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The Letters to the Thessalonians (The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC)) Hardcover – July 1, 2002
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"Green's evangelically oriented commentary is an excellent contribution to Thessalonian scholarship."
From the Back Cover
In this commentary Gene Green reads Paul's two letters to the Thessalonians in light of the canon of Scripture and of new knowledge about the first-century world of Thessalonica. This fruitful approach helps illuminate the impact of the gospel on its original readers and, in turn, shows how potent a force it can be for the church and society today.
The book begins with an in-depth study of the Thessalonians themselves -- their history, land, socioeconomic conditions, and religious environment. This fascinating discussion gives the necessary context for fully appreciating the circumstances surrounding the founding of the city's first church and the subsequent struggles of the Thessalonian believers to live out their Christian faith.
The main body of the book provides informed verse-by-verse commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians that extracts the fullest possible meaning from these important New Testament texts. As Green's exposition shows, the Thessalonian scriptures are especially valuable as letters of friendship and for showing Paul's pastoral concern for the many areas in which the Thessalonians needed guidance. Some of Paul's purposes are to thank the new believers for their steadfastness amid suffering, to encourage them in their trials, to urge them not to neglect their daily work, and, no less important, to teach them about the future of believers who die before Christ returns. Indeed, the matter of the last things and the second coming of Christ so permeates these texts that they are often called Paul's eschatological letters.
Filled with new information about ancient society, this commentary will fast become a standard reference work for Bible study. Bycarefully bridging the biblical and modern worlds, Green shows with clarity and warmth the continuing relevance of 1 & 2 Thessalonians for contemporary readers.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is quite new (2002) and part of the Pillar Commentary series; a series that did not originally start out as a series. The series now contains eight volumes, of which this is the most recent. New Testament scholar D.A. Carson is editor of the series, so readers can expect these volumes to be of consistently high quality. Indeed, there are no "duds" to be found in the first seven volumes.
The author, Gene Green, teaches New Testament at Wheaton College in Chicago. He has produced a very readable and reliable commentary on the two Thessalonian letters.
Green is well abreast of all the latest concerns: theological, historical and textual. Yet in keeping with the aim of the series, the volume is not overly technical. Theological disputes, textual considerations, and social/historical background discussions are all given due attention, but none in overbearing detail. This means all the volumes of this series are quite helpful to pastors and lay people, but will also well serve the academic and scholarly community.
This newest edition looks to be of equal value to previous volumes. The extensive bibliography is followed by a thorough introduction, The book is especially helpful in setting forth the letters in their historical and cultural backgrounds. And theologically disputed passages are given fair treatment, with various options presented.
And the author is not afraid to take sides on some of these contentious issues. As an example, those who see a pre-trib rapture in 1 Th 4:16-17 will not find their views confirmed here. Green argues that this passage is not "the stuff of speculative prophecy or best-sellers on the end-times". The context of this passage makes clear that Paul (whom Green takes to be the author) is seeking to comfort and give hope to believers, especially in relation to those who have already died.
Similarly, favorite texts found in 2 Thessalonians by those with sharply held eschatological viewpoints will be treated in differing ways by Green. While not all will agree with each of his interpretations, he backs them all up with thorough research and exegesis, and with even-handedness and a charitable spirit.
All in all this is one of the best works now available on the epistles from an evangelical perspective, One eagerly awaits more works by Green, and more volumes in the Pillar series.
The Pillar New Testament Commentary Series is intended to help pastors with preaching and teaching. Thus application is emphasized, as is meta-narrative (unity within a book, among the works of a particular Biblical author, and unity within the Cannon as a whole). Thus, textual criticism, the history of interpretation, and lexical studies are relatively minimized so that the central message and practical application of the book can be emphasized.
This is Green's second commentary on the 1 and 2 Thessalonians (the other being a Spanish-language commentary). While fitting his commentary within the general purposes of the Pillar Series, Green seeks to emphasize Paul's message in the Thessalonian correspondence through a thorough exegesis of the letters' recipients--the Thessalonians themselves. He writes, "This commentary...is an attempt to read these letters in light of relevant materials from the city and world of that era in order to help us better understand the impact of the gospel of Christ in its first readers." (xiii).
To accomplish this goal, Green begins the body of this work with a lengthy history of the Macedonians and especially the Thessalonians. He particularly examines the pride the Macedonians had in their history and culture, their relationship with the Roman Empire (and their surprising strong loyalty toward Rome), their strong economic status and prominence within the Roman Empire, and the treasures they had received through the Greek philosopher and Roman writers. This opening section takes 74 pages.
Within the commentary proper, Green uses the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible, but presents it in a unique way. Rather than reprint pericopes and then comment on them, Green includes the NIV translation (in italics) within the narrative. This reader greatly enjoyed this approach and found that it greatly aided the "flow" of the book. Whenever it is practical, Green includes information that will explain to the reader the culture and social institutions of the 1st Century Thessalonians. He cites numerous ancient authors (e.g. Juvenal, Aristotle) and uses archaeological/historical evidence to explain social institutions and popular opinion with an eye toward showing Paul's writing relates to these young Christians and how they would have reacted to his words.
Themes consistently woven throughout the commentary include 1) the fact that the Thessalonian congregation is a persecuted congregation, which is adding great anxiety to these young Christians; 2) even still, they are clinging strongly to their faith in Christ and allowing it to influence their lifestyle greatly as their acts of love and evangelism are world-renown; 3) they are having trouble incorporating Christian eschatological teachings into their worldview; and 4) many within the congregation (in rebellion against Paul's teaching) are opting to engage in the patron-client institution (ancient groupies) rather than learn a trade and be self-supporting. The end result is a splendidly unified and consistent commentary.
This reader found this commentary highly readable; the prose flowed and the structure was well-planned and kept in mind throughout. In accordance with the Pillar goals, the author came across as very pastoral and with an genuine desire to help other pastors in their duties. He makes many helpful connections between the theology contained in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and practical applications in Christian living--both ancient and modern.
Two final notes of importance to those considering purchasing this volume: 1) while this reader did find the prose flowing, it was consistently interrupted by parenthetical citation. While footnotes are used extensively, Scripture citations are consistently cited parenthetically, which does break the flow of reading. 2) These letters are well-known for their eschatological teachings (e.g. the resurrection and judgment, the Son of Destruction), but Green does not emphasize the details of the last day; rather he angrily criticizes those who sensationalize the end-times (and make a lot of money doing so) through popular works of fiction. Instead, Green shows how these eschatological teachings are intended to bring great comfort and hope to the believer and inject joy into his day-to-day living. He holds his cards close in this commentary, neither promoting nor criticizing pre-millennialism nor amillennialism...but this reader tends to believe he sympathizes with the amillennialists.
In all, this is an excellent and enjoyable commentary in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. It comes highly recommended, especially for pastors.