Gordon Fee’s Three Reasons for Revising His 1 Corinthians Commentary

51upc20TiXL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Gordon Fee’s majestic 1 Corinthians commentary has been revised, which was originally published in 1987.

The following is Fee’s Preface to the revised (second) edition:

It has now been over twenty-five years since the first edition of this commentary appeared, Much has happened during this quarter century, besides the author’s (who was also the former editor of the series) growing long of tooth! There are two primary reasons for the present revision:

First, the original commentary was based on the 1978 edition of the NIV, which was probably more poorly done in this letter than anywhere else in the entire canon. I came to discover the reasons for this when in 1990 I was invited to join the Committee for Bible Translation (the committee solely responsible for the translation itself). This committee of fifteen, at that time composed of nine OT scholars and six NT, had been purposely brought together to cover as much of the evangelical community as possible, but at that time also with no women members. The reconstituted committee itself, chaired for the first two decades by (now deceased) Calvin Seminary OT professor John Stek, had its own difficulties adjusting to its several new members, but especially to (an acknowledged) outspoken Pentecostal, who himself had entered into a totally new experience in biblical studies. This turned out to be one of the highlights of my academic career, with lasting friendships and continuing annual meetings to try to sort through a still large collection of proposals for changes that had been sent to the committee at its request. Since I am still a member (but now for reasons of age, an honorary member [a policy rightly adopted by the committee itself to keep “fresh blood” on it]), I therefore had access to the text of 1 Corinthians a full year before the present edition (2011) appeared in print. I have been happy, therefore, to eliminate some twenty footnotes from the first edition where the original translation appeared to be patently incorrect.

Second, the amount of scholarly literature on this letter has increased incrementally, so much so in fact that I make no claims here to have been able to consult all of it for this edition. Indeed, in terms of articles in the scholarly journals alone, the bibliography has in the past twenty-five years multiplied over 300 percent in relationship to all such material in the preceding two centuries! I have tried to be thorough and fair to all, but I herewith also must apologize to the many who will look in vain in the index for something they wrote.

A third, probably less significant, change from the first edition is related to another passion engendered from many years of teaching, writing, and listening to sermons—namely, to eliminate the language of “chapter and verse,” a system of numbers absolutely essential for “finding things” but otherwise totally foreign to the first-century author. Paul wrote words put into sentences, which in the present written culture also require paragraphs. But he did not write “verses,” language that has inherently, but not purposefully, created a misguided use of Scripture that would be foreign to the original authors. So I have tried to relegate the numbers to parentheses, rather than use such language in the text of the commentary itself. This in itself required a third and final reading of the text in an attempt to be faithful to Paul, while still trying to help the reader “find things” regarding the rest of the biblical revelation.

Gordon D. Fee
Ash Wednesday (February 22) 2012

Like many others, I too have been long awaiting this revision of a second to none commentary.  It certainly will make for a wonderful Christmas gift.

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8 Responses to Gordon Fee’s Three Reasons for Revising His 1 Corinthians Commentary

  1. Gary Zimmerli says:

    Thanks for posting this, TC. You have inspired me to go back and read my NIV2011 1 Corinthians with new eyes!

  2. Reblogged this on συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life and commented:
    For those interested….

  3. Still awaiting my copy in the mail – been eagerly checking the post each day!

  4. J.D. Jespersen says:

    Eager to hear how much the actual text of the commentary is changed apart from the bibliography. I didn’t gather from the details above if it was simply making the bibliography more current AND updating the text/footnotes or if it was simply an updated bibliography.

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