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Peter as Initiated Interpreter of Scripture: A New Reading of 2 Peter 1.16-21

Hultin, J. (2012) Peter as Initiated Interpreter of Scripture: A New Reading of 2 Peter 1.16-21. In: Annual Meeting. Society of Biblical Literature, 16 - 20 November 2012, Chicago, IL



2 Peter 1:16-21 is difficult. It is not clear how the transfiguration (1:16- 18) is meant to be related to the reliability of the prophetic word (vv. 19-21), and it is unclear what either has to do with demonstrating the reality of Christ's parousia (1:16). Furthermore, there are puzzles in details. Most translations would suggest that "Peter" calls himself an "eye-witness" of the transfiguration, but in fact he calls them "initiates" (epoptae) of Christ's majesty. Indeed the entire transfiguration is presented as a mystery initiation. This has long been noted by scholars familiar with mystery terminology, but the purpose of this choice of terms has remained unclear. Similar difficulties are to be found in the discussion of the divine inspiration of the prophetic word. In particular, a long tradition of understanding 2 Pet 1:20 as directed against "private interpretation"—a problematic translation—has misled interpreters. The most straightforward rendering of the (admittedly awkward) Greek is "no prophecy of scripture is a matter of its own interpretation"; this suggests an altogether different hermeneutical claim, namely that because it is spoken directly by God (1:21), it cannot be read in light of itself in the way other texts can.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
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