The first letter to the Corinthians
THE FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS
The Pillar New Testament Commentary
By Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner
IVP. 922 pages. £44.99
ISBN 978 1 844 744 848
This large and excellent volume is a welcome addition to the Pillar series edited by Don Carson.
Before it was published I had started out on an expository series in 1 Corinthians using Thiselton’s detailed commentary in the New International Greek Testament series. This provided stimulating reading, especially concerning the cultural setting of first-century Corinth with its multi-national immigrant community striving to ‘get on’. However, Thiselton tends to be complicated and does not help the reader by his frequent and rather diverting excursus sections on topics related to the text.
The great benefit of this new commentary from Ciampa and Rosner is its comparative clarity. Understanding the structure of an epistle os of immense help to both the preacher and his congregation. They divide the letter convincingly into different sections and show how Paul has a method of dealing with topics first negatively and then positively. They also highlight the ABA structure of much of Paul’s argumentation. Perhaps the most obvious example of this occurs in chapters 12-14. Chapter 12 begins the subject of spiritual gifts (A), chapter 13 speaks of the over-riding importance of love (B), and then in that context Paul returns to spiritual gifts (A) in chapter 14. This is the obvious example, but Ciampa and Rosner show how this same procedure recurs throughout the letter.
This commentary is able to pick up on the best of Thiselton and is also prepared to quote N.T. Wright where he is helpful, especially in the resurrection section.
Though it uses TNIV, it is committed to the authority of Scripture and glories in Christ. Of course, this new commentary does not solve all problems and questions about 1 Corinthians. For example, as I recall, its position on the role of women in the church was rather foggy. But despite its high price this is the commentary I would recommend for a working pastor seeking to guide his church through this very important letter for today’s church.