Introducing the New Testament

A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey

Cover Art

Discussion Prompts

  1. Compare Paul’s understanding of suffering (e.g., in 1 Thessalonians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, or Galatians) with 1 Peter’s.
  2. Compare 1 Peter’s reflections on baptism (chs. 1–3) with Paul’s reflection on baptism in Romans 6. How are the two thinkers alike? Are their views complementary or contradictory? In what ways?
  3. “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” What is the official Roman policy developed with respect to early Christians in Trajan’s reply to Pliny (see text box 25.6)? How does this help us understand the content of 1 Peter? How might Trajan’s reply help us to date the letter?

Pedagogical Suggestions

Traditions about Peter

1. Have students read the second-century writing “The Apocryphal Acts of Peter.” Ask students to sketch the development of traditions about Peter from the Gospels and Acts to the Apocryphal Acts. Where does the content of 1 Peter fit? Are there lines of continuity in the early Christian reflection about Peter that produced the Gospels, Acts, 1 Peter, and, one hundred years later, the Apocryphal Acts? What sources did the author of the Apocryphal Acts employ? Does this writing cite any of the New Testament writings?

Rationale

This is a longer, synthetic exercise that asks students to draw connections between multiple (biblical and extra-canonical) writings. Students will use their skills of analysis, critical reading of historical evidence, and knowledge of scholarly presentations about Christianity gleaned from the textbook.

Images for the Church

2. Divide the class into groups of five (or, if you want smaller groups, you can have more than one group work separately on the same image). Assign each group one of 1 Peter’s images of the church (text box 25.4). Ask each group to reread and discuss the image they are assigned. Then have the group draw or enact the image, paying attention to the details presented in 1 Peter. How does each image encapsulate specific aspects of the ideal behavior, internal relationships, polity (church governance), and external relationships of the body of believers? What is helpful about the images? Are these images traditional Jewish, Greek, or Christian images? How could you find out?

Rationale

Students combine their analytical skills in reading and observing with their ability to imagine and construct the ancient social world. Here students learn how to move between the written text and the imagined social world that created and is created by particular writings.