Reading First Thessalonians as a consolatory letter in light of Seneca and ancient handbooks on letter-writing

David Luckensmeyer, Bronwen Neil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul addressed the occasion of deaths among Christians with stock arguments of the consolatory genre, without using the typical epistolary structure associated with consolation in ancient handbooks of letter-writing. It is demonstrated that three of Seneca the Younger's letters also employed stock arguments of consolation, but did not follow the usual structure for a letter of consolation. Using Seneca's letters as a test case for what constituted pagan ideas of consolation, we highlight some compelling reasons for reading First Thessalonians as a letter of consolation, a reading that offers some new insights into the passage on the right Christian attitude towards death in 1 Thess 4.13-5.11.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
JournalNew Testament Studies
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • 1 Thessalonians
  • Consolation
  • Epistolary handbooks
  • Eschatology
  • Letters
  • New Testament
  • Paul
  • Seneca

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