First Epistle of Peter
The First Epistle of Peter, often named simply, I Peter is a letter written to an early Christian audience. It has been canonized by the Christian church into the New Testament. In the letter, the author speaks to various churches in the region now known as Turkey explaining how the followers of this religion should expect unfair mistreatment and suffering because of their faith, and how such suffering brings them closer to Jesus who similarly suffered unfairly.
Authorship and Dating
The author identifies himself as "Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ." While church tradition holds that the author is Peter, one of Jesus' 12 disciples, the majority of New Testament scholars are in agreement that Peter did not write the letter. They give several reasons:
- Peter is described as an uneducated fisherman in the bible meaning he was most likely illiterate, but the letter is expertly written.
- Peter, being from Galilee, most likely spoke Aramaic or Hebrew, but the letter is written in scholarly Greek.
- When quoting the Tanakh, Peter would probably use the source he was familiar with (a Hebrew manuscript), instead, all quotes of the Tanakh come from the Greek Septuagint, which he probably couldn't read.
- In the Gospels, Peter is described as having been a close friend of Jesus, but this author doesn't mention a single shared event or anecdote from their travels.
- Historians date Peter's death to 64 or 67 CE, but they date the letter as having been written around 80-90 CE.
In addition to Peter not being the author of this epistle, historians don't believe he authored the Second Epistle of Peter either, and, in fact, the letter carries such a different message and style than the second, that many New Testament scholars don't believe the two letters were written by the same person.
There is a very popular verse among Christian apologists, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (I Peter 3:15), which is usually interpreted to mean that the believer should be able to argue in defense of God. However, they often forget the remainder of the verse, "But do this with gentleness and respect."
Another interesting verse is (3:18-20) which describes Jesus, after dying, going to a prison for spirits and preaching to them. Some forms of Christianity use this and other verses to claim that after Jesus dies, he was briefly in Hell prior to his resurrection.
I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read the NIV translation.
- Over all, I found the letter to be pretty masochistic. While I admire the honor in suffering for what you believe to be true, it is tainted with sexism and bigotry in the letter.
- The letter praises people for blindly believing in things without evidence (1:7-9).
- The author demands people submit themselves to all forms of worldly authority (2:13-14)!
- The author tells slaves to submit themselves to their masters, even if they are cruel, because it will make you more godly (2:18)!
- The author tells wives to submit to their husbands every desire, and that beauty doesn't come from braided hair, but from being quiet which is what God desires. He also says they they are the weaker partner (3:1-7).
- The flood that killed everyone on earth except 8 people is described as being a saving baptism (3:20-21).