1) It is fairly unusual to see a commentary co-written. Your 1 Corinthians contribution is co-written with Brian Rosner. Can you explain how this process began, and how you divided up the research and writing responsibilities?
Brian was originally invited to write the commentary but was finding himself too busy to try and get it done by himself. He had been my doctoral advisor and we had become very good friends and shared similar perspectives on Paul and Pauline exegesis. He got permission to invite me to serve as co-author with him and I was only too happy for the opportunity to work with him on it.
We found our collaboration to be a wonderful experience and now wonder why it doesn't happen more often! 1 Corinthians itself is part of a dialogue between Paul and the Corinthians and our writing of the commentary also grew out of our constant dialogue. While all commentary writers dialogue with what other authors have written, other voices don't get to respond to their arguments until the commentary is published. In our case we were able to dialogue not only with the literature, but with a live co-author that could help sharpen the argument before it was published. We are convinced the collaboration led to a better commentary. Most of we regard of our best insights were sharpened in the conversation.
We had some extended times together to talk through our understanding of the letter as a whole and key issues within it. We came up with an original understanding of the structure and argument of the letter and co-authored an article in the journal New Testament Studies defending what would appear in longer form as the structure for this commentary. We also co-authored the contribution on 1 Corinthians in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Baker), giving us the opportunity to work through that aspect of the letter together, as a foundation for the fuller treatment in this commentary.
We also went over each other’s work as it was being prepared, giving feedback, suggestions of other sources, arguments or ideas, etc. Whenever one of us completed the first draft of a chapter of the commentary we sent it to the other, who then read it and suggested changes (and caught mistakes). Sometimes we went back and forth several times on a passage or chapter before we were done. Email and Skype make this type of close and constant collaboration between people living on different continents possible in a way that earlier generations couldn’t have imagined! Both of our fingerprints are all over every part of the commentary and we made sure we were both very happy with our material before we felt ready to send it to Don Carson and Eerdmans.
2. In this commentary, your approach is to read 1 Corinthians in a biblical/Jewish manner. Could you first, discuss what makes this unique, and second, how does this differ from traditional approaches to 1 Corinthians?
The key vices are sexual immorality, idolatry and greed. These are the key vices for which Gentiles were notorious in Jewish and early Christian thinking.