The Good: V 24. Poetic words of wisdom. Brahms used them in his Requiem. But in keeping with the tradition of sticking random bible verses together, the lyrics to the second movement of his Requiem begin with 1 Peter 1:24 but then switch to James 5:7, back to 1 Peter 1:25, and finally Isaiah 35:10.
The Bad: V 1 This book wasn’t written by Peter. Illiterate Palestinian Jews didn’t write Greek. V 2 “god knew you and chose you long ago” – how lucky for the recipients of this letter to have won the heavenly lottery. I wonder what they did to qualify for that. And what about the rest of us poor saps – if it was all fore-ordained, why should we bother?
V 3-13 are just mind-numbing Christianese. The only point worth mentioning is – again – the glorification of suffering in v 6-7.
V 14-25 (with the exception of v 24 as stated) are just more of the same mind-numbing Christianese. They contain most of the points of Basic Christianity that I listed back in Ephesians, plus a couple more that have come up before but I think I neglected to mention:
15. Don’t try to satisfy your own desires. What you want doesn’t matter, and worldly (or esp sexual) desires are evil.
16. Christ is returning soon. Just hang in there.
17. Once you are ‘reborn’, your new life will be eternal.
Blah blah blah…
The Good: There’s a line of good advice in v 1 but it’s well-buried in Christianese. V 13-14 are mostly good, if you interpret them along the lines of ‘render unto Caesar’. But they are a little too authoritarian for my liking – what if the government is corrupt? Or the laws are unjust? V 15-17 are better (except for ‘fear god’. What’s with this emphasis on fear?)
The Bad: Have you noticed that for someone who claims (falsely) to have been one of Jesus’ disciples, the author has so far mentioned nothing personal about Jesus? From reading these first two chapters, there’s nothing to suggest that the author ever knew Jesus at all. If he had even known Jesus even a little, don’t you think he would have included some material that indicated that? This chapter quotes OT references (Isaiah, Psalms, and Hosea) instead.
V 1-11 are just more boring Christianese, full of points already covered many times.
The Ugly: V 18-21 are the most egregiously vile verses in the whole bible. Even after everything I’ve read so far, I find these shocking – and that’s saying something. Here they are from the NLT in case anyone is struggling to interpret them.
“You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.”
Other passages in the bible have either silently condoned slavery or bade slaves to obey their masters. But this one justifies mis-treatment and cruelty, and even punishments inflicted on the falsely accused. The ultimate ‘put up and shut up’ rhetoric. And yet again it glorifies suffering. I feel like throwing up. Bookmark this verse to haul out when someone tells you that the NT is better and more moral than the OT.
I couldn’t resist a quick google search to see if anyone manages to create a positive lesson or meme from v 18-25, and unbelievably (well no, I shouldn’t be surprised by anything, now) a few do.
The Good: In an effort to find something good, I’m gonna vouch for v 3-4. Read them in the spirit of assessing people for their character and not being too stuck on outward appearance, rather than an attempt to regulate women’s dress. Unfortunately, however, I think they are more often used for the latter purpose.
V 7 is pretty good, if the religious references are dropped. But note how much shorter and less specific the advice is to husbands. And v 8-11 is OK too.
V 15-16 “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.” I wonder if believers are aware of this advice. If they are, it’s certainly not evident from many of their comments on social media. Witness this Christian response to a comment I made on Facebook, critical of Operation Christmas Child, which distributes boxes of toys, along with apologist propaganda, to children overseas.
The Bad: V 13 – is the author really that naïve? V 18-22 are mostly just Christianese, except for the reference in v 19 to Jesus preaching to those in ‘prison’, which obviously means ‘hell’. That’s interesting, because it’s certainly not mentioned anywhere in the gospels.
The Ugly: V 1-2 say that wives should obey their husbands. And in the KJV, they should also fear them. Modern translations change ‘fear’ to ‘reverence’. By definition, reverence refers to respect and awe, not fear, so this has to be a deliberate attempt to tone down the misogyny. V 5-6 continue in the same vein, and in these verses, even modern interpretations don’t make much difference. ‘Subjection’ in the KJV becomes ‘authority’ in the NLT, and ‘lord’ becomes ‘master’. Hoo-ha! Yet, unbelievably, fundies seem to like this verse.
The Good: V 8-11 contain some good advice for how to treat one another; however, as usual, the reasons are wrong. Be good for humanity’s sake; not pie in the sky.
The Bad: Godless people are evil. They indulge in “lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries” (KJV); “immorality and lust, feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and terrible worship of idols” (NLT); or “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (NIV) (v 3). Take your pick – they all sound like fun to me!
The end of the world is near (v 7). Yeah, so we’ve been told.
The Ugly: Be ready to suffer (v 1). V 12-16 and 19 – more adulation of suffering. This time we’re told that if we suffer for our own wrongdoing, tough bananas. But if we suffer for Jesus, it’s all good and we should be proud and happy. I’ll get right on that.
V 17-18 Non-believers are headed straight to you-know-where.
The Bad: V 1 “I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ.” Does that not strike you as completely ridiculous? The guy who wrote this book was passing himself off as Jesus’ disciple, the one with the keys to the church (Matt 16:17-19), close buddy and all that. He would have attended the Last Supper and witnessed the crucifixion, and all he has to say in this whole letter about Jesus is that one line?????
The rest of the chapter is just the usual Christianese claptrap. V 2-4 – the usual promises of pie-in-the-sky. V 5-6 – the usual exhortation to obey. V 8 – watch out for the devil. V 9 – expect to suffer. V 10 – more suffering and more pie-in-the-sky. V 12-13 – closing platitudes.