The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jun 4, 2011

Resources for Studying and Preaching 1 Peter

(this essay reflects my own partially-subjective [perhaps mostly-subjective!] opinion. Readers are encouraged to post their own suggestions in the comments section if I've missed any key sources! Also, the sources discussed consist of only those that I have personally interacted with to some degree)
Since 1 Peter is the focus of my study, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on the most helpful resources for teaching and preaching 1 Peter. A bibliography has been supplied at the end, so key works will be referred to in an abbreviated manner.

1. For Preaching (focusing mostly on modern evangelical scholars)
Let's start simple. The bottom line is, if I'm preaching through 1 Peter (as I've had the privilege of doing at my local church at different points in the past year), I head to Jobes (2005), Grudem (2009), and Witherington (2006), more-or less in that order. My reasons are as follows: Dr. Karen Jobes has written what is frequently regarded as the top evangelical graduate-level commentary. Indeed, I would consider her possibly the top scholar on 1 Peter currently in evangelical scholarship. Her Baker Exegetical commentary is definitely a solid exegetical work but is also surprisingly accessible (i.e. it's not overly-technical). Her biggest contributions, perhaps, consist of her knowledge of the Septuagint (and its use in 1 Peter) and her alternate proposal regarding the social context of 1 Peter (i.e. her "Roman colonization" theory for the background of the recipients)

Wayne Grudem comes next because out of all the scholarly commentaries, his is possibly the most accessible. Grudem is enjoyable to read and challenges the consensus in a couple places. I often disagree with Grudem, but he provides a solid yet simple commentary. 

Ben Witherington's social-rhetorical commentary is next, mostly because he excels at the social-rhetorical aspect, providing some material that others do not. Also, I find myself in agreement more with Witherington on the issue of foreknowledge in 1 Peter than with any other scholar (quite possibly Witherington will prove to be one of my favorite sources for my dissertation). True story: Witherington's material on the background and social-rhetorical material in the New Testament is regarded so highly in some circles that the seminary I got my M.Div. at, a very strong dispensational seminary, ironically required us to read Witherington's commentary on Revelation in its entirety for that class. For a dispensationalist seminary to require Witherington's Revelation commentary as a textbook is comparable to the Boston Red Sox hiring Derek Jeter as a hitting coach!

A fourth source that is invaluable for preaching 1 Peter, depending on the passage, is D. A. Carson's extremely thorough discussion on the use of the OT in 1 Peter in Baker's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.

If forced to pick another more-or-less accessible evangelical commentary, I would probably go with Peter H. Davids' NICNT commentary (1990). I am extremely partial to Douglas Harink's thought-provoking theological commentary (2009), but this is less helpful for preaching and more helpful for group-discussions or Bible study (though I realize some would question whether there should be that strong a distinction between the two). Honorable mention also goes to Thomas Schreiner's NAC commentary. The NAC series is generally very accessible to those without an extensive theological education.

At the more theological level, I have found only two accessible works that I really like so far: Andrew Chester and Ralph Martin's The Theology of the Letter of James, Peter, and Jude (1994) and Gene L. Green's brief article on 1 Peter in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

In addition, those preaching through 1 Peter should naturally make use of more general background and introductory works. I am especially partial to The New Testament in Antiquity by Gary Burge, Lynn Cohick, and Gene Green (2009).

As far as classroom work, if I ever get to teach 1 Peter, at this point I'm leaning towards Jobes for grad-level and Grudem for the under-grad level, for the reasons listed above. I believe both Grudem and Schreiner would be especially accessible to the layperson in the church or the college student simply taking 1 Peter as an elective.

2. For in-depth study
This section is for the student/pastor/etc. who wishes for in-depth, grad-level study of 1 Peter
       1. Commentaries 
To start out simple, I would recommend Elliott, Jobes, Goppelt, Selwyn, and Witherington, in that order, with the somewhat-less-accessible WBC commentary by J. Ramsey Michaels coming in after that (not Ramsey's fault! The entire WBC series is, in my opinion, difficult to use! Despite this I have to acknowledge their scholarly excellence).

To a certain extent, John Elliott's Anchor Bible Commentary (2001) remains the standard for scholarship. I've read through the entire thing (almost 1000 pages!!) and can attest that even if you disagree with his views on the social setting of 1 Peter, the letter's authorship, etc., this book is well-worth its weight in gold. The bibliography alone is staggering in the wealth of information it provides.

The WBC series, of course, is highly valued for its exegetical discussion, and Ramsey's work (1988) is no exception. It is, however, a slightly more difficult commentary to use than some of the others, due (in my opinion) to the layout of the commentary.

Leonhard Goppel's commentary remains the standard for many, and I have benefited greatly from it. I believe it is currently in its 8th German edition (1978). Goppel's work also remains what is probably the premiere foreign-language commentary on 1 Peter.

Speaking of foreign-language commentaries, Ceslas Spicq's commentary on 1 Peter, while not as well-known as his work on Hebrews, is worth looking at. It's extremely difficult to find, however; to my knowledge only one library in the US has it, and they are not eager to lend it out (not that I'm bitter or anything :). Fortunately I found my own copy via ABE Books at a reasaonable price.

Among the classics, the reader should consider F. J. A. Hort (1898), E. G. Selwyn (1949), Bo Reicke (1964; the original Anchor Bible commentary), and F. W. Beare (1947). Selwyn is still considered by many to be the standard for Petrine commentaries. 

The commentaries by Jobes, Witherington, and Davids have already been noted in the previous section, and their value should be emphasized for in-depth study as well. Surprisingly, I would still consider Grudem as one of my top commentaries for serious study, mostly because he has some perspectives that "go against the grain," so to speak (e.g. his view on what the prepositions in 1:2 modify).

J. N. D. Kelly (1969) and Paul Achtemeier (1996) also provide two of the top academic commentaries on 1 Peter and should be consulted. 

For German sources, I can also recommend Norbert Brox (1979) and Reinhard Feldmeir (2005). I believe Feldmeier's commentary has been translated into English by none other than Peter H. Davids, who has his own commentary, mentioned above (I haven't seen the English translation, though; I've only worked with German, not because I'm good at German but because my adviser pushes his students to work with the originals). In addition, Karl Hermann Schelkle's work (1970) has some useful material and is probably my fifth choice for foreign language commentaries (after Goppelt, Spicq, Feldmier, and Brox, in that order).

At the theological level, Harink, Chester/Martin, and Joel Green (2007) all provide some valuable material.

The importance of Carson's work on the NT use of the OT in 1 Peter has already been noted, and should probably be the first stop for any study on that topic.

     2. Articles, essays, and monographs 
It's a bit more difficult to recommend anything in this category, due to its specialized nature, but I would like to bring the following to the reader's attention:

John Elliott's A Home for the Homeless (latest edition is 2005) is a classic, though very few scholars agree with him completely. Elliott is pretty much "the man" when it comes to a social-scientific perspective on 1 Peter (see also his What is Social-Scientific Criticism [1993)].  However, for a very different approach, the reader should note Feldmeier's Die Christen als Fremde (1992), a broader work that nevertheless interacts with 1 Peter and Elliott's views. Perhaps the best critique of Elliott comes from Moses Chin's Tyndale article "A Heavenly Home for the Homeless."

For other monographs, J. Dryden's Theology and Ethics in 1 Peter (2006) and Troy Martin's Metaphor and Composition in 1 Peter (1992) are two of the most interesting. For dissertations, Edward Glenny's "The Hermeneutics of the Use of the Old Testament in 1 Peter" (Dallas Theological, 1987) and Ervin Starwalt's "A Discourse Analysis of 1 Peter" (U. of Texas at Arlington) are both good discussions of their respective topics.

For articles and essays, I highly recommend Jobes' BBR article "The Syntax of 1 Peter. Just how good is the Greek?" on Petrine authorship (warning: somewhat technical!), as well as her essay "The Septuagint Textual Tradition in 1 Peter." The latter should be read alongside Carson's work when researching this topic. For NT use of the OT, I also enjoyed Jocelyn Williams' article in RTR entitled 
"A Case Study in Intertextuality: The Place of Isaiah in the 'Stone' Sayings of 1 Peter 2" as well as Gene Green's very-accessible Tyndale article on "The Use of the Old Testament for Christian Ethics in 1 Peter." On a different topic, I also was challenged by Joel Green's "Narrating the Gospel in 1 and 2 Peter" in Interpretation (2006).

There is, in my opinion, a relative lack of material on Petrine theology (though Green's well-written "Narrating the Gospel" does fit into the theological category). For the interested reader, however, there is a certain article on a Petrine theology of prophecy coming out in a future BBR.

Finally, let me also point out Colin Hemer's classic article in Expository Times on "The Address of 1 Peter" (Hemer, of course, is to NT backgrounds what Hank Aaron was to homeruns!)

There's a ton of other worthwhile  monographs, articles, essays, commentaries, etc., but hopefully this will be enough to get started. If you disagree or feel that I've omitted an absolutely key source, feel free to let me know (or post it in the comments section).

One more thing. If this essay isn't in-depth enough, then consider the following three surveys of scholarship: Eugene Boring in the journal Word and World (2004), Mark Dubis in the journal Currents in Biblical Research (2006), and Robert Webb in the book The Face of New Testament Studies (2004).

(with special thanks to Dr. Gene L. Green of Wheaton College for his directed study with me on 1 Peter. His work with me was essential for my own studies on 1 Peter, especially in understanding what the key sources on 1 Peter are. It was Dr. Green who first introduced me to the work of John Elliott, which will probably play a major part in my dissertation. This essay reflects my own opinions and not necessarily those of Dr. Green, whose views would naturally be much more informed and interesting than mine)

Bibliography (not meant to be comprehensive)
Achtemeier, Paul J. 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter. Hermeneia. A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible.  Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 1996.

Beare F. W. The First Epistle of Peter: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes . 2nd rev. ed. Oxford: Blackwell and Mott, 1958. 

Boring, M. Eugene. “First Peter in Recent Study.” Word & World 24 (Fall 2004): 358-367.

Brox , Norbert. Der Erste Petrusbrief. Evangelisch-Katholischer Kommentar Zum Neuen Testament. Zurich: Benziger, 1979. 

Burge, Gary M., Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green. The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament Within its Cultural Contexts. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan,  2009. 

Carson, D. A. “I Peter.” Pages 1015-1045 in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Eds. D. A. Carson and G. K. Beale. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2007.

Chester, Andrew, and Ralph P. Martin. The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter and Jude. New Testament Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Chin, Moses. “A Heavenly Home for the Homeless: Aliens and Strangers in 1 Peter.” Tyndale Bulletin 42 (Ma 1991): 96-112. 

Davids, Peter H. The First Epistle of Peter. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990. 

Dryden, J. De Waal. Theology and Ethics in 1 Peter. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 209. Tübingen: Mohr, 2006.  

Dubis, Mark. “Research on 1 Peter: A Survey of Scholarly Literature since 1985.” Currents in Biblical Research 4 (Feb 2006): 199-239. 

Elliott, John H. A Home for the Homeless: A Socio-Scientific Criticism of 1 Peter, its Situation and Strategy. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2005. 

_______. 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Yale Bible. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

_______. What is Social-Scientific Criticism? Guides for Biblical Studies. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress, 1993. 

Feldmeier, Reinhard. Die Christen als Fremde: Die Metapher der Fremde in der antiken Welt, im Urchristentum und im 1. Petrusbrief. Wissenschaftliche Unteruschungen zum Neuen Testament 64. Tübingen: Mohr 1992. 

_______. Der erste Brief des Petrus. Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2005.  

Glenny, Edward W. “The Hermeneutics of the Use of the Old Testament in 1 Peter.” Ph.D. dissertation. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1987.

Goppelt, Leonhard. Der Erste Petrusbrief. 8th ed. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1978.

Green, Gene L. “1 Peter.” Pages 347-349 in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Eds. T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Grove, Ill: Intervarsity, 2000.

_______. "The Use of the Old Testament for Christian Ethics in 1 Peter.” Tyndale Bulletin 41(Nov 1990): 276-89.

Green, Joel B. 1 Peter. The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007. 

_______. "Narrating the Gospel in 1 and 2 Peter.” Interpretation 60 (July 2006): 263-277.

Grudem, Wayne A. 1 Peter. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2009.

Harink, Douglas. 1 and 2 Peter. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos, 2009.

Hemer, C. J. “The Address of 1 Peter.” Expository Times 89 (1978): 239-243. 

Hort, F. J. A. The First Epistle of St. Peter I.1-II.17: The Greek Text With Introductory Lecture, Commentary, and Additional Notes.  London: Macmillan, 189.

Jobes, Karen H. 1 Peter. BECNT. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2005.

_______. “The Septuagint Textual Tradition in 1 Peter.” Pages 311-333 in Septuagint Research: Issues and Challenges in the Study of the Greek Jewish Scriptures. Septuagint and Cognate Studies. Eds. Wolfgang Kraus and R. Glenn Wooden. Atlanta: Society of  Biblical Literature, 2006.

_______.“The Syntax of 1 Peter. Just How Good is the Greek?” Bulletin for Biblical Research 13 (2003): 159-173. 

Kelly, J. N. D. A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude. BNTC. London: Black, 1969.

Martin, Troy W. Metaphor and Composition in 1 Peter. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertations Series 131. Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1992.

Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1 Peter. Word Biblical Commentary 49. Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1988.

Reicke, Bo. “1 Peter.” Pages 67-139 in The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. Anchor Bible 37. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1964. 

Schelkle, Karl Hermann. Die Petrusbriefe--Der Judasbrief. Herders Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament. Freiburg: Herder, 1970.

Schreiner, Thomas R. 1, 2 Peter, Jude. The New American Commentary 37. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 2003

Selwyn, E.G. The First Epistle of St. Peter. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1947. 

Spicq, Ceslas. Les Épîtres de Saint Pierre. Paris: Librairie Lecoffre. J. Gabalda & Cie, 1966.  

Starwalt, Ervin Ray. “A Discourse Analysis of 1 Peter.” Ph.D. diss., The University of Texas at Arlington, 2005. 

Williams, Jocelyn A. “A Case Study in Intertextuality: The Place of Isaiah in the “Stone’ Sayings of 1 Peter 2.” Reformed Theological Review 66 (April 2007), 37-55.

Witherington, Ben. Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1-2 Peter.  Downer’s Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2006.