about the Lord. The second passage (4:15), however, is most likely a reflection of the usage in the Septuagint, and thus it refers to a word that Christ himself has spoken (either, most likely, in the Jesus tradition that has come down to Paul, or as a prophetic word that Paul has received from Christ). [1]

Fee does not elaborate further on the reasons for his decision, which is a pity, because Michael Pahl has offered substantive reasons for taking 4:15 as reference to the gospel. See his the making of a dissertation. Fee only references Hurtado’s treatment in Lord Jesus Christ.[2] Hurtado does not develop his view that this is “a saying of the exalted Jesus, probably delivered initially through a Christian prophet.” But merely points back to the treatment of E. Best in his commentary on Thessalonians.[3] Thus, it will be fascinating to see how Michael’s dissertation, now defended, is received by scholarship.
I for one am particularly sympathetic and open to Pahl’s detailed analysis, and wish to read more of his argument. Especially on Pauline epistemology. But that’s for another day…

[1] G. Fee, Pauline Christology, pg. 45
[2] L. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 150-1 as well as Donfried, Shorter Pauline Letters, pgs 39-40 who thinks that this refers to a prophetic oracle.
[3] Best, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, pg. 189-194.