Original Research - Special Collection: Social-scientific perspectives

Paul’s community formation in 1 Thessalonians: The creation of symbolic boundaries

Kwanghyun Cho, Ernest van Eck, Cas Wepener
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 1 | a2804 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i1.2804 | © 2015 Kwanghyun Cho, Ernest van Eck, Cas Wepener | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 August 2014 | Published: 04 June 2015

About the author(s)

Kwanghyun Cho, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Ernest van Eck, Department of New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Cas Wepener, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

This article presents how Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, executes the process of the formation of the Thessalonian community. Using the sociological concept of symbolic boundaries, it is argued that the resources – (1) the kerygmatic narrative, (2) the local narratives, and (3) the ethical norms – that Paul incorporates into the letter take an essential role to promote the converts to derive a cooperative identity from the community to which they belong and to strengthen the distinction between them and the larger society. By providing internal consensus and external separation, the resources serve to construct and maintain the Thessalonian community that is internally united and externally distinct.

Keywords

1 Thessalonians; Symbolic Boundaries; Paul; Community Formation

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