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 75
such as wreath-like crowns familiar from the Roman polis at
Philippi with which the Philippians would have been familiar.
These crowns were worn by political leaders who had made a con-
tribution to political life, particularly in plebeian cultural discourse 28.
When the Philippians envisioned themselves as Paul’s crown, they
would have cast Paul ironically in terms of a benefactor, underscor-
ing the Christian politeuma’s renunciation of standard forms of ac-
quiring cultural capital through euergetism.
The Philippians, I suggest, would have understood the crown in
light of its contemporary sacerdotal use. Crowns also had priestly
connotations in the early Roman Empire, indicating responsibilities
and honorific participation in a religious cult recognized by the state
or the imperial cult itself 29. In the processional relief on Augustus’
Ara Pacis in Rome, for example, the emperor and state officials are
shown wearing crowns. This custom appears to have been repli-
cated at Philippi 30. Golden wreaths and crowns had sacerdotal
functions in Jewish religious practice as well. Several ancient wit-
nesses attest the practice of wearing crowns among priests (T. Levi
8.1-11; Tacitus, Hist. 5.5).
That Paul is concerned with Roman religious practice in Philip-
pians may be seen by his repeated references to the viscera used
for divinatory purposes by Roman priests. At 2,1, he refers to the
spla,gcna of compassion that constitutes the “consolation of Christ”.
Paul has already described the nature of this compassion at 1,8 with
the exceptionally vivid phrase, “For God is my witness how I long
for all of you in the bowels of Jesus Christ” (ma,rtuj ga,r mou o`
qeo.j w`j evpipoqw/ pa,ntaj u`ma/j evn spla,gcnoij Cristou/ VIhsou/).
While Paul uses the term “bowels” of a person with the same
metaphorical sense as referring to one’s heart in Philemon (1,7.12.20)
and 2 Corinthians (6,12), no other letter follows the term “bowels”
with the genitive Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ so that it appears that the individ-
Menschen (eds. O. KNOCH – F. MESSERSCHMID – A. ZENNER) (Frankfurt 1973)
65. Cf. D. PETERLIN, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in the Light of Disunity
in the Church (Leiden 1995) 55.
R. MARKS, “Of Kings, Crowns, and Boundary Stones: Cipus and the
hasta Romuli in Metamorphoses”, TAPA 134 (2004) 119; S. PAPAIOANNOU,
Epic Succession and Dissension (Berlin 2005) 38-42.
Z. NEWBY, Greek Athletics in the Roman World (Oxford 2005) 191.
L. BORMANN, Stadt und Christengemeinde zur Zeit des Paulus (Leiden