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 73
the god (“the area of the politeuma of the blessed Harthotes the
Great of the supreme goddess Sachypsis”) to a gender specific gath-
ering for a feast, when ritual time permitted women to have their
own governance. Thus, Ascough believes that the Philippians un-
derstood themselves as providing coronal honors to Paul as a vol-
untary association 21.
The difficulty with adducing the term politeuma along with the
financial language in calling the crown in Philippians one of bene-
faction is that one would then have to call the heavenly politeuma
a voluntary association. It is much clearer to find one’s citizenship
in heaven than one’s voluntary association in heaven. Paul’s crown
can borrow both from the voluntary association and the city be-
cause Paul’s metaphor is not developed. Moreover, benefactions
themselves were polyvalent as they could also take place at a civic
or inter-civic level. An important official Greek inscription from
Corinth, the only such one found there in the first century C.E., at-
tests the multiple political bodies that could provide honors to indi-
viduals. The inscription praises Junia Theodora, who was a Roman
citizen and a generous patron living in Corinth (c. 43 or 57 C.E.) 22.
Her name appears on five separate Lycian decrees or official letters
that were compiled on this single inscription erected in Corinth. In
the first decree, from the Federal Assembly of Lycian Cities, the
letter promises to send her a crown of gold, a standard honor for
benefactors, “for the time when she will come into the presence of
the gods” (4 ll.9-11). The second decree shows similar concerns for
her funerary needs and anticipated apotheosis in its resolution to
give her five minas of saffron for her burial and “honor her with a
portrait painted on a gilt background” 23. The unified inscription
shows a resident of Corinth being hailed as a patron and given eter-
nal honors by individuals politically organized in a federation com-
prised of other cities. Tacitly, then, Junia Theodora was also being
honored by the citizenry of Corinth itself, since the Corinthians per-
mitted the inscription to be officially erected.
The inscriptions of decrees honoring Junia Theodora make a
good comparison for Paul’s rhetoric to the Philippians because they,
LÜDERITZ, “What is the Politeuma?”, 189-190.
B. WINTER, Roman Wives, Roman Widows. The Appearance of New
Women and the Pauline Communities (Grand Rapids, MI 2003) 181-211.
WINTER, Roman Wives, 186.