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First Peter 1.3–2.10 weaves a new familial and ethnic identity for believers through a complex series of interlocking metaphors. How does this identity influence the ethical exhortation beginning in 2.11? The current article argues that an answer is found in the Greco-Roman structures of exemplarity. First, the article identifies four explicit markers of exemplarity discourse in 1 Peter: ὑπογραμμός (2.21), the footsteps idiom (2.21), the term ἀντίτυπος (3.21) and the term τύποι (5.3). Next, it surveys how exemplarity functioned in the Greco-Roman world. Greek and Roman literature demonstrate a clear preference for domestic exempla. Similarly, as a new family and ethnic group, Christian believers require new exempla suited to their new Christian identity. In this light, 1 Peter's ethical instruction can be more deeply appreciated. Finally, this article investigates how exemplarity dynamics illuminate Jesus as exemplar par excellence in 1 Peter. First Peter depicts Jesus’ passion with language of the Isaianic suffering servant (2.22–5). Jesus’ exemplarity is given to slaves, who are implicitly held up as models for all believers. Exemplarity thus draws its strength from the past (the suffering servant, Jesus) as it challenges those in the present and future (slaves, all believers) to become like these models.
This chapter presents an overview of the structure of 1 Peter to lay the groundwork for the analysis of future chapters. Following Lutz Doering, this chapter argues that 1 Peter is a Christian diaspora letter. As such, it has much in common with Jewish diaspora letters. This chapter then examines the epistolary prescript (1:1-2) and postscript (5:12-14) to examine how these features are infused with the letter’s theology and anticipate its themes of diaspora, marginalization, divine regeneration, election, holiness, and peoplehood. Moving to the letter body, the chapter outlines the main structural divisions through attention to rhetorical devices, themes, and other features.
This chapter examines modern and ancient conceptions of ethnicity. For Smith, six elements constitute ethnicity: a name, myth of collective descent, history, culture, territory, and a sense of solidary. However, a connection with a special territory and the myth of common descent are particularly important. David Horrell has demonstrated that these six elements are active in 1 Peter. Ethnicities are expressed in culturally specific ways. Therefore, this chapter examines conceptions of ancient Jewish and Greek ethnicity, with particular focus on putative common descent. Most Jews in the Second Temple period were Jewish by birth. However, the possibility of conversion and apostasy complicate the picture. Along with birth, Jewish identity was maintained through social praxis. In the Hellenistic period, “Greekness” came to be identified with paidaeia, or education. Those not born Greek could become Greek. Yet, “Greekness” never fully lost its connection to birth. In both Jewish and Greek culture, birth and paidaeia continued to constitute ethnic identity in a complex tension.
After an introduction (§5.1), this chapter investigates the uses of metaphorical seed language in the Hebrew scriptures (§5.2), Greco-Roman Judaism (§5.3), the New Testament (§5.4), and finally 1 Peter (§5.5). In the Hebrew scriptures, seed language is completely human, though invested with divine promise. This chapter will then look at how the concept of “holy seed” was democratized to all Israel in Ezra and Jubilees (§5.2.4 - 3.3.1). This democratization went hand in hand with the strong concern for Israel’s corporate holiness. The New Testament (§5.4) usage of the seed idiom reflects contemporary Jewish usage. However, a new question was on the table for early Christians: how were Gentiles to be brought into the people of God and included as Abraham’s seed? Philo seems to be the first Jew to actively discuss divine seed, but with Stoic influences (§5.3.2). Divine seed is rare in the New Testament (§5.4). Despite claims (cf. Jn 3:5, 1 Jn 3:9), 1 Peter is the only New Testament text to discuss seed endowed with divine qualities that generates believers (§5.5). This chapter examines 1 Peter’s continuity with tradition, but also its innovation.
In 2:4-10, the author weaves together the source domains of house/household, family, temple, priesthood, stone, and nation to describe believers’ identity and relationship to Christ, each other, and those who do not believe. This chapter first examines the οἶκος language in 1 Peter 2:4-6 (§7.2-3). At 2:5, the author simultaneously actives two meaning of οἶκος to transition smoothly from the semantic domain of the house to that of the temple, the house of God. Next, this chapter briefly surveys “community-as-temple” language at Qumran and the New Testament in order to trace the some of the streams of tradition which may lie behind 1 Peter (§7.4-5). Finally, this chapter looks at 1 Peter 2:4-10 in detail to examine how the construction of Christian ethnic identity concludes the author’s theme of divine regeneration (§7.6-9).
JH Elliott argued that the Petrine terms παροικία, πάροικος, and παρεπίδημος are literal, while the majority of scholars understand them metaphorically. This chapter therefore defines metaphors, establishes the criteria by which they can be identifies, and develops tools for their analysis. Metaphors are defined as speaking about one thing (tenor, or target domain) in terms of another (vehicle, or source domain). Though the Petrine regeneration metaphor is cognitive, it is expressed in language grounded in Jewish and Greco-Roman culture. Metaphors are rich, interactive, and not reducible to prose. Simple metaphors can be combined into complex, systematic and narrative structures, which may contain embedded, culturally-based value judgments. This study employs the Metaphor Identification Process (MIP) to determine whether kinship terms in 1 Peter are metaphorical.
This chapter examines divine regeneration within its Jewish and early Christian contexts in order to appreciate how the author used Jewish traditions of divine begetting and Christian traditions of regeneration for his own theological purpose. After an introduction (§4.1), this chapter examines two discrete bodies of evidence gathered from Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity: first, the use of regeneration language, namely, ἀναγεννάω and παλιγγενεσία (§4.2), and second, the theme of God as begetter in Jewish and early Christian literature (§4.3). Finally, this chapter examines 1 Peter 1:3-5 and 1:23 in light of these insights (§4.4). The insights of §4.2-3 provide the information necessary to perform the Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP) in §4.4.
In 1 Peter 2:1-3, the author compares believers to newborn babes who are to crave the pure, “wordly” milk in order to grow. This chapter examines the role of breastfeeding in socializing an infant in ancient society. Breastfeeding symbolized an infant’s Jewishness. In 1 Peter, believers’ metaphorical breastfeeding developed their Christian ethnic identity. As a maternal image, this chapter investigates Jewish use of transgender imagery. Though 1 Peter does not call God “mother,” it attributes maternal imagery to God the Father. In Jewish literature, God, and other men, are sometimes depicted with maternal imagery. In the New Testament, Paul describes himself in maternal terms. These traditions illustrate that the Petrine maternal imagery had Jewish and early Christian precedents. Finally, this chapter shows, first, that this Petrine imagery develops the ethnic identity of believers, and, second describes aspects of God’s relationship with believers in terms associated with motherhood. This Petrine imagery is a creative way of communicating theological truths but is still in continuity with Jewish and early Christian traditions.
This concluding chapter draw together the preceding arguments of the book. Mapping systematic metaphors can reveal an individual or group’s underlying beliefs. This chapter therefore assembled all of the contributing pieces of linguistic evidence for the divine regeneration metaphor in 1 Peter. Once these were assembled and grouped, they were analyzed. First the dataset contained evidence of repetition, such as πατήρ (1:2, 3, 17), ἀναγεννάω (1:3, 23), inheritance words (κληρονομίαν, συγκληρονόμοις, κληρονομήσητε; 1:4; 3:7, 9), and other terms drawn from the nuclear family (1:14; 2:2; 3:6; 4:17; 5:9, 12, 13). These repetitions draw the letter’s recipients’ attention to repeated, structural patterns. Next, some basic metaphor mapping was done. Finally, systematic metaphors were distilled from this evidence. The following systematic metaphors have been identified: CHRISTIAN MEMBERSHIP IS BELONGING TO A SOJOURNING NATION, 2, CHRISTIAN MEMBERSHIP IS BEING BEGOTTEN ANEW AND GROWING UP IN GOD’S FAMILY. 3, GOD’S FAMILY IS AN ETHNIC GROUP
Beginning with a quote from Diognetus, this study asks why Christians came to be described as a γένος. This book argues that 1 Peter provides original, provocative answers to Diognetus’ questions. This book argues that the description of believers’ ethnic identity in 2:9-10 is founded on the complex metaphor of divine regeneration and its familial entailments. Just as physical ethnic identities are established primarily by birth into a particular group, the Petrine author ascribes to believers a divine regeneration that ushers them into a new ethnic community. However, ethnic membership is not a matter of birth alone: it is a social construct that must be taught, negotiated, maintained, and defended. It process of socialization stretches from infancy to childhood and finally adulthood. This introduction then surveys previous scholarship on divine regeneration in 1 Peter and establishes the need for a new look at divine regeneration in 1 Peter.
What is the significance of Christians’ new identity in 1 Peter 2:11-5:11? This chapter argues that this identity is foundational for the exhortation that follows. The exhortation in 2:11-5:11 is deeply informed by the structures and conventions of Jewish and Greco-Roman exemplarity discourse. Greek, Roman, and Jewish discourse exhibited a strong preference for domestic role models. As a new γένος, ἔθνος, and λαός, Christians needed new Christian exemplars, which 1 Peter supplies. At the family level, the best exemplars for young Roman elite were their own illustrious ancestors. Similarly, Christians, as one family in the house of God, now have a host of their own illustrious ancestors from the scriptures and Christian tradition to aspire to and imitate, such as Sarah, Noah, Christian elders, and, especially, Jesus Christ, who is Christianity’s exemplar par excellence. This chapter concludes with a detailed analysis of Jesus’ exemplarity in the exhortation to slaves (and all believers) in 2:21-25. Through his passion, Jesus provided an example for Christian to imitate in their own suffering.