Absent Presences of Paul and Christ: Enargeia in 1 Thessalonians 1—3

Jane M F Heath

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Paul is absent from Thessalonica; Christ is (in some sense) absent until his parousia; God is distant, invisible; the missionary visit lies in the past. But in the letter they receive from Paul, the Thessalonians find these manifold presences conjured under Paul’s pen and again made vivid. The following article studies this in the context of ancient discussion of enargeia. Although enargeia was never well systematized in antiquity, the term was frequent in diverse contexts for a range of interrelated phenomena connected with effects of vivid presence. Previously, scholarly discussion of ‘absent-presences’ in Paul has focused on Paul’s practice of making his own personal presence vivid to addressees, and this has been debated chiefly in the light of ancient epistolary theory. The introduction of enargeia opens the way for investigation of a wider range of ‘absent-presences’ and relationships between them, and places the discussion in a broader cultural setting. The aim is a theologically and historically richer exegesis of the epistle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-38
Number of pages36
JournalJournal for the Study of the New Testament
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • enargeia
  • parousia
  • presence
  • memory
  • eisodos
  • doxa
  • exodus


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