Question and Answer with Duane Watson on 1 and 2 Peter

Learn more about 1 and 2 Peter in the Paideia Bible Commentary series

paideia bible commentary peterDuane F. Watson (Phd. Duke University, M.Div. Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Professor of New Testament Studies at Malone University where he has taught since 1989. Other than authoring 1 and 2 Peter in the Paideia commentary series, Dr. Watson recent writing projects include serving as the Editor of Miracle Discourse in the New Testament. Society of Biblical Literature, 2012; Editor (with Robert L. Webb) of Reading Second Peter Through New Eyes: Methodological Reassessments of the Letter of Second Peter. Library of New Testament Studies, T. & T. Clark, 2010; and Editor (with Alan J. Hauser) of The History of Biblical Interpretation,Volume II: The Medieval through the Reformation Periods. Eerdmans, 2009. He has also been published in numerous journals, dictionaries, and encyclopedias.

Dr. Watson is also the Owner and Operator of Docs Crocks, an antique business specializing in 18th, 19th, and early 20th century American Stoneware. The largest company of its kind in America.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on 1 and 2 Peter?

I was approached by the editors of Baker Book House to write this commentary on 1 Peter based on my previous work on 2 Peter. That included my dissertation from Duke University published as Invention, Arrangement, and Style: Rhetorical Criticism of Jude and 2 Peter (Scholars Press, 1988) and commentaries on Jude and 2 Peter in The New Interpreter’s Bible (Abingdon Press, 1998).

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The Paideia series is intended to be a mid-range commentary that is accessible to all these groups. The series strives to be clearly written, avoid jargon, summarize debated passages and issues accurately and simply and provide more detailed background information in separate boxes.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of 1 and 2 Peter?

The main contribution of this commentary is to bring the vast new literature on this book into a readable form.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

I Peter 3:18-22 is the most challenging in this book. The background of this passage is in Jewish tradition and literature and is difficult to explain to the average reader. Here we find angels who created a race of giant children with humans; children who subsequently corrupted humanity and necessitated the Flood (Genesis 6:1-4). These angels were punished by God by being placed in a prison at the far reaches of creation to await their judgment at the final consummation of all things. On his way to heaven after the resurrection, Jesus proclaimed to the angels his victory over sin and their final judgment. Pretty interesting background!

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

While it was not a focus of this series, I was most edified by trying to write the theological issues section. I was raised in the holiness movement and look for how I can apply what the text says to daily life. As I have grown older, I have tried to refine this practical approach by not being too specific as to how a text can be applied and rather open up the possibilities to people to pursue their own paths. To me, theology without application is not very useful. As Professor Daniel Migliore said in one of my classes at Princeton Theology Seminary a long time ago, theology that does not help people where they live is not good theology.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on 1 and 2 Peter?

If I had to recommend one commentary on 1 Peter, it would be that of John H. Elliott in the Anchor Bible Commentary Series (New York: Doubleday, 2000). It is encyclopedic and creatively pushes the boundaries of our understanding of 1 Peter. Even if you don’t agree with all of his conclusions, you greatly benefit by his encyclopedic discussion of all the issues.

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

My current project is a commentary on the Johannine Epistles for the New Cambridge Bible Commentary. This commentary will be finished this summer and hopefully will be available next year. The approach in this commentary is a verse by verse exposition of the text with emphasis upon the rhetoric of the text and how the author of these letters is working hard to persuade his audience not to follow his opposition that was teaching that Jesus was not the Christ.


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