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Paul and the Apocalyptic Triumph

An Investigation of the Usage of Jewish and Greco-Roman Imagery in 1 Thess. 4:13–18


Michael E. Peach

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 has long been the quintessential Pauline text on the parousia of Christ. Nowhere else does Paul reveal a more vivid picture of Christ’s coming. The apostle Paul employs a number of images to describe the parousia to the Thessalonian congregation who have become anxious, grief-stricken, and despairing in the midst of the loss of their loved ones. Until recently scholars have held that Paul’s use of imagery in 1 Thess. 4:13–18 was either inspired by Greco-Roman imperial categories or Jewish apocalyptic categories.
Michael E. Peach provides a fresh examination of imagery in 1 Thess. 4:13–18 arguing that Paul synthesizes both the Jewish and Greco-Roman imagery. With careful analysis, Peach traces the history of interpretation of Pauline eschatology finding patterns of thought concerning the source of inspiration of Paul’s use of imagery. Utilizing these patterns, the author further examines the meaning and function of four images employed by Paul: «a loud command,» «the sound of an archangel,» «the trumpet of God,» and «the meeting of the Lord.» Ultimately, Peach’s discoveries demonstrate that Paul synthesizes apocalyptic and Greco-Roman triumph imagery to create a dramatic mosaic of the apocalyptic triumph, the parousia of Jesus Christ.
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Carlos A. Segovia, Isaac W. Oliver, and Anders K. Petersen General Editors

Apocalypticism: Cross-disciplinary Explorations brings together innovative volumes exploring the production and dissemination of apocalyptic ideas in ancient, medieval, and modern times as well as their intellectual and social settings. The series invites proposals from all academic disciplines relevant to the study of apocalypticism in all its complexity and inherent ambiguity, with an emphasis on its role as an utopian counterpoint to the miseries of the present world, as an indirect albeit sophisticated means of social control, and as a countercultural and eventually subversive phenomenon in times of crisis. It publishes monographs, collected works, and text editions in English, German, and French dealing with the grammars of the apocalyptic imagination, the connections between prophecy and apocalypticism, the semiotics of apocalyptic and millennial rhetoric, the instrumentality of apocalyptic discourse, the decoding of apocalyptic scare tactics, the sociology of apocalyptic groups, and the evolution of mainstream and marginal symbols, images, motifs and concepts relative to the end times and the doomsday through literature, religion, culture, and politics.

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