Question...are 1st and 2nd Peter NOT by Peter, but by someone using his name?


Date: November 6, 1999 (part one, part two)

 
 

I got his question:
 

I was discussing 2Peter with a skeptical friend, reads alot of the Higher Criticism stuff...He/She writes:
 

(1) The first, most BASIC pointer that NEITHER 1 or 2 Pet are from the the Palestinian Jew Cephas is the fact that they were originally composed in Greek...which no Galilean fisherman could do. A fisherman was at the bottom of the social ladder, and those with even higher social status couldn't read or write. The Greek of the epistles is of highly stylized form (more so than the Johannine writings), and reflects authorship of an educated gentile, and not a Jew.
 
 

Your friend here is working on too little and too old data...
 

a. Strictly speaking, Peter could have dictated the letter in Aramaic and had Silas/Silvanus (or someone else) do the translation. (Peter is reputed by the early church to have used "interpreters", and this could include translation, so this is entirely plausible):
 
  "The activity of secretaries is elsewhere intimated in the NT, especially in the letters of Paul. It was apparently Paul's custom to dictate his letters to a secretary. The 'oral style' of the letters is only one indication of this. In Rom 16:22, one Tertius expressly designates himself as the transcriber of the letter. Paul's practice in other letters of adding greetings (1 Cor 16:21, 2 Thess 3:17, Col 4:18), an asseveration (Phlm 19), and a summary statement (Gal 6:11-18) in his own handwriting implies that the letters themselves were written at the hands of amanuenses who transcribed at Paul's dictation. Indeed, 2 Thess 3:17 claims that Paul's appended greeting, written in his own hand, was a "sign" or "mark" employed in each of his letters. This practice suggests that these letters were normally in the handwriting of a secretary. A similar use of an amanuensis is also indicated by 1 Pet 5:12. In dictating his letters to a secretary, Paul was following a well-established practice in antiquity. Many papyrus letters preserved from the period were written in the hand of a secretary, with the final greeting or other closing matter written in the hand of the sender. In addition, classical literature often attests the use of a secretary. Cicero, a prolific letter writer, often dictated letters to his secretary, Tiro, and frequently alluded to this practice. Plutarch mentions it for Caesar (Vit. Caes. 17.3), Pliny the Younger mentions it for his uncle (Ep. 3.5, 9.36), and Quintilian objects to its widespread use (Inst. 10,3,19) [ABD (s.v. "amaneunsis")]

"And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as, for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7.17)

"This also the presbyter said: Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses, so that Mark committed no error while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to state any of them falsely." These things are related 16 by Papias concerning Mark. 16But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: "So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able." And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. (Eusebius HE 3.39.15)
 
 

b. Indeed, there are distinct traces of Semitic features in 1st Peter:
  "In 1 Peter this abundance of diverse tradition has been skillfully integrated in a composition consistent in style and coherent in theme. The letter was written in a polished Greek revealing numerous traces of literary refinement. The near-classical employment of the article and exact use of tenses is coupled with a more semitic appreciation of rhythm and parallelism (2:14, 22-23; 3:18; 4:6, 11; 5:2-3); [ABD, First Peter]
 
c. But elements of Greek style are QUITE EASILY explained (and even predicted, actually) by the use of an amanuensis (so BBC, in.loc. I peter 5.12):
  "Silvanus (the full Roman name for which the similar name Silas served as a short equivalent) appears to have been the amanuensis, or scribe. Most letters were written through the agency of scribes. As a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), Silas presumably came from a fairly well-to-do Jewish family that provided him a good literary and rhetorical education; Peter may have given him some degree of freedom in wording the letter.
 
d. That Peter would have used others (Silas may only have been the letter carrier, as in the letters of Ignatius) is highly likely anyway:
  "If 1 Peter is, as it appears to be, an encyclical on behalf of the church at Rome to a wide circle of churches on the frontiers of the Roman Empire in five provinces of Asia Minor, then the author would likely have had scribal help with vocabulary and style, and his helpers would likely have remained anonymous." (NT:DictLNT:916]
 
e. Secretaries often had commission to improve upon matters of style:
  "The author could permit the secretary to make minor changes in the form or content of the letter when preparing the final text from the rough dictation copy or from a preliminary draft prepared by the author himself....The implication is that it was part of Tiro's function to correct slips made by Cicero and to ensure the accuracy of the finished work. In a word, he acted as a modern copy editor, who points out errors and asks if a particular formulation really conveys precisely what the author wanted to say" [PLW:13-14]
 
f. The arguments relative to the Epistle of James are relevant here:
  "The main objection to this proposal is the polished style of the Greek language of the letter, but this objection does not take account of several factors: (1) the widespread use of rhetoric and more than sufficient time for James, the main spokesperson for the Jerusalem church, to have acquired facility in it; (2) that as the son of a carpenter he had probably had a better education than Galilean peasants; (3) the spread of Greek language and culture in Palestine (e.g., Josephus, Justin); (4) excavations showing that most of Galilee was not as backward as was once thought; (5) the widespread use of amanuenses (scribes) who might, like Josephus's editorial scribes, help a writer's Greek. [BBC, into to James]
 
g. The above would mean that Peter would NOT have needed to know Greek at all, but he probably did anyway:
  "In answer to the claim that the language of the letter is too Hellenistic for a man of Peter's background, we may reply that the extent of Hellenistic influence Peter had in his life is not known. He lived about five miles from the region of the Greek league of ten cities known as Decapolis. We do not know whether he was bilingual or how much he learned between the Resurrection and his martyrdom. [EBCOT, 2 Peter into]

"Lower Galilee was a center for trade with the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee and the Decapolis regions. ..Besides being connected by a number of waterways, there was a road system that utilized a series of valleys to interconnect the Galilean region, tying together such important cities as Sepphoris and Tiberias, as well as trying the area to its surrounding regions. As a result, Galilee was a center for import and export as well as general trade, resulting in a genuinely cosmopolitan flavor...It [Capernaum] was a fishing village, with fishing apparently constituting its major source of economic gain. Nearby was Tiberias, a city built by Herod Antipas, where there was a population that was probably even more bilingual than Jerusalem...Many of his [Jesus'] disciples were fishermen who worked on the Sea of Galilee, including Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. They almost assuredly would have need to conduct in Greek much of their business of selling fish. It is also worth nothing that, of his disciples, Andrew and Philip had purely Greek names...This information helps to make sense of the scene in John's Gospel at 12:20-22, where Greeks asked of Philip, who was from Bethsaida (in Gaulanitis, across from Galilee), to see Jesus. He immediately went to Andrew, who was also reportedly from Bethsaida (John 1:44). [SHJ:135-136]

"Meyers and Strange have made a persuasive case for the linguistic penetration of Greek into Galilee in the Greco-Roman period; they suggest that there is evidence for its use there before the coming of Alexander the Great and that ostracon inscriptions found at sites in the region, while predominantly in Aramiaic, are also biligual and in Greek only. From the third century B.C.E. , public inscriptions were regularly in Greek...Major inscriptions of import for Jews in this period were in Greek, from Caesar's decree in the Galilee regarding the sanctity of tombs to the public notice forbidding admission of the allogenai into various sections of the Jerusalem Temple...This means that for Jesus to have conversed with inhabitants of cities in the Galilee, and especially of cities of the Decapolis and the Phoenician regions, he would have had to have known Greek, certainly at the conversational level. The modes and forms of communication deriving from the Greek tradition would not have had to be acquired by Greek editors or writers of a later generation, as the form-critical school assumes....Nevertheless, the dominant medium of communication in the Jesus tradition seems to have been Greek." [Kee, "Early Christianity in the Galilee: Reassessing the Evidence from the Gospels" in GLA:20f]
 
 

h. Knowledge and use of Greek was not in any way restricted to the upper/rich classes--it was ubiquitous in all commercial and geographic sectors:
  "There is general agreement that Greek was widely spoken in Palestine as a whole, even in Jerusalem and among nationalistic circles in New Testament times--a conclusion based on epigraphic, archaeological and literary evidence...Undoubtedly the beginnings of this language change took place in the Greek cities and among the new administrative and business personnel that entered Palestinian life already in Ptolemaic times. As we shall see in the next chapter these were not confined to the cities but were distributed throughout the villages and estates in charge of the affairs of the government. The frequent journeys of these officials, some of higher, others of lesser rank, ensured a network of communication that tied village life to the various cities and touched everybody from the poorest peasant to the various village officials....It has sometimes been suggested that Greek was the language of the upper classes and the educated, whereas Aramaic continued to be spoken by the unlettered especially in the country areas. However, this assumption has been seriously challenged by recent evidence and is based on a too intellectualist understand of the whole hellenization process in Palestine. The Greek documents from Waddis Murabbat, Habra and Seiyal are those of country people, and many ossuary inscriptions, both by the quality of the Greek and their craftsmanship, have no particular signs of sophistication or education....The question to be answered is whether this widespread change of language patterns, even among country people, is a real indicator of deep changes within their thinking and attitudes. Given the fact that the administrative and commercial life of the country was conducted in Greek from a very early stage, it is only natural that ordinary people would have some acquaintance with it, even use it, so long as no particular hostile overtones were associated with this. From being a lingua franca it could become a first language for many, even unlettered people, but without thereby necessarily indicating a radical break with older traditions." [ HI:GFAGH:139-141]
 
i. And, just to be complete, fishermen were NOT on the bottom of the social ladder (they were poor, but there were occupations that were socially 'undesirable' ):
  "No stigma whatsoever was attached to fishing, no matter what the purpose, and it was even maintained that Joshua had stipulated after the conquest of Canaan that fishing with an angle in the Lake of Tiberias must be free and unrestricted" [HI:LCCAI:239] (Although fishermen were generally thought to be poor, the town of Tarichaea, famous for its importing of fish, was said to be wealthy in the rabbinic lit: T.Y. Taan. IV, 8, 69a; Lam. R. 2,2,4.)
 
Overall, then, the data is overwhelmingly against your friend's opening statement...
 
 
 
 

(2) The fact that the OT references made in 1Pet are to the Greek Septuagint, and NOT the Hebraic Massoretic texts makes it obvious that this is not from a Judean. Cephas would not be familiar with these writings...certainly not enough to be able to quote from them.
 

There are major problems in this as well:

a. It is fairly obvious that an epistle in Greek is not going to quote a Hebrew text (!), but use a Greek translation of it, and if the letter was intended as an encyclical, there is no reason at all that Peter's "staff" would not have made sure the texts were in the preferred Greek version of the day!
  From the Greek OT (LXX) use was made of no less than twenty-four texts or combinations of texts. Linking the eschatological community with the history of God's covenant people, this material served to stress the social estrangement and oppression of God's people as resident aliens in diaspora (1:1, 17-18; 2:11; 3:6 [Gen 23:4, cf. Gen 12:1-20, 20:1-18; Isa 52:3, 5]; 3:10-12 [Ps 33(34)]; 4:14 [Isa 11:2]; 5:8-9, 13 [Jeremiah 50:51]); their election and holiness (1:15-16 [Lev 19:2]; 2:5, 9 [Exod 19:6; Isa 43:20; Hos 1:6, 9; 2:1, 3, 25]); the rejection, suffering, and exaltation of the Messiah-Servant (2:4-8 [Isa 8:14, 28:16; Ps 117(118) :22]; 2:22-24 [Isa 53:4, 6, 9]); divine redemption of the righteous and oppressed (1:13 [Exod 12:11]; 1:17-19, cf. 1:2 [Exod 12-15; Isa 52:3, 5]; examples of Sarah, 3:5-6, and Noah, 3:20); fear of God rather than man (2:17 [Prov 24:21]; 3:6 [Prov 3:25]; 3:14-15 [Isa 8:12-13]); moral conduct (3:10-12 [Ps 33(34):13-17]; 4:8 [Prov 10:12]); the imminence of divine judgment (2:12 [Isa 10:3]; 4:17 [Ezek 9:6]; 4:18 [Prov 11:31 LXX]); and God's nurture (2:3 [Ps 33(34):9]) and exaltation of the humble (5:5 [Prov 3:34 LXX]; 5:7 [Ps 54(55):23]). [ABD]   b. I have documented elsewhere that at this time there WAS no "Massoretic Text" and that the LXX (and related semi-versions) were in use all over Judea at the time (e.g., Qumran, Josephus, Pseudepigraphical works), so Peter's being a "Judean" is totally irrelevant, and not enough to sustain your friend's point here.
 

c. Cephas is familiar enough with the "Old Testament" (probably in three languages--Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) to both quote and allude to it. And, by this late time in his preaching ministry these passages would likely HAVE been committed to memory (and the allusions would have been part of standard Jewish heritage). But even if not, the content would certainly have been, and it would have been too simple for him to get his helper(s) to flesh out the quotes if desired. His preaching in Acts actually reflects both LXX Greek and non-LXX Greek elements (BEAP:86-88]
 
 

Accordingly, this point is off the mark as well.  
 
(3) As early as the 4th cent. the authority of 2 Pet was cast out. Quoting Eusebius, "....the second Petrine epistle we have been taught to regard as uncanonical; many, however have thought it valuable, and have honored it with a place among the other scriptures." As if the very first point weren't enough to totally disqualify these letters as of Petrine authorship, which it most assuredly does (this is simple common sense) ,and the other two external points as well, we'll move on to the internal data of the text(s), and what the author(s) gives us about the historical events of the time......
 
 

It is interesting to note here, first of all, that since the acceptance of First Peter was unanimous in the early Church, then the arguments in #1 and #2 would not have been "simple common sense" now, would they? The church clearly knew that Peter was a Galilean fisherman before meeting Jesus, and that his epistles were written in Greek, but that didn't constitute a problem for them...
 
 

But Second Peter is clearly a different story...
 

a. First, let's be clear about the church witness:
  "Such [Church] tradition uniformly ascribes the letter to Peter. There is no other name linked with it in the tradition." [CMMM:435]
 
b. Now, let's look at the first mention of 2 Peter in history--from Origen (185-254):
  "It will be convenient to regard Origen as the pivotal Christian Father in this discussion, because reviews of the evidence so often commence with the statement that the epistle was not certainly known until his time and the authenticity becomes immediately suspect, especially as he also mentions doubts held by some about it. He uses the epistle at least six times in citations and shows little hesitation in regarding it as canonical...Some suggestion of doubt on Origen's part might be inferred from Eusebius' statement (HE 6.25) that he held Peter to have left one acknowledged epistle and 'perhaps also a second, for it is disputed'. But Origen mentions no explanation from the doubts which were apparently current among some Christians, neither does he give any indication of the extent or location of these doubts. It is a fair assumption, therefore, that Origen saw no reason to treat these doubts as serious, and this would mean to imply that in his time the epistle was widely regarded as canonical" [NTI:806]
 
c. He also speaks of Peter "sounding aloud with the two trumpets of his epistles" (Hom. In Josh. 7.1)
 

d. But disputes about the book (implying that the majority ACCEPTED it) are noted by Eusebius:
 

"One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this the ancient elders used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; yet, as it has appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures. The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them. 3 But in the course of my history I shall be careful to show, in addition to the official succession, what ecclesiastical writers have from time to time made use of any of the disputed works, and what they have said in regard to the canonical and accepted writings, as well as in regard to those which are not of this class. Such are the writings that bear the name of Peter, only one of which I know to be genuine and acknowledged by the ancient elders. (HE 3.3.1ff)

"And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, 'against which the gates of hell shall not prevail,' has left one acknowledged epistle; perhaps also a second, but this is disputed. (HE 6.25.8)
 
 

e. Guthrie notes that this is actually quite favorable to 2 Peter's authenticity:
  "The most important of these [later witnesses to 2 Peter] is Eusebius, who placed this epistle among the Antilegomena. He makes it clear that the majority accepted the epistle as authentic, together with James and Jude, but he himself had doubts about it. In fact he mentions two grounds for his doubts: first, writers whom he respected did not regard it as canonical, and secondly, it was not quoted by 'the ancient presbyters'. Under the latter objection Eusebius may have meant 'by name'. ..As it is, we are obliged to conclude that Eusebius and certain others were doubtful about the epistle, although the majority regarded it as canonical. Even Eusebius, however, did not list 2 Peter within his 'spurious' classification, into which category he did place the Apocalypse of Peter." [NTI:808f]
 
f. And this majority acceptance is enough to render the 'disputation' innocuous, as far as Petrine authorship is concerned. Since it was NOT in the spurious category (i.e., known to have been not from the apostolic circle), but in the disputed category (i.e., we are not sure about its apostolic authorship), one simply cannot use this as an argument AGAINST Petrine authorship.
  "Yet where the majority accept a given book, the minority opinion must be viewed with proportionate reserve. At the same time it must be admitted that the external evidence is not strongly favourable in the case of this epistle. A mitigating factor, which has all too often been overlooked, is the influence of the pseudo-Petrine literature upon church opinion. If Gnostic groups had used Peter's name to drive home their own particular tenets, this fact would cause the orthodox church to take particular care not to use any spurious Petrine epistles. Some of the more nervous probably regarded 2 Peter suspiciously for this reason, but the fact that it ultimately gained acceptance in spite of the pseudo-Petrine literature is an evidence more favourable to its authenticity than against it, unless the orthodox Christ fathers had by this time become wholly undiscerning, which is not, however, borne out by the firm rejection of other works attributed to Peter." [NTI:809]
 
g. This lead us to reject your friends conclusion, simply because it is unaware of the distinction between "spurious" and "disputed":
  "It would seem a fair conclusion to this survey of external evidence to submit that there is no evidence from any part of the early church that this epistle were ever rejected as spurious, in spite of the hesitancy which existed over its reception." [NTI:811]
 


We'll move on to the internal data of the text(s), and what the author(s) gives us about the historical events of the time......
 

(4) 1Pet 1:1 addresses churches in Asia Minor. What persecution is the author speaking of? There was no persecution in that area at the time that Cephas was still alive. The ONLY persecution of that period was in Rome, under Nero (even the author of Acts says that there was no persecution of xtians BY pagans in the area at the time). These persecutions can only have happened at the very END of the first cent., almost 30 yrs AFTER (as tradition holds) that Peter died, when persecution was announced on an Empirical [sic!] scale!
 
 

Your friend here has made the simple error of over-exegeting. In this case, he or she has decided that the references in First Peter apply to an "official persecution"--there is simply inadequate warrant for this.
 

Even the non-conservative article in ABD (rejecting Petrine authorship) admits that this argument has been rejected by scholarship:

"An attempt to link 1 Peter and the Christian suffering it describes to a general persecution of Christianity initiated by Rome (Beare 1970: 28-38; Windisch-Preisker Katholischen Briefe HNT, 76-77) has justifiably been rejected by the majority of scholars. 1 Peter speaks of Christians suffering "throughout the world" (5:9) but the first general imperial persecution of Christianity did not occur until 251 c.e. under Decius. Earlier anti-Christian actions under Nero in 64-65 (Tac. Annals 15:44; Suet. Ner. 16:2), possibly Domitian in 93-96 (Suet. Dom. 10-17), and Trajan (Pliny Ep. 10:96-97) were limited in scope to Rome or Pontus and were the product of sporadic local incidents rather than of universal legal proscription. Nor is a state persecution envisioned where respect for the emperor and civil law is enjoined (2:13-17) and a positive outcome of good behavior is anticipated (2:11-12; 3:13-17). The nature of the hostility encountered-verbal abuse and reproach (2:12, 3:16, 4:14), curiosity concerning Christian hope (3:15), anger at the severance of former social ties (4:4)-likewise makes the theory of a state-sponsored persecution both improbable and unnecessary. Details of the situation point rather to social polarization and conflict which was local, disorganized and unofficial in character.... As strangers and aliens belonging to a novel cult and exclusive minority actively seeking adherents, these Christians were the victims of the harassment and discrimination regularly experienced by those suspected of posing a disruptive threat to local peace and prosperity. [ABD, "Peter, first epistle of] So, this argument won't be adequate to force a late date on the Epistle...
 
 

(5) 1Pet 2:22-24 is quoting directly from the greek version of Isaiah 53. Why would an eyewitness to the events have to use Isaiah to describe what happened? And again, the wording in the LXX and Masoretic are different.
 

The logic in this is faulty. Why does he/she assume that Peter would "have to use Isaiah" instead of "choose to use Isaiah" to make the prophetic connection? ALL Jews of that time used OT imagery to describe current and future events, but this wasn't in any way related to 'eyewitness issues'.

This is standard 'fulfillment' language and occurs throughout the literature of the day.

This argument is simply confused.
 
 

(6) 1Pet 5:12 states unequivicoly that the text is by Sylvanus (perhaps the 'Silus" of Pauls epistles?)This is not an issue of scribal introdution. If this were so, then he would have added his own greeting ( eg Rom 16:22). This is called pseudonymous (falsley hidden) authorship. Witten under the name of one author, and the original author identifies himself at a later point in the text (as oppossed to psuedopigriphal[falsley written] texts, where the claim of authorship is under the guise of a person that is dead).
 
 

This is mistaken on a number of counts, but let me just go after the main point...
 

Your friend seems to be arguing that since Silas actually penned the final document (assuming that 'through' means that--some understand that to be a reference to him as letter carrier--NT:DictLNT:916]), that he actually composed it also--or else the document would have had Silas' independent greeting at the end.
 

The problem with this is that this is the very opposite of the historical practice!

Scribes did NOT normally add their names!!!

"Tertius" was a Roman name (often used for a third child), sometimes used by Jews. Most of the ancient world was too illiterate to write letters, certainly letters as sophisticated as this one; they depended instead on scribes. Those who were highly literate were also wealthy enough that they could dictate letters to scribes as well, sometimes their own secretaries, who were usually literate slaves. Paul's host may have lent him his scribe, or Tertius may have been a professional scribe; in any case, Tertius seems to be a believer, because scribes did not normally add their own greetings." [BBC, in.loc. Rom 16.22]

"This is the only case in which one of the apostle's secretaries intervenes personally and identifies himself. That he felt free to do so says much for his relationship to Paul; no professional hired for the occasion would have taken the liberty." [PLW:6]
 

Thus the conclusion he/she reaches is contradicted by the actual historical facts.

(The points she/he makes about pseudox are neither here nor there at this point in the argument, so I won't discuss those here.)
 
 

7) The constant use of Pauline themes thoughout the text indicate fiamiliarity with Pauline thought. Cephas and Paul held different theological views, particularly on judaism, as evidenced by Acts, and Galatians. Also, if this is authored by Cephas, it would be at the same time that Paul is in Rome, yet there is no mention of Paul being there, or being expected.
 

This has a number of mistakes in it, the most significant of which is the alleged "different theological views" of Peter and Paul. On the basis of one incident in Galatians (and none in Acts!) which is later resolved by the Council of Jerusalem (see my piece on that here), your friend decides that Peter cannot agree with Paul on the basics of the faith?!
 

Let me make some observations here:

a. This alleged difference between Paul and Peter is more assumed than proven, and certainly taken to an extreme unwarranted by the single incident upon which it is based!
  "To this we should say that the differences between Petrine and Pauline teaching have probably been exaggerated. There is no reason for affirming that they were in contradiction on the essentials of the faith, and at least some of the passages in 1 Peter that are said to have been derived from Paul are better understood as part of the common tradition of the early church" [CMMM:422, see also point C below]
 
b. 1 Peter shows familiarity with ALL of the NT traditions--not just Paul:
  "Relative to its length, 1 Peter has more affinities to more NT writings than any other NT document. Its apocalyptic perspective on the Christian social situation and the imminence of final divine judgment, its christological focus on suffering and its vindication, its stress on the distinctive corporate identity and responsibility conferred by baptismal conversion, its image of the Christian community as household of God, and the content of its moral exhortation link 1 Peter with a majority of the NT writings. (ABD)

"Beyond the Paulines, similarities with James include 1 Pet 1:1 (Jas 1:1); 1:6-7 (Jas 1:2-3. cf. Wis 3:5-6); 1:23-2:2 (Jas 1:18-22); 1 Pet 5:5 (Jas 4:6); 1 Pet 5:8-9 (Jas 4:7) and the common OT citations of Isa 40:6-8 (1 Pet 1:24-25; Jas 1:10-11), Prov 10:12 (1 Pet 4:8; Jas 5:20), and Prov 3:34 (1 Pet 5:5; Jas 4:6). Affinities with Hebrews include 1 Pet 1:1, 2:11 (Heb 11:13); 1:2 (Heb 12:24); 1:23(4:12); 2:24 (Heb 10:10); 2:25, 5:4 (Heb 13:20); 3:9 (Heb 12:17); 3:18 (Heb 9:28); 4:14 (13:13) and the themes of social alienation and solidarity with the suffering of Jesus Christ. Links with Mark and the Synoptic tradition include 1 Pet 2:4-8 (Mark 12:1-12 par.); 2:18-3:7, 5:2-5 (Mark 10:2-45 par. and domestic instruction for the household of God [cf. 1 Pet 2:5, 4:17 and Mark 3:20-35, 13:33-37 par.]); 1 Pet 1:19-21, 2:21-25, 3:18 (Mark 14-16 par.); 1 Pet 4:13 (Mark 13:9-13 par.); and 1 Pet 5:2-5 (Mark 10:35-45 par.). Affinities with specific dominical sayings include 1 Pet 1:10-12 (Matt 13:17; Luke 24:26); 1:13 (Luke 12:35); 1:17 (Matt 6:9; Luke 11:2); 2:12 (Matt 5:16); 2:19-20 (Luke 6:27-36); 3:9, 14; 4:5 (Matt 12:36); 4:13-14 (Matt 5:10-11, 39; Luke 6:22-23, 28); 5:6 (Luke 14:11); 5:7 (Matt 6:25-27). [ABD]
 
 

c. But this is now understood as a shared tradition-source, instead of dependence on NT documents:
  "From such similarities, earlier scholars concluded that 1 Peter manifested direct literary dependence upon much of the NT or at least upon the writings of Paul (e.g. the representative positions of Forster [1913] and Beare [1970]). More recent form-critical and traditional-critical analysis of the NT and 1 Peter in particular, however, have made it evident that similarities between 1 Peter and other Christian writings were the result not of literary dependency but of the common use of a wide stream of oral and written tradition [ABD]
 
d. This would make sense for an encyclical, of course--addressed to the church at large.
 

e. For this argument to work, the conflict would have to be made stronger--but the data is otherwise:
 

"At the same time, no serious student of Paul and Peter would deny that there is much common ground between them, which cannot wholly be explained by their common Christian background. Some Pauline influence on Peter's mind is generally supposed to be required by the content of the epistles, but this would be damaging to Petrine authorship only if two presuppositions can be established. First, it must be shown that the New Testament presentation of Peter makes it psychologically inconceivable that he was susceptible to outside influence, particularly from so powerful a personality as Paul. But the data available do not depict Peter as a man of fertile ideas, but a man of action. Paul's successful resistance to Peter's weak compromise at Antioch is sufficient indication of the direction in which mental influences were likely to flow. Indeed, traces of other New Testament literature such as James and Hebrews are further evidence of the receptive character of this author's mind, and such receptivity is not incompatible with the sympathetic character of Peter. Secondly, it must be shown that Peter and Paul represent divergent tendencies which are unlikely to have permitted close liaison between them. But his is a view of history which is a legacy from the Tubingen school of criticism, with no basis in the New Testament. That both made their own contribution to Christian thought and that Paul's was the greater must be acknowledged, but there is such singular lack of any real divergence between their writings that it is fortuitous either to charge Peter with lack of originality or to regard the epistle as an attempted reconciliation between opposing parties. The plain facts are that both represent vital aspects of early Christianity." [NTI:775f]
 
This point is too speculative, and actually goes against the evidence we do have in the NT and early church history.
 

Now, there is a second argument your friend mentions, about Peter having to "mention" Paul in the letter, since they were allegedly there at the same time.
 

First of all, this argument is weak because it "legislates content", There could be a billion reasons why Peter decided not to mention Paul, and it is completely arbitrary to "decide" that he must (or risk being de-frocked from authorship!). This is a simple mistake of reading back our presuppositions as to "what Peter would have done" into the situation, and then drawing conclusions from those new "facts"!....
 

Secondly, and more importantly, is the fact that his argument depends on dating schema for the lives of Peter and Paul--a notoriously difficult area! There are simply too many questions outstanding for us to be sure they were there at the same time. Indeed, some of the better chronologies I have seen place Paul coming to Rome in 60-61 A.D., but put First Peter on or before that (anywhere from 47ad to 62 ad):

"Selwyn pointed out that the doctrine and ecclesiastical organization are fairly early and would suit a date not much after 60." [NTI:787]
 
 
So, we really cannot address this second part of the argument, because his/her argument itself would require a defense--just to be maintainable.
 
 
 
 

(8) 2Pet 2:1 - 3a; 3-4 are fraught with past, present, and future tenses. Where it speaks of false teachers in the future tense 3b-22;3:5-10 and 16b refer to them in the PRESENT tense. Its not even possible to see these verses as not applying to the time of the author. These alterations are transparent, and deliberate writing 'devices' The author at this points no longer assumes the guise of Cephas.
 
 

First , let me point out that your friend seems to be reproducing Bauckham's novel argument (even citing the verses in the same manner!), although he makes a typo: the "3-4" is "3:1-4"--there is no chapter 4 in 2 Peter.
 

Bauckham states it clearly:

"Moreover, whereas the testamentary passages speak of the false teachers in the future tense, predicting their rise after Peter's death (2 Pet 2:1-3a; 3:1-4; cf. 3:17) the apologetic sections and the denunciation of the false teachers refer to them in the present tense (2 Pet 2:3b-22; 3:5-10, 16b). It is hardly possible to read 2 Peter without supposing the false teachers to be contemporaries of the author with whom he is already in debate. The alternation of predictive and present-tense references to them (most obvious in 2 Pet 3:1-10, 16b-17) is therefore best understood as a deliberate stylistic device by which the author conveys that these apostolic prophecies are now being fulfilled. In other words, Petrine authorship is a fiction that the real author does not feel obliged to maintain throughout this work. In that case it must be a transparent fiction, a literary convention that the author expected his readers to recognize as such. (That the author inadvertently slips into the present tense, forgetting that he is meant to be referring the false teachers from Peter's perspective in the past, is not plausible, because 2 Peter is a carefully composed work, and the alternation of future-tense and present-tense references to the false teachers follows a structural pattern.) [HI:DictLNT:924]
 
First, let's look at the texts your friend refers to (bolding the refs to the teachers): But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, (future) who will (future) secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow(future) their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned(future); 3 and in their greed they will exploit you(future) with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, (present) 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge(present) , will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure (present) to revel in the daytime. They are (present) stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse (present) with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way they have gone astray, (present) having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression; for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are springs without water,(present) and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires,(present) by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption (present) ; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known (past/perfect) the way of righteousness, than having known it, (past/aor) to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them (past/perfect) according to the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."(2 Peter 2.1-22)

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come (future) with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice (present) that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. ...16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, (present) as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3.1-16)
 
 

The changes in tense are apparent, but has Bauckham made too much of this? a. There is simply too much flexibility in tense usage to allow this tight of an interpretation.
  Future tenses can all to easily have gnomic meaning ["the future may express a tendency or a likelihood that something will happen"] Examples would include:
  "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die" -- Rom 5.7
"Each man shall bear his own burden"--Gal 6.5
 
And present tenses can refer to future situations ["this present has much the force of the future, but it sometimes seems to have an air of immediacy and of certainty."]
  "The passover is going to come"--Mt 26.2
"Christ...is not going to die again"--Romans 6.9
 
or more likely customary or gnomic in this case ["there is a timelessness to this use of the present. It does not present action in progress, but makes a statement of general, timeless fact. It does not say something is happening, but that something does happen"]
  "God's wrath is revealed"--Rom 1.17
"Circumcision profits"--Romn 2.25
 
In the passages in question, this would yield at least two possible understandings that make perfect exegetical sense:
  a. The future tenses would reflect a present-and-ongoing, expected-as-normal (like the OT false prophet phenomenon)--"will forever arise among you", and the present tenses would describe the general characteristics and actual behavior in the 'first crop' of such false teachers. [This is the understanding in the Bible Knowledge Commentary]

b. The future tenses would reflect a future outbreak or proliferation of false teachers, the general characteristics of which are described in the present tense phrases (very common). [This is the understanding in the EBCOT, by Edwin Blum]
 
 

Accordingly, there is too much play in the tenses to draw such a tight exegetical conclusion from them.
 
b. If the tenses are so significant, what in the world are we going to make of the PAST tense forms in 3.21-22! (Is this a third 'author'?!)
 
 

c. Bauckham himself admits elsewhere in his Commentary (WBC) that the author uses the future tense "loosely", and it would therefore be very risky to make so much out of it later!
 

"If spoudaso does refer to his diligence in writing 2 Peter, it is possible that the writer has used the future loosely because, as in v 12, he is thinking primarily of the work's future function 'at all times'" (in.loc. 1.15, p.201)
 
d. Historical considerations also suggest another alternative understanding of the tense relations. In chapter 2, the reference to "will be" is qualified by "among you". This would allow the present-tense descriptions of the false teachers to apply to those in Peter's personal situation, and the future aspects to apply to a warning that this present heresy will surely spread and subsequently show up in the churches of the broader community. The description of the modus operandi of the false teachers (predicted for the "among you" in verse 2.1) makes most sense if it is based on personal (present) observation, as opposed to some rather detailed prophetic description of their future characteristics!
 

e. Finally, it should be noted that the time frame for the "will come" in chapter 3 is "the last days". If the prophetic word was about this rather extended timeframe (resurrection of Jesus until final eschaton), then the "will" can apply to the readers' past, present, and future. The future tense in these cases are references to predictive prophecy of the time of Jesus, whereas the present tense is describing occurrences of fulfillment in the lives of the various participants.
 

So, overall, arguing from the tense usage is precarious at best, and there are equally (or more) plausible ways to understand the text in question.
 
 

But what of the allegations of 'deliberate devices'...did the author intend the readers to notice the change and realize him to be stepping out of character for a moment?

This gets us deep into some of the problems with pseudonymity in epistolary literature...

This passage  highlights one of the main challenges to theories of pseudonymity--the fact that it contains a huge contradiction at the core. To make a letter convincing that it was written by some fictional author, a writer simply cannot allow for 'slips' like this (deliberate or otherwise) to occur. To pass it off as written by another, it must contain no evidence of its fraudulent character. And, since writers generally have plenty of time to edit earlier drafts of letters, there is simply no way to account for 'errors' (esp. in cases involving secretaries, working as copy editors!) And closely related to this is the significant problem of motive! The data found in these epistles militate strongly against such usage.
 

Here are some examples from 2 Peter (cites from NTI, except as noted):

"Would a pseudepigraphist have adopted the view that Peter did not understand Paul's writings? It is strange, at least, that he has such an idea of Peter's ability in view of the fact that he considers it worthwhile to attribute the whole epistle to Peter. The history of Jewish and early Christian pseudepigraphy shows a marked tendency towards the enhancement of heroes and there is no parallel case in which the putative author is made to detract from his own reputation." (p.827)

"If, in deference to the repeated demands of many modern scholars, the word 'forgery' is omitted from the discussion, we are left as our only alternative to suppose that a well-intentioned author ascribed it to the apostle Peter, presumably in order to claim his authority for what was said, but nevertheless supposing that no-one would have been deceived by it. The latter supposition is difficult to substantiate, but even if it be taken as possible, the writer must have paid minute attention to the process of introducing allusions to give an air of authenticity. If the whole process was a contemporary literary convention, it is difficult to see why the personal authentication marks were used at all. The fact is that the general tendency among pseudepigraphist was to avoid rather than include supporting allusions to their main heroes. It was enough to allow them to introduce themselves by means of some ancient name" (p.839)

"The fact is that no advocate of a pseudonymous origin for 2 Peter has been able to give a wholly satisfactory account of the motive behind it, and this must be taken into consideration in reaching a verdict on the matter. An attempt has been made [by Bauckham] to explain the pseudepigraphic device as a transparent fiction. Thus it is supposed that if 2 Peter is a testamentary letter which was known to have come from the Petrine circle in Rome, the readers would not have expected Peter to have written it. But this explanation is not satisfactory unless evidence can be produced of what the readers would have expected, and this is impossible with the limited data at our disposal." (p840)

"If the writing is pseudepigraphic, the question arises, Why was it written? There were Christian writings in which a great name of the past was used to give respectability to what was said, but these seem all to be books that promote unorthodox teaching. Second Peter does nothing of the sort. Its teaching is quite respectable and in line with what other Christian teachers have said. It could quite easily go out under its author's real name, or indeed under no name. We need a reason for choosing to send the little letter out under Peter's name if we are to accept the pseudepigraphic hypotheses, and so far no sufficient reason seems to have appeared. It is usually said that the author chose Peter's name to give authority to what he was writing. But he was writing orthodoxy, and for that no great name was needed." [CMMM:437]
 
 

Bauckham attempts to minimize the 'deception' ethical issue, by appealing to the genre of pseudepigraphical "testament", but this identification is highly questionable, and aspects of it are even admitted by him as problematic: "Yet there is a great difference between this epistle and Jewish apocalyptic books in testamentary form, which all share the pattern of a discourse addressed to the immediate descendants, but which is really destined for future generation. This latter type of literature proceeded from a review of the past to a prophecy of the future. While both these elements may be found in 2 Peter, the epistle can be clearly understood without recourse to the testamentary hypothesis, which could certainly not be said of the farewell discourses of Jewish apocalyptic." [NTI:822]

"Yet it is probable that 3:1 shows that the author of 2 Peter knew of 1 Peter...His relationship to 1 Peter, knowing it yet uninfluenced by it, is parallel to his relationship to the Pauline letter, but it is worth noticing that it is unlike the practice of most second-century writers of apostolic pseudepigrapha. In cases where writing attributed to their pseudonyms were extant, these writers usually echo such writings in their own pseudonymous productions." [2 Peter, WBC:146]
 
 

[continued here...ynotpeter2.html]

Glenn Miller


The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)