Mark Proctor, "“Were we infants among you?”—Punctuating 1 Thessalonians 2:7b Properly," 313–26
Depending on the variant reading one adopts, the text of 1 Thess 2:7b describes Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica as either gentle (ἤπιοι) or infantile (νήπιοι). While New Testament textual criticism has long recognized the latter reading’s superior text-critical pedigree, the persistence on the part of modern critical editions like the UBSGNT in punctuating v. 7b as a declarative statement has left many preferring its rival on the grounds that ἤπιοι alone makes sense in light of the surrounding context. This paper seeks to resolve the text-critical and interpretive issues surrounding 1 Thess 2:7b by reading it instead as a rhetorical question that expects a negative answer. Doing so both permits the well-attested lectio difficilior νήπιοι to remain in the letter’s text and allows Paul’s readers to regard the verse’s content as a perfectly natural lead-in to his claim in the next sentence: “Indeed, were we like infants among you? Just like a nurse tenderly cares for her own children, even so we who long for you thought it appropriate to share with you not only the good news about God, but even our very own souls; for you were beloved by us” (1 Thess 2:7b–8).