Recent developments in textual criticism have encouraged NT scholars to regard the various NT manuscripts not merely as sources of variant readings to enable a reconstruction of the original text but as interpretative renderings with their own intrinsic interest and as important material evidence for early Christianity. Taking up this cue, this paper examines what the two (probably) earliest manuscripts of 1 Peter indicate about the status of this writing, and what early readers took to be its key themes, given the other texts with which it is bound. In both cases, and with some striking overlaps, 1 Peter is regarded as a text focused on the Easter themes of the suffering, martyrdom and vindication of Christ, and the related suffering and hope of his faithful people in a hostile world. These two manuscripts also call for some reconsideration of older scholarship, now widely rejected, which saw 1 Peter as a baptismal homily or paschal liturgy. While these remain unconvincing views of 1 Peter's origins, they do rightly identify themes and connections which the earliest editors and readers evidently also perceived.
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