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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 III: Events Connected with the Parousia


Chapter IIIEvents Connected with the Parousia

Following on from our discussion in chapter II of eschatological motifs, which are a part of the description of events preceding the coming of the Lord, we will analyse in this chapter eschatological motifs used by the author to create an apocalyptic picture of the final day. In the first part of this chapter, we will present the motif of surprise associated with the parousia. A separate discussion of this issue for Christians and non-Christians will accurately show the difference in the presentation deliberately chosen by the author. In the second part of this chapter, we will discuss various other motifs associated with the parousia. Analysis of the eschatological motifs contained in the Letters to the Thessalonians will help us to establish a degree of similarity between the apocalyptic picture presented in 1–2 Thess and the apocalyptic imaginary found in the pseudepigraphal literature of the Second Temple period. In the third part of the chapter, we will analyse Paul’s teaching concerning the equality between the living and the dead on the day of the Lord.

1.  Motif of Surprise

The motif of surprise connected with the day of parousia (1 Thess 5, 1–4) is usually understood as the sudden and unexpected return of the Lord, which is strongly influenced by Paul’s conviction that the parousia will occur during his lifetime. Another traditional approach to the problem is to compare the apocalyptic picture of 2 Thess 2,...

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