‘Like Newborn Infants’…

IMG_1445I just received an offprint of my most recent article, this time on 1 Peter. It is published in a volume published in memory of a Norwegian New Testament scholar, Hans Kvalbein:

The Church and Its Mission in the New Testament and Early Christianity. Essays in Memory of Hans Kvalbein, edited by David E. Aune and Reidar Hvalvik. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Siebeck.2018.

My own contribution is : “‘Like Newborn Infants..’ The Readers of 1 Peter as Newly Converted Christians?” (pp 227-242):

In a study published in 2005 on acculturation and assimilation in 1 Peter, I argued, in opposition to the views on acculturation of both John H. Elliott and David Balch,that the burning issue in 1 Peter was not how to cope with current Greco-Roman society (social acculturation and assimilation issues), but that “the Christians of 1 Peter are first generation Christians, that is, they are still in a process of being socialized into the Christian worldview.” I also argued that they were perceived of as in a kind of liminal situation as newly converted Christians, and that their attitudes to Greco-Roman institutions were a secondary aspect of the author’s strategy in this letter, and thus more a consequence of the intended primary acculturation into the Christian faith and ways of living than as a program of acculturation or assimilation to Greco-Roman society.
An important premise in this view is the issue of whether or not the readers can really be understood as relatively new as Christians. In the present study, I would like to elaborate on this question, trying to substantiate my view that they were considered fairly recently converted Christians. I might admit that there is no single statement in the letter providing a clear-cut answer, but, as I argue, the cumulative effect of some passages supports the conclusion that the addressees were considered first generation Christians, probably as having been Christians for just a few years.

New review of 1 Peter commentary

My review of Vahrenhorst, Martin, Der erste Brief des Petrus (Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 19) Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2015), has now been published by Review of Biblical Literature.

This commentary on 1 Peter is the ninth volume in a relatively new series, Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, that is supposed to comprise twenty-three volumes. The first volume was published in 2003 (on Colossians). The author is now Privatdozent (New Testament) at Kirchliche Hochschule, Wuppertal, Germany. The series as such is thus quite new, and this is even the first volume to be presented in Review of Biblical Literature. In characterizing the series, the publisher says (on the back cover), that the commentary “steht in der Tradition klassischer historisch-kritischer Kommentarkultur der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft.” At the same time, however, it is also stated that “Er nimmt jedoch erstmals die im christlich-jüdischen Gespräch behandelten Themen, den feministisch-theologischen Diskurs sowie sozialgeschichtliche Fragestellungen auf.”

For my comments to these claims, use the link above to read the review.

John H. Elliott 80!


One of those scholars whose writings I have enjoyed reading the most is John H. Elliott. He is a pleasant person, and his writings rank high on my list; his commentary to 1 Peter is truly magnificent! But his writings in the fields of social science have also proved themselves influential and rewarding to read.

Today, Oct 23., he can celebrate his 80th birthday.

Happy Birthday wishes from from Norway.


A selected bibliography is given below:

Elliott, J. H. 1979 1 Peter: Estrangement and Community, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press.

Elliott, J. H. 1981 A Home for the Homeless: A Sociological Exegesis of 1 Peter, Its Situation and Strategy, Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Elliott, J. H. 1982 ‘Salutation and Exhortation to Christian Behavior on the Basis of God’s Blessings (1 [Peter] 1:1-2:10’), RevExp 79/3: 415-25.

Elliott, J. H. 1983 ‘The Roman Provinance of 1 Peter and the Gospel of Mark: A Response to David Dungan’, in Bruce Corely (ed.) Colloquy on New Testament Studies: A Time for Reappraisal and Fresh Approaches, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 182-94.

Elliott, J.H., 1990, A home for the homeless: A social-scientific criticism of I Peter, its situation and strategy, with a new introduction, Fortress, Minneapolis.

Elliott, J. H. 1985 ‘Backward and Foreward “In His Steps”: Following Jesus from Rome to Raymond and Beyond. The Tradition, Redaction, and Reception of 1 Peter 2:18-24’, in Fernando F. Segovia (ed.) Discipleship in the New Testament, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 184-209.

Elliott, J.H., 1986, ‘Social-scientific criticism of the New Testament and its social world: More on method and models’, in J.H. Elliott (ed.), Social-scientific criticism of the New Testament and its social world, Semeia 35, pp. 1–33, Scholars Press, Decatur.

Elliott, J. H. 1986 ‘1 Peter, Its Situation and Strategy: A Discussion with David Balch’, in Charles H. Talbert (ed.) Perspectives on First Peter, National Association of Baptist Progessors of Religion Special Studies Series, 9, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 61-78.

Elliott, J. H. 1987 ‘Patronage and Clientism in Early Christian Society: A Short Reading Guide’,Forum 3/4: 39-48.

Elliott, J.H., 1988, ‘The fear of the leer. The evil eye from the Bible to Li’l Abner’, Forum 4(4), 42–71.

Elliott, J.H., 1990, ‘Paul, Galatians, and the evil eye’, Currents in Theology and Mission 17, 262–73.

Elliott, J.H. 1991 ‘Household and Meals vs. Temple Purity: Replication Patterns in Luke-Acts’,BTB 21: 102-8 = Hervormde Teologiese Studies 47/2: 386-99.

Elliott, J.H., 1991, ‘The evil eye in the first testament: The ecology and culture of a pervasive belief’, in D. Jobling et al. (eds.),The Bible and the politics of exegesis. Essays in honor of Norman K. Gottwald on his sixty-fifth birthday, pp. 147–159, Pilgrim Press, Cleveland.

Elliott, J. H. 1991 ‘Temple versus Household in Luke-Acts: A Contrast in Social Institutions’, in J. H. Neyrey, The Social World of Luke-Acts, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers: 211-40 = Hervormde Teologiese Studies 247/1: 88-120.

Elliott, J. H. 1992 ‘Matthew 20:1-15: A Parable of Invidious Comparison and Evil Eye Accusation’, BTB 22: 52-65.

Elliott, J.H., 1992, ‘Matthew 20:1-15: A parable of invidious comparison and evil eye accusation’, Biblical Theology Bulletin 22(2), 52–65.

Elliott, J. H. 1993 What Is Social-Scientific Criticism? Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Elliott, J.H., 1994, ‘The evil eye and the sermon on the mount. Contours of a pervasive belief in social scientific perspective’,Biblical Interpretation 2(1), 51–84.

Elliott, J.H., 1993, What is social-scientific criticism?, Guides to biblical scholarship, New Testament series, Fortress, Minneapolis.

—— 1998 ‘Phases in the Social Formation of Early Christianity: From Faction to Sect. A Social-Scientific Perspective’, in Peder Borgem, Vernon K. Robbins, and David B. Gowler (eds.) Recruitment, Conquest, and Conflict: Strategies in Judaism, Early Christianity, and the Greco-Roman World, Emory Studies in Early Christianity 6. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Elliott, J.H., 2000, 1 Peter: A new translation with introduction and commentary, Anchor Bible 37B, Doubleday, Random House, New York.

Elliott, J.H., 2002, ‘Jesus was not an egalitarian. A critique of an anachronistic and idealist theory’, Biblical Theology Bulletin32(2), 75–91.

Elliott, J.H., 2003, ‘The Jesus movement was not egalitarian but family-oriented’, Biblical Interpretation 11(2), 173–210.

Elliott, J.H., 2005, ‘Lecture socioscientifique. Illustration par l’accusation du Mauvais Oeil en Galatie’, in A. Lacocque (ed.), Guide des nouvelles lectures de la Bible, pp. 141–167, Traduction de Jean-Pierre Prévost, Bayard Éditions, Paris.

Elliott, J.H., 2008a, ‘La crítica socio-cientifica: La configuración colectiva y cooperativa de un método’, in C. Bernabé & C. Gil (eds.), Reimaginando los orígenes del cristianismo. Relevancia social y ecclesial de los estudios sobre orígenes del cristianismo. Libro homenaje a Rafael Aguirre en su 65 compleaños, Agora 23, pp. 101–115, Editorial Verbo Divino, Estrella, Navarra.

Elliott, J.H., 2008b, ‘From social description to social-scientific criticism. The history of a society of biblical literature section 1973–2005’, Biblical Theology Bulletin 38(1), 26–36.

1 Peter again

One of my main interests within New Testament studies lays within studies of 1 Peter. I once even had a blog dealing with 1 Peter (Research Notes on 1 Peter), but this has been closed for several years now. It simly became too much.

But this does not mean that my interest in 1 Peter has waned, and I still try to be informed about what is published in this field.
In the latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature, there is a review of this volume:

Forbes, Greg W.,
1 Peter: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament
Nashville: B&H, 2014 pp. xxvii + 202. $24.99.

The description of the series runs like this: “The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) closes the gap between the Greek text and the available lexical and grammatical tools, providing all the necessary information for greater understanding of the text. The series makes interpreting any given New Testament book easier, especially for those who are hard pressed for time but want to preach or teach with accuracy and authority. Each volume begins with a brief introduction to the particular New Testament book, a basic outline, and a list of recommended commentaries. The body is devoted to paragraph-by-paragraph exegesis of the Greek text and includes homiletical helps and suggestions for further study. A comprehensive exegetical outline of the New Testament book completes each EGGNT volume.”

The review can be read by clicking here.


Persecution in 1 Peter – a Review

My review of Persecution in 1 Peter: Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christian Suffering, by Travis B. Williams, have now been posted on Review of Biblical Literature. You can read the review here: Review of Williams, Persecution

This impressive book is probably also the most comprehensive study available concerning the topic of persecution in 1 Peter. While there have been many previous studies in forms of articles and a few larger sections in some commentaries, this volume will probably remain a standard presentation and a must reading for students of 1 Peter for years to come both because of its comprehensive discussion and its tightly knit argumentation. That is not to say that all readers will be convinced by all its arguments, but a serious discussion of the topic persecution in 1 Peter should not be carried out without engaging in its views and arguments.

Persecution in 1 Peter

persecution1petThis work, which is a slightly revised version of a doctoral thesis carried out under the supervision of David G. Horrell and submitted to the University of Exeter in 2010, is an impressive piece of work:

Travis B. Williams, Persecution in 1 Peter. Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christians Suffering.
Supplements to Novum Testamentum 145. Brill; Leiden, 2012.

This book is probably the most comprehensive study available concerning the topic of persecution in 1 Peter. While there have been many previous studies in forms of articles, and a few larger sections in some commentaries (cf. the older volume of Selwyn), this volume will probably remain a standard presentation and a must reading for students of 1 Peter for years to come both because of its comprehensive discussion and its tightly knit argumentation.
The study consists of eight chapters (pp. 3-335), 4 appendices (pp. 339-386), and an impressive bibliography, comprising 59 pages. If we consider each of these pages to contain 25 references (I counted some), that amounts to a bibliography of 1475 books and articles! Hence the book is also a gold mine of persecution-related bibliography.
There will be a review of the book later on SBL Bible Review.
The contents of the book can be seen here.

Williams has also written several smaller studies on 1 Peter that is worth mentioning. I am here thinking of these works:
‘Reconsidering the imperatival participle in 1 Peter,’ Westminster Theological Journal 73 (2011):59-78.
________. “Suffering from a Critical Oversight: The Persecutions of 1 Peter within
Modern Scholarship.” Currents in Biblical Research 10. (2012): 275-292.
‘Benefiting the Community through Good Works? The Economic Feasibility of Civic Benefaction in 1 Peter,’ Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 9 (2013) forthcoming.
‘Visuality Vivid Description and the Message of 1 Peter The Significance of the Roaring Lion 1 Pet. 5.8,’ Journal of Biblical Literature 132 (2013): 697-716.

New book on 1 Peter coming

A new volume on 1 Peter is coming in October this year, published by de Gruyter. In honor of the 100th anniversary of Goppelt’s birth, a collection of essays was compiled by renowned scriptural scholars working in key areas of modern research on the First Epistle. They focus on the First Epistle’s historical and communicative setting, the author’s use of metaphor and rhetoric, and situate the First Epistle in the context of the theological history of early Christianity:

David du Toit ed., Bedrängnis und Identität. Studien zu Situation, Kommunikation und Theologie des 1. Petrusbriefes (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 200; de Gruyter, 2013).

I have a piece on 1 Peter and its readers, in which I in particular discuss what we in fact can know about them, and Witherington’s view of the readers as Jewish readers.

Mark as Contributive Amanuensis of 1 Peter?

From time to time some scholars come forth, trying to argue for a minority position on various questions related to, e.g., authorship, date etc of the New Testament writings. Some times research is making progress in this way too.
I myself have argued for the minority position that Silvanus was both the secretary and the carrier of the First letter of Peter.
Last spring I came over a book, published in 2009, trying to argue for Mark as a contributive amanuensis of 1 Peter. That view too is a minority position, but also one that deserves a hearing:

Jongyoon Moon, Mark as a Contributive Amanuensis of 1 Peter ( LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2009).

The authors lays out his program thus: The thesis of this study is that Mark was the contributive amanuensis for first Peter with Peter allowing a freer hand in the composition. The study investigates the relationship between first Peter and Mark from five angles by means of a historical and comparative approach. First, the study surveys the major proposals regarding the authorship of first Peter. Second, first century letter writing is studied as a practical ans supportive background to this inquiry. Third, the process of Paul’s letter writing is examined in light of first century letterwriting for the practice of using an amanuensis and Peter’s employment of an amanuensis. Fourth, the close relationship between Peter and Mark through their ministry based on First Peter 5:13 and the references to Mark in the early church, including Papias’ note reported by Eusebius, will be explored as evidence of a historical connection between two individuals. Fifth, the syntactic correlation, the distinctive features of terminology, and the significant and frequent use of hws for a simile between First Peter and Mark’s gospel is investigated as possible evidence that implies linguistic connections between them. Finally, the common Old Testament quotations (allusions) in First Peter and the gospel of Mark, specifically, the quotation of Ps 118:22 in both Mark 12:10 and First Peter 2:7,the quotation of 8allusion to) the suffering Servant of Isa 53 in First Peter 2:22-25a and Mark 10:45b, the quotation of (allusion to) to Ezek 34 in Mark 6:34 and 1 Pet 2:25b, and the quotation of (allusion to) Isa 40:8 in 1 Pet 1:25 and Mark 13:31b, and they their conflated and integrated use of the Old Testament is studied as possible evidence for surprising literary connections between them. The study is concluded with a summary and relevant conclusions.

Philo, James and 1 Peter

Thursday May 30, 2013, the owner and writer of this Blog turns 65. On this occasion The School of Mission and Theology invites  to a seminar in honor of the jubilee, where central  points of his research will be focused. The seminar consists of three sessions with lectures followed by discussion.

Program :
10:00 to 11:30 am.  Session 1:

Welcome by Jostein Ådna, head of the Department of Biblical Studies at MHS
Lecture by Professor dr.theol. Peder Johan Borgen, PhD:
Norwegian research on Philo of Alexandria in the latter half of the last century. Some observations.”

11:30 to 12:30: Lunch in the canteen with cakes, speeches and celebration of the jubilee

12:30 to 1:45 p.m.: Session 2:
Lecture by General Secretary  (Norwegian Bible Society),  Ingeborg Mongstad Kvammen, PhD:   “Toward a Post Colonial Reading of the Epistle of James

1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Break with fruit

2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Session 3:
Lecture by Professor dr.theol. Jostein Ådna:
Interpretion of Scripture and theological argumentation in Peter’s first letter
After the lectures there will  questions and comments.

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?