Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Recommended Commentaries: I & II Thessalonians

For the past two weeks I have been preaching through 1 & 2 Thessalonians (I am currently doing an overview of Paul's 13 epistles). As such, I have been consulting numerous works as part of my exegetical research. By God's grace, I hold a large collection of exegetical books in my library and these proved invaluable (and I am hoping for further grace to add to this collection). I thought it may be beneficial to share with other pastors and series students of the Bible those works I found most stimulating. For those who are planning on study these two books, I found the following volumes particularly helpful.


Michael Holmes - 1 & 2 Thessalonians (NIV Application Commentary)
Holmes has produced a valuable work that is accessible to both pastor and layman alike. I did not consult this work during my study of 1 Thessalonians, but I found his insights in 2 Thessalonians valuable and informative. Holmes does not break any new ground here, but his applications alone are worth the price of the volume. Many pastoral jewels here.

D. Michael Martin - 1, 2 Thessalonians (New American Commentary)
An excellent commentary that is much more in depth than its size indicates. His comments are informed, and he interacts with the best scholarship. An accessible, handy volume from a solidly evangelical scholar. A must-have for all pastors.

Leon Morris - The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, Revised (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Morris has done an outstanding job in this revised work. The commentary is a bit dated (originally published 1959), but his revision (1991) does help somewhat in this regard. I found Morris to be in the same class as Martin. He writes with the average pastor and Bible study leader in mind. Certainly a deserving commentary for your shelf. Morris also has a briefer volume on 1 & 2 Thessalonians which is part of the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series.

Abraham J. Malherbe - The Letters to the Thessalonians (Anchor Bible Commentary)
I found Malherbe's commentary to be simply excellent! The Anchor series is a mixed bag. Some of its volumes are superb (such as the works by Brown) and others are horrid (such as the Matthew commentary). Malherbe certainly ranks in the top tier of this series. Evangelicals will find it refreshing that he holds Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians. His work is marked by rich exegetical analysis and penetrating comments. Though the astute reader can find several worthy applicational gems, Malherbe does not seem to write with an eye towards application. For those who wish to interact seriously with the text this is a must-have.

F.F. Bruce - 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Word Biblical Commentary)
This was the first Word Biblical Commentary printed, and it remains a fine specimen of the
exegetical acumen of Bruce. As with his other writings, Bruce does not waste the readers time and immediately gets to work. Though the commentary is quite extensive, I do wish Bruce would have spent more time drawing out applications of his many exegetical notations. I used Bruce extensively during the more technical portion of my study (along with Malherbe). Inexcusable not to own this one (requires knowledge of Greek, as does Malherbe)

Special note: I did not have access to five commentaries that would probably have been beneficial.

First, Best's commentary (in the Black's Commentary Series) is highly regarded and I covet acquiring this volume in the future.

Second, George Milligan's work on Thessalonians at the turn of last century is simply a giant in the field, and much of his exegetical work has never been equaled. I ordered a used copy of this 1908 commentary, but it won't arrive for another few weeks. Most likely, I will rely heavily on Milligan in the future. I believe there are reprints of Milligan's commentary--circa 1980's.

Third, Wanamaker's work (Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians - New International Greek Testament Commentary) is hailed by many evangelical scholars as simply the most thorough and substantive commentary on Thessalonians in print. Interestingly, from what I've read of him, Wanamaker bucks tradition by holding the 2 Thessalonians was actually written before 1 Thessalonians. Generally, Wanamaker is fully within the Evangelical/Conservative vein.

Fourth, Green's commentary in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series, published in 2002. As with the other Pillar volumes, they are similar to the New American Commentary series, though perhaps slightly more technical. Judging from the other Pillar works, this will not be a disappointment.

Fifth, John Stott has produced a beginner/intermediate commentary. Most likely, this would be highly pastoral and applicational--and therefore extremely valuable. He has also published a bible study pamphlet on these two works that would be worth consulting or using in a small group.

The reader should be aware of three commentaries currently in production (I am not aware of Publication dates). In the coming years, look for the following:

1. Jeffery A.D. Weima in the Baker Exegetical Commentary series.
2. Karl Donfried in the International Critical Commentary series.


Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles (Guides to New Testament Exegesis)

A valuable starting place before beginning a series study of Paul's works. Extremely helpful.

I. Howard Marshall, New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel
His section of the Thessalonians is all too brief, but he makes some important points. Overall, this volume is an important contribution to New Testament studies. Marshall also wrote a commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians (New Century Bible Commentary Series, Eerdmans, 1982), but I know little about this volume. Marhsall is a fine Greek scholar and New Testament exegete, so any theology of the NT testament from his pen is worth its weight in gold.

Karl P. Donfried & I Howard Marshall, The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Epistles (New Testament Theology Series)
Simply excellent! Donfried provides a masterful overview of the theological themes and contemporary importance of Paul's Thessalonian correspondance. FYI, I did find his comments on 1 Thessalonians more valuable than those for the second letter.

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