Sunday, March 03, 2013

Judicial Rhetoric in 1 Peter

Troy Martin offers the following reflection judicial aspects of 1 Peter. 
Although 1 Peter is not designed for the courtroom, several passages mention a forensic social location.  The divine Father, whom the recipients of the letter invoke, is the one who impartially judges every human on the basis of deeds (1:17).  This same God is described as he who judges justly (2:23), and those who live disobedient lives will give an account to him who is ready to judge both the living and the dead (4:4-5).  This judgment begins with the household of God and does not bode well for those outside this household (4:17-18).  This judgement occurs on the day of visitation (2:12) when Jesus Christ is revealed (1:7, 13; 4:13; 5:4) and the faithful within the household are vindicated.  In addition to the mention of this divine judgement, several passages refer to human judicial settings.  Governors, send by the Lord, punish evil doers but praise those who do good (2:14-15).  The recipients of the letter must be prepared to make a defence to those who call them to given an account (3:15).  In both the divine and human judicial settings, the paraenesis in the letter expresses the conduct that will enable the recipients to avoid condemnation and to receive vindication on the basis of their righteous deeds.  Although 1 Peter is not a speech designed for the courtroom, it is perhaps a pre-trial letter advising conduct that will enable the recipients to obtain a favourable judgment in both the divine and human judicial settings mentioned in the letter.[1]
Martin does not argue that 1 Peter conforms to the species of judicial rhetoric, but rather suggests these as elements of that rhetorical species in 1 Peter. 

[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, 46-47.

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