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Eschatology of the Thessalonian Correspondence

A comparative study of 1 Thess 4, 13-5, 11 and 2 Thess 2, 1-12 to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha


Janusz Kucicki

The book refers to universal eschatology contained in the Letters to the Thessalonians (1 Thess 4, 13-5, 11; 2 Thess 2, 1-12). The whole material is divided in two groups (eschatological motifs and apocalyptic motifs). Each of the motifs is analysed in the Biblical context and in the Intertestamental Literature context (the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the Qumran Literature). The exegetical analysis and the comparative analysis show similarity and diversity of the way Paul used the motifs. They also show which motifs were created or extensively modified by Paul in order to contribute to the creation of Christian eschatology. After presentation of the importance of eschatological topics in the 1-2 Thess (chapter I), the analyses of prodroms (chapter II) and events connected with the parousia (chapter III) indicate the way of using each of the motifs in different traditions. Based on results of the analyses, the Jewish background and Paul’s original contribution to the New Testament eschatology are presented in chapter IV.
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Chapter I: Preliminary Issues


Chapter IPreliminary Issues

Discussion of the authenticity of both letters clearly demonstrates the role that eschatological motifs play in the Thessalonians correspondence and shows the relationship between Pauline eschatology and non-canonical literature1.

1.  The History of Discussions Concerning the Authenticity of the Letters to the Thessalonians

Pauline authorship of 1–2 Thess was not doubted until the early nineteenth century. Pauline authorship, based on early Church records2 and the centuries-old tradition, was indirectly challenged for the first time by J. E. C. Schmidt, who in his essay “Vermutungen über die beiden Briefe an die ← 33 | 34 → Thessalonicher”, proposed that 2 Thess 2, 1–12 was an interpolation. However, he does not deny the authenticity of the whole letter3. A further step was taken by F. Kern, who demonstrated the literary dependence of 2 Thess on 1 Thess, so raising doubts as to its authenticity4. This gave rise to a long discussion on the authorship of the Letters to the Thessalonians, in which some of the most eminent exegetes of the past century have often taken extreme positions. In discussing the authenticity of the Letters to the Thessalonians, we can identify two basic positions:

1.1. Denial of authenticity of both letters

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