Author: John Byron
Bibliographic info: 736 pp.
Publisher: Baker Academic, 2014.
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With thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy.
The author, Jeffrey A. D. Weima, is professor of New Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has also published An Annotated Bibliography of 1 and 2 Thessalonians (co-authored with Stanley Porter; Brill, 1997), and contributed the section on 1 and 2 Thessalonians in Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary series (1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus; Zondervan, 2011).
There are at least a dozen good English commentaries one can find on 1–2 Thessalonians, including Gene Green’s PNTC volume, Charles Wanamaker’s rhetorical study in the NIGTC series, F.F. Bruce’s WBC volume, Leon Morris’ NICNT volume, and Ben Witherington’s socio-rhetorical volume. While it is common now for epistles to be looked at by rhetorical analysis, a distinctive feature of Weima’s commentary is how he opts to examine the epistles in light of ancient epistolary structure. I haven’t read the entire volume yet, but what I have read so far is a fine commentary in the BECNT tradition.
Weima begins with the obligatory introductory section in which he discusses the historical, social, and cultural contexts of the epistles. Like all BECNT volumes, this commentary provides the Greek text (with transliterations), in a verse-by-verse exegetical approach. As he makes his way through the text of the Thessalonian correspondence, Weima first discusses the literary features of the text, followed by the exegesis proper. There are three excurses scattered throughout the volume: the first is on whether 1 Thess. 1:9b-10 is pre-Pauline, the second is on the textual reading of 1 Thess. 2:7, and the third is on the restrainer of 2 Thess. 2:1-17.
Weima’s contribution to the body of scholarship on Paul’s Thessalonian correspondence seems very up-to-date and explores the sociological and historical features of the epistles. It also discusses the theology of the epistles, thus making this volume useful for those reading it from a more pastoral perspective. Overall, Weima follows traditional positions regarding various issues of interpretation and authorship (it is common to deny Pauline authorship of 2 Thessalonians nowadays). Yet he is thoroughly aware of the debate surrounding these issues and ably weaves his way through it.
One final note: I have the Kindle version of this book and, thankfully, it was properly formatted and the Greek letters came through without errors. That was a welcome relief considering the egregious formatting of some Kindle books I have read lately.