Script for Amateur Exegesis – Season 2, Episode 6: “Yea, Hath Paul Said?”

INTRODUCTION

“Of all historical events, the Holocaust seems the most unfathomable.” Such are the words of the late Robert Michael in his 2006 book Holy Hatred: Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust.[1] The word “holocaust” ultimately derives from the Greek substantive holokautōma, a compound word that means “wholly burned.” It appears in the LXX in Exodus 10:25 where it refers to burnt offerings that Moses demanded Pharaoh provide for Israel for their worship of God – “And Moses said, ‘But you yourself will also provide us with [holokautōmata] and sacrifices, which we will present to the Lord our God.’”[2] A “holocaust,” then, has significant religious overtones and in the LXX was specifically used to describe activity in the Israelite cult. Today, however, the term has become synonymous with the idea of genocide, particularly of the five and a half million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century.[3] Whence this use of the term? 

When Jews refer to the tragedy that befell their people nearly a century ago, the term that they often use is the Hebrew word shoah – “destruction.” Walter Laqueur, editor of The Holocaust Encyclopedia, notes just how “unfortunate” it is that a religiously laden term like “holocaust,” a word that signifies a sacrifice, should be employed to describe the extermination of so many: “Whatever the cause and the significance of the mass murder of the Jews and others by the Nazi regime, it was not a sacrifice,” he writes.[4] Interestingly, “holocaust” as a metonym for the destruction of large amounts of people predated the genocide of the Jews with which it is now associated. French authors had used the term to describe the horrors that happened during World War One.[5] But using “holocaust” with a capital H, i.e., the Holocaust, began sometime shortly after the end of World War Two.[6]

What lay at the root of the Holocaust? In his introduction to antisemitism, Steven Beller writes, “Central to any explanation for the Holocaust should…be the ideological motivation of the extreme racial antisemitism that Hitler and the Nazi leadership shared.”[7] Beller goes on to explain that Hitler and his cronies saw themselves as at war with the Jews who they viewed “as a race of parasitical sub-humans.”[8] But neither Hitler nor the Nazis invented such stereotypes. The roots of antisemitism are buried deep in the past, stretching all the way back to Greco-Roman antiquity. Historian Benjamin Isaac observes that in Alexandria, Egypt an alternative version of the Exodus narrative appeared that claimed the Israelites were expelled from Egypt because they were disease-ridden and, upon arriving in the Levant, proceeded to construct a society of misanthropic atheists.[9] The Jewish historian Josephus writing in the late first century CE attributes to Manetho, an Egyptian author who lived in the third century BCE, the notion that the Jews “had the leprosy and other diseases” and were thus “condemned to fly out of Egypt together” (Against Apion, 1.229).[10] Other Alexandrian texts, Isaac notes, painted the Jews as practitioners of human sacrifice and cannibalism, thereby “questioning their humanity and comparing them to animals.”[11]

Much of this has to be placed into the larger context of Hellenistic and, later Roman, xenophobia. As historian Paula Fredriksen writes,

The habits, customs, and behaviors of outsiders rarely inspired expressions of admiration from Greek and, later, Roman writers; and it is important to see what these authors say about other “exotic others” in order to take the measure of their remarks about Jews. Egyptians and Celts; Persians, Parthians, and Germans; Phoenicians and Syrians; Gauls and even (in the view of later Latin writers) Greeks: all came in for their share of ethnic insults, cross-cultural condescension, and invidious insinuation.[12]

Criticisms and caricatures of the Jews where thus part of a Greco-Roman pastime of denigrating the other. The Egyptians? Picky eaters (like the Jews). The Phoenicians? Greedy. The Germans? Brutish.[13] One of the worst sins that a people could commit was to be antisocial. “Classical Greek and Latin authors considered sociability an indispensable feature of a civilized people,” Isaac writes.[14] The Jews, however, were peculiar: they generally didn’t participate in local cults, preferring instead to worship their own god and him alone, and they observed a day of rest once a week, segregating themselves and abstaining from work. Moreover, to become a Jew, one had to not only renounce the gods of pagan cults with all that entailed but, in the case of males, be willing to part with one’s foreskin. “Not merely a change in an individual’s personal beliefs, ancient forms of conversion urged a radical transformation of one’s identity that disrupted family ties and former group associations,” writes J. Albert Harrill.[15] This was no less true for those who converted to Judaism. It is no wonder that the Jews became the focus of negative depictions. 

Yet caution is warranted when considering what Greco-Roman authors had to say about the Jews. “We should regard the accusations of extreme antisocial behavior leveled at ancient Jews…with a healthy skepticism,” Fredriksen writes.[16] Robert Michael concurs, writing that “the pagan Greeks and Romans regarded the Jews little differently from other peoples. There was no intense emotional or ideological hostility.”[17] Thus, while we may detect a rudimentary form of antisemitism among Greeks and Romans, this must be seen in light of what Greco-Roman authors often said about those who didn’t live up to their ideals. In other words, it speaks more to Greco-Roman ethnocentrism in general than to antisemitism in particular. 

“Christ-Killers” 

To find what fueled the antisemitism that caused the Holocaust, we must look to Christianity. “The emergence and success of antisemitism in the late 19th and 20th centuries cannot be understood without recognition of the large part played by a centuries-long heritage of Christian doctrinal hostility to Jews,” Steven Beller writes.[18] One of the monikers given to Jews was that of “Christ-killers.” This title historically had often given Europeans the cover to do what they willed with Jews. For example, in the eleventh century CE, mobs in northwestern Europe murdered Jews en masse because they were dubbed “Christ’s killers.”[19] In German cities like Speyer, Worms, and Mainz, crusaders had deliberately sought out Jews. According to one account, the crusaders in Mainz had gone looking for Jews, saying to them,

You are the children of those who killed our object of veneration, hanging him on a tree, and he himself had said: “There will yet come a day when my children will come and avenge my blood.” We are his children and it is…therefore obligatory for us to avenge him since you are the ones who rebel and disbelieve him.[20]

By the time the massacre was over, the entire Jewish population of the city had been exterminated. In some cities, bishops would attempt to either prevent crusaders from killing the Jews there or would have them flee to the countryside, “but,” William Chester Jordan notes in his book Europe in the High Middle Ages, “search parties hunted down the refugees in villages and hamlets.”[21] In some instances, when given the option by crusaders to convert or die, Jews would sometimes choose suicide instead.[22]

From where did this charge that the Jews were “Christ-killers” come? Robert Michael minces no words when he writes, “The profound antisemitism that we know of today began not with the pagans but with the Christian Scriptures.”[23] He goes on to write that “Christ-killers was the essential Christian accusation against contemporary Jews throughout the patristic period.”[24] And these Christian accusations had as their foundation a number of texts from the New Testament. Among the Gospels and Acts, Michael mentions Matthew 21:43; 27:23, 25; John 8:44-45; Acts 2:22-23; 3:13-15, and 7:51-52.[25] Such “anti-Jewish” portions of the Christian Scriptures,” he writes, “have been seared into the Christian psyche.”[26]

Of course, there is no shortage of antisemitic insults available for certain Christians. Recently on Twitter, Rabbi Susan Lippe responded to the question of why Jewish rabbis would care what the New Testament had to say by noting that the New Testament documents are Jewish in nature, were often written about Jews, and were to this day used to attack Jews. When a Christian responded that she wasn’t being attacked but corrected for her purported lack of understanding about the New Testament, Lippe recommended her interlocutor invest in the highly acclaimed Jewish Annotated New Testament. This was the Christian’s response: “[U]nless the editors are Christian, forgive me if I don’t really put much stock into what a bunch of [M]ol[e]ch-worshippe[r]s (modern day Jews) have to say about scripture.” Attached to this tweet was an image of Acts 7:43 from the King James Version.[27] This antisemitic Christian weaponized the words of Stephen in Acts 7 to dismiss Jewish understandings of the New Testament, specifically by referring to them as worshippers of false gods.

It is not only texts like Acts 7 or John 8 that are used against Jews. Michael notes that even some of the words of the apostle Paul have been weaponized and Michael lists a number of passages like Galatians 3:13, Philippians 3:8, and the subject of today’s episode – 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16, a text in which, he says, “the whole Jewish people were defamed as murderers of Christ.”[28]

Welcome to an extended episode of Amateur Exegesis.

1 THESSALONIANS 2:13-16: TWO TRANSLATIONS

“Murderers of Christ.” How is it that such language could be derived from a text written by the apostle Paul? As he himself emphasizes in his letters, Paul was a Jew. “I myself am an Israelite,” he writes in Romans 11:1, “a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin” (NRSV). Two chapters earlier, in Romans 9:1-5, Paul expresses his deep love for the Jews. He writes, 

I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself was accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (NRSV)

“Paul lived and died a Jew,” writes Pamela Eisenbaum.[29] But if this is the case, whence 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16? Let me read it to you as it is translated in the New American Standard Bible: 

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of mere men, but as what it really is, the word of God, which also is at work in you who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all people, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always reach the limit of their sins. But wrath has come upon them fully.

One of the central issues has to do with the end of v. 14 and the beginning of v. 15: “even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out.” Because you can’t always hear punctuation, let me state clearly the problem: after “the Jews” in v. 14 is a comma. It is this bit of punctuation, referred to by New Testament scholar Frank Gilliard as “the antisemitic comma,”[30] that creates a great deal of consternation for many exegetes. Of this problematic punctuation, Gilliard writes, “If there were no comma, Paul would be inveighing against specifically restricted groups of Jews.”[31] In other words, it wouldn’t be antisemitism; it would be inner-Jewish disagreement.

But it is not only this “antisemitic” comma that is problematic about the passage. As we will see, some commentators have found so many issues with this section of 1 Thessalonians that they dub it “un-Pauline,” attributing its existence to a later editor. Before we get to that, allow me to read to you my translation of the passage, based upon the 28thedition of the Nestle-Aland Greek text. 

[13] And for this reason also we ourselves give thanks to God unceasingly: that having received the word of God through hearing us, you accepted it not as the word of people[32] but rather[33] as what it truly is – the word of God which is working in you believers. [14] For you yourselves became imitators, brothers and sisters, of the churches of God that are in Judea in Christ Jesus, because[34] you suffered from your own[35] the same things as they from the Judeans[36] [15][37] who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God, and oppose all people, [16] hindering us from speaking to the gentiles so that they might be saved and so filling up the measure of their sins. But upon them has come the wrath of God to the end.[38]

YEA, HATH PAUL SAID?

“There is one section in 1 Thessalonians that has received a more thorough examination than any other part of the letter – 2.13-16,” writes Matthew Jensen.[39] One of the first scholars to critically analyze these four verses was the German theologian Ferdinand Baur. Writing in the nineteenth century, Baur thought that this section of the epistle was riddled with problems: “This passage has a thoroughly un-Pauline stamp,” he wrote in his two volume Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ.[40] For example, he found it “far-fetched” that Paul would compare the troubles facing the Thessalonian church with those that faced the churches of Judea mentioned in v. 14.[41] He also found it difficult to believe Paul would use a phrase attributed to gentile invectives, the idea expressed in v. 15 that the Jews “oppose all people,” against his own.[42] “It is evident on the face of this passage that the story in the [book of] Acts is the only source of its information,” he wrote, thereby relegating these four verses to someone other than Paul.[43] In fact, Baur thought that both 1 and 2 Thessalonians were “greatly wanting in original matter, and that this deficiency discredits their apostolic authorship.”[44] Who wrote 1 Thessalonians? If you asked Baur, he would not say, “Paul did.” 

As I mentioned in the first episode, scholars today think that 1 Thessalonians was not only written by Paul but that it is also the earliest extant piece of Christian literature we have available to us.[45] Paul Foster, professor of New Testament at the University of Edinburgh, conducted a survey at the 2011 British New Testament Conference asking scholars whether they thought Paul wrote the letters attributed to him in the New Testament. Of the roughly 109 who took his survey, all of them thought that Paul was the author of 1 Thessalonians and 63 believed it to be the first epistle Paul wrote in the New Testament.[46] While this survey was not scientific, it does suggest a trend among scholars that the authenticity of 1 Thessalonians is not in dispute. 

Interpolations

But simply because the epistle’s authorship is undisputed doesn’t mean that everything within the letter is. Some scholars believe that these four verses in the second chapter of 1 Thessalonians are an example of an interpolation. The word “interpolation” may be unfamiliar to you. In essence it’s an interjection, a place where something has been inserted into something else. Usually, that which is interjected is foreign to the original. For example, if you were watching the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland, and halfway through there was a scene from Garland’s 1954 movie A Star is Born, you would correctly note that as an interpolation. Depending upon how much you knew about the chronology of Garland’s film carrier, you could deduce from that interpolation that the copy of The Wizard of Oz you were watching must have been produced after 1954 when A Star is Born first came out in theaters. Interpolations can be useful. 

At times, identifying an interpolation is relatively straightforward. For example, 1 John 5:7-8 of the King James Version reads, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” If ever there was a clear-cut reference to the Trinity in the whole of the Bible, this would be it. Unfortunately, scholars are almost universally agreed that these words represent an interpolation. For one, the external attestation to it is relatively poor and, as Bruce Metzger notes, “the passage makes an awkward break in the sense.”[47]

In his book Interpolations in the Pauline Letters, William Walker, Jr. observes that various scholars have argued that a number of texts in the Pauline corpus are interpolations. In the epistle to the Romans, for example, Walker lists over thirty passages that this or that scholar has suggested is non-Pauline in origin.[48] Other epistles fare somewhat better, but few come out completely unscathed.[49] This is certainly the case for 1 Thessalonians as 2:13-16 is undoubtedly the most contested of any passage purportedly written by the apostle Paul. Why do some scholars reject its authenticity? 

A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation?

One of the most cited examples of a scholar arguing for this passage being an interpolation is Birger Pearson in his article for the Harvard Theological Review entitled “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation.”[50] When scholars speak of something being “Deutero-Pauline,” they mean that it is secondary to Paul, i.e., that it isn’t from the apostle. In Pearson’s view, this section of the epistle belongs to a period after 70 CE.[51] One reason he thought this was because of the end of v. 16: “But upon them has come the wrath of God to the end.” Pearson looked at the aorist verb ephthasen (“has come”) and the prepositional phrase eis telos (“to the end,” or, “at last” [e.g., ESV, NIV]) and concluded that this verse “refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.”[52] In his commentary on the text, Earl Richard agrees, writing, “The plight of the Jew, following the destruction of Jerusalem and later dispersal from Palestine, is seen as the result of divine retribution finally being meted out for centuries of hostility toward God and the whole of humanity.”[53]

The ending of this pericope is low-hanging fruit and both Pearson and Richard identify other elements in the text that suggest its Deutero-Pauline origins. For example, Richard argues that v. 13 exhibits a “structural problem” that suggests the work of an editor. But, while he still considers v. 13 “Pauline,” he contends that vv. 14-16 are not and that the two sections – v. 13 on the one hand and vv. 14-16 on the other, “have little in common.” [54] Moreover, he believes that there is “no obvious link” between v. 13 and v. 14.[55] Pearson makes no such argument, casting v. 13 and its reference to thanksgiving as a non-Pauline redundancy.[56]

For both Pearson and Richard problems abound in vv. 14-15. In Pearson’s reading of v. 14, the text states that the Judean church underwent some kind of persecution from the Jews for which there is no historical reference. Citing events reported in Josephus that took place in the early 60s CE, he claims that Judean Christians “were living in harmony with their fellow-Jews” up until that time.[57] Richard takes a slightly different angle, suggesting that the language used in the text suggests that the Thessalonian congregation was a mix of Jew and gentile and that, based upon the parallel made between it and the churches of Judea, the community in Thessalonica was facing persecution at the hands of Jews in the city. To this notion Richard objects: “The Jewish character of the Thessalonian community is not confirmed by the Pauline text.”[58]

One of the central problems that both Pearson and Richard point to is the text’s use of the genitive tōn Ioudaiōn at the end of v. 14, rendered in my translation as “the Judeans” (for reasons I will discuss later) but more often than not translated as “the Jews.” Richard writes that “scholars are hard put to defend such usage by Paul, the author of Romans 9-11, since the term in verses 14-16 already has the polemic meaning found in John’s Gospel.”[59] In vv. 15-16, this marked group is responsible for killing Jesus and the prophets and driving out Paul’s missionary band. They are guilty of displeasing God and opposing all people as well as preventing Paul and his companions from preaching the gospel to the gentiles, thereby “filling up the measure of their sins.” Pearson finds that “much of the material” in these two verses to be “traditional and formulaic.”[60] For example, the phrase I rendered as “opposing all people” is, per Pearson, “a theme from Graeco-Roman anti-Semitism.”[61] Richard agrees, noting similar language in Tacitus and writing, “This anti-Judaism is uncharacteristic of Paul and more likely the product of a later Gentile-Christian hand.”[62] In the view of both, such language belongs to an era after 70 CE: “There is ample evidence that Christians post-70 interpreted the destruction of Jerusalem as a punishment inflicted by God upon the Jews for killing the Christ,” Pearson observes.[63] As Robert Michael put it, it is in this passage that “the whole Jewish people are defamed as murderers of Christ.” [64]

Much more could be said about why Pearson and Richard view 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 as a Deutero-Pauline interpolation and so listeners are encouraged to consult the work of these two scholars to find out more. For now, we must ask whether they have demonstrated that these four verses represent an actual interpolation. 

THUS SAITH PAUL

Earlier I discussed 1 John 5:7-8 as it appears in the King James Bible and how it represents an interpolation, a later insertion into the text. One of the reasons that scholars consider it to be an interpolation is the lack of external attestation to it. Two of our most significant witnesses, Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, lack this unique reference to the Trinity. In fact, the earliest Greek manuscript we have that attests to it is from a thousand years after the epistle of 1 John would have been written.[65] This near-universal omittance of this text is strong evidence that it was not part of the original version of 1 John.

The same cannot be said about 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. The earliest non-fragmentary version of 1 Thessalonians extant can be found in the codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus from the fourth century CE. Both of these texts contain these four verses. In fact, as Eugene Boring notes, the manuscript evidence that points to the validity of the interpolation hypothesis is lacking.[66] With but one partial exception, there is no early version of 1 Thessalonians extant that willfully omits these four verses.[67] But neither Pearson nor Richard argued for an interpolation on the grounds of textual criticism. Rather, their arguments had to do more with what the text said. Thus, the question before us is this: can we make sense of these verses in the context of 1 Thessalonians? I think that we can.

Verse Thirteen

Paul opens up in v. 13 with the words kai dia touto – “And for this reason.” The apostle is connecting what he has said in v. 12, that God calls the Thessalonians “into his own kingdom and glory,” to another reason that he is thankful: their reception of the word.[68] Specifically, Paul is thankful that the Thessalonians had “accepted it not as the word of people but rather as what it truly is – the word of God.” By “the word,” he isn’t referring to scripture, at least not entirely. For one, as 1 Thessalonians is the earliest piece of literature from the New Testament, Paul couldn’t have had any other document from the New Testament on hand from which to preach. For another, it seems doubtful that he lugged around a copy of the Septuagint. He no doubt had memorized significant portions of it[69] but to own his own copy seems like a stretch. So then, what does Paul mean when he speaks of “the word” that the Thessalonians had well-received? 

In episode four I discussed the Pauline kerygma, i.e., the message Paul proclaimed to the Thessalonian community. In ch. 1, he wrote to the Thessalonians that was grateful to God that he knew they were chosen by God because, v. 5 reports, “our gospel did not come to you in word only but rather in power and in the holy spirit and complete certainty.” That is, accompanying the message Paul preached were deeds of power that confirmed its validity. When Paul speaks of the “gospel,” he is not referring to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John since none of those even existed. And when he uses the phrase “in word only” he certainly isn’t speaking of a written document. Instead, in ch. 1 Paul is alluding to his kerygma, and that is precisely what is going on here. As Eugene Boring writes, “Though this text has often played a role in discussions of biblical inspiration, the subject here is not the Scripture – the Bible is neither mentioned nor specifically quoted in 1 Thessalonians – but the missionary kerygma of Paul and his colleagues.”[70] And Paul is grateful that the Thessalonians did not think that what he was preaching was original to him. Rather, they received it as the message of God, a message that Paul says is at work within them. But in what way? 

Verse Fourteen 

The first part of v. 14 provides the answer: “For you yourselves became imitators, brothers and sisters, of the churches of God that are in Judea in Christ Jesus.” In ch. 1, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “[Y]ou yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord” (v. 6). Here the motif of imitation is extended to include an entire community of believers: the churches of Judea. Earl Richard found this to be problematic: “The reference to the Judaean churches either as models or a topic of concern is…un-Pauline.”[71] But why? Pearson reasoned that because elsewhere Paul speaks of imitating himself and does so with “an intense apostolic self-understanding” that it makes little sense that he would use imitation language with reference to churches. Thus, the beginning of v. 14 is in Pearson’s words “not only historically incongruous but theologically incongruous as well.”[72] But this seems very shortsighted. 

If you look back at ch. 1, Paul speaks of the Thessalonian community in v. 7 as becoming “an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” The word I translated as “an example” is tupon, a relatively rare term in the Pauline corpus. It can be found, for example, in Philippians 3:17 where Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us” (NRSV). If you pay close attention, you can detect Paul’s use of a technique more common in poetry: parallelism, specifically synonymous parallelism. In synonymous parallelism, the second line in a couplet repeats and expands upon the first. We find this technique used over and again in the book of Psalms: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet,” writes the psalmist in Psalm 119:105, “and a light to my path.” This is synonymous parallelism in action. In Philippians 3:17, the first line is a call to imitation: “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me,” Paul writes. The second line reiterates the first using similar language: “and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.” The word rendered “observe” in the NRSV is from Greek verb that “conveys the idea of close observation, fixed attention.”[73] But this close observation is not an end in and of itself. Paul isn’t calling the Philippians to be mere people watchers. Instead, observation should lead to imitation, specifically of “those who live according to the example [tupon] you have in us.” Examples are meant to be imitated.

Looking back at 1 Thessalonians 1, we find exactly this: per v. 6, not only have the Thessalonians become imitators of Paul and Jesus but implied by v. 7 – that the Thessalonian community has become “an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” – is that those communities there become imitators of the Thessalonians. And if the churches of Macedonia and Achaia could be imitators of the church of Thessalonica, why couldn’t the church of Thessalonica become imitators of the churches in Judea? To quote Abraham Malherbe, “[T]he charge that this use of the imitation theme is not Pauline…is not apt.”[74]  

But this is not imitation in the abstract. Paul writes that the Thessalonians imitate the Judean churches in a very specific way: “you suffered from your own the same things as they from the Judeans.” But suffered what exactly? Paul isn’t clear. Earlier in the letter Paul used the language of imitation to describe the way in which the Thessalonians had modeled themselves after Paul: “And you yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in great distress with joy from the holy spirit,” v. 6 says. As I noted in episode four, Paul never explains what this distress entails. But in episode five I offered a glimpse of to what it may be referring. The reason Paul uses the imagery and language of a family in this letter is because of the implications of Paul’s policy toward believing gentiles. They weren’t Jews and they weren’t pagans. They were something else. Paul, to quote Paula Fredriksen, “walked these Christ-fearing pagans into a social and religious no-man’s land.”[75] Their conversion to Christianity meant rejecting the local cults to pagan deities and thereby incurring the wrath of the gods. It would have been the natural response of their neighbors to ostracize these pagan apostates. Jennifer Houston McNeel writes, 

After Paul left town, the Thessalonian believers faced the challenges of living in a countercultural manner, specifically the social ostracism that would have resulted from their withdrawal from pagan rituals honoring the gods and the Roman emperor. Given the very-group oriented Mediterranean culture, pressure and persecution from neighbors, severed family ties, and the collapse of business relations had led to a crisis of identity for the Thessalonians.[76]

It is for this reason, McNeel observes, that Paul uses “extensive kinship language.” He “sought to fill the void left by broken connections with a vision of a community centered in Christ.”[77] This then explains the “great distress” of 1:6 as well as Paul’s reference to suffering “from [their] own” here in 2:14. But what about the group he says the Thessalonians are imitating? 

The translation “from the Judeans” renders the Greek prepositional phrase apo tōn Ioudaiōn. Earlier in this episode I read to you 2:13-16 as it appears in the New American Standard Bible. There in v. 14, apo tōn Ioudaiōn is rendered “from the Jews.” This is also how the ESV, KJV, NIV, and NRSV render it. It is a perfectly acceptable way of translating apo tōn Ioudaiōn. So then, why didn’t I translate it the same way? Why did I choose “from the Judeans” instead of “from the Jews”? Let me explain. 

Earlier in this verse Paul speaks of “the churches of God that are in Judea.” In the Greek text, “Judea” is Ioudaia, a reference to the geographic region from which the early Jesus movement spread.[78] Ioudaia is a feminine form of Ioudaios, the genitive of which appears at the end of v. 14 in the phrase apo tōn Ioudaiōn. Thus, an Ioudaios is from Ioudaia.[79] Now, as Eugene Boring notes, Ioudaioi – the nominative plural of Ioudaios – can be conceived of in “three concentric circles.” First, it may refer simply to the residents of Judea. Second, it may serve to distinguish Jews from gentiles. Third, it can be used to refer to Jewish leadership. Of these three, Boring observes, Paul uses Ioudaioi to refer mainly to Jews as opposed to gentiles, though in 2 Corinthians 11:24 he uses it to refer to Jewish leadership.[80] It is the third sense that Boring believes Paul is using the term in 1 Thessalonians 2:14, and I am inclined to agree. 

Paul is comparing the situation of the Thessalonians with that of the Judean churches. Therefore, when he uses the language “you suffered from your own,” he is referring to their fellow Thessalonians or, perhaps more broadly, Macedonians. In fact, some translations use the phrase “from your own compatriots” (NRSV) or “from your own countrymen” (ESV, KJV) rather than the idiomatic “from your own” to make this abundantly clear. In other words, Paul doesn’t think that all pagans in all places are ostracizing the Thessalonians. Why would they? Since cults tended to be very localized, it would hardly matter to people in, say, Athens what people in Thessalonica were doing. The gods didn’t punish Athens because some people in Thessalonica weren’t worshipping them. And if Paul is restricting the meaning of “from your own” then he must be doing the same when he uses the phrase apo tōn Ioudaiōn. He is surely not referring to all Jews in all places but is specifically referring to those with whom the believers in Judea would have been well acquainted. This is an important point, because at the end of v. 14 we encounter both in the Nestle-Aland Greek text and many English translations and unfortunate piece of punctuation: a comma – an antisemitic one at that! 

Verse Fifteen 

Earlier in this episode I referred to the work of Frank Gilliard who referred to the comma at the end of v. 14 as “antisemitic.” In his article written for the journal New Testament Studies nearly thirty years ago, Gilliard points out that while the comma’s presence in modern editions of the Greek New Testament and many of the translations that use them as their basis has created “’antisemitic’ consequences,” he also notes that such punctuation was not used by either ancient Christians or pagans.[81] In other words, Paul wouldn’t have put a comma at the end of v. 14 because commas weren’t a thing when he was writing. This is good to know since it means that we can perhaps see how the description of the Judeans in v. 15 applies to a specific context.[82]

At the beginning of the verse, the text describes the Judeans as those “who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets.” With the comma at the end of v. 14, this description would seem to indict all Jews everywhere as being guilty of the death of Jesus, or at least it could lead to that sort of conclusion. Without the comma, however, the meaning changes. Abraham Malherbe writes, “He does not speak of all Jews, but of those who acted against their fellow Jews.”[83] Malherbe draws upon the work of Gilliard who noted that the effect of the comma is to create a “nonrestrictive clause” such that the text would be indicting all Jews – it would be an “antisemitic comma.”[84] But there is a grammatical case to be made that Paul intended something more restrictive, a matter that is too technical to go into detail here. Interested listeners are strongly encouraged to read Gilliard’s piece for the ins and outs of his view. The key point here is that this passage indictment need not be viewed as antisemitic any more than the charge that these Judeans “killed…the prophets” would be. The motif of Israelites being responsible for killing the prophets originated not with Jesus followers but with the Jewish scriptures themselves. In fact, in Romans 11:3 Paul quotes from 1 Kings 19:10, a text wherein the prophet Elijah laments his own fate in view of what the people of Israel have done to Yahweh’s prophets.[85]

We must also keep in mind the polemical function of Paul’s words. For example, when he says that these Judeans “drove [them] out, and displease God, and oppose all people,” he is clearly using hyperbolic language, some of which is perhaps drawn from Greco-Roman rhetoric employed against the Jews.[86] The point of this language isn’t to say something about Judean Jews but is instead intended to show the Thessalonians that they, as part of God’s family, are not experiencing anything new. Indeed, Sarah Rollens has plausibly asserted that this story from Paul of the suffering the Judean churches experienced may be an “invented tradition” meant to create a backstory in which to ground the identity of the fledgling church. She writes, “1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 can thus be described as an invented tradition insofar as it reinforces an identity connected to Christ, creates continuity with a (somewhat) legendary past, and promotes group cohesion for the Thessalonians.”[87] As we saw in the previous passage, Paul’s interest seems to be to give this congregation a sense of family, especially in light of the tension and division created by their status as Jesus followers.[88] What better way to do that than to connect them to the original movement that was itself persecuted by Jewish leadership? 

Verse Sixteen

There is one hiccup in this entire exposition: what do we make of the end of v. 16? Here it is again in my translation: “hindering us from speaking to the gentiles so that they might be saved and so filling up the measure of their sins. But upon them has come the wrath of God to the end.” Pearson looked at this verse and concluded that the text was referring to a past event, specifically the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. With this view, Earl Richard agrees. But is that the only way of reading the passage? Not at all. 

In his monograph The Eschatology of First Thessalonians, David Luckensmeyer argues that Paul isn’t referring to the timing of God’s wrath but to its certainty. Time does not permit a detailed look at his reasoning, but the main idea is that the verb translated “has come” may be proleptic, that is, future.[89] In other words, the wrath of God upon these Judeans is as good as done. But this isn’t the only way to read this text. For example, Boring notes a number of possible references: the death of Agrippa, the insurrection of Theudas, the famine of Judea, the massacre of Jews under Cumanus, the expulsion of Jews from Rome. If the letter of 1 Thessalonians was written sometime around 50 CE, all of these events would be in the recent past. But Boring goes on to explain that perhaps no specific historical event is needed to explain what Paul means here. He writes, “In the apocalyptic perspective, the quite ‘normal’ tragedies of history take on an ultimate, foreshadowing-the-end-perspective, as all the modern apocalyptic movements make clear.”[90] Through the lens of an apocalyptic eschatology, the signs of the end are everywhere. 

Conclusion 

If there is a way to read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 that fits with both the epistle and Paul’s thought, and there is no manuscript evidence for interpolation, it stands to reason that this text should be considered Pauline. In comparing this text with what we found in ch. 1 of the letter, it becomes clear that it is intended to be a parallel. As Karl Paul Donfried writes, “[T]o understand 2:13-16 we need to pay careful attention to 1:6-9a. The themes of ‘imitation’ and ‘affliction’ from those earlier verses are taken up and expanded in 2:13ff., where the behavior of the Thessalonian converts is contrasted to that of the Jews.”[91] If we take Sarah Rollens’ approach to this text, this passage may be Paul’s attempt at creating a fictionalized past to which the Thessalonians may attach themselves and thereby see themselves in solidarity with other believers undergo similar distress. At the least, Paul’s intention in the passage is to comfort the Thessalonians and show that this trouble is a sign that the kerygma that Paul brought to Thessalonica is most definitely at work within them. And while interpretations of this passage may have resulted in antisemitic behavior, this text is not in and of itself antisemitic. There is a way to read it that makes it plain that it is one Jew, Paul, complaining about the actions of a specific group of Jews, Judean Jews, specifically Jewish leadership. It is an intra-Jewish conflict. 

Yet we should be careful not to dismiss out of hand the concerns of Jews with regards to the language so often used in the New Testament. As Ed Kessler explains, 

The NT shares an intrinsic problem that is common to all Sacred Scriptures: polemic against a named other, once enshrined in venerated documents, is available for later use or abuse to justify the most appalling actions in the name of God.[92]

And even though the apostle Paul is in the words of the late Krister Stendahl, the “first to have discerned the specter of gentile Christian contempt for the Jews,”[93] arguing in Romans 9-11 that Israel would be saved because they remain God’s people, the appropriation of Paul’s words remains a potent weapon for bigots. “In spite of Paul’s warning,” Stendahl wrote, “anti-Semitism follows Christianity as its dark shadow.”[94] Given the horrors of the Holocaust and the antisemitism that persists today, those who read and love the New Testament should be on guard lest these ancient texts become potent ammunition against Jews.

DISPUTED AND UNDISPUTED LETTERS

With what little time remaining in this extended episode, let’s briefly discuss the content of the Pauline corpus. In the New Testament, there are thirteen letters attributed to Paul: Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. There are two things you should know about these letters. The first is that they aren’t listed in chronological order. Rather, they are lumped into two groups: letters written to communities (Romans – 2 Thessalonians) and letters written to individuals (1 Timothy – Philemon). These two groups are arranged by length with the longer epistles appearing first.[95] Second, New Testament scholars aren’t convinced that Paul wrote all of the letters attributed to him.

For most listeners, this comes as no surprise. After all, the thirteen letters in the Pauline corpus do not comprise all of the letters attributed to Paul. For example, we have extant a third letter to the Corinthians, a letter to the Laodiceans, and even a correspondence between Paul and the Roman senator Seneca.[96] But none of these letters, despite being attribute to the apostle, were actually written by him. These are pseudonymous works written long after Paul was dead and gone. They do, however, offer us a valuable lesson: just because a document claims to have been written by Paul doesn’t mean that it was. 

Of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament, most scholars view seven to be most assuredly from the historical Paul: Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Why these seven? As Bart Ehrman explains in his introduction to the New Testament, these seven share a similar writing style, vocabulary, and theology.[97] For example, in these letters the author seems to prefer a “direct and incisive style,” generally eschewing long, complex sentences.[98] These letters are also replete with antithetical parallelism, a subject we mentioned in episode five.[99] And the “tenor” of these letters is “consistently apocalyptic.”[100] Ehrman also writes that “the issues that they address can plausibly be situated in the early Christian movement of the 40s and 50s of the Common Era, when Paul was active as an apostle and missionary.”[101]

Where does this leave the remaining letters attributed to Paul. Ehrman divides these letters into two categories: the Deutero-Pauline epistles, e.g., Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians; and the Pastoral Epistles, e.g., 1-2 Timothy and Titus.[102] Of the Deutero-Pauline letters, two are the subject of frequent debate: 2 Thessalonians and Colossians. Ephesians is generally regarded as non-Pauline and the consensus on the Pastorals is that they are most definitely not written by Paul.[103] With the Pastorals, its relatively simple to show why they are almost certainly not from Paul. As Pamela Eisenbaum notes, the Pastorals speak to a situation closer to the second century, when ecclesiastical structure became more of a concern. She writes, “While writings that come from the second century…reflect the existence of ecclesiastical offices, Paul’s letters indicate that he had no interest in establishing institutionalized authority of that sort.”[104] Given Paul’s expectation of the imminent return of Jesus, it would make little sense for him to establish a church structure since such structures have in mind long-term goals. Paul just didn’t think they would be around that long. Wayne Meeks observes that in both the book of Acts and the Pauline epistles, formal leadership is never in view, though roles like apostle, prophet, and teacher do seem to take on a more formal status in Pauline congregations.[105] For the Pastorals to be so concerned with bishops and elders and deacons speaks to a situation wherein Jesus’ return has been delayed and there is a need to think more long-term.

The reason all of this is important is because in reconstructing the life and thought of the apostle Paul, we want thebest information available. While the Deutero-Pauline letters and the Pastorals are valuable, their value is best seen in the way they interpret Paul or seek to expand his influence after his death in the 60s CE. As with the book of Acts, they serve an important but limited role. We must prefer the undisputed letters if we want to best understand the historical Paul. 

In the next episode, we will look at 1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13, a passage which among other things explains the reason for Paul’s letter to the community. That’s next time on Amateur Exegesis.


[1] Robert Michael, Holy Hatred: Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 1.

[2] Translation taken from The Lexham English Septuagint (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019).

[3] Ian Kershaw, To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949 (New York: Viking, 2015), 369.

[4] Walter Laqueur, “In Place of a Preface,” in The Holocaust Encyclopedia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), xiii. Emphasis added.

[5] Zev Garber and Bruce Zuckerman, “Why Do We Call the Holocaust “The Holocaust?” An Inquiry into the Psychology of Labels,” Modern Judaism, vol. 9, no. 2 (May 1989), 200-201.

[6] For an overview of the various views on why the term “holocaust” was used to describe the genocide of the Jews, see Garber and Zuckerman, ““Why Do We Call the Holocaust “The Holocaust?” An Inquiry into the Psychology of Labels,” 197-211.

[7] Steven Beller, Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 91.

[8] Beller, Antisemitism, 91.

[9] Benjamin Isaac, “The Ancient Mediterranean and the Pre-Christian Era,” in Antisemitism: A History, Albert Lindemann and Richard S. Levy, editor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 35. Isaac notes that by “atheist” the ancient authors did not mean one who denies the existence of all gods. Rather, it meant one who denied the recognized gods of “civilized society.” The Jews, as monolatrous monotheists, refused to worship any god but their own, thereby earning them the pejorative “atheists.”

[10] Translation taken from The New Complete Works of Josephus, William Whiston, translator (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999).

[11] Isaac, “The Ancient Mediterranean and the Pre-Christian Era,” 35.

[12] Paula Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017), 44-45.

[13] Fredriksen, Paul, 45.

[14] Isaac, “The Ancient Mediterranean and the Pre-Christian Era,” 37.

[15] J. Albert Harrill, Paul the Apostle: His Life and Legacy in Their Roman Context (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 52.

[16] Fredriksen, Paul, 45.

[17] Michael, Holy Hatred, 15.

[18] Beller, Antisemitism, 11.

[19] Beller, Antisemitism, 13.

[20] James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews – A History (Boston: Mariner Books, 2001), 261.

[21] William Chester Jordan, Europe in the High Middle Ages (New York: Penguin Books, 2001), 106.

[22] Jordan, Europe in the High Middle Ages, 106-107.

[23] Michael, Holy Hatred, 16.

[24] Michael, Holy Hatred, 17. Emphasis author’s. 

[25] Michael, Holy Hatred, 17.

[26] Michael, Holy Hatred, 17.

[27] 

[28] Michael, Holy Hatred, 18.

[29] Pamela Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 5; cf. Mark D. Nanos, Reading Paul within Judaism, The Collected Essays of Mark D. Nanos, vol. 1 (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2017), 80.

[30] Frank D. Gilliard, “The Problem of the Antisemitic Comma between 1 Thessalonians 2.14 and 15,” New Testament Studies, vol. 35 (1989), 481-502.

[31] Gilliard, “The Problem of the Antisemitic Comma between 1 Thessalonians 2.14 and 15,” 482.

[32] Or, “You accepted it not as the word of mere humans.” Paul’s emphasis is on the contrast between his message being derived from God and the idea that it is derived from mere humans. 

[33] “But rather” renders the single conjunction alla

[34] The Greek word hoti, here translated as “because,” should not be thought of as a causal connection but rather a qualification of how the Thessalonians imitated their Judean counterparts. That is, they became imitators in the way that they themselves suffered as Judean Jesus-followers suffered.

[35] The noun tōn idiōn refers to their fellow countrymen, other Thessalonians or Macedonians, e.g., other gentiles. 

[36] Many translations render tōn Ioudaiōn as “the Jews,” a perfectly acceptable way of rendering it. However, my translation is intended to highlight the regional nature of the issue, specific to Paul’s own circumstances. It isn’t “the Jews” generally but specifically those who resided in Judea and, more specifically, those who he accuses of killing Jesus, killing the prophets, driving Paul out, etc.

[37] The verse divisions are unfortunate. Paul isn’t denigrating “the Jews” but rather a specific subset who he accuses of killing Jesus, etc. The way the verses in this section appear, however, can cause some confusion as to what exactly Paul is doing. Moreover, the punctuation used in Greek texts like that of NA28 heightens this sense of disconnect, suggesting that Paul is merely listing rather than qualifying. 

[38] There is considerable debate over how to translate eis telos (“to the end”) and to what it refers. I have chosen a more literal translation to leave some ambiguity, though I have an opinion as to what Paul is referring here. 

[39] Matthew Jensen, “The (In)authenticity of 1 Thessalonians 2.13-16: A Review of Arguments,” Currents in Biblical Research, vol. 18, no. 1 (2019), 59.

[40] F.C. Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ: His Life and Works, His Epistles and Teachings (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003), 2:87. 

[41] Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ, 2:87.

[42] Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ, 2:87.

[43] Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ, 2:88.

[44] Baur, Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ, 2:93.

[45] Abraham J. Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 13.

[46] Paul Foster, “Who Wrote 2 Thessalonians? A Fresh Look at an Old Problem,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament, vol. 35, no. 2 (2012), 170-171.

[47] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, second edition (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994), 649; cf. George L. Parsenios, First, Second, and Third John, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 123.

[48] William O. Walker, Jr., Interpolations in the Pauline Letters (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001) 16-17.

[49] Walker, Jr., Interpolations in the Pauline Letters, 18-20.

[50] Birger A. Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” Harvard Theological Review, vol. 64 (1971), 79-94.

[51] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 81. 

[52] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 82-83.

[53] Earl J. Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, Sacra Pagina (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2007), 119-127.

[54] Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, 123.

[55] Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, 119.

[56] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 88-91.

[57] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 87.

[58] Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, 120.

[59] Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, 120.

[60] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 83.

[61] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 83.

[62] Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, 121-122.

[63] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 84.

[64] Michael, Holy Hatred, 18.

[65] Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 647-648.

[66] M. Eugene Boring, I & II Thessalonians: A Commentary, The New Testament Library (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 91; cf. Jon A. Weatherly, “The Authenticity of 1 Thessalonians 2.13-16: Additional Evidence,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament, vol. 42 (1991), 98.

[67] Per the critical apparatus of Nestle-Aland 27th edition, one manuscript of the Latin Vulgate omits the last clause of 2:16. (This is not noted in the 28th edition).  

[68] Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, 165.

[69] E.P. Sanders, Paul: The Apostle’s Life, Letters, and Thought (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015), 71.

[70] Boring, I and II Thessalonians, 95.

[71] Richard, First and Second Thessalonians, 119.

[72] Pearson, “1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,” 87-88.

[73] Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin, Philippians, revised edition, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2004), 218. 

[74] Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, 167.

[75] Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle, 91.

[76] Jennifer Houston McNeel, Paul as Infant and Nursing Mother: Metaphor, Rhetoric, and Identity in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 (Atlanta, GA: SBL Press, 2014), 123.

[77] McNeel, Paul as Infant and Nursing Mother, 123.

[78] Cf. Galatians 1:22.

[79] And sometimes in more ways that one since Ioudaia is also the way one refers to a female Jew!

[80] Boring, I & II Thessalonians, 98-99. 

[81] Gilliard, “The Problem of the Antisemitic Comma between 1 Thessalonians 2.14 and 15,” 486.

[82] Gilliard (“The Problem of the Antisemitic Comma between 1 Thessalonians 2.14 and 15,” 487-488) notes that in medieval manuscripts of the Greek of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, the comma may have been inserted to create a pause in an otherwise lengthy sentence and thereby giving the reader a chance to breathe. 

[83] Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, 169. Similarly, Gilliard (“The Problem of the Antisemitic Comma between 1 Thessalonians 2.14 and 15,” 498) writes that “Paul’s invective can be more accurately assessed as an emotional outburst, not against the Jews, but against those Jews whom he specified.”

[84] Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, 169; cf. Gilliard, “The Problem of the Antisemitic Comma between 1 Thessalonians 2.14 and 15,” 493-498.

[85] And Yahweh reminds Elijah in 1 Kings 19:18 that there was still a remnant who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Elijah was not alone. 

[86] Boring, I & II Thessalonians, 104-105, 107.

[87] Sarah E. Rollens, “Inventing Tradition in Thessalonica: The Appropriation of the Past in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16,” Biblical Theology Bulletin, vol. 46, no. 3 (2016), 129.

[88] Cf. Florence Gillman, Mary Ann Beavis, and HyeRan Kim-Cragg, 1-2 Thessalonians, Wisdom Commentary (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2016), 55.

[89] David Luckensmeyer, The Eschatology of First Thessalonians (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht GmbH & Co., 2009), 160-161.

[90] Boring, I & II Thessalonians, 106-107.

[91] Karl Paul Donfried, “Paul and Judaism: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 as a Test Case,” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, vol. 38 issue 3 (July 1, 1984), 246.

[92] Ed Kessler, “The New Testament and Jewish-Christian Relations,” in The Jewish Annotated New Testament, second edition, Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, editors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 764.

[93] Krister Stendahl, “Anti-Semitism,” in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, editors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 33.

[94] Stendahl, “Anti-Semitism,” in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, 33.

[95] Marcus J. Borg, Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written (New York: HarperOne, 2012), 29-30.

[96] For translations of these texts, see The Writings of St. Paul, A Norton Critical Edition, second edition, Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald, editors (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), 144-154. 

[97] Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 336-337.

[98] Andrew T. Lincoln, “Ephesians,” in The Cambridge Companion to St Paul, James D.G. Dunn, editor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 135.

[99] Boring, I & II Thessalonians, 216.

[100] Mark Harding, “Disputed and Undisputed Letters of Paul,” in The Pauline Canon, Stanley E. Porter, editor (Leiden: Brill, 2004), 155.

[101] Ehrman, The New Testament, 337.

[102] Ehrman, The New Testament, 336.

[103] Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald, “Introduction,” in The Writings of St. Paul, xiv-xv.

[104] Eisenbaum, Paul Was Not a Christian, 19.

[105] Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul, second edition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 134, 135.

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