Scott Hafemann, «'Divine Nature' in 2 Pet 1,4 within its Eschatological Context», Vol. 94 (2013) 80-99
This article offers a new reading of what it means in 2 Pet 1,4 to participate in the «divine nature». The divine fu/sij («nature») in 2 Pet 1,4 refers not to an abstract, divine «essence» or «being», but to God’s dynamic «character expressed in action» in accordance with his promises. Being a fellow participant (koinwno/j) of this «nature» thus refers to taking part in the eschatological realization of the «new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells» (cf. ta\ e)pagge/lmata in 2 Pet 1,4 with e)pagge/lma in 2 Pet 3,13).
â€œDIVINE NATUREâ€ IN 2 PET 1,4 WITHIN ITS ESCHATOLOGICAL CONTEXT 83
Wolters correctly construes ÎºÎ¿Î¹Î½Ï‰Î½á½¹Ï‚ in 1,4 as a reference to a person
who shares rather than to the act of sharing itself. When employed with
a personal noun in the genitive case, ÎºÎ¿Î¹Î½Ï‰Î½á½¹Ï‚ generally means â€œpart-
nerâ€; otherwise it means â€œpartakerâ€. The former meaning is likewise sig-
nified when the thing in view represents a person, as Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ does here.
This is illustrated in 1 Cor 10,18, where the reference to ÎºÎ¿Î¹Î½Ï‰Î½Î¿á½¶ Ï„Î¿á¿¦
Î¸Ï…ÏƒÎ¹Î±ÏƒÏ„Î·Ïá½·Î¿Ï… refers not to being a â€œpartakerâ€ of the altar itself, but to
being a â€œpartnerâ€ with the altar, which here functions as a metonomy for
God. Read in this way, Î¸Îµá½·Î± Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ is a â€œreverential periphrasisâ€ for â€œGodâ€
(so Bigg), as part of 2 Peterâ€™s â€œgrand styleâ€ (Watson) or â€œbaroque Asian-
ismâ€ (Reicke, Bauckham, E. M. Green), which employs elaborate con-
structions, unusual terms, and periphrastic descriptions 11.
Over against Woltersâ€™ reading however, the parallel designations
in 1,3 and 1,17, rather than being substitute designations for the
â€œDeityâ€ or references to Godâ€™s â€œbeingâ€ (Î¿uvÏƒi,Î±), refer to specific
characteristics of God, which are expressed in divine actions 12. As
the use of Î±á½Ï„Î¿á¿¦ in 2 Peter 1,3 indicates, Î¸Îµá½·Î± Î´á½»Î½Î±ÂµÎ¹Ï‚ Î±á½Ï„Î¿á¿¦ refers
to the power of God displayed in accordance with his promises,
while ÂµÎµÎ³Î±Î»Î¿Ï€ÏÎµÏ€á½´Ï‚ Î´á½¹Î¾Î± in 1,17 refers in context to the presence
of God that establishes the royal and judicial status of Jesus as the
Son. In contrast, if Î¸Îµá½·Î± Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ in 1,4 were intended to be a reveren-
tial substitution for Godâ€™s name, it would function merely as a
rhetorically â€œemptyâ€ periphrasis for God himself (the â€œDeityâ€),
ironically continuing the abstract interpretation Wolters rightly re-
jects. Rather than being a periphrasis for God, the designation in
1,4, like the designations of 1,3 and 1,17, is significant as such and
should be read as a further reference to God. Indeed, the meaning
of Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ itself in 1,4 calls into question the attempt to read Î¸Îµá½·Î±
Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ either as a statement of the ontological being of God or sim-
ply as another â€œnameâ€ for God himself.
So WOLTERS, â€œPartnersâ€, 30-31, 34, 38, 40, who points out that ÎºÎ¿Î¹Î½Ï‰Î½á½¹Ï‚ is
always used, with only one exception from Euripides, as a noun (â€œsharerâ€, â€œpar-
takerâ€, â€œcompanionâ€, â€œpartnerâ€), not as an adjective (cf. 1 Cor 10,20; 2 Cor 1,7;
1 Pet 5,1; Luke 5,10; Heb 10,33, etc.), and, following Watson, lists eight examples
of this periphrastic style in chapter one alone, esp. when speaking of God.
Cf., e.g., Philo, Fug. 97, which speaks of God as â€œthe creative powerâ€ (á¼¡
Ï€Î¿Î¹Î·Ï„Î¹Îºá½´ Î´á½»Î½Î±ÂµÎ¹Ï‚) in line with the play on words between Î¸Îµá½¹Ï‚ and the verb
Ï„á½·Î¸Î·ÂµÎ¹, since Philo wants to emphasize that â€œGodâ€ established and ordered the
universe: Î¸Îµá½¹Ï‚ á¼Ï€ÎµÎ¹Î´á½´ Î´Î¹á¾½ Î±á½Ï„á¿†Ï‚ [i.e., á¼¡ Î´á½»Î½Î±ÂµÎ¹Ï‚] á¼Ï„á½³Î¸Î· ÎºÎ±á½¶ Î´Î¹ÎµÎºÎ¿ÏƒÂµá½µÎ¸Î· Ï„á½°
Ïƒá½»ÂµÏ€Î±Î½Ï„Î±. In Fug. 164 God is described as â€œthe cosmos-makerâ€ (á½ ÎºÎ¿ÏƒÂµÎ¿Ï€Î¿Î¹á½¹Ï‚).
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