Paul And Late-Jewish Eschatology -- By: J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 15:3 (Summer 1972)
Article: Paul And Late-Jewish Eschatology
Author: J. Julius Scott, Jr.


Paul And Late-Jewish Eschatology

A Case Study,
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 And II Thessalonians 2:1-12

J. Julius Scott, Jr.*

Paul’s correspondence with both the Thessalonians and the Corinthians contain significant eschatological sections. When these passages are studied either independently or in comparison with each other a number of questions are raised. These include such issues as (and this list is not complete) ( 1) the nature and sequence of events Paul expected to transpire at the end of the age, (2) the relationship—the degree of originality-independency or of dependency—of Paul’s eschatological thought with that of contemporary Judaism or other groups, (3) the proper hermeneutical methods and approaches to use in interpreting these passages, and (4) the possibility and nature of changes and/or developments which may have taken place in Paul’s thought between his earlier and later writings on eschatological subjects.1

This investigation is concerned only with the nature and intensity of the Late-Jewish2 forms, concepts, and categories used in I Thessalonians 4:13–18 and II Thessalonians 2:1–12. In particular it is concerned to test the validity of the often-held assumption that Paul, especially in these passages simply took over notions about the “End Time” held by his Jewish contemporaries, (particularly those who held some apocalyptic outlook) and added a Christian flavor to it.

Of course I recognize that the Jewish influences found here, includ-

*Associate Professor of Religious studies, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky.

ing such features as references to the resurrection of the dead, the beginnings of the apocalyptic movement, and general concern with eschatological phenomena is rooted in the Old Testament. However, chronologically, the Old Testament is not the immediate historical and cultural background for the New Testament. Furthermore, it was only during the Inter-testamental period that eschatology became an area of prominent and even popular concern. During this time Old Testament concepts underwent interpretation and development. Therefore, my primary concern will be to enumerate the general emphases, interests, and traditions within these passages which reflect this Late-Jewish background. Also, some notice will be taken of some of the verbal and conceptual parallels between some of the more important parts of these portions of Paul’s correspondence and some of the literature of Lat...

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