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New Existence and Righteous Living

Colossians and 1 Peter in Conversation with 4QInstruction and the Hodayot

As the first comparative study of Colossians and 1 Peter, the book fills a lacuna by exploring each author’s understanding of the new existence and the means to righteous living. If the epistles end up offering almost identical paraenesis, why do they have such distinctive theological patterns of thought? The conventional starting point in Colossian and 1 Peter studies centers on the recipients’ needs. Much has been learned from these investigations and is kept in view. However, the extent to which each epistle’s theology reflects an underlying pattern of ideas within each author’s worldview is less well understood. Setting the author’s views in the context of the literature of early Judaism throws fresh light on his thought-world and understanding of the new existence and moral enablement. Evidence exists which indicates that streams of traditions in Early Judaism Literature, factors other than the recipients’ needs, contribute to the theology within each epistle and may account for distinctive aspects identified between Colossians and 1 Peter. Exploration of 4QInstruction and the Hodayot, texts discovered at Qumran, provides precedents, precursors, and parallels for the distinctive emphases investigated. Thus, they shed new light on each epistle.

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Robert L. Cavin, Basking Ridge, NJ, USA.
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