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).
86 SCOTT HAFEMANN
the attributes of perfect human rationality were not merely metaphor-
ical, since they rejected the mechanistic view of nature held by the Epi-
cureans 21. â€œNature in fact is animate and rational in a way that is at
least comparable to the way in which a human being is thisâ€; nature is
a divine being in that it is perfectly rational, so that â€œgodâ€ is â€œthe active
principle of the worldâ€ 22. Accordingly, when speaking of nature as
god, the Stoics mean â€œconsciousness and inflexible lawlikenessâ€ 23.
Since it was the determining source of all things, Stoics could also
equate this active â€œnatureâ€ (Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚) with the â€œlaw of natureâ€ (Î½á½¹ÂµÎ¿Ï‚
fusewj), according to which all things and people (ought to) live 24.
Even among the â€œscientificâ€ perspective of the Epicureans, â€œna-
tureâ€, as that which â€œisâ€, consisted of a visible, physical reality incor-
porating the tangible bodies, the invisible atoms, and the intangible
void in which the atoms exist and â€œfallâ€ to form visible reality (Epi-
curus, Fr. 75, 76; and Plutarch, Mor. 1112DE) 25. There was, more-
over, an inextricable, often mechanistically deterministic link between
the inner nature of the atoms, with their movement in the void, and
the external nature or character of what is seen.
Of special relevance for our study is the fact that this link between
â€œnatureâ€ and its corresponding actions led in the popular philosophy
of the day, fueled above all by Stoicism, to the moral dictum of â€œliv-
ing according to natureâ€ (kata. fu,sin zh/n; Lat. secundum naturam
vivere) 26. â€œDamit reduziert sich Tugendhaftigkeit (avreth,, Lat. virtus)
TROELS ENGBERG-PEDERSEN, The Stoic Theory of Oikeiosis. Moral De-
velopment and Social Interaction in Early Stoic Philosophy (Studies in Hel-
lenistic Civilization; Aarhus 1990) 59.
ENGBERG-PEDERSEN, Stoic Theory, 59.
ENGBERG-PEDERSEN, Stoic Theory, 60.
MARTENS, One God, 18-21. He points to Cicero, Leg. 1.18-19, 34; 2.13;
3.2-3; Rep. 3.33; Parad. 14; N.D. 34, 82, 86; Off. 1.98-100. Martens argues
that the concept of the â€œlaw of natureâ€ came to include the other concepts of
Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ as the power of life and growth and the particular characteristics of any
thing or being (68, n. 1).
LENZ, â€œDeificationâ€, 56, 66 n.65, emphasizes that the Epicurean view
of living like a god among men (cf. Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus 135) was
more than a metaphor, but implied a philosophical-religious view of the world
in which reason applied to philosophy created a corresponding life of ethics
and peace of mind.
See, e.g., Epictetus, Diatr. 1.21.2, who argued that contentment is found
only if one exercises desire and aversion kata. fu,sin, i.e., exercising choice
and refusal w`j pe,fuka, since this is the only thing with its own moral purpose
and power (cf. Diatr. 2.13.11; 3.3.1; 3.16.15; 3.23.12; 4.4.14, 28; etc.).
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