A discourse analysis of 1 Peter
The study focuses on two problems. The first concerns the structure of the text. The text is considered to be notoriously difficult to outline. The second problem is the function of the participle in 1 Peter. The letter is considered to contain some of the classical examples in the New Testament of the imperatival participle (e.g. 2:18; 3:1, 7, 9), the participle used independently in place of a finite imperative verb.
The text is analyzed in terms of salience. Generally, commanding clauses, primarily indicated by the presence of imperative verbs, are those clauses which move the argument along. Locally, other sentences and paragraphs are of less salience. A semantic outline or tree of the text is developed based on this principle.
Based upon the semantic analysis of the structure, the imperatival participles in 2:11-3:12 are analyzed. The structural analysis demonstrates that the imperatival participles are not truly independent; they can be shown to have an imperative verb as their head. A further analysis of the macrostructure of this section suggests that the participles function to hierarchically layer the commands in the text. This layering allows readers to attend to a limited number of commands at one time so that they can process the text efficiently. Thus, the communicative purpose of the discourse dictates the selection of the participle in these commanding sentences, a decision formerly thought by many to be local.