9/20 Reading (Joshua 7-9; 2 Thessalonians 1)

Joshua 7: Israel loses to Ai in battle all because Achan took what belonged to God. For this, Achan, his family, and all of his possessions were killed and destroyed. WOW! Such harsh punishment. The sins of one person directly impact everyone and lead to the death of an entire family.

Joshua 8: Israel defeats Ai in an ambush style battle. It’s a successful campaign. What I don’t like is that they continues to show no mercy towards innocent civilians, such as the women. All were destroyed. Although the text does not explicitly say that children were killed, it does say all inhabitants were killed. Sad. The chapter ends with Joshua reading the instruction from Moses.

Joshua 9: The Gibeonites initially trick the Israelites into thinking they were from far away lands so they wouldn’t kill them all. The Israelites figure this out a few days later, so the Gibeonites are cursed for their deception.

Introduction to 2 Thessalonians: The main thing I want to talk about here is the discussion on who wrote this book and when. According to the two study bibles I’m using (NRSV and CEB), many scholars doubt that Paul and his companions (Silvanus and Timothy) actually wrote this book for a few reasons. This is what the CEB study bible says:

“First, some claim that the author overemphasizes his identity in 2 Thessalonians 3:17 in a way Paul wouldn’t have. Second, the author knows about letters that weren’t written by Paul but list him as their author (2 Thess 2.2). This situation wouldn’t have happened until long after Paul’s death. Third, the author of 2 Thessalonians seems to have used the outline of 1 Thessalonians. Fourth, both letters address the topic of the day of the Lord, but the problem in one is opposite of the problem in the other. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 the problem is that the day of the Lord hasn’t come yet, which causes worry that the Christians who have already died will miss the Lord’s return. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 the congregation is worried that the day of the Lord has already come. Furthermore, 1 Thessalonians 5:2-8 says the day of the Lord comes suddenly and without warning, while 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 lists signs that will precede the arrival of that day. If the author isn’t Paul, he writes to correct or supplement the earlier letter as a way of continuing Paul’s legacy” (CEB study bible, p. 397 NT).

Here’s some interesting info from the NRSV Study Bible:

…since the nineteenth century the authenticity of this letter has been seriously challenged, and modern commentators are divided over whether this letter is genuinely from Paul himself or was composed by a later follower to correct misunderstandings of Paul’s teaching. The main reasons some scholars doubt the letter’s authenticity are: its close relationship to 1 Thessalonians (which it may be imitating); its more formal, impersonal style; the hints that inauthentic letters of Paul are in circulation, coupled with the attempt to stress this letter’s genuineness (2.2; 3.17); and its distinctive eschatological outlook.

Dating the letter depends on decisions about its authorship. If it is by Paul, it was probably written shortly after 1 Thessalonians and addressed to the same group of churches in Thessalonica. If it is a letter written in Paul’s name by someone else, then it probably dates from the late first (or perhaps early second) century ce and may not even have been intended specifically for Thessalonica. Rather, it was intended to clarify and correct a reading of 1 Thessalonians by Christians whom the author regarded as in error. (page 2080)

I share all of this because this type of information absolutely fascinates me. I don’t have a lot to say about it at this point in time, but may at a later date.

2 Thessalonians 1: Not much to say here. As with the first letter to the Thessalonians, this chapter starts with a general welcome and then is followed by a thanksgiving and encouragement for the believers.

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