In 1930 Peterson published "Die Einholung des Kyrios," an article providing quotations from ancient papyri, inscriptions and literature in order to demonstrate that behind Paul's words in 1 Thess 4:17 stands the custom of the Hellenistic formal reception of a dignitary. This viewpoint, widely held among biblical scholars, states that Paul presupposed that his readers in Thessalonica would understand his description of the Parousia in light of such receptions. Thus the formal elements of these welcoming celebrations are unstated parts of the text because of Paul's use of the technical term AΠANTHΣIΣ. The present study, which ironically began as an attempt to strengthen Peterson's case, reveals that AΠANTHΣIΣ was not a technical term and that all of the main elements of Hellenistic receptions are missing from 1 Thess 4:15–17. An analysis of the ancient descriptions of these receptions shows that most of their usual elements are actually the opposite of what we find in Paul's description of the Parousia. Instead of being a cipher for understanding what Paul meant, they function more as a foil—a loose pattern to play against when describing the coming of the heavenly king.

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