Persecution in 1 Peter

Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christian Suffering


In Persecution in 1 Peter, Travis B. Williams offers a comprehensive and detailed socio-historical investigation into the nature of suffering in 1 Peter. While interpreters commonly portray the conflict situation addressed by the epistle as "unofficial" persecution consisting of discrimination and verbal abuse, Williams demonstrates the inadequacy of this modern consensus by situating the letter against the backdrop of conflict management in first-century CE Asia Minor. Drawing on a wide range of historical evidence and on modern social-psychological perspectives, this work reconstructs the conflict situation of the Anatolian audience and offers important insights regarding the legal culpability of Christians following the Neronian persecution, the roles of local and provincial authorities in the judicial process, and the variegated conflict experiences of different socio-economic groups within the Christian communities.

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Travis B. Williams, Ph.D. (2011), University of Exeter, is Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at Tusculum College.
"Anyone working on I Peter specifically, or on the diverse and complex ways that first-century Christians in Asia Minor navigated and negotiated their social environments generally, will be forced either to build upon Williams’s work or else to reckon with it. Williams presents his argument in a clear and accessible manner. While the book is best suited to researchers and graduate students, one could certainly make good use of individual chapters in upper- level undergraduate courses. Given the breadth of Williams’s study and the wealth of material he covers, the book will appeal to readers with a wide range of interests." – Scott S. Elliott, Adrian College, in: Journal of Theological Studies, October 2013 "Throughout the book, Williams combines meticulous socio-historical inquiry with insights from social psychology (…) His insights also enable readers to appreciate the ingredients and complexities of religious conflict in other contexts and ages, through his careful examination of social relations, legal conditions and economic as well as spiritual aspects."
- Christoph Stenschke, University of South Africa, IJRF 8:1/2, 2015.
1. Introductory Matters
a. The Persecutions of 1 Peter in Previous Research
b. Purpose of the Study
c. Resolving the Difficulties of Historical Reconstruction
d. Authorship and Date

2. Social Conflict in Social-Psychological Perspective
a. Contribution of Social-Psychological Inquiry
b. Defining Social Conflict
c. Stages of Social Conflict
d. Conclusion

I: A “Social Profile” of the Addressees of I Peter

3. The Geographical Setting of 1 Peter
a. The Local Setting of 1 Peter
b. The Impact of Roman Rule in Anatolia
c. Conclusion

4. The Addressees of 1 Peter
a. Ethnic Composition
b. Socio-Economic Status(es)
c. Conclusion

II. Contextualizing the Conflict in 1 Peter

5. Conflict Management in Roman Anatolia
a. Separate Action Strategies in Roman Anatolia
b. Third-Party Strategies in Roman Anatolia
c. Conclusion

6. The Legal Status of Christians in the Roman World
a. The Christian Church and the Roman State
b. Reconciling Legal Status and Christian Persecution
c. Conclusion

III: The Nature of Conflict in 1 Peter

7. The Cause(s) of Conflict in 1 Peter
a. Behavioral Cause(s) of Conflict in 1 Peter
b. Legal Cause(s) of Conflict in 1 Peter
c. Conclusion

8. The Form(s) of Conflict in 1 Peter
a. Explicit/Implicit Forms of Conflict in 1 Peter
b. Conjectured Forms of Conflict in 1 Peter


Appendix 1: Suffering and the Unity of 1 Peter
Appendix 2: Roman Annexation of Asia Minor
Appendix 3: Cities of First-Century CE Anatolia
Appendix 4: Ancient Economics in Recent Discussion

All interested in the epistle of 1 Peter, and anyone concerned with the social, political, economic, and legal dimensions of early Christian persecution.
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