Janelle Peters, «Crowns in 1 Thessalonians, Philippians, and 1 Corinthians», Vol. 96 (2015) 67-84
The image of the crown appears in 1 Thess 2,19, Phil 4,1, and 1 Cor 9,25. However, the crowns differ. While the community constitutes the apostle’s crown in 1 Thessalonians and Philippians, the crown in 1 Corinthians is one of communal contestation. In this paper, I compare the image of the crown in each of the letters. I argue that the crown in 1 Corinthians, available to all believers even at Paul’s expense, is the least hierarchical of the three crowns.
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CROWNS IN 1 THESSALONIANS, PHILIPPIANS, AND 1 CORINTHIANS 71
for their generosity toward all believers in Macedonia and by assur-
ing them of the hope of the resurrection. Crowns reflect the practice
within associations of honoring patrons who have contributed bene-
factions in order to support philotima 14. Following Deissmann’s
seminal work, numerous interpreters have noted that the custom of
the Hellenistic formal reception constitutes part of the interpretative
understanding the Thessalonians would have had 15. The imagery of
the crown is saturated with civic connotations in 1 Thessalonians.
Paul’s reference to the crown in Phil 4,1 mirrors his reference
to the crown in 1 Thessalonians 16. The Philippians also contributed
financially not only to their own community but also to other Pauline
house-churches (4,15; cf. 2 Cor 11,8-9), suggesting that the Philip-
pians might have had some interest in the theologies of Pauline
house-churches. Paul refers to his addressees as his “joy and crown”
(cara. kai. ste,fanoj), exhibiting a sense of ownership of the
Philippians. While the crown’s singularity may help to encourage
unity among a church divided among different (female) leaders, it
should not be interpreted as being singular in response to the divi-
sions in Paul’s community at Philippi. Based on the tension evinced
by 1,4 and 1,7-8, Craddock wonders whether Paul has “been very close
to some members while others felt slighted” 17. Paul’s vision of the
Philippians as his crown may be sincere, particularly given the re-
ASCOUGH, Paul’s Macedonian Associations, 153.
B.R. WITHERINGTON, 1 and 2 Thessalonians. A Socio-Rhetorical Com-
mentary (Grand Rapids, MI 2006) 91; F.F. BRUCE, 1 and 2 Thessalonians
(WBC 45; Dallas,TX 1982) 57. A. DEISSMANN, Light from the Ancient East
(trans. L.R.M. STRACHAN) (London 21927) 314-320; cf. A. OEPKE, “parousia”,
ThWNT V (1954) 856-869. Holleman cautions that “it should be remembered
that the term parousia is also a very common term for any arrival or appearance”:
J. HOLLEMAN, Resurrection and Parousia. A Traditio-historical Study of
Paul’s Eschatology (NovTSup 84; Leiden 1996) 99; cf. PFITZNER, Paul and
the Agon Motif, 104-110, 153-154.
The integrity of Philippians has been debated. See Hansen for a discus-
sion of the partition theories and the arguments for thematic consistency: G.W.
HANSEN, The Letter to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI 2009) 16-18.
F.B. CRADDOCK, Philippians (Louisville, KY 1973) 20.