Philonica et Neotestamentica

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The First Readers of 1 Peter

February 2013
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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?


  1. Sean du Toit says:

    Prof. Seland, I was wondering what language your essay will be published in? As a graduate student working on 1 Peter, I hav always appreciated your insights and am thus hoping to explore them in this publication.

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