Pauline eschatology in the writings of R. H. Charles and Albert Schweitzer
Woudenberg, Paul R.
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The primitive Christian hope of the immediate coming of the Kingdom of God was based on the memory of the teachings of Jesus. The fact that that hope remained unfulfilled forced a transformation of the Christian faith which enabled it to survive the failure of the original expectation. The place of Paul in this transformation has been uncertain. His early letters show a strong expectation of the Parousia, but scholarly opinion on the later letters remains contradictory. R.H. Charles has suggested that in Paul's later letters there is a noticeable decline in eschatological thought and, in effect, a transformation of Paul's original hope for the immediate Parousia. This transformation may be clearly shown by arranging Paul's letters into four stages on the basis of the diminishing emphasis of declining eschatology. Albert Schweitzer has held that Paul maintains a consistent eschatological hope throughout his letters. The background of Charles' position was rooted in the work of F.C. Baur and the Tubingen School and culminated with H.J. Holtzmann. This background centered about two questions of Pauline doctrine: 1. Its relationship to primitive Christianity, 2. Its relationship to Hellenistic ideas. The Tubingen School explained the decline of eschatology on the hypothesis that Paul introduced Hellenistic thought. Schweitzer regarded this explanation as unfounded and attempted to demonstrate that there were no clear affinities between the thought of Paul and the Hellenistic world. Paul's thought thus did not develop in any Hellenistic direction but remained consistently Jewish eschatological throughout his literary production. The purpose of this dissertation is to outline and criticize the Pauline eschatological theory of R.H. Charles in the light of Schweitzer's thorough-going eschatology with particular reference to the Parousia. The two positions are first compared on the basis of their relationship to critical norms regarding the Pauline corpus. These norms reject the authenticity of Ephesians and the Pastorals and establish the genuineness of nine letters. These genuine letters are chronologically arranged into three groups, each group being separated by a period of three or four years. The eschatological material in the letters is then isolated and analyzed under three headings: the imminent expectation of the Parousia, the immediate resurrection upon death, and the eschatological chronology. This last heading is subdivided into the problem of the temporary Messianic Kingdom and a dual resurrection. The results of this analysis are applied to an evaluation of the two positions with the following results: 1. There is a consistent imminent hope for the Parousia throughout Paul's letters sustaining Schweitzer's basic position. There is no evidence for a correlation of this hope with the dating of the letters. Charles' failure to acknowledge the eschatological evidence of Philippians is a primary objection to his developmental argument. 2. In the light of the possibility of his own death prior to the Parousia, Paul revises his concept of the time of the resurrection in the Imprisonment Letters, arriving at a new doctrine of immediate resurrection. It is uncertain whether or not Paul wishes to apply this new doctrine only to his own death. 3. Evidence for a Messianic Kingdom is limited to a single passage in I Corinthians which does not adequately support Schweitzer's theory, a theory which is based primarily on non-Pauline materials. 4. Paul believes in a single resurrection for the righteous only. Schweitzer's reconstruction of eschatological chronology, which includes a dual resurrection, is based on non-Pauline materials. Insofar as the eschatological evidence is concerned, Paul seems to stand apart from the process of Hellenization and, despite the possibility of his introduction of the doctrine of immediate resurrection, he remains within the Jewish eschatological framework. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D)--Boston University.
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