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


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 how 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. She is the author of Strangers to Family: Diaspora and 1 Peter’s Invention of God’s Household (2016) and New Testament Associate Editor for The SBL Study Bible (2023). Smith also serves as a member of the Bible Translation and Utilization Committee, which helps oversee use of the RSV, NRSV, and NRSVue Bible translations. Smith is known as both a scholar of the New Testament letters and of Howard Washington Thurman. She is an itinerant elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and resident scholar of the historic Metropolitan AME Church (Washington, DC).

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