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Gentle as a Nurse in 1 Thessalonians 2:7

I am about ready to wrap up my discussion of the textual problem of 1 Thessalonians 2:7.   When recalling his time with the Thessalonians, when he had worked hard not to be a burden with any of them, did Paul indicate that he and his missionary companions had become "as infants, as a nurse tending her children"  or that they had become "gentle, as a nurse tending her children."   It is not an obvious decision, whether you think the change was made accidentally or on purpose.  (If you think it *is* obvious, look at the preceding two posts).   It seems like it might go either way.   I myself have an opinion on the matter (textual scholars tend to have opinions); but I"ll hold off on that for a minute. First: some of you might be wondering: which of these readings do the best surviving manuscripts actually suggest?  Is one of the readings ("infants" or "gentle") better attested than the other?   Which reading do our oldest and best manuscripts have? Here, as it turns out, the [...]

2020-04-03T13:25:00-04:00August 13th, 2015|Paul and His Letters|

More Intriguing Problems with 1 Thessalonians 2:7

The textual problem of 1 Thess 2:7, as I have started to outline it, is an unusually interesting one for textual critics, since the arguments for one reading or another seem to cancel each other out so neatly.   It is a difference of only one letter.   Did Paul remind the Thessalonians that when he and his missionary colleagues were with them they became like “infants” among them rather than great, powerful, and demanding apostles?  Or did he say they became “gentle” among them? Now, you might be saying: Who Cares?   Well, it does matter to New Testament interpreters.  It may not matter like having a passage that determines a major doctrine (Who was Christ? Was his death an atoning sacrifice? Is there a trinity?).   But there are lots of things that matter that are not major doctrines.   Any scholar of the New Testament wants to know the basic gist of each book of the New Testament; and its major themes and ideas; and the meaning of each of its passages; and the meaning of each [...]

2020-04-03T13:25:09-04:00August 11th, 2015|Paul and His Letters|

The Textual Problem of 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Now that I have discussed the purpose of 1 Thessalonians and spent a couple of posts talking about one of its most interesting passages, on which the modern Christian notion of a “rapture” is based, I am able to return to my point of departure, a textual variant found in 1 Thess. 2:7.  This variant has nothing to do with the question of what Paul thought would happen when Jesus returned, sometime in his lifetime.   It is an earlier part of the letter where Paul is reminding the Thessalonians of the time that he had spent with them when he converted them to their new faith. This is a very joyful part of the letter, one of the most sentimental passages of all of Paul’s letters, where he speaks of the relationship he had with his converts when he was there.   But the description is a bit hard to pin down, in part because of this one textual variant.   The variant depends on the presence or non-presence of just one letter of the alphabet.   Some [...]

2020-04-03T13:25:24-04:00August 10th, 2015|Paul and His Letters|
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