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Spirits and the Proclamation of Christ: 1 Peter 3:18-22 in Its Tradition-Historical and Literary Context



1 Peter 3:18-22 records Christ’s proclamation to the “imprisoned spirits.” Interpreting this passage has challenged even the most competent exegetes. Earliest interpretations understood these imprisoned spirits as the souls of humans to whom Christ preached during his “harrowing of Hades” between his death and resurrection. Augustine identified them as the humans living prior to the flood who were heralded to by the pre-existent Christ through the person of Noah. Scholars from the beginning of the twentieth century through the present have read these verses through the lens of the fall of the watchers tradition first recorded in the Book of Watchers, thus reckoning these spirits as imprisoned angels. Yet contemporary scholarship has failed to acknowledge the development, conflation, and even multiplicity of the fallen angel sin and punishment myths that are found throughout much of early Jewish and Christian literature. This thesis traces the major developments of the fallen angel, giant, evil spirit, and human sin and punishment traditions throughout 1 Enoch, Jubilees, Dead Sea Scroll material, and other relevant works that may have played a role in the formative history of 1 Peter 3:18-22. This thesis also attempts, based upon the conflation of previous traditions, to ascertain the identity of imprisoned spirits, the content of Christ’s proclamation, and the relevance of these questions to the original readers. Finally, this work attempts to ascertain the relationship between baptism in verse 22 and the warding off of evil spirits

Topics: 1 Peter 3:18-22, Spirits, Watchers, 1 Peter, Christ Preaching
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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