Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 22:1 (Spring 2001)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Todd D. Still. Conflict at Thessalonica: A Pauline Church and its Neighbours. JSNTSup 183. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999. 344 pp. $84.00.

In this revision of a 1996 doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Glasgow under the supervision of John M. G. Barclay, Todd Still undertakes a full-length study of conflict (θλιsψις) at Thessalonica. He believes that “Paul’s repeated reference in 1 Thessalonians to ‘affliction’ (1.6; 3.3-4), ‘opposition’ (2.2b; cf. 2.15b; 2.16a; 2.17a) and ‘suffering’ (2.2a, 14) is an important interpretative issue which has yet to receive adequate scholarly attention and presently requires further investigation” (p. 17).

Still’s thesis is that the θλιsψις to which Paul frequently refers ought to be viewed as intergroup conflict between Christians and non-Christians in Thessalonica and that the use of literary parallels, non-literary evidence, and the social-scientific theories of deviance and conflict reveals both the causes and results of this conflict for the Thessalonian church. Still carries out this detailed investigation of conflict at Thessalonica in four major parts.

Part I examines two texts whose authenticity is frequently disputed (1 Thess 2:13–16; 2 Thessalonians) and one text whose accuracy is widely questioned (Acts 17:1–10a). Such analysis needs to be undertaken first so as to determine to what extent these controversial texts are relevant for the primary study of conflict at Thessalonica. Still devotes a full chapter to each of these three issues and his analysis leads to the following conclusions: 1 Thess 2:13–16 formed part of the original text of the letter; 2 Thessalonians is best viewed as an authentic letter of Paul; and Acts 17:1–10a, although being a highly condensed and simplified narrative, accurately describes the key details concerning the conflict experienced by Paul and the church in Thessalonica. Despite his conclusion that 2 Thessalonians is from the hand of Paul, Still chooses to treat this letter as a secondary source for two pragmatic reasons. First, 2 Thessalonians does not provide much data for the topic of conflict at Thessalonica and so little is lost by not making use of this letter. Second, it is unwise to build a case using evidence that many modern scholars regard as inadmissible.

Part II provides a general introduc...

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