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The Myth of the Rapture: Calling a Spade a Spade

I am sometimes torn between wanting to be sensitive to people’s deeply rooted religious convictions and calling a spade a spade. think many readers would be surprised (and dubious) that have this sensitivity, since I’m often blasted precisely for trouncing people’s religious beliefs. But that’s almost never my intention. The one exception is when it comes to fundamentalism. I have no qualms about attacking Christian fundamentalist thinking head-on. But even then try to be sensitive to the people holding onto this kind of thinking, and I try to engage it with reason and evidence rather than with ridicule. But there are times when it is worthwhile calling a spade a spade, and sometimes we ought to just do that. I’ve been thinking about the passage summarized in the post yesterday from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, the passage from which the fundamentalist view of the “rapture” principally comes from. Jesus returns on the clouds of heaven, the dead in Christ rise first, and then those who are alive who are his followers are snatched up into the [...]

2020-04-03T13:27:13-04:00August 8th, 2015|Paul and His Letters, Reflections and Ruminations|

The Return of Jesus (Rapture?) in 1 Thessalonians

Since I’ve started talking about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, the earliest Christian writing of any kind that we have, in preparation for discussion one tiny little textual variant in 1 Thess. 2:7,which involves only the presence or absence of a single letter in a single word, but on which the meaning of the passage hinges, I can’t let the opportunity pass without saying something further by way of background (none of which is especially relevant to this particular textual variant!) on the letter.   The reason:  this is the letter that modern-day conservative Christians who believe that the “rapture” is about to occur base their views on. The “rapture” is a modern doctrine/idea.   Even though some conservative Christians think this is one of the main points of the Christian faith, historically it has rarely been that.  In fact, for most of history, most Christians simply haven’t believed in a rapture. The doctrine of the rapture is that Jesus will be returning from heaven (sometime soon) and when he does those who had believed in [...]

2020-04-03T13:27:34-04:00August 6th, 2015|Paul and His Letters|

Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians

In my two previous posts I discussed a textual variant that could be explained either as a scribal accident or as an intentional change.   I thought it might be interesting to point out a few other variants that also could go either way.   These are all intriguing problems in and of themselves, and by talking about them I can illustrate a bit further the kinds of quandaries textual critics find themselves in when trying to decide what an author wrote when we have different versions of his words in different manuscripts.   My plan right now is to look at three variants in three different mini-threads (all of them subsumed under the larger thread of why I wrote The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture).   Today is one of my favorites, a particularly thorny issue found in 1 Thessalonians 2:7. I can’t get to a discussion of that issue without providing some important background; just the very basics of the background will take me two posts, before I can even start to explain the textual problem. First Thessalonians [...]

2020-04-03T13:27:46-04:00August 5th, 2015|New Testament Manuscripts, Paul and His Letters|
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