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Breathless: Paul's Long Sentence in 1Th 1:2-10

Gary D. Collier

1Th 1:2-10 is sometimes called the third longest sentence in the NT. However, biblical  scholars are by no means of one mind about this, and English translations (for reader reasons) have never kept it as one sentence. Various parts of this text have long been identified as awkward or broken, and there almost exists an air of resignation about some of difficulties inherent in the text. Here I will ask two questions: whether 1:2-10 is indeed appropriately described as either awkward or clumsy; and whether the battle of “How many sentences?” is very helpful.  First, I will briefly address the form of the letter, since this may impact how 1:2-10 is treated; then I will look at some possible structural features of this text. In the process, I will answer “no” to both questions above and offer a solution that has the potential of breathing new life into current readings of this text. I will argue that while there are many fine studies on this, no one has provided the one true key, and that likely such a key does not (and likely can never) exist. In that context, I hope to offer a suggestion that might help.

This article was originally read at the 18th Annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference, April 5-6, 2019, at Johnson University, Knoxville, Tennessee at the Inaugural Session for the group: Life, Letters, and Legacy of Paul.
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