10 novembre 2021


Monsieur Jeevan Prasad, de Jawalgera (Inde), présentera sa dissertation doctorale pour l’obtention du grade de docteur en théologie et la soutiendra publiquement le mercredi 10 novembre à 11h30 sur Teams

Le jury est composé de MM. les professeurs

G. Van Oyen, président

R. Burnet, promoteur

B. Bourgine,

R. Bieringer, correcteur extérieur (KU Leuven)

V. Nicolet, correctrice extérieure (Institut Protestant de théologie de Paris)

The Theological Concept of Hope (ἐλπίς) in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians 4:13–5:11, A Social-Scientific Study Using Social Memory Model

All exegetes agree that the first epistle to the Thessalonians seeks to restore the confidence of a tested community. Hope is, therefore, the heart of this letter of Paul. Yet, it seems to us that the theological concept of hope in First Thessalonians has not received adequate attention. How does the apostle go about giving hope to his community? In other words, how does Paul construct by rhetoric the theological concept of hope in First Thessalonians (4:13–5:11)? We hypothesise that Paul communicated hope using repeated rhetorical contrasts and antithetical features. Therefore, this study focuses on the dynamics of the rhetorical contrasts, antitheses, and their implications in the discourse by applying a socio-scientific method: the social memory studies. In the process, our research study envisions a theology of hope (ἐλπίς) in First Thessalonians, particularly in the eschatological discourse (4:13–5:11).

The doctoral thesis addresses this primary objective in seven chapters, including a general introduction and a conclusion summarising this research endeavour. The opening section indicates why we need a theological concept of hope in First Thessalonians and outlines a methodological basis. Chapter One introduces and explains the social memory theory. We see its historical roots with Maurice Halbwachs and his successors, the method with its advantages and limitations, its adaptation to biblical studies, and its significance for the present research. Chapter Two considers the delimitation of the text. It analyses the Thessalonian correspondence (the first and the second epistles) concisely, delimits the focus to Frist Thessalonians, and looks at the form and structure of the letter, as well as its theological and eschatological issues. The chapter prioritises the eschatological discourse (1 Thess 4:13–5:11) for an interpretive analysis in the two subsequent chapters.

Chapters Three and Four deal with exegesis from an interpretative framework of “we wish, we believe, we declare, and we encourage”. These chapters identify the antitheses considering apocalyptic and social dualism. Chapter Five deals with the antitheses and social memory, the formal structure and content of antitheses, reflecting a communicative strategy of a constructive negation. Chapter Six refers to traditions and social memory. The chapter analyses hope, grief, death and life antitheses referring to the framework of “we wish, we believe, and we declare”. Here, we consider non-biblical and biblical traditions, the material objects (God, Paul, and the community) and the formal aspects (presence and absence), as well as an analysis of the Lord’s word.

The concluding chapter deals with the “we encourage” context of the letter. Followingly, it develops and introduces a theology of hope as a theology of hope by negation. We establish this conceptual notion supported by additional categories: a) the temporal nearness aspects of the letter (not only but also, do not, whether or, always, everywhere), and b) the spatial approximation of the content (faith, love and hope; the steadfastness of hope; suffering and joy; glory, joy, crown, and hope; grief and hope; the hope of salvation). The chapter concludes by defining a functional theological concept of hope and provides a brief description of hope as “Non-abandonment (negated)” and “Divine-perseverance (positive)”.