In a world in which it was believed that the mind was a storehouse of visual images, the ancient rhetorical technique of ἔκφρασις was understood as a way of exploiting this mental visual library through evoking images connected to a web of cultural associations. Vivid, visual depiction could therefore play an important role in powerfully persuading an audience. This article explores the function of the “roaring lion” image in 1 Pet 5:8 as an example of this type of vivid description. We first outline the technique of ἔκφρασις and make the case for seeing 1 Pet 5:8 as an example of this. Then, after showing that leonine imagery was pervasive across a variety of visual media in the Greco-Roman world, we argue that the description would have most likely called to mind the wild animal fights and ad bestias executions that took place in the Roman arenas and theaters across Asia Minor, as well as elsewhere. With its strategic and climactic placement in the closing section of the letter body, the vivid image of a “roaring lion” can be seen to encapsulate an important and central aspect of the epistle’s overall message. Our examination therefore calls for a reassessment of the importance of 1 Pet 5:8–9 in conveying this message.


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pp. 697-716
Launched on MUSE
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