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Fall 2001 · Vol. 30 No. 2 · pp. 228–30 

Book Review

1-2 Peter, Jude

Erland Waltner and J. Daryl Charles. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1999. 352 pages.

Reviewed by Devon H. Wiens

Another volume in the commentary series sponsored by six believers church denominations has now appeared in this treatment of three of the catholic epistles. A hallmark of the entire series is its readability {229} factor (the present reviewer, for example, has required, to good effect, two different volumes in university biblical exposition courses); the work presently under review is no exception to that. One finds the usual format of Preview (including outline), Explanatory Notes, The Text in Biblical Context, and The Text in the Life of the Church, with technical essays relegated to the back. Authorship chores are split in this commentary, with Erland Waltner, the erstwhile Anabaptist stalwart from Mennonite Biblical Seminary and later Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, being responsible for 1 Peter, and J. Daryl Charles, Professor of Religion at Taylor University, handling 2 Peter and Jude.

As to specifics of each writer’s contribution, Waltner adopts fairly orthodox views on the first Petrine epistle relative to authorship, place of writing (Rome), purpose, date of writing (62-64), and the nature and circumstances of the readers.

A distinctive attribute is found in the “Text in the Life of the Church” sections as Waltner inveterately calls attention to the prominent place given to 1 Peter in Anabaptist understandings, both in the sixteenth-century setting and in later history. Among other points he stresses as arising from 1 Peter are the inclusiveness of the true Israel, rather than a contrast between an Old Israel and a New Israel (77); the persecution adverted to by Peter as comprising “malicious gossip by neighbors,” or, possibly, “a legal accusation” (85), or “verbal abuse” (95; see also 140), more than actual physical torment of the readers; Peter’s theology of the cross; reference to the constant “interweaving of eschatology and ethics”; an embrace of the newer understanding of the “household codes,” in reaction to an older view of their “institutionalization” (see particularly the essay on the topic, 180-83); and a not uncritical acceptance of J. H. Elliott’s theory, in Home for the Homeless, with its sociologically-defined perspective on “homelessness” in 1 Peter.

Turning to the commentary on 2 Peter and Jude, it is this reviewer’s distinct impression that Charles wishes to assist in raising the “neglected” second Petrine epistle—which, he insists, was penned by the apostle whose name it bears shortly before his martyrdom (211)—to a higher level of recognition. He felicitously points to the difference between 2 Peter (as addressed to a Greco-Roman Gentile world) and Jude (as addressed to a Hellenistic Jewish audience) in disputing the view that 2 Peter is merely a warmed-over version of Jude. A leitmotif in this commentary is the insistence that 2 Peter is “less a tract to affirm doctrinal orthodoxy than a passionate exhortation toward virtuous living” (208).

Charles reads Jude as a first-century work which makes considerable use of catchwords in framing its structure, is written against the {230} backdrop of Jewish apocryphal and pseudepigraphical literature, and features a moral typology. On the basis of what Jude teaches, the commentary repeatedly asserts the necessary complementarity of divine sovereignty and human freedom. Finally, the puzzling reference to Michael’s dispute with the devil over Moses’ body is an instance of how “Jude employs clearly apocalyptic motifs without necessarily embracing Jewish apocalyptic theology” (295).

Devon H. Wiens
Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies
Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California

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