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 87
fÃ¼r den Menschen letzlich auf die Verwirklichung seiner wahren
Natur und auf das Akzeptieren der Weltordnung, d.h. von â€˜allem, was
der Natur entsprechend hervorgebracht istâ€™ (to. kata. th.n o[lhn fu,sin
III. Fá½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ in Hellenistic Judaism
It is well known that Philo self-consciously sought to show the
unity between biblical revelation and the best philosophies of his day.
In line with the prevailing view of Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ as the active, effective cause
of its consequences, Philo consistently used â€œnatureâ€ to refer to the
inherent character of a thing or being (human or supernatural) that ex-
presses itself in word, desire, capability, and deed, whether good or
bad 28. The characteristics and actions of all things and beings, includ-
ing God, are an expression of their particular â€œnatureâ€ (Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚) (cf.
Cher. 19; Opif. 44). When used of God, it means that God creates out
of his own good nature (Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚), as the expression of his powers, which
are â€œoverwhelmingly vastâ€ (ai` duna,meij u`perba,llousi) (Opif. 21,
23; cf. the link between Î¸Îµá½·Î± Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚ and Î¸Îµá½·Î± du,namij in 2 Pet 1,3-4).
Instructive is Spec. 1.30, where Philo uses Ï†á½»Ï‰ to describe God, since
â€œstability and fixity and lordship are by nature vested (pe,fuke) in Him
aloneâ€ (LCL); as an expression of his nature, God is â€œthe Framer and
Maker of all thingsâ€, â€œthe Lord of created beingsâ€ (kti,sthj kai. poihth.j
twn o[lwnÃƒ ku,rioj tw/n gegono,twn; LCL). In short, the divine nature
is seen in what God does. Hence, God himself, as â€œthe Deityâ€ (to.
qeion), can be identified as a â€œnatureâ€ (Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚, Leg. 3.7, 84), as can
creation (Leg. 3.7). For Philo, as for the Stoics, it is therefore Ï†á½»ÏƒÎ¹Ï‚
BRISSON, â€œNaturâ€, 734, referring to Diogenes Laertius, Vit. 7.105, 491;
Plutarch, Mor. 1069e. Cf. also, ENGBERG-PEDERSEN, Stoic Theory, 58, and
the texts he cites.
See, e.g., Her. 234; Opif. 84; Gig. 30; Agr. 168 (here â€œnatureâ€ grants
the gifts associated with virtue); Plant. 135; Fug. 14.22; Abr. 102 (for Philo,
areth, though a feminine noun, must be masculine â€œby natureâ€, since it causes
movement and conditions); Abr. 275 (â€œnatureâ€ gave Abraham the zeal to obey
Godâ€™s unwritten law); Ios. 37-38; Mos. 1.83; 2.5; Spec. 3.173-176; etc. The
exception highlights the rule: in Decal. 64 the consequence of action can be
described as determining oneâ€™s nature rather than the other way around, i.e.,
the heavenly bodies are said to be â€œby nature our brothersâ€ (oi` avdelfoi.
fu,sei), since they too have been created.
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