Paul Foster on the Authenticity of 2 Thessalonians

Paul Foster on the Authenticity of 2 Thessalonians December 12, 2012

Paul Foster’s BNTC address on the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians is published in JSNT and I think it will prove to be a turning point (or major discussion point) in Thessalonian studies. Importantly, it has the results of a survey on which Pauline letters the members of the BNTC regard as authentic. The abstract reads:

In light of the New Perspective on Paul, recognition of apocalyptic as a central category in Pauline theology, and the crumbling consensus concerning seven authentic epistles of Paul, it is time to reconsider the arguments for the authenticity of his letters. Here the specific question of the authorship of 2 Thessalonians is re-examined. It is noted that many of the standard arguments for or against the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians are either irrelevant or inconclusive. This discussion seeks to reveal the slender evidential basis of certain ‘classic’ arguments against the authenticity of the letter, and also to present some fresh reasons why the epistle should be regarded as written by Paul. The implications of including 2 Thessalonians among the authentic Pauline writings are then examined. In particular, it is suggested that the development in Paul’s thinking as reflected in 2 Thessalonians reveals that his theological formulations developed in response to situations in his fledgling communities. In this regard, Paul’s theological positions emerged through a negotiated response to pressing pastoral situations.

See reflections by Nijay Gupta and Stephen Carlson.

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