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The Parousia of Paul at Iconium

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image of Religion and Theology

This article explores the parousia reception, instead of the arena, as a locus for spectacle production in the Roman Empire, specifically in certain passages of early Christian literature. Not only did Christians apply the familiar image of parousia to their eschatology, but they also produced new truths about empire and the location of legitimate authority through their creative production of distinctive parousia spectacles. Through these literary spectacles, old truths about the body and authority were challenged as Christians developed a cosmology for the parousia spectacle that both transformed parousia and also served as a new hermeneutic for interpreting such ceremonies. The arrival of Paul at Iconium represented a radical reinterpretation of parousia in that it shifted the locus of spectation from the emperor to the individual Christian. In producing and consuming their own parousia spectacles, Christians participated in imperial discourse.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Classics, 205A Dodd Hall, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1510, United States of America


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