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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Identity and Dialogue in 1 Peter

Most of my publications are in English, though my mother tongue is Norwegian. I have to take into consideration, however, that there are not that many Philo scholars or students of the New Testament that can read and understand the beautiful language of Norway. And I can do nothing about it! ..

My last publiation, however, is in Norwegian, as it is part of a festschrift honoring two of my colleagues at my former institution, Volda College; Jan Ove Ulstein and Per Magne Aadnanes. I am glad to be able to present a small study in this volume, together with 15 other contributors:

Torrey Seland,  ‘Identitet og dialog i 1 Peters brev,’ Birger Løvlie, Ralph Meier, & Arne Redse (eds), Danning, Identitet og Dialog. Festskrift til Jan Ove Ulstein og Per Magne Aadnanes(Trondheim, Tapir akademisk forlag, 2009), pp. 173-181.

The main thesis in this study of mine is that the author describes the identity of his readers as closely associated with their role in their social world as a minority group; they are not to withdraw from the society at large, but to be in dialogue with it on various levels and in various ways.  As such I try to relate it to a Norwegian debate about the role of religion in public schools and the role of Christians at the world at large.

Some papers on Philo

Sometimes conferences have their papers posted on the internet, where they are hidden among other items. Sometimes they are kept on a site even though they are or are to be published. I don’t know what is the status of these papers pr date, but here are several papers on Philo available:

The Hellenistic Moral Philosophy unit of the Society of Biblical Literature had a conference in 2005 in which they focused on Philosophy at the Roots of Christianity.

The following papers are especially relevant to Philo scholars:

SBL Abbreviations

Our profession is one in which abbreviations seemed to be highly loved. They really do flourish, and each year new ones are added. Over at the Deinde Blog, one of the blogs that are driven by a team (I’m jealous), they now present a list of SBL Abbreviations.

Over at Deinde, you can also find a Biblical Studies Glossary, a most helpful list. Just hover the mouse arrow oe a word, and a definition appears.

There is also a list of SBL Abbreviations in the SBL Handbook of Style (Hendrickson Publishers, 1999). I have not checked if these two lists are identical. This SBL Handbook is also available online at the SBL Site, but it is only available when you enter as a member of the SBL.

Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion der frühen Kaiserzeit

filosofiIn interesting book is about to be published by Mohr – Siebeck on ancient religious philosophy; and this volume should be particular interesting for students of Philo of Alexandria, not at least as it also includes a chapter on ancient Alexandrian philosophy:
Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion der frühen Kaiserzeit
Literaturgeschichtliche Perspektiven. Ratio Religionis Studien I
Hrsg. v. Rainer Hirsch-Luipold, Herwig Görgemanns, Michael von Albrecht u. Mitarb. v. Tobias Thum

Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and 51.
Mohr- Siebeck, 2009. 2009. X, 418 Seiten.ISBN 978-3-16-149593-9. fadengeheftete Broschur € 79.00

The volume is published in German, but there are two articles in English: Here is an outline of its contents:
Albrecht Dihle: Die griechische Philosophie zur Zeit ihrer Rezeption durch Juden und Christen – Michael von Albrecht: Philosophie und Religion in der lateinischen Literatur der Kaiserzeit –
Herwig Görgemanns: Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion in der griechischen Literatur der Kaiserzeit –
Gregory Sterling: Alexandrian Jewish Exegetical Tradition: Philosophy as the Handmaid of Wisdom
Reinhard Feldmeier: “Göttliche Philosophie”. Die Interaktion von Weisheit und Religion in der späteren Antike –
Devorah Dimant: Time, Torah and Prophecy at Qumran –
Zlatko Plese: Gnostic and Hermetic Literature: Oriental Wisdom –
Rainer Hirsch-Luipold: Die religiös-philosophische Literatur der frühen Kaiserzeit und das Neue Testament –
Adolf Martin Ritter: Christentum und Philosophie als Thema frühkaiserzeitlicher Kirchenväterliteratur –
Tobias Thum: ‘Welche Fülle von Reden!’: Plutarchs Schrift De E apud Delphos –
Peter Kirchschläger: Der Wahrheitsbegriff im Johannesevangelium –
Jane Heath: 2 Cor 4, 7-12: Viewing Paul as an Icon of Christ –
Ilinca Tanaseanu: Gräber und Symbole: Tempel im Werk Clemens’ von Alexandrien –
Fritz Heinrich: Der religiöse Intellektuelle: Apuleius und Ali Schariati

More on 1 Peter

Dunn on 1 Peter
In his magisterial volume No ” on Christianity in the Making, titled ‘Beginning From Jerusalem’,(Eerdmans, 2009) JDG Dunn also have a section on 1 Peter. Here he makes some statements of opinion that might be surprising to some as they differ somewhat from what most scholars think and say about 1 Peter. But as often before, Dunn does not always adhere to the most general accepted viewpoints or the via media at every crossroads, and his viewpoints should not take you by too great a surprise. But they are nevertheless interesting.

Let my only point out two aspects:
Concerning authorship, Dunn seems most reluctant to not accept that it might – in some ways- stem from Peter, the apostle.The possibility that Silvanus acted as Peter’s secretary should be given due weight (p. 1149), he says. And to the issue pinpointed by many, that 1 Peter seems too Pauline to have been written by Peter, is met by Dunn suggesting that “the occasional glimpses we have of Peter in Paul’s letters are sufficient to reveal a Peter who was the primary source for much of Paul’s own knowledge of the Jesus tradition (Gal 1.18).” Hence this argument of a too great similarity to Paul looses much of its weight.

Furthermore, the argument that the letter reflects a later time than one could assume Peter lived in, is not taken as convincing, as we know very little about the Christians in the areas of Pontus etc (1 Pet 1,1). Hence Dunn’s cautious conclusion concerning the question of authoship is that ” All in all, then, the issue of authorship is a good deal more intangible, and the possibility that Peter was himself the author of 1 Peter a good deal more open than has often ben thought to be the case “(p. 1153, see also p. 1157).

The next surprise, to me at last, is his view of the readers: “The letter is probably written primarily for Jewish believers (p. 1158).” This, he says is suggested by two repeated motifs in the texts:
a) it is addressed to an Israel scattered from the land; they are residents 1,1: soujourners/exiles 1,17:2.11;
b) The recipients are described in distinctively Jewish terms; elect, holy etc, and cf. Exod 19,6 as used in 2.9. Furthermore, still according to Dunn: “At no point does the letter seem to envisage Gentiles as believers.” (p.1159). Gentiles are rather the population within which the believers live as aliens (, and the other descriptions usually taken as evidence for Gentile readers (1.14.18; 2.9; 2.25), are considered as consistent with the in-house character of prophetic exhortations and rebukes.
Thus JDG Dunn.

Hence he adds his voice to the few arguing both for a close connection of Peter to this letter, and for a Jewish readership. The only one I have seen in recent times arguing for the same viewpoints is Ben Witherington in his own recent commentary on 1 Peter.

Another recent volume that I thought would had suggested the readers to have been Jewish, surprisingly comes down very firm on the side of a Gentile readership. I am thinking of O. Skarsaune, Jewish Believers in Jesus (Hendrickson, 2007). But the relevant section (pp.203-205) written by the Norwegian scholar R. Hvalvik, comes very quickly to the conclusion that “the letter was written to Gentiles” (p. 205).
Other scholars, e.g., JH Elliott, now considers the readers to have been composed of both Jewish and Gentile Christians, cf. his great commentary on 1 Peter.

Peter in Rome

Walter de Gruyter Publisher announces a new volume to be published on Peter in Rome:

Otto Zwierlein,
Petrus in Rom: Die literarischen Zeugnisse
Mit einer kritischen Edition der Martyrien des Petrus und Paulus auf neuer handschriftlicher Grundlage
Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte 96
2009. 23 x 15.5 cm. XIV, 482 pages. 10 fig. Hardcover. Euro [D] 98.00 / for USA, Canada, Mexico US$ 137.00. ISBN 978-3-11-020808-5

About this Title
The present volume undertakes a systematic study of the ancient texts testifying to St Peter’s time in Rome. It evaluates inter alia texts by Early Christian Church teachers (Justin Martyr, Dionys of Corinth, Irenaeus of Lyons), the letters by Ignatius of Antioch – classified as unauthentic – and the legends surrounding the Apostle recounting Peter’s encounter with Simon Magus and Nero’s persecution of the Christians. The analysis includes a detailed examination of the dating of the First Epistle of Clement and the late New Testament writings. The analyses are complemented by a critical edition (with commentary) of the martyrdom accounts using new manuscript sources. (excerpted from their website)