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Interpreting 2 Peter through African American Women's Moral Writings
Shively T. J. Smith
ECL 32
Publication Date
March 2023


“The writings of African American women from the nineteenth century emerge from existential experiences of cultural inclusion and exclusion and, as such, are a relevant interpretive context for understanding the culture-making force of 2 Peter’s rhetoric.”

This new book from Shively T. J. Smith reconsiders what is most distinct, troubling, and potentially thrilling about the often overlooked and dismissed book of 2 Peter. Using the rhetorical strategies of nineteenth-century African American women, including Ida B. Wells, Jarena Lee, Anna Julia Cooper, and others, Smith redefines the use of biblical citations, the language of justice and righteousness, and even the matter of pseudonymity in 2 Peter. She approaches 2 Peter as an instance of Christian cultural rhetoric that forges a particular kind of community identity and behavior. This pioneering study considers whether 2 Peter cultivates the kind of human relations and attitudes that speak to the values of moral people seeking justice in the past as well as today.

Shively T. J. Smith is Assistant New Testament Professor at Boston University School of Theology. A summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Fisk University, she earned a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology (Emory University) and Master of Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary. She also earned her Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Emory University.  Smith is also the author of Strangers to Family: Diaspora and 1 Peter’s Invention of God’s Household. She the associate editor of the New Testament for The SBL Study Bible. Smith also serves as a member of the Bible Translation and Utilization Committee, a group tasked by Friendship Press and the National Council of Churches to help oversee use of the RSV, NRSV, and NRSVue bible translations. She is an itinerant elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and resident scholar of the historic Metropolitan AME Church (Washington, DC).