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.
From the Wisdom Commentary series
Feminist biblical interpretation has reached a level of maturity that now makes possible a commentary series on every book of the Bible. It is our hope that Wisdom Commentary, by making the best of current feminist biblical scholarship available in an accessible format to ministers, preachers, teachers, scholars, and students, will aid all readers in their advancement toward God's vision of dignity, equality, and justice for all.
The aim of this commentary is to provide feminist interpretation of Scripture in serious, scholarly engagement with the whole text, not only those texts that explicitly mention women. A central concern is the world in front of the text, that is, how the text is heard and appropriated by women. At the same time, this commentary aims to be faithful to the ancient text, to explicate the world behind the text, where appropriate, and not impose contemporary questions onto the ancient texts. The commentary addresses not only issues of gender (which are primary in this project) but also those of power, authority, ethnicity, racism, and classism, which all intersect.
Each volume incorporates diverse voices and differing interpretations from different parts of the world, showing the importance of social location in the process of interpretation and that there is no single definitive feminist interpretation of a text.