Paul

Linguistic support for a 'Jesus' interpolation in 1 Thessalonians 1:10

Linguistic support for a

Linguistic support for a Jesus interpolation in 1 Thessalonians 1:10

One of the elements of my theory is that Paul was an Essene messianic activist in the eastern part of the Roman empire in the decennia preceding the birth of Christianity in 70 CE. My findings open new ways of research on the Pauline letters. Below I discuss how the elimination of an interpolated ‘Jesus’ phrase in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 yields a linguistically sound sentence with a clear message.

In the Nestle-Aland translation 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 goes as follows: (9) For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, (10) and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

When we analyze the time orientation of the different phrases of this fragment, we see the following sequence (italics mine):

Phrase

Content

Time perspective

1

what a welcome we had among you

Past

2

how you turned to God from idols

Past

3

to serve a living and true God

Present

4

to wait for his Son from heaven

Future

5

whom he raised from the dead, Jesus

Past

6

who delivers us from the wrath to come

Future

The phrase ‘whom he raised from the dead, Jesus’ causes a twofold tension in this fragment.
The tension concerning content is between waiting for God’s Son from heaven – the Christ – and Jesus who has been raised from the dead. The final phrase ‘who delivers us from the wrath to come’ still increases the confusion. How should we imagine the relation between Christ and/or Jesus and the execution of the future wrath? If Jesus had already been raised from the dead, wasn’t that God’s act of salvation which had already saved the Thessalonian Christians from wrath? If so, why then speak of the future wrath?
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 as it stands seems to be a distorted sentence. It is this kind of aberrant sentences that underlie the widespread ‘second coming’ theory, although Paul does not substantiate a second coming anywhere in his letters.

Besides a content problem there is also a linguistic tension in these verses, as the table above shows. The present text has an a – a – b – c – a – c structure (with a = past, b = present and c = future). The third a-phrase does not fit the stylistically elegant a – a – b – c – c structure of the original sentence. Eliminating phrase 5 restores the clear message as well as the elegant style of the original.

The original message, which I paraphrase and to which I add some extra information, goes as follows.
First Paul mentions how the Thessalonians welcomed him at the start of his successful mission in the city. This mission consists of two interwoven elements: to convert the Thessalonians from polytheism to the worship of the one Jewish God, and at the same time to hold out the impending arrival of God’s messiah. At his future coming the Christ will judge the whole world. Then the present world rulers, the Romans, will ruthlessly be sentenced. It is by converting to God and his messiah that the Thessalonians will not only escape this cruel sentence but also take part in the messianic golden age that dawns at that moment.

The core of my theory on the origins of Christianity purports that Christianity originated in 70 CE at the end of the war against the Romans. There are numerous indications that Paul was a trailblazer of the future Christ, and that all Jesus mentions (which are superficial and/or stereotypical) in his letters are post-70 interpolations to harmonize Paul’s writings with the antedated chronology of Jesus’ activities invented by Mark, the writer of the first gospel. The sentence under discussion supports this thesis with respect to content as well as stylistically.