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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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The Letters to the Thessalonians are the earliest writings of the New Testament1, and for that reason, they are the subject of unremitting interest to exegetes and theologians2. Among the theological issues raised by the letters, the most analyzed and discussed problem is universal eschatology3. While in 1 Thess this issue occurs together with many others about which the apostle exhorts the recipients of the letter, in 2 Thess it becomes a central theme4. In studies of the New Testament eschatology, the Letters to the Thessalonians are one of the main sources, which provide important information about universal eschatology5, and are basic to any discussion of issues related to prodroms, the resurrection of bodies and the parousia of Christ. ← 19 | 20 →

Although these three issues are core themes of universal eschatology, it does not mean that they are the only themes in the eschatological passages of 1 Thess 4, 13–5, 11 and 2 Thess 2, 1–12. The works of scholars who refer to details of universal eschatology as presented in 1–2 Thess are usually marked with controversy concerning the authenticity of 2 Thess or they refer to only one of many issues. In Polish, so far, there are no studies, which examine the passages 1 Thess 4, 13–5, 11, and 2 Thess 2, 1–12 in order to present how Paul created a compact and comprehensive Christian eschatology.

Among the authors who analyze the eschatology of the Letters to the...

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