Learn more about 1 Corinthians in the India Commentary on the New Testament Series
Andrew B. Spurgeon is a professor of biblical studies at East Asia School of Theology, Singapore. He has taught in seminaries in Asia since 1996. He has written multiple commentaries, edited a book on Christian service, and written several articles in theological journals. He serves as the Chairman of Publications for the Asia Theological Association and as a New Testament editor for the Asia Bible Commentary Series.
1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 Corinthians?
One friend from seminary said to me, “India is the living example of polytheistic Ancient Rome.” Then when we were living in India, I heard preachers struggling with 1 Corinthians chapters 8–10 to apply it to the Indian context. As I was exploring these thoughts, the editors of India Commentary on New Testament approached me and asked if I would write a commentary on 1 Corinthians. I took the challenge and wrote the commentary with ICNT series (1 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Contextual Commentary, Bangalore: Primalogue, May 2012). Because of length restrictions, I couldn’t use much of my research and writing in that project. So, I approached Langham Publishers with this book idea.
2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?
My intended audience are Christians who are interested in Indian culture and 1 Corinthians. The exegesis will certainly benefit the pastors. But the cultural nuances will help anyone who is serious about ministering among Indians, especially Hindus or baby-Christians.
3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 Corinthians?
The uniqueness of this book is that I start by explaining cultural nuances of India; then I connect it with the biblical text of 1 Corinthians; finally, I reapply the biblical principle to Indian context. So instead of exegesis and application, my commentary is an explanation of a culture — exegesis — and application of the biblical passage to the culture. For example, in chapter 3, I explain how the Hindus view their gurus. Then I explain how Paul wanted the Corinthians to view the leaders like Paul and Apollos as workers in God’s field. I conclude by explaining the right attitude Indian Christians should have towards their Christian leaders.
4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?
Although I am an Indian and grew up in India until late-teens, I learned a great deal about the culture and Hinduism because of my study, which permeates throughout the books. So I explain sports Indians like, dots Indians wear on their forehead, marriage arrangements, and even Hindu philosophies. One of my reviewers said it well: “Anecdotes, snippets of Indian history, newspaper reports, observations on what Indians think, or do, or say, or are — these are the planks Andrew Spurgeon tosses together to build a crisscrossing walkway between ancient Corinth and present-day India. One minute the reader is in ancient Greece, taking in just the kind of detail needed to make sense of what Paul was saying then. The next minute the reader is in his home country, making sense of what Paul is saying now” (Havilah Dharamraj).
5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?
Growing up in India, moving to USA for studies, and ministering in Asian countries like the Philippines, I’ve always felt like I was a person without a country (almost like a Third Cultured Adult). But writing this commentary helped me understand my own roots — how India has influenced my thinking. I came away with a renewed appreciation for my culture but at the same time a profound sadness for the lostness of my people. At the same time, I have great appreciation for the Lord Jesus Christ for saving me and my family.
6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 Corinthians?
I used Dr. Gordon Fee’s commentary on 1 Corinthians (NICNT series) as my go-to commentary, and I’ll recommend that to anyone for starting his/her studies on 1 Corinthians.
7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?
I am currently working on a similar project on Romans. Asia Biblical Commentary series plans to publish it, hopefully by 2019. At present, I only have a linkedin.com account.