Accepting the widespread view that 1 Thessalonians is the earliest surviving Pauline letter, Victor Paul Furnish commends reading it as fully as possible on its own terms, without presupposing or imposing themes or positions that are explicit only in letters of a later date. While he agrees with commentators who note this letter's pastoral aims and character, he is more convinced than some that it also exhibits a rich and coherent theological point of view. Furnish interprets 2 Thessalonians as the work of an anonymous Paulinist writing several decades after the apostle's death. He regards this letter, too, as historically and theologically valuable, although less for what it discloses about Paul's ministry and thought than for what it shows about the reception and interpretation of Paul in the late first-century church.
VICTOR PAUL FURNISH is University Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, of New Testament at Southern Methodist University. Some of his other books from Abingdon Press include 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians in the Abingdon New Testament Commentaries series, of which he is the General Editor.