Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wondering what 1 Peter tells us about leadership

I've managed to leave planet Brent for a day - what a strange place it is!

I've been looking at Karen Jobes commentary on 1 Peter. She has a very interesting theory about authoriship - that Peter wrote it (hardly the scholarly consensus these days!) . Even more interesting, however, is her argument about audience and how they got there.

She suggests that the communities that Peter writes to really are 'exiles' and 'foreigners' in Asia Minor (as he says in 1:1; 2:11), being predominantly Jewish folk who left Rome at the time of the Claudian explusion in around 49AD. Peter writes to them from Rome where he's been based for some time.

She further suggests that Peter and Paul worked together in their later years and this explains why Peter wrote to the northern part of what we currently know as Turkey even though he'd never visited and Paul to the southern regions (the places where he planted churches) and why there's such agreement between them on the basics of the faith and the lifestyle that arises from it.

From my point of view, however, it's what she says about the structure of the church that is most useful and interesting. Because she argues the letter came from Peter and therefore predates his death in the mid-60s in Rome, she says that the organisation of the church was pretty rudimentary, something that is fairly obvious from a plain reading of the text but which can't be maintained if a late or very date for composition is argued.

So, she's not fashionable but she is plausible and highly refreshing - a welcome break from planet Brent (to which I fear I'll have to return at some point). But I shall read her and 1 Peter and ask what lessons there are here about what leaders in the earliest communities did. I think it'll have something to do with bearing witness through teaching and lifestyle - something I'm beginning to see is a recurring pattern in many strands of unfolding tradition (whenever it's dated). More on this anon.

It's been good to have Scott Hafemann on site from Gordon Conwell. He's a sane and helpful scholar who's here writing a commentary on 2Peter (which he thinks was written by Peter immediately before his death) and Jude (which he thinks was written by the Lord's brother and used 2 Peter as a source). It'll be worth reading, I reckon (not sure what series it'll be published in) as his book on Paul's ministry in 2 Corinthians is excellent, ground-breaking and faith-building.

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