Monday, March 04, 2013

Journey Motif in 1 Peter

Troy Martin helpfully outlines the journey motif in 1 Peter. 
Their journey began when God called them (1.15; 2.21; 3.9; 5.10) and they were redeemed (1.18) and born anew (1.23). Their journey’s destination is the revelation of Jesus Christ (1.13) and his glory (4.13), when they receive their inheritance (3.9), exaltation (5.6) and salvation (2.2), and are established by God (5.10). In between their beginning and destination is the time of their sojourn (1.17; 2.11; 4.2; 5.10) when they need to continue their journey. I then comment that this general image of diaspora life sets up the rhetorical situation of 1 Peter.  In my opinion, the recipients’ need to continue their journey is the ‘controlling exigence which functions as the organizing principle’ of the rhetorical situation in 1 Peter. Even though suffering resulting in the recipients’ experience of dishonour rather than honour is frequently mentioned in 1 Peter, it does not account for the entirety of the paraenesis in the letter as well as the journey motif does. ‘Girding up the loins’ (1.13), ‘being sober’ (1:13; 5.8), ‘being alert’ (5.8), ‘putting of unnecessary baggage (2.1) and ‘arming oneself’ (4.1) are all prudent considerations for a journey. The danger of encountering wild beasts (5.8) is characteristic of a journey.  The term ἀναστροφή (‘course of life’), used throughout the letter, semantically relates to journey or travel ideas.  Terms such as ‘strangers’ and ‘aliens’ were used to refer to the transient status of Jewish wanderers in the diaspora and also allude to the journey image in 1 Peter.  The notion of Christ as a shepherd to whom the recipients have returned (2:25) and whom they now follow (2:21) are descriptions of their journey.  The notion that the recipients like living stones (2:5) are coming to the living stone (2:4) to compose a temple is similar to the journey image in 1 Enoch.  Just as God’s call precipitates the return journey from exile and dispersion, so also in 1 Peter God’s call (1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10) initiates the recipients’ present journey.  Their need to continue this journey is the controlling exigence of the rhetorical situation in 1 Peter, and the paraenesis throughout the letter specifically addresses this need. [1]

[1] Troy W. Martin, “The Rehabilitation of a Rhetorical Step-Child: First Peter and Classical Rhetorical Criticism,” in Reading First Peter With New Eyes. Methodolocial Reassessments of the Letter of First Peter. Eds. R. L. Webb and B. Bauman-Martin. LNTS. (London: T & T Clark, 2007), 41-71, here, 57-58.

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