The Compositional Function Of The Petrine Prescript: A Look At 1 Pet 1:1-3 -- By: Philip L. Tite

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 39:1 (Mar 1996)
Article: The Compositional Function Of The Petrine Prescript: A Look At 1 Pet 1:1-3
Author: Philip L. Tite

The Compositional Function Of The Petrine Prescript:
A Look At 1 Pet 1:1-3

Philip L. Tite*

First Peter has been referred to as the “exegetical step-child” of NT studies. 1 Given the extensive attention devoted to the gospels and the Pauline letters in contrast to the material produced on 1 Peter, John H. Elliott’s observation is unfortunately a fairly accurate one. Even within Petrine studies there have been several nagging issues that have never been adequately addressed or have never emerged into a general consensus. The compositional makeup of 1 Peter is just such an issue. Scholars have debated over various theories ranging from a baptismal homily to a threefold analytical structure to no discernible structure at all. Liturgical and partition theories have had a strong influence in Petrine compositional discussion, though with less than satisfactory results. 2 Recently Troy Martin offered a thorough study of 1 Peter’s compositional structure. 3 Martin perceives the letter as an early Christian epistle that is parenetic in essence. This parenesis letter is structured both by the basic conventions of letter writing in the ancient world and by metaphorical “clusters.” An overarching diaspora metaphor functions throughout the letter as the controlling device for generating and structuring the three basic metaphor-clusters (1:142:10, “elect household of God”; 2:113:12, “aliens in this world”; 3:135:11, “sufferers of the dispersion”). 4 Although Martin’s study is the most comprehensive to date, it is questionable as to whether it will gain a substantial following. But it has definitely helped move the discussion forward.

In this brief paper, the prescript of the letter will be studied. It will attempt to ascertain the compositional function of 1:1–2. It will also include an analysis of the transitional relationship between the end of the

* Philip Tite is a graduate student in the department of religion and culture at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada.

prescript (1:2b) and the blessing section (1:3–12). I hope t...

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