Review of Bird, Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience

My latest book review has now been posted on www.bookreviews.org. It concerns the book by Jennifer G. Bird, Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience: Reconsidering 1 Peter’s Commands to Wives (Library of New Testament Studies 442 New York: T&T Clark, 2011.)
I must admit that I am not too favorable to here theses in my review. The book is, however, also a valuable example of this way of interpreteting a text. Or as I state in my review: “This study is, considering Bird’s premises and presuppositions, tightly argued and wellstructured. It might be very informative for those who want to see how a feminist, postcolonial, and materialist study might be carried out. But it is also somewhat provocative and often not very convincing.”
You might read the review for yourself here, or/and have a closer look at the book here. Another review is available here.

Interesting article on cities in northern Asia minor (1 Pet 1:1)

By chance, I stumbled over this article:
Mark. W. Wilson, ‘Cities of God in northern Asia minor: Using Stark’s social theories to reconstruct Peter’s communities,’ Verbum et Ecclesia 32(1), available here.

The author uses “seven hypotheses from R. Stark’s Cities of God (2007) as a heuristic tool to
investigate the rise of Christianity in the five Roman provinces mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1.
It affirmed that the Christian communities in these provinces were located in an urban,
not rural, setting. Building on the research of Hort and Hemer, seven major cities in these
provinces were proposed to test Stark’s hypotheses with. These cities are Sinope and Amisus
in Pontus, Ancyra in Galatia, Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Dorylaeum in Asia and Nicea
and Nicomedia in Bithynia. An important factor noted in several of these cities was their
prominence as a commercial seaport and the presence of a Diaspora Jewish community.
Utilising this methodological approach helped to elucidate more fully the audience of 1
Peter’s geographic and historical background.”

Mission in First Peter

Yesterday the last issue of Bulletin for Biblical Research (19:4; published by Eisenbrauns, for The Institute for Biblical Research), arrrived in my mailbox. The BBR now have 4 issues each year from 2009 of.

The journal contains my latest article on 1 Peter, “Resident Aliens in Mission: Missional practices in the Emerging Church of 1 Peter,” BBR 19.4 (2009): 565-611:

In this study I discusses the issue of mission in 1 Peter in light of the missiological model of  ‘missional’ church. The early Christian communities of 1 Peter are considered here as young emerging congregations living in a kind of liminal state. Being discriminated against in their local communities, they struggled for their own new Christian identity. In these circumstances, the phnomenon of intramural ethics is important, but so also are their missional good works. These are considered to be observed by “the others”,  who are won over and ultimately give glory to God. Contrary to some recent interpreters, the present study argues that the readers are also admonished to be ready to preach and defend their faith, thus becoming a missional church of both works and words in their neighborhoods.

If you go to the Eisenbraiuns homepage, they also have some good book offers at the beginning of this new year….

1 Peter and Paraenetic Strategies

SBL’s Bookreviews.org has another set of reviews being published, among them one on a book on Paraenetic Strategies in 1 Peter. Trying to keep up with some readings on recent works on 1 Peter, these reviews are of good help.

Dryden, J. de Waal,
Theology and Ethics in 1 Peter: Paraenetic Strategies for Christian Character Formation
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2/209
Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006 pp. xi + 226. €49.00

The review-work is done by John H Elliott; another guy who never quits his interest in 1 Peter. He has some praises for the work, but also some rather critical comments:

“Certain aspects of the study make it a productive contribution to the discussion of the moral exhortation of 1 Peter. The discussion of paraenesis and paraenetic letters in the Greco-Roman sources contributes to our understanding of this frequently employed but
rarely defined concept. Comments on the theology and ethical content of the letter are generally on target, summarizing key points of scholarly agreement and disagreement in an accurate and fair manner. Dryden adeptly lays out the modes of the letter’s moral
instruction and its integration with the community’s theological tradition and worldview. The study, however, is plagued by a fatal flaw that unfortunately is its chief premise and arguing point, that the letter’s chief aim is the character formation of individual believers and that Hellenistic paraenetic letters are its closest literary analogue. Paraenesis, as defined by Dryden and as already noted, has individuals, not collectivities, in view. It is aimed at individuals and their individual moral growth. First Peter, however, like most New Testament writings, addresses not individuals alone but as members of groups and households of dispersed people claiming a common allegiance to a common cause.”

I would find it strange if Dryden did not see these two aspects, paraenesis aiming at both individuals and the individuals as members of a group. I get s certain feeling, however, that Dryden is overemphasizing the individual aspects, while Elliott has a preference for the collectivistic.

But, by all means, I have not read the book yet, and might be totally wrong. Hence, I should read it for myself first.

You can find the rest of the review here:http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/7248_7887.pdf

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.

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 (2.12.4.3), 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)

Beginning from Jerusalem

This weekend I had the pleasure of looking into the magnus opus of JDG Dunn, his volume two of
Christianity in the Making Vol 2:
Beginning from Jerusalem.
Grand Rapids, Mi; Eerdmans, 2009.

It is a great work in many ways; comprising 1347 pages, it will have to reside on my desk for a long time. And it is equally impressive considering the breadth of reading it represents, and the many interesting – some expected, other unexpected- viewpoints it presents and represents.

Its outline might give a fairly conservative impresssion; He starts with some methodological considerations concerning writing a history of Christianity’s beginnings, then turning to the first phase; beginnings in Jerusalem and up to the council in Jerusalem. The third part (pp. 497-1057) deals with Paul, and the last three chapters discusses ‘The Voiceless Peter’, ‘Catastrophe in Judea,’ and ‘The Legacy of the First Generation Leadership.’

I think everyone will profit from reading this great book, whether one agrees or disagrees.
Tolle lege!

Intro to 1 Peter

Several new book reviews are published today again on bookreviews.org; I will not comment on all of them, just direct your attention to a brief introductory book on one of my favorite NT works,- 1 Peter:
David G. Horrell,
1 Peter.
Series: New Testament Guides
New York: T&T Clark, 2008 pp. vii + 126. $19.95

The volume is reviewed by Peter H. Davids, and he provides a very favourable review.

New Dissertation on 1 Peter

On Dec. 9 there will be a public disputatio (public defence) at MF – Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo (Menighetsfakultetet), where cand.philol. Eirin Hoel Hauge will defend her dissertation on 1 Peter:

Turn Away from Evil and Do Good! Reading 1 Peter in Light of Psalm 34.” A resyme of her work can be found here. (English version on p 2).

According to the Norwegian system, there will be two test lectures the day before the defence, then the  public disputatio that may last up to 4-5 hours, where the candidate will discuss her dissertation with two opponents.  Alas, the info page at MF does not contain any info about the topics of the test lectures, nor the names of the opponents.