n Neotestamentica - The Thessalonian believers, formerly “pagans” or “God-fearers”? : challenging a stubborn consensus - research

Volume 52 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0254-8356
  • E-ISSN: 2518-4628


It is a commonly held assumption in the study of 1 Thessalonians that the community to which Paul was writing consisted of former pagans and not Jews, proselytes, or God-fearers. This assumption rests on two notions: (1) the idea that 1:9 (“turned from idols”) presupposes former polytheism; and (2) the absence of OT quotations signals an audience unacquainted with the Jewish Scriptures. This article aims to challenge both of these ideas as determinative of audience composition and open up the possibility that Paul was writing to a Thessalonian community that included a significant number of former God-fearers, once God-fearer is understood properly to include people who at one time revered Israel’s God without having renounced pagan gods.

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