The First Readers of 1 Peter

At the end of this year, if the printing process goes well, there is supposed to be published a volume on 1 Peter in memory of Leonhard Goppelt.The volume is now being edited by Prof. Dr. David S. du Toit
Institut für Neues Testament, Evangelisch-theologische Fakultät, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

I was happy to be invited to participate, and have just submitted my piece, a small study discussing the views of Ben Witherington III on the ethnic identity of the first readers of 1 Peter. As some of you may know, Witherington, in his commentary on 1 Peter (Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians Vol 11: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1-2 Peter; InterVarsity Academic:2007) argues that the first readers were of Jewish background. I did not manage to fall in completely with his views. Taking the arguments one by one, I must admit, that most, may be all, might be read as possible arguments for an intended or perceived Jewish readership; but taken all together, the comulative value still tips the scale in the Gentile direction for me. However, when working on the article, I became again aware of the strong ‘supersessionist’ tendency in the letter. Another issue I dealt with is the often rather ‘naive’ attitude or view of many commentators that the author really did know much about his readers: Hence, can we, in fact, really speak about the ethnic background of the readers, or can we at best talk and write about how the author perceived them?