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Aida Spencer: 1 Timothy, NCCS

Aída Besançon Spencer, 1 Timothy, New Covenant Commentary Series (Cascade, 2013), 192 pages.

Aida Besançon Spencer’s New Covenant Commentary Series on 1 Timothy, is a fresh and powerful look at some of the most challenging texts in the New Testament. Where most commentaries give a lot of external information, Spencer bridges the gap between historical background, culture, and context. Spencer’s extensive research on the historical, social, literary, cultural aspects surrounding 1 Timothy, effortlessly guides the reader toward a deeper comprehension of this epistle.

Beginning with an analytical outline, Spencer believes the overarching purpose of Paul’s first epistle to Timothy is to promote sound doctrine of the gospel by countering a false teaching endangering the church in Ephesus (18). Throughout her work, she categorically rebuilds what this heterodox teaching might look like, how the ancient culture shaped it, and Paul’s response.

Most of all, her love for God and His Word undergird the content of her commentary and is conveyed through five major strengths.

First, the structure she uses in this commentary is simple and direct. Analysis and excurses provide the backstory and give more applicable details to the themes Paul discusses in his epistle to Timothy in Ephesus. One such backstory contains the pertinent information concerning Artemis and her temple, one of the ancient wonders of the world. Associated with ritual murder, Spencer’s research and study points toward the practice of human sacrifice within the first century. She connects the mythological history of an Amazonian community predating Ephesus to this thriving first century idolatrous cult. Revealed for more than a temple, “a hub of commerce, sorcery and witchcraft” becomes the backdrop for Acts 19 (16).

Secondly, the format was appealing, easy to follow and informative. Semantical study charts, word comparisons, extensive footnotes, and summaries of a contemporary application of the texts referred to as “fusing the horizons.” She adeptly does just that: pertinent information is fused together cohesively. Scholars and ministers alike should be able to navigate the information freely.

Third, her work adds value to theological studies. Not only as a woman in the field of theology, but also as a true scholar, her contribution to the literature is invaluable. Throughout the commentary Spencer weaves 2000 years of historical tradition, theology, ancient culture and contemporary contexts into a beautiful, insightful tapestry. Without discounting Pauline authority, readers are given a glimpse into the unyielding yet pastoral heart of Paul. Unlike the misogynistic zealot Paul is often times presented as, Spencer lays the groundwork for an impassioned and devoted Paul. A Paul who exhorts believers on to maturity, instead of a Paul who creates exclusionary lists to satisfy his legalistic nature (16). This Paul affirms and exhorts women as well as men together toward all maturity and spirit-empowered ministry.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Spring 2016

About the Author: Debbie Fulthorp has been an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God for over 13 years. She has traveled to over 27 countries sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has also pastored in various contexts both as a lead and an associate. She has a heart to pastor and reach the nations and by training others for ministry. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate in the DMin program at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. She and her husband, Brian, have three children. Facebook

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