Adamsen, Parousia and Paraenesis (abstract)

Adamsen, Georg S. Parousia and Paraenesis: The Parousia Motif and Its Paraenetic Use in the Book of the Revelation. Dr.theol. thesis, Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology, Oslo (Det teologiske Menighetsfakultetet, Oslo), 2001/2002.

The Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology in Oslo, Norway, ( has accepted the 369 page dissertation Parousia and Paraenesis: The Parousia Motif and Its Paraenetic Use in the Book of Revelation by cand.theol. Georg S. Adamsen, The Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus, Denmark, ( for public defence for the degree Doctor Theologiae (dr.theol.). The defence took place at Saturday, June 8th, 2002 at 10:15 am.

The official opponents were Professor, teol.dr. David Hellholm, University of Oslo, and Reader, teol.dr. Håkan Ulfgard, University of Linköping, Sweden. The third member of the committee was Professor, dr.theol. Hans Kvalbein, NLST. Professor Hellholm served as chair of the committee.

The degree of Dr.theol. was awarded June 14th, 2002.

The submitted dissertation consists of Five Parts.

Part I contains four introductory chapters which argue that the topic parousia and paraenesis merits a specialised study (Chapter 1), preliminarily define important concepts and terms such as parousia and paraenesis (Chapter 2), discuss the role of the OT (Chapter 3) and the methods and procedures (Chapter 4) in this study.

Part II presents a preliminary study of the narrative character, structure and setting of Revelation (Chapter 5), outlines the conceptual OT background for the portrayal of the parousia in Revelation, i.e. the OT imagery of theophany, divine warfare and judgment, the Day of the Lord, and some other concomitant motifs (Chapter 6), and closes with some concluding remarks (Chapter 7).

Part III analyses the parousia motif in the pro- and epilogue (Chapter 8), in the first vision in Revelation 1:9–3:22 (Chapter 9), and in the second vision in Revelation 4:1–22:5 (Chapter 10). The author argues that the whole prologue and the entire epilogue (apart from the very last verse) concern the parousia and reveal that the main theme of the two visions is the parousia. The analyses make clear that the parousia is not only conceived of as a martial and judicial coming, i.e. as a divine judgment warfare epiphany, but also as the coming of the bridegroom. The aim of Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 is to substantiate that the two main visions of Revelation concern the parousia of (primarily) God and Christ by applying the parousia concept developed in the preceding chapters of the dissertation. Thus, Chapter 9 argues that the texts which in the first vision (Rev 1:9–3:22) refer to the coming of Christ concern the parousia. Chapter 10 endeavours to demonstrate that an outline of a parousian interpretation of the second vision (Rev 4:1–22:5) can plausibly be provided. The author therefore concludes that the parousia is the main theme of Revelation and the most important issue (Chapter 13).

Part IV (Chapter 12) deals with the paraenetic use of the parousia motif. The author argues that there is a paraenetic use of the parousia motif and that the paraenesis is directly related to the parousia and the parousian Son of Man, not to a non-parousian martyrdom. The problem which the paraenesis addresses is that many of the churches are no longer properly prepared for the parousia. They therefore need to repent in order to prevent the Son of Man’s coming as a warrior-judge and ensure that that he will come as their bridegroom. The churches who do not need to repent are urged to remain faithful so that they will not loose the salvific relationship they already have with Christ and, in consequence, suffer the eternal judgment plagues instead of the temporary defeat by Satan and his helpers followed by the resurrection. Thus, the aim of the paraenesis is to urge the churches to be and remain appropriately prepared for the coming of Christ which results in either defeat and judgment or wedding and salvation, depending on people’s relationship to Christ. The paraenetic exhortations in the first vision are supported by the second vision in general and a number of specific passages in particular, and they are strongly reinforced by the epilogue in that it explicitly urges all individual listeners to call for the parousia.

Part V (Chapter 13) garners the conclusions of the whole thesis and concludes that the parousia is not only an important theme, but the central main theme (Part III) as well as the focus of the paraenesis of Revelation (Part IV), which is also indicated by the peculiar double opening of the prologue. Thus, the theme and function of Revelation are brilliantly integrated with its structure, or form. The few pertinent studies of this theme and in particular those studies who have dealt with various aspects of the parousia concept, outlined a path to a new understanding of Revelation (Part I, Chapter 3). The starting point was a combination of the analysis of the narrative structure of Revelation and the Old Testament portrayal of the Day of the Lord and the divine warfare which will take place on this day (Part II). The longer part of the journey was then an analysis of the theme of Revelation on this basis (Part III), while the shorter part (Part IV) surveyed the texts once more in order to determine how the theme was used paraenetically. The author believes that this is a substantial contribution to the determination and understanding of Revelation’s main theme and the paraenetic use thereof.

For a Danish summary, see

Revelation mailing list: Dissertation Abstracts 6.002: Georg S. Adamsen: Parousia and Paraenesis: The Parousia Motif and Its Paraenetic Use in the Book of the Revelation
Date of original posting on Revelation mailing list: May 9th, 2002


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *