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Neues Testament


Frey, Jörg


Der Brief des Judas und der zweite Brief des Petrus.


Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt 2015. XLIII, 366 S. = Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament, 15/II (neu). Geb. EUR 48,00. ISBN 978-3-374-02391-2.


Anders Gerdmar

The letters of Jude and 2 Peter have long been on the margin of New Testament Studies, even though Jude has attracted the interest of textual critics. The reason is probably for 2 Peter the common suggestion that it is the latest of New Testament letters, and both letters have received more attention during the last decades. However, while noting this disinterest Jörg Frey himself regards them worthy of serious reflection, for their literary character as well as the way in which they deal with Old Testament and early Jewish traditions .
So does F., and devotes just more than 360 pages to the letters, the lions share to 2 Peter. This is almost the same size as Bauckham’s Word Commentary from 1983, and F. shares the same Gründlichkeit. He considers the author to be a »relativ gebildeten, hellenistisch geprägten Judenchristen,« with a certain connection to a tradition related to James, the brother of the Lord. Perhaps the letter is influenced by Palestinian-Jewish apocalypticism, and the date to be 100–120 C. E. In this way, it is a witness to a tradition that even in the early second century upheld early Palestinian-Jewish tradi-tions, however in Greek garb and probably gentile environment. In spite of his willingness to give Jude a chance, F. concludes that it belongs to the margins of the canon.
As most scholars, F. presupposes that 2 Peter is later than and uses Jude, but he notes that 2 Peter has gained interest as a letter in its own right, in spite of its theological difficulties and what F. calls its bold fictional character. The letter should to him be ranged into a »Petrine discourse« of the second century, together with other Petrine pseudepigraphic attempts to construct a pseudonymous Petrine authorship. The arguments for this are, according to F., among other things its literary dependence on Jude; the difference from 1 Peter; that it reckons with a corpus of Pauline letters; and its lacking attestation in the 2 nd century (which however is an argument from silence). He thus concludes that it is written 140–160 C. E., that is, 40–60 years after Jude.
While Jude’s audience perhaps according to F. could be situated in Asia Minor the recipients and the polemics are difficult to trace. In view of its angelology, he, however, concludes that it may be in line with a deuteropauline (esp. in Colossians) interest in demoting angelic powers as inferior. Its view of grace could with the letter’s possible connection to James, represent a ›Jacobite‹ standpoint in relation to the Pauline view of grace.
2 Peter’s audience is gentile Christian, and the place is difficult to ascertain. Mentioning Rome, Asia Minor, and Egypt as possibil-ities, F. thinks Alexandria has most merit. It is first mentioned by Origen, it is part of P 72, and the literate Alexandrian environment could offer the milieu for creating the literary fiction of 2 Peter.
F. presents a commentary which is thorough, detailed and offers balanced and thoughtful discussions on the relevant topics. His presentation of theological themes is also to commend. Of course there are things open to dispute as well. The theme of angels is prominent in the letters. F. (190) uses one example to point out a dif-ference between the letters in the view of humans and angels. He argues that 2 Peter does not, as in Jude 6, uphold the demarcation line between angels and men. He then overlooks how strongly 2 Peter does condemn the false teachers for overstepping the border to the angelic world and acting as judges (2 Peter 2:10–12). 2 Peter is rather more explicit, and is stronger in upholding this line.
The discussion of date, audience, situation, and place shows how little we actually know, and to how great an extent we have to argue with minimal data. However, given a literary relationship between the letters, they are like literary twins. If so, how plausible is this with F.’s suggested time difference of 40 to 60 years, and with the hypothetical geographic distance from Alexandria (2 Peter) to somewhere in Asia minor (Jude), and how plausible is it that the ›Petrine‹ author got hold of Jude’s letter wishing to redact it? What is more, F. for both letters suggests a gentile environment, but how do all these Old Testament and Jewish traditions make sense? Isn’t it rather more natural that twins are close in time, place and environment?
As for the tension between »partakers of divine nature« (2 Peter 1:4) and the apocalyptic dimension in the letter, already Käsemann with his radically hellenistic interpretation pointed out the apocalypticism being an Aporie. F. regards the ›hellenistic‹ language as due to dialogue with a hellenistic environment, but how is the apo­calypticism of both letters to be explained give this environment, the late dates (where do we have the parallels in mid 2nd century?), and Alexandrian or Asia Minor milieu that F. suggests? This still seems an anomaly.
With these remarks F. has done a thorough and honourable work in trying to explain the texts. The commentary is a rich source of information for the curious student, and his apology for the value of these step children of New Testament studies is to be com-mended.