Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Selwyn on Peter's Audience

Reading through the commentaries on 1 Peter, I'm struck by this response by Selwyn to the view that first Peter is primarily directed to a Jewish audience.
This interpretation of the facts, however, encounters serious difficulties at certain points, and, though sufficient to put the extreme “Gentile” view out of court, is too narrow for its parts. While, for example, the “vain conversation” (ματαία ἀναστροφῆς) {1:18} of the readers’ life before conversion admits of the view that they had been lapsed Jews, the description of it as “handed down by tradition from your fathers” (πατροπαραδότου) {1:18} could hardly have been used of any but Gentiles. Again, though many Jews may have fallen into the vices named in iv. 3-5, they are typically Gentile excesses, and certainly no Gentile could have been “surprised” if Jews abstained from taking part in them. Further, the careful attention given in ii. 18ff. to the duties of slaves, even though based on common sources, indicates that there were many slaves among St. Peter’s readers; and it is most improbably that these were Jews.[1]
I'm beginning to think that Witherington has succeeded in demonstrating that a Jewish contingent among a Gentile Christian community is probable, but not that 1 Peter is predominantly addressed to a Jewish Christian community. But I'm continuing to read Witherington, as he has definitely made his case well, if not ultimately persuasive.
[1] Selwyn, The First Epistle of St. Peter, pg. 43

1 comment:

MR. X said...

I've found a militant atheist if you want to try and help him; he's at:

GBWY, James