A Sub-Christian Epistle? Appreciating 2 Peter as an Anti-Sophistic Polemic

Bibliographic Information: 

David Burge. "A Sub-Christian Epistle? Appreciating 2 Peter as an Anti-Sophistic Polemic." JSNT 44 (2021): 310–332.

Drawing from recent ancient historical, New Testament and Second-Sophistic scholarship, this essay proposes that the enigmatic 2 Peter can be better understood with closer reference to antisophistic polemical writings. Increasing light has been shed on the sophists' interest in wisdom, display and rhetoric in contexts such as Athens, Rome, Corinth, and cities of Asia Minor in the first centuries AD. After introducing historical attempts to identify a worldview compatible with 2 Peter's polemical response, this essay: I) describes the nature of the Second Sophistic in the first-century with reference to two contemporary anti-sophistic polemicists-Epictetus the Stoic and Philo the Jew; II) highlights features of 2 Peter which resonate with contemporaneous anti-sophistic writings, beginning with 2 Peter 1:16-21; and III) observes the way in which the Ante-Nicene Fathers, when seeking to discredit later sophistic opposition, drew heavily from 2 Peter 2-3. It may outrun the evidence to conclude 2 Peter's opponents were professional σοφισταί per se. It can be affirmed, however, that 2 Peter bears significant resemblance with first-and second-century anti-sophistic polemic and may be best understood with reference to it.

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