In 1987 Gordon Fee's commentary on Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was published. For near 30 years Fee on Corinthians has been the benchmark commentary for scholars and preachers. More recent commentaries bring the discussions up to date, build on contemporary hermeneutical models, reflect recent interests in socio-rhetorical and political readings of Pauline letters, and in the case of Thiselton's monumental commentary on the Greek Text, open up multiple doors in reception history, history of interpretation and hermeneutic horizons.
But Fee remains a favourite for many, and for a variety of reasons. He is one of the finest exegetes of the last 50 years, an Evangelical serving within the academy with a passion for excellence in scholarship and integrity in dealing with historical material. He is a Pentecostal theologian whose work on pneumatology and christology in Paul is exhibited in two volumes of erudition harnessed to spiritual purpose, and scholarly activity in the service of the church. As if that isn't enough he is a trusted guide in the disciplines of exegesis as these underlie preaching that takes seriously the integrity of the text and the spirituality of communities committed to reading, learning and living Scripture.
So it was with great sadness that we learned Professor Fee has retired from formal academic appointments, due to the onset of alzheimer's disease. Sadness because I have for 30 years sat at the feet of this Gamaliel, and learned from such a wise and penetrating mind, deeply and gladly how to handle sacred texts responsibly, and responsively. But I feel great gratitude too, for a life of such dedicated joy, positively revelling in New Testament textual criticism and exegesis. His commentaries on First Corinthians, Philippians and Thessalonians, his books God's Empowering Presence, and Pauline Christology, his several volumes of occasional essays, are exemplary works of scholarship, and his commentaries especially are like Emmaus walks for preachers and students and scholars - using them, the heart burns within as he opens the scriptures. Does that sound overstated? Maybe, but just a little. His co-authored book with Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth, could easily describe the gift he has given to generations of students, and sum up his own life's work. It is all a first year text book should be - accessible, enthusiastic, affordable, readable, instructive and sensible.
Eerdmans have just announced a revised edition of Fee on First Corinthians, the revisions carried out latterly by Professor Fee before his illness and subsequent retirement. Whether it will be a significant revision interacting with the vast cataract of Pauline studies in the past quarter century, remains to be seen. But in affection, gratitude and because I love the NICNT commentaries, I will use a recent book token to replace my old Fee, which was bought all these years ago and is so split it is more like a pile of pamphlets in a board folder - my edition was one of the first to be glued rather than stitched - sign of a decadent culture, glued books!!