When Paul wrote First Thessalonians shortly after the recipients had accepted the Gospel, many significant issues had already arisen among them. Of great concern was the social complexity, and even persecution, they encountered because they had “turned to God from idols” (1:9). The countercultural stance of those earliest believers, and especially the impact that may have had for women, is addressed throughout this commentary. While Paul directs no remarks only to women in this letter, the ramifications of his preaching on their daily lives emerge vibrantly from the application of a feminist hermeneutics of suspicion to the text. While Second Thessalonians is a shorter letter, it has been disproportionately influential on Christian thought, especially apocalyptic doctrine and the “Protestant work ethic.” From a feminist perspective, it is androcentric, rhetorically manipulative, and even violent. In this commentary, Mary Ann Beavis and HyeRan Kim-Cragg explore this text from many angles to expose both constructive and destructive implications in the text. Notably, they suggest a perspective on the “afflictions” endured by the Thessalonian church that neither glorifies suffering nor wishes for revenge but rather sees the divine presence in women’s acts of compassion and care in circumstances of extreme duress and inhumanity.
Florence Morgan Gillman is professor of biblical studies, coordinator of the Classical Studies Program, and former chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego.
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Mary Ann Beavis holds a PhD from Cambridge University (UK) and is professor of religion and culture at St. Thomas More College (Saskatoon, Canada).
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HyeRan Kim-Cragg (ThD, University of Toronto) is Lydia Gruchy Professor of Pastoral Studies at St. Andrew’s College, Saskatoon, Canada.
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"The Wisdom Commentary is no ordinary commentary. It brings together gender, feminism, and the voices of diversity in a completely new way. Both firmly historical and methodological, this commentary on the Thessalonian correspondence combines traditional exegesis with surprising new insights to present a refreshingly new reading of these Pauline letters."
Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, Charles Fischer Professor of New Testament Emerita, Brite Divinity School
"Overall this is an important summary of feminist contributions to the interpretation of 1-2 Thessalonians. It will be useful not only for teachers of the Bible but for women groups in the churches today."
James Zeitz, Catholic Books Review
"The critical approach taken often centers on what is perceived as power domination and abuse detected in the letters, particularly emphasized in the case of 2 Thessalonians. Although inevitably such an approach to specific passages will be contested, these commentaries on the Thessalonian letters open new paths of interpretation."
Donald Senior, CP, The Bible Today
"This commentary will not only be useful for readers interested in feminist biblical scholarship. On any measure, it is full of fascinating new angles on these texts. It will also set you thinking about ways in which you could bring some of the fell of the work here into other types of study."
Journal for the Study of the New Testament