Theological hermeneutics and 1 Thessalonians

Paddison, Angus Alexander (2004) Theological hermeneutics and 1 Thessalonians. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis proposes a theologically engaged reading of 1 Thessalonians. The thesis has three parts. Part I critiques current historical-critical readings of 1 Thessalonians, arguing that the interpretative perspectives offered by historical- criticism offer little for the theologically interested exegete. Part II of the thesis explores the text's interpretation history, examining the commentaries on 1 Thessalonians of Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. Part III proposes and develops a theologically engaged reading of Paul's letter in dialogue with an array of theological voices. In the first part of the thesis historical-critical trends, dominant both within scholarship on 1 Thessalonians specifically and more general Biblical scholarship, are exposed to theological scrutiny. Chapter 1 begins by introducing some of the thesis' guiding theological and hermeneutical concepts: historicism, revelation and conversation. Informed in this way, a preliminary theological critique of historical-criticism is explored with reference to the work of James Dunn and Karl Donfried. Developing the argument of this chapter by drawing upon further instances of historical-criticism, it is contended that historical-critical studies operate with a limited notion of meaning and truth; that historical-criticism is disabled by a historicist attitude that freezes the language into a restrictively reflective relationship between text and original context; and that historicist interpretations distract its practitioners from the actual, and most obvious, subject matter of the Biblical texts. In the second part of the thesis the pre-modern exegesis of 1 Thessalonians, in the form of Thomas Aquinas' (1224/5-75) and John Calvin's (1509-64) respective commentaries on 1 Thessalonians, is examined and explored. Chapter 2 presents a reading of Thomas' 1 Thessalonians Lectura. Attention is paid both to the exegetical methods Thomas deploys in reading Paul's letter and the theological richness he extracts from it. Particular emphasis is placed on Thomas' engaged reading of Thessalonians 4:13-18. Chapter 3 turns to Calvin's commentary on 1 Thessalonians. As with our chapter on Thomas, a dual interest in the exegetical methods and the outcomes of this method is maintained. Although it is contended that some of Calvin's exegetical techniques are a prelude to subsequent developments, there is much to be gained from Calvin's reading of the whole of 1 Thessalonians in an eschatological vein. Chapter 4 evaluates these readings of Thomas and Calvin together, and notes the extent to which they have added to our expansive reading of 1 Thessalonians. In the third part of the thesis the theologically engaged reading of 1 Thessalonians reaches its climax. The central concern of Chapter 5 is to provide a theologically attuned reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:14. The chapter commences by attempting to situate our theologically driven exegesis within an appropriate hermeneutical framework, with the assistance of Karl Rahner. Subsequent attention is paid to the images of redemption present within the text, and to that end drawing the text into conversation with an eclectic range of pre-modem and modem theological voices. Aspects of the text explored include Paul's claim that Jesus died 'for us' (1 Thess 5:10), images of light and prayer, of death as sleeping, and that of the parousia itself. In the conclusion the hermeneutical journey undertaken in the course of the thesis is evaluated, and some departing images are offered by way of reflection.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: John MG Barclay
Keywords: Biblical studies
Date of Award: 2004
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2004-71233
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 10:49
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71233

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