Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Letter-Carriers as Performers

In reading through Joel Green's excellent new commentary on 1 Peter, he makes this comment that I think aids our discussion on authorial intent, audience understanding and the Hebrew Scriptures.
To say that the majority of the first audience of 1 Peter was comprised of Gentiles is not say that all were Gentiles, and we can imagine that Jewish Christians within the communities to which this letter is addressed would have been able to draw ongoing attention to the scriptural allusions and echoes that dot the landscape of the letter. Second, the person or persons who conveyed the letter across the area of Asia mentioned in 1:1 would have served not only as letter-carriers but also as performers of the letter, interpreting it to these groups of Christians. We can imagine their attending to the interplay of the letter with its scriptural intertexts. Third, it should not be forgotten that Israel’s Scriptures comprised the Bible of those early Christians, so that we would be mistaken were we to suppose that even Gentile converts would not have been progressing in their intimacy with the words of Scripture.[1]
Could we postulate that Timothy, Silvanus or whoever takes this letter, would preach and interpret 1 Thessalonians for the community of believers? Obviously, Green is writing about 1 Peter, so the circumstances are different, but could we postulate a similar scenario for the Thessalonian correspondence? My question is then simply: What evidence do we have of Letter-carriers performing this function? Anyone know of any literature on this matter? It seems a priori plausible, but is there evidence for this?
[1] Green, 1 Peter, pg. 6

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