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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 contains many eschatological and apocalyptic motifs that are also found in the intertestamental literature. The eight motifs (destruction, wrath, deceiving, the day of the Lord, apostasy, Satan’s action, the mystery of lawlessness, the judgment) which refer to negative aspects of the day of the Lord, have been used by Paul in a manner identical to that found in the intertestamental literature. This was primarily because motifs accepted and used by the apostle concerning non-Christians are related to the Old Testament eschatological motif the day of the Lord, which is also not modified in the intertestamental literature. This identity of terminology can be explained by a common source from which they were derived. There is no foundation for the conclusion that the eschatology of the Letters to the Thessalonians is dependent on the eschatology of the Qumran writings.

Fifteen eschatological and apocalyptic motifs are similar on the level of terminology, but they have clear differences on the semantic level. These motifs are: dualism, descent from heaven, command (order), voice of the archangel, the trumpet of God, clouds, caught up in the air, the resurrection, being with the Lord, preparation and vigilance, gathering around Him, times and seasons, the coming of the Lord, the man of lawlessness and his destruction, and finally salvation. Paul introduced changes concerning the meaning and use of these motifs. They are used in order to show that early Christian eschatological views were rooted in the Old Testament and...

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