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  • Subordination and Freedom: Tracing Anarchist Themes in First Peter

    Justin Bronson Barringer

    Chapter from the book: Christoyannopoulos A. & Adams M. 2018. Essays in Anarchism and Religion: Volume II.


    First Peter seems an unlikely place to look for anarchist inspiration. In fact, at first glance it seems to offer support for the very sorts of domination that anarchists so adamantly oppose: governments over citizens, masters over slaves, and husbands over wives. Drawing on Petrine scholarship, historical insights, political philosophy, theology, and biblical exegesis, this paper will argue that, in fact, First Peter contains several anarchist themes. The paper shows that Peter advocates non-coercion, voluntary association, equality of all persons, and subversion of the powers that be. By examining some key debates in Petrine scholarship, the essay examines some relevant points of contention like debates over the meaning of Peter’s use of the haustafeln tradition and proper translations of key Greek words related to government and submission/subordination before showing that the best interpretations point to something at least akin to anarchism in this text. Peter’s concerns are moral and ethical as well as political and this essay weaves together all of those areas on inquiry to put forward a reading that offers a Christian anarchist ethic and political theology. Two millennia after it was written, Peter’s epistle still offers a compelling vision for an alternative society, a society that embraces anarchist values and works to subvert the powers intent on maintaining their perceived control of the world.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Bronson Barringer, J. 2018. Subordination and Freedom: Tracing Anarchist Themes in First Peter. In: Christoyannopoulos A. & Adams M (eds.), Essays in Anarchism and Religion. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bas.e

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Sept. 26, 2018


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