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

Journal article


Neil, Bronwen. (2016) Reading first Thessalonians as a consolatory letter in light of Seneca and ancient handbooks on letter-writing. New Testament Studies. 62(1), pp. 31 - 48. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0028688515000351
AuthorsNeil, Bronwen
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.

Keywordsconsolation; eschatology; New Testament; Seneca; Paul;  Thessalonians; letters; epistolary handbooks
Year2016
JournalNew Testament Studies
Journal citation62 (1), pp. 31 - 48
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISSN0028-6885
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/S0028688515000351
Scopus EID2-s2.0-84950296069
Page range31 - 48
Research GroupCentre for Biblical and Early Christian Studies
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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