Heidegger's Bible Handbook: 1 Peter: Written from Babylon?

6. Whether it was written in Babylon: and whether that Babylon was Roman or Egyptian?


That this Epistle was written in Babylon, is wont to be gathered out of the words of 1 Peter 5:13, the elect in Babylon saluteth you. On which passage thus Œcumenius: Βαβυλῶνα τὴν Ῥώμην καλεῖ, he calls Rome Babylon. Some Codices also present in subscript: Ἐγράφη ἀπὸ Ῥώμης, it was written from Rome. Which explanation the Papists seize upon, as proving that Peter was at Rome. However, if that were true, they should rather have gathered that Rome ought to be esteemed as mystical Babylon, not only with respect to that time in which this Epistle was written, but also with respect to after-ages. That is, that the Kingdom of that city was never not Babylonian. Moreover, they do not give a reason why this Babylon should not denote the elect and faithful that were in Babylon, not that ancient Chaldean Babylon, which was no longer existing at that time, but the Seleucid one, as the Most Celebrated Bochart demonstrates in Geographia Sacra,[1]book I, chapter 8; where at that time were many Jews, indeed, Synagogues, having their own Exilarch. For, what purpose would that change of name serve in this straight-forward Epistle? And, that Peter was in Asia, is not able to be doubted. But the method of the Book of Revelation is different, since it abounds in mystical expressions, as is wont to be done in Prophecies. Neither does the opinion of Cornelius Bertram,[2]Lucubrationibus Franktallensibus, chapter 9, have any probability, that the Asiatic Babylon is not understood, but rather the Egyptian, that is, that most heavily fortified fortress and city in Egypt, of which is mentioned by Ptolemy,[3]Geography, book IV, section 5, and by Strabo, Geography, book XVII. For, in the time of Peter, that Egyptian Babylon, an obscure fortress, was hardly of note. But, whatever the case might be concerning Babylon, Saint Peter salutes the inhabitants of Pontus in the name of the Church gathered in it. Yet it is not necessary (thus Gregorius Cortesius Cardinalis[4] himself judges, adversus Persiam) that he wrote it in Babylonia. Just as Paul was not writing in all the Churches, when he was sending the salutations of all the Churches to the Romans, Romans 16:21, and when to the Corinthians the salutations of those that were in Asia, 1 Corinthians 16:19, he was not at the same time writing the Epistle in all those. And, that it was written at Antioch, rather than Babylon, what follows will show.

[1] Samuel Bochart (1599-1667) was a French Protestant pastor and scholar with a wide variety of interests, including philology, theology, geography, and zoology. Indeed his works on Biblical geography (Geographia Sacra) and zoology (Hierozoicon, sive Bipertitum Opus de Animalibus Scripturæ) became standard reference works for generations. He was on familiar terms with many of the greatest men of his age. [2] Bonaventure Cornelius Bertram (1531-1594) was minister of the Gospel and Professor of Hebrew at Geneva, at Frankenthal, and at Lausanne. His revision of the French Bible is used by French Calvinists to the present day. [3] Claudius Ptolemæus (c. 90-c. 168), of Roman Alexandria, was a scientist and thinker of great profundity; and his contribution to the fields of geography and astronomy in the Western world has been enormous. [4] Giovanni Andrea Cortese (1483-1548) was an Italian Cardinal and reformer of the Benedictine Order.