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Paul, Thessalonica, and Early Christianity [Paperback]

By Karl Paul Donfried (Author)
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Item description for Paul, Thessalonica, and Early Christianity by Karl Paul Donfried...

This significant book contains essays on Pauline thought and theology that span some twenty-five years, placing themes and issues in a broad chronological context of academic discussion. In addition to discussing major Pauline themes, 1 Thessalonians in its religious and cultural context in particular, Kark Donfried raises the question of Paul's Jewishness with a fresh urgency and opens new perspectives on the origins of early Christianity and its relationship to Second Temple Judaism.

Publishers Description
This significant book contains essays on Pauline thought and theology which span some twenty-five years, placing themes and issues in a broad chronological context of academic discussion. In addition to discussing major Pauline themes, and 1 Thessalonians in its religious and cultural context in particular, Karl Donfried raises the question of Paul's Jewishness with a fresh urgency, as well as opening new perspectives on the origins of earliest Christianity and its relationship with second temple Judaism.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.14" Width: 6.08" Height: 1.17"
Weight:   1.09 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2002
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802805094  
ISBN13  9780802805096  

Availability  0 units.

More About Karl Paul Donfried

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Donfried is professor of religion and biblical literature, Smith College, Northhampton, Massachusetts.

Karl Paul Donfried currently resides in Northampton, in the state of New Hampshire.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Paul
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Paul, Thessalonica, and Early Christianity?

Thessalonica, Qumran and the Cult of the Emperor  Jun 8, 2006
Donfried presents a fascinating collection of essays, now revised and compiled in a tight sequence, dealing with questions about the first letter of Paul, 1 Thessalonians, and its followup, which might have been his second letter. I was excited as Donfried filled in the background picture of the religion and culture of Thessalonians and the Roman Empire in general, providing a well-knit backdrop from which to interpret fine details of Paul's theme of consolation to the Thessalonians, as a persecuted church. This is the best study of Thessalonians I have read in years.

Information about the cult of the Emperor, which was rising at the time the Christian Good News was moving into the Roman Empire, was at its height, apparently, in Thessalonica. The term "lord" came to be applied to the Emperors as a part of the growing Emperor cult of Civil Religion. This made it hard for new believers to consistently confess Jesus Christ as the only lord, and to maintain their faith in the One Universal Invisible, but Living Creator God.

Thessalonica was a city that retained certain privileges like a City-State, such as minting of its own coins. The extensive coinage of this commercial and religious centre provides insights which Donfried unravels into the nature and extent of the Cult of the Emperor. This includes insights into terms like Divine Emperor and Son of God, assigned to the Emperor and his family, apparently growing from the time of Augustus, but reaching its peak in Nero.

Donfried also provides a detailed comparison of the thought of Paul in this context to the wandering Stoic preachers, the ecstatic Christian prophets, and the themes and terminology of the Essenes from the Qumran documents. He identifies certain vocabulary, and possible themes, in Paul with the Essene terminology which is not found in the Old Testament.

He looks at vocabulary or phrases Paul uses in the first Thessalonian letter which he does not use in his later writings. (Donfried thinks 2 Thessalonians is not an autograph of Paul himself, but definitely written faithfully by someone within his working circle of early missionary work, perhaps Silas/Silvanus.)

Donfried is competent in the Greek and Hebrew of Old Testament as well as the details of the Hebrew and Aramaic documents of Qumran. Donfried notes, as does Thiede in The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity (which I also review on this, that evidence seems to point in the direction of connections between the new sect of the Nazarenes and the Qumran teachers and document collectors.

His commentary critically looks at various authors who have addressed some of these cultural and religious questions related to the Thessalonian letters, in German, as well as English. He quotes from the original, then translates where helpful. Further citing footnotes some sources in French, he expects his readers to be conversant with the biblical and contemporary languages of scholarship.

Donfried provides a thoughtful and serious analysis of the doctrines of Justification and Salvation in Paul, focusing on the passages in Thessalonians, supplemented by other references to Corinthians and Romans. He emphasizes here the broader context of Paul's concept of the Word of God (initially proclaimed in the Gospel) and the prophetic words of comfort, in a "word of the Lord" to the Thessalonians through this letter in their persecution by the pagan populace.

He points out that Paul's emphasis uses the term Justification where I have observed that it is popularly common today to use the term "saved" for conversion. It seems Paul uses the term "saved" only in the continuous and future tenses. Paul does not commonly use the term "saved" for the event of initial conversion, but for the concept of living and enduring in Christ, and culminating in the "final hope" in the return of Christ.

This is also a basis for understanding the strong statements and warnings Paul repeatedly makes, not only in 1 Thessalonians, about the importance of personal vigilance and endurance in faith. This endurance is not based on one's good works, but on the remaining in faith, in Christ, in the hope that will be finally realized only in the apocalyptic deliverance and judgement. A future deliverance into the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

I was struck by how novel this is in light of the classical analytical view of Paul's theology as a systematic scheme on the late medieval model of philosophical reflection. Donfried brings to life the apostolic prophetic sense of urgency of the preacher and pastor, Paul, in his real-world working context in the pagan Roman Empire. The author probes the depths of Paul's doctrine of election, which is rarely mentioned in comments of Thessalonians. He relates this to faith, hope, endurance and faithfulness of confession under persecution, which was the situation for the Thessalonian church.

Oh, and another theme and usage Donfried reviews is the usage of the common word "ekklesia" for the assembly of Christians in Jerusalem and the similar assemblies of Christian in Achaia. He finds here another fascinating similarity with the Qumran usages. This is a worthwhile read for students of the New Testament, classical culture and religions, history or early Middle Eastern thought.
A rich resource for New Testament study  Feb 24, 2004
This book is a rich collection of a number of Karl P. Donfried's most important and most influential essays. It includes his inaugural lecture as Elizabeth A. Woodson Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature at Smith College, Northampton, Mass., where Donfried has taught since earning his Dr.theol. degree at the University of Heidelberg, where he studied with Günther Bornkamm.

This collection traces much of the shape of Donfried's scholarship over past years and brings his New Testament colleagues and other readers up to date with what he is doing now. Particularly informative is not only the landmark article, "Justification and Last Judgment in Paul," but also another article tracing its reception both in Lutheran and other circles over twenty-five years. Those who are eager to delve into contemporary scholarship on 1 and 2 Thessalonians will be greatly informed by Donfried's highly influential article, "The Cults of Thessalonica and the Thessalonian Correspondence." (See also Donfried and Johannes Beutler, editors, THE THESSALONIANS DEBATE [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000].)

This book represents the best of Donfried's scholarship as an independent thinker and scholar, a distinguished Lutheran theologian, and an ecumenical leader.

I am very pleased to recommend this book highly. My students are reading parts of it this semester in my class on the Pauline Epistles.

Original Scholarship at its Best  Feb 5, 2004
This is an outstanding volume, rich in first-class scholarship and ecumenical sensitivity of the highest order. Donfried is at the cutting edge of New Testament scholarship and has a profound understanding of the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls on early Christianity. His knowledge of Lutheran-Roman Catholic relationships is impeccable having served on the New Testament panel of the USA National Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue that produced the best selling volumes PETER IN THE NEW TESTAMENT and MARY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT as well as having been an official delegate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to the signing of the Joint Declaration on Justification with the Roman Catholic Church in Augsburg, Germany, on October 31, 1999. This book is a MUST buy both for scholars, ecumenists and lay persons interested in learning from an outstanding scholar with an impeccable international standing.

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