vrijdag 25 januari 2013

Review of: Karl P. Donfried & I. Howard Marshall, The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Letters (NTT), Cambridge University Press, 1991

Karl P. Donfried & I. Howard Marshall, The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Letters (NTT), Cambridge University Press,  1991.

Review in: The Journal of Religion
Gevonden op: http://www.academicroom.com/bookreview/theology-shorter-pauline-letters

DONFRIED, KARL P. and MARSHALL, I. HOWARD. The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Letters (New Testament Theology), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. pp. xii+208.

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The avowed aim of the new series to which this volume belongs is to allow New Testament scholars "to write at greater length than is usually possible in the introductions to commentaries or as part of other New Testament (NT) theologies, and explore the theological themes and issues of their chosen books without being tied to a commentary format, or to a thematic structure drawn from elsewhere" (p. iv). The series is geared in particular to serve the needs of students "who already have one or two years of full-time New Testament and theological study behind them" (p. x). Given this aim and orientation, the present volume, coauthored by two well-known NT scholars, can be pronounced a success.

Karl P. Donfried is responsible for eight short chapters (four each devoted to 1 and 2 Thessalonians, respectively) that deal in turn with the setting, theology, relation to other NT writings, and contemporary significance of the two letters. Donfried opts for an early date for 1 Thessalonians ( 41 -44 c.E.) and sketches the specific background of the letter in terms of ad hoc persecution. An otherwise fine sense for the rhetorical strategy of the letter is remarkable for its silence on the contributions of Abraham Malherbe. The section devoted to the theology of 1 Thessalonians is solid, but a section on the relation of the Pauline corpus and Acts is based on a distinction between "the early and the late Paul" that many interpreters continue to find dubious. A brief chapter on "The Significance of 1 Thessalonians for Today" issues in some rather facile comparisons between the situation faced by the addressees of the letter and that of contemporary Christians. The four chapters devoted to 2 Thessalonians follow the same organization as those for 1 Thessalonians. Donfried maintains that 2 Thessalonians is addressed to the same Christian community as 1 Thessalonians, not long after the writing of the first letter. He identifies the author as a coworker of Paul's, "probably Timothy" (p. 86). Following the lead of Charles H. Giblin, Donfried defines the problematic ??? of 2 Thess. 2:6,7 as "a seizing or possessing power, some 'pseudocharismatic spirit or agent' that is 'a false imitation of spiritual illumination and inspiration' and that has seized power" (pp. 88-89).

I. Howard Marshall devotes six short chapters to the theology of Philippians and one brief chapter to the theology of Philemon. In his treatment of Philippians he deals first with the introductory issues of the letter's unity, social setting, and literary structure. The famous christological hymn in Phil. 25-1 1 receives a chapter all to itself, in which Marshall argues, less than persuasively, that the passage was composed by Paul himself "with a deliberate ethical intent rather than as a statement of soteriology" (p. 135). Successive chapters then treat the letter's christological formulations ("in Christ," "with Christ," and "knowing Christ"), ecclesiology, relation to other NT christologies, and relevance to contemporary Christian thought and life. Finally, in a quick thirteen pages, Marshall covers the background, rhetorical structure, theological position, and contemporary relevance of the letter to Philemon. Both letters are ably handled by Marshall in a highly readable style that is sure to be accessible to the intended audience of the series. A select bibliography and a full set of indexes round out the volume. The series meets a real need, and this volume lives up to the advance billing.

Calvin College.

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