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.

May 26, 2018

It's Out! My article in Evangelical Quarterly on 1 Peter and the hermeneutical value of social scientific criticism.

I am grateful that Evangelical Quarterly has just published an article of mine: Paul A. Himes, "First Peter's Identity Theology and the Community of Faith: A Test-Case in How Social-Scientific Criticism Can Assist with Theological Ethics Via Biblical Theology," Evangelical Quarterly vol. 89.2 (April 2018): 115-132.

I fully acknowledge that the title is not exactly the must conducive to generating interest!

However, what I'm trying to accomplish with this article is to show how the study of the social world of the audience of 1 Peter is actually relevant to Hermeneutics. My argument is that the author (Peter) responds to his audience's social world via biblical theology, and this can help us determine how to apply the biblical truths Peter develops in relation to our own world without misapplying and abusing Scripture.

Now, a word of encouragement for budding doctoral students wishing to publish. This article had a long, tortuous journey involving 2 complete rewrites, at least 2 significant revisions, and multiple rejections, before finally being accepted for publication by Evangelical Quarterly. The kernel for this article originally was planted in 2009 or 2010 as a submission to Word&World's student paper competition, where I focused on the Christian's relationship to the government; the paper did not win, but I did receive a free year's subscription to W&W for trying!

Then, fast-forward about 5-6 years. I totally rewrote the paper to focus more on "Identity Theology" in 1 Peter (material I had begun to explore in my dissertation), drawing on some new material recently published by Travis Williams on 1 Peter 2:13 that had changed the way I thought about that passage; I still kept the focus on "the Christian and government" and presented it at the "Bible Faculty Summit" in 2015 (rewrite #1). I then revised it and sent it in to "journal A", which rejected it so fast I figured my approach was completely wrong (for one thing, I believe I was focusing too much on attacking American exceptionalism).

I completely re-imagined and rewrote the paper once more (so: rewrite #2), this time relegating the topic of "the Christian and government" to the final section of the paper, envisioning it as the telos [goal] in a hermeneutical process that begins with "social scientific criticism," passes through "biblical theology," and then leads to ethics (and I found a great quote by Adolf Schlatter to start it off!) I then sent it to "journal B" at which point I made a tactical mistake, misunderstanding the nature of the journal (let's face it: I thought I knew what they meant by "theological interpretation of Scripture," but apparently I have no clue). I promptly sent it to "journal C," which also rejected it albeit more politely and with feedback for further revision.

So, then, with slightly more revision, I sent it in to Evangelical Quarterly, where it was tentatively recommended by the anonymous peer-reviewer, albeit not exactly with oodles of enthusiasm! Still, the article at least makes some kind of contribution to scholarship, so I'm grateful for EvQ and the opportunity to publish with them (this had been my first time sending a paper to EvQ). Normally my motto for submitting articles for publication is "3-strikes and I'm out" (i.e., if three journals reject it, the paper is probably not worth publishing). However, in this case, since the paper was a radically different paper than what "journal A" had rejected, I justified sending it to EvQ as my 3rd journal, and I'm glad I did! [For the record, EvQ gives pretty good feedback for revision, at least in my case]

Here's the point, for budding doctoral students and even those past doctoral studies that are working at getting published: keep working at it!  There is a point at which you should shelve a paper, but not until you receive a few unambiguous rejections (and even then, you may consider rewriting it and trying again elsewhere if you truly feel you have something worth publishing and have received positive feedback from objective academics).

Although my EvQ article is behind a paywall, if somebody wishes a copy they may e-mail me at phimes@gmail.com and I am allowed to provide them a pdf for personal/educational use. Here is the abstract [note the British spelling: "recognise" is not a typo]
"Evangelicals recognise that exegesis must ultimately lead towards ethics, or practical Christian living. Unfortunately, too often the roadmap for that process has been neglected, and the link between the two becomes disjointed. This article discusses SSC, biblical theology, and ethics in 1 Peter, but attempts to contribute to the discussion by showing how the three interrelate, in that the identity theology of 1 Peter represents a reaction to the social-religious circumstances of its audience. This reaction, in turn, naturally allows the author to transition into ethics for the Christian. By being aware of this interrelation (with biblical theology as the 'hinge’ between SSC and ethics), the modern Christian can properly apply 1 Peter’s theology to their own circumstances and avoid potential abuses."

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