Zechariah 9-14 as the substructure of 1 Peter’s eschatological program
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The principal aim of this study is to discern what has shaped the author of 1 Peter to regard Christian suffering as a necessary (1.6) and to-be-expected (4.12) component of faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ. Most research regarding suffering in 1 Peter has limited the scope of inquiry to two particular aspects—its cause and nature, and the strategies that the author of 1 Peter employs in order to enable his addressees to respond in faithfulness. There remains, however, the need for a comprehensive explanation for the source that has generated 1 Peter’s theology of Christian suffering. If Jesus truly is the Christ, God’s chosen redemptive agent who has come to restore God’s people, then how can it be that Christian suffering is a necessary part of discipleship after his coming, death and resurrection? What led the author of 1 Peter to such a startling conclusion, which seems to runs against the grain of the eschatological hopes and expectations of Jewish restoration ideology? This thesis analyzes the appropriation of shepherd and fiery trials imagery, and argues that the author of 1 Peter is dependent upon Zechariah 9-14 for his theology of Christian suffering. Said in another way, the eschatological program of Zechariah 9-14, read through the lens of the Gospel, functions as the substructure for 1 Peter’s eschatology and thus its theology of Christian suffering. In support of this hypothesis, this study highlights the fact that Zechariah 9- 14 was available and appropriated in early Christianity, in particular in the Passion Narrative tradition; that the shepherd imagery of 1 Pet 2.25 is best understood within the milieu of the Passion Narrative tradition, and that it alludes to the eschatological program of Zechariah 9-14; that the fiery trials imagery found in 1 Peter 1.6-7 and 1 Pet 4.12 is distinct from that which we find in Greco-Roman and OT wisdom sources, and that it shares exclusive parallels with some unique features of the eschatological program of Zechariah 9-14; that Zechariah 9-14 offers a more satisfying explanation for the modification of Isa 11.2 in 1 Pet 4.14, the transition from 4.12-19 to 5.1-4, why Peter has oriented his letter with the term διασπορά, and why he has described his addresses as οἶκος τοῦ θεοῦ; and finally that 1 Peter contains an implicit foundational narrative that shares distinct parallels with the eschatological program of Zechariah 9-14. We can conclude that 1 Peter offers a unique vista into the way in which at least one early Christian witness came to understand and to communicate the fact that Christian suffering was a necessary feature of faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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