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Preface Although one of the shorter epistles in the New Testament, the First Epistle of Peter has more than its share of conundrums associated with it. In dispute are author, readers, time of writing, situation in the Roman Empire vis-a-vis the Christian faith when it was composed, and the overall structure of the argument, to mention but a few. Also notorious are the difficulties connected with understanding such passages as 3:18-22 or 4:1-6, the former long recognized as one of the more opaque paragraphs in the New Testament. Yet the letter is written with style and verve, and contains within its short compass a wealth of theological insight. It is the task of this commentary to provide an encounter with this letter, to indicate the material necessary to reach informed decisions about the problems one confronts in reading it, and to furnish a substantial review of the solutions proposed by other scholars. In the Introduction, relevant data-linguistic, social, economic, political, religious -will be examined for the light they shed on the culture out of which, and for which, this letter was written. That is necessary since the communities from which and for which 1 Peter was written did not exist in a vacuum; they existed within a society that exerted a number of pressures upon them, and it is necessary to be aware of them if we are to gain more than a superficial understanding of the intention of this letter. It is to that end, and not the desire to verify or falsify some modern social theory, that these data will be examined. If in the course of such an examination, some long-held theories are shown to be based more on supposition than on evidence, that will need to be noted, but it is not the purpose for which these introductory paragraphs are written. Rather, their intention is to introduce to the reader the situation faced by the original writer and his readers, and in that way facilitate a useful encounter with this biblical text. Because l Peter is not only a piece of literature, but also a piece of literature invested by the Christian community with canonical status, such literary questions as authorship and date of composition, type and integrity of the letter, and the status of its intended readers have been invested not only with literary but also with religious value. That can influence the kind of results that are found allowable, and may put limits on the range of inquiry about such matters, with the result that conclusions are reached that are cherished more on religious grounds than on grounds of literary or historical probability. If in the course of our investigation of literary and historical questions, some long-held theories in this area are also shown to be based more upon supposition or upon religious preference than upon evidence, that too will need to be noted. But again, that is not the intent of these investigations. Rather, their intent is here also to encourage a useful encounter with this biblical XV XVI text by achieving clarity on what kind of literature we confront, and therefore what we may, and what we may not, reasonably expect to find in it. Only when we know as much as we can about the literary dimensions of this letter, and the environment which shaped it and into which it was sent, will it prove fruitful to undertake a detailed investigation of its content in order to determine the theological message it intends to convey. In the body of the commentary, the discussion is divided into three categories: translation, analysis, and comment. The translation seeks to convey some of the broader nuances of the Greek text, and the notes provide insight into the more important textual variations available to us. The text-critical notations have followed the system of identification of texts employed in the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. The analysis considers among others such elements as structure of the passage, its possible sources, and its import, whether the passage represents a major division of the letter (e.g., prooemium, 1:3-12, body opening, 1:13-2:10) or a smaller unit within one of those major divisions (e.g., 1:3-5, 2: I-3, 3: 1-7). In addition to the analyses of the passages, there are extended comments on the individual verses, covering elements ranging from grammar to theological intent. The reader may thus find a convenient...


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