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


Date: November 5, 1999

This is part Two...first part is here.
 

Resuming your friend's discourse:

(9) 2Pet 3:4 states that the apostles (and Elders, the 1st generation of christians) ('fathers') were all dead. If they are all dead (and tradition says that John lived the longest), how can this be from Cephas?
 
 

This is a similar case of eis-egesis (reading INTO the text)...

Here is the passage:

"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come 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." (2 Peter 3.3f)
 
Your friend has decided that "the fathers" must mean all the apostles and all the Elders and perhaps even all the 1st generation of Christians, but this is not only arbitrary (and unsupported) but also contrary to normal NT usage: "The false teachers ask, "Where is this `coming' he promised?" Mocking the faith of Christians, they support their own position by claiming, "Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." Who are the persons Peter calls "our fathers"? Kelly (p. 355) and Schelkle (p. 224) argue that they were first-generation Christians. But Bigg (p. 291) and Green (Peter and Jude, p. 128-29) consider this unlikely. "Fathers" are much more likely to be OT fathers as in John 6:31, Acts 3:13, Romans 9:5, and Hebrews 1:1. This is the normal NT usage, and the other view requires a clumsy forger to have missed so obvious a blunder. "Our fathers died" (lit., "fell asleep") is a lovely metaphor for the death of believers (cf. Acts 7:60; 1Thess 4:13-14). [Blum, EBCOT]
 

The relevant NT passages include:
 

"Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'" (John 6.31)

"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, (Acts 3.13)

whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Rom 9.5)

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1.1)

And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, (Acts 13.32)
 
 

Bauckham admits that the weight of the evidence is for this interpretation (WBC:290): "Those who wish to maintain that 'the fathers' are the OT patriarchs or prophets have the weight of usage on their side. In early Christian literature, continuing Jewish usage, hoi pateres ('the fathers') means the OT 'fathers,' i.e. the patriarchs or, more generally, the righteous men of OT times (John 7:22; Acts 13:32; Rom 9:5; Heb 1:1; Barn. 5:7; 14:1; Apoc. Pet. E 16; Ep. Apost. [Coptic] 28); apart from our passage, the only possible exception is 2 Clem 19:4, which could refer to dead Christians but most probably refers to the OT saints..."
 
Accordingly, the data is against your friend's interpretation...
 
 
 

(10) 2Pet 2:1-18;3:1-3 are almost EXACT quotes from vss. 4-13,16-18 of Jude. So much so that denying dependence of 2Pet upon Jude ludicrous.(Which of course brings into question the meaning of 'canon' and 'prophecy', as Jude uses the UNcanonical book of 1Enoch as prophecy in Jude 14)

This argument is somewhat oblique to the subject of Petrine authorship, actually, because possible use of Jude as a source has no bearing on who is using it as a source! Unless it were conclusively demonstrated that Jude (or his material) did not arise until AFTER the death of Peter, this alleged borrowing has no relevance for the issue of authorship.
 

Indeed, Blum can point out [EBCOT, intro to 2 Peter]:

"The literary dependence of 2 Peter on Jude is not conclusively settled.... But even if Peter quoted or utilized a substantial part of Jude's letter, this would neither preclude Peter's authorship of the second letter nor its inspiration. For scholars to accept Mark's priority and Matthew's use of Mark is not incompatible with a high view of biblical inspiration and authority.
 
 
And in his discussion of the various options and theories, points out that almost all of the options are compatible with Petrine authorship [EBCOT, intro to 2 Peter]: "There are so many similarities between 2 Peter (mainly ch. 2) and Jude that some kind of literary or oral dependence seems necessary. Mayor writes at length about this problem.

"The common material almost entirely relates to the description and denunciation of false teachers. The majority view is that 2 Peter is dependent on Jude (so Mayor, Feine, Behm). Some scholars use this apparent dependence on Jude to deny Petrine authorship. But the use of Jude by the author of 2 Peter would pose a problem for Petrine authorship of the letter only if (1) the dependence of 2 Peter on Jude were conclusively proved, (2) the composition of Jude were definitely dated later than A.D. 64, or (3) it could be shown that an apostle such as Peter would not have used so much material from another writer.

"Some students of 1 Peter find a large amount of catechetical material within it. If Peter in the composition of his first letter used material common within the church, there is no reason why he should not have done the same thing in writing his second letter. However, the dependence of 2 Peter on Jude is not a certainty. Mayor holds that 2 Peter uses Jude while Bigg finds that Jude borrows from 2 Peter. It is also quite possible that both letters used a common source.

"Since the date of Jude is not fixed by any firm internal or external data, it might have been written by A.D. 60. In that case Peter could have used Jude. But would an apostle of the stature of Peter make use of material by one who was not an apostle? The utilization of material by ancient authors cannot be judged by today's standards of citation in writing. Tradition played a much larger role in the thoughts of writers and speakers then than it does today. This is evident (to go back to an OT example) from parallel accounts of Kings and Chronicles and also from the synoptic gospels. To sum up, the special problem of the relation between Jude and 2 Peter or their relation to some common source remains unsolved. The adoption of a particular position--viz., Jude as prior, 2 Peter as prior, or both Jude and 2 Peter used an earlier source--does not necessarily affect the authenticity, authorship, or inspiration of these letters. Any of the three views is compatible with an evangelical theology, and conservative scholars generally leave the question open.
 
 

It is interesting that an older 19th-century commentator (E.H. Plumptre) had a quite plausible scenario (out of dozens available today): "[He] made the suggestion that Peter was sent Jude's letter, realized the seriousness of the dangers mentioned and wrote a letter about it to the recipients of I Peter, for whom his name would carry more weight than Jude's" [NTI:830n4]
 
 
But your friend's "almost exact" (an oxymoron that I personally use often myself) is a bit off: "There are conspicuous similarities between 2 Peter and Jude (compare 2Pe 2 with Jude 4-18), but there are also conspicuous differences. It has been suggested that one borrowed from the other or that they both drew on a common source. If there is borrowing, it is not a slavish borrowing but one that adapts to suit the writer's purpose. While many have insisted that Jude used Peter, it is more reasonable to assume that the longer letter (Peter) incorporated much of the shorter (Jude). Such borrowing is fairly common in ancient writings. For example, many believe that Paul used parts of early hymns in Php 2:6-11 and 1Ti 3:16. [NIV Study Bible, Intro to 2 Peter]

"Precise verbal correspondences between the two works is relatively sparse (much more so than in the "Q" pericopes of Matthew and Luke, e.g.)..." [Bauckham, Jude/2 Peter, WBC:140
 

[The issue of Jude's use of material from non-canonical books is irrelevant to Petrine authorship, of course, so I cannot deal with it here. But, just for the record, the use of extra-biblical material that is true cannot compromise the truthfulness of a passage of scripture!]

In any event, this "Hey, Jude!" issue is too gelatinous to be used to attack Petrine authorship, at any significant level.
 
 
 
 

(11) 2Pet 2:15-16 suggest that Pauls writings are already long in existence. It assumes that his writings have all been distributed, and put into a collection. Realistically, there is no way that all of Pauls writings could have already been assembled, so that there would be such common knowledge of them. If the author was indeed Cephas, Paul wouldn't even be dead yet!
 
 

Your buddy here is really following the party line of HiCritz--without even thinking critically about the assumptions teeming in their arguments...
 

Here is the passage (adjusting for the typo--it is 3.15-16):

"and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 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, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
 
 
Now, your friend sees in this passage (specifically the words in bold), the following statements: 1. Paul's writings were already "long in existence"
2. That Paul's writings have "all been distributed"
3. That they have been "put into a collection"
4. That they have "already been assembled"
5. That the above steps 1-4 could only have occurred after Paul's death(!)
 
When I compare that list to the passage above, I am at a loss to find any way to match those up. The passage has no reference to any of the above elements--your friend is eise-geting again, and creating a problem from assumptions being read into the text.
 

There is no indication of a final, 'official' collection in the text--only a knowledge of Pauline letters;

"But 2 Peter says nothing about a collection, authoritative or otherwise; 'all his letters' need mean no more than all his letters known to Peter." [CMMM:435:]

"There is no suggestion that even these ['all his epistles'] were known to the readers...On the other hand, the epistles in question have had sufficient circulation for the false teachers to twist them from their true interpretation." [NTI:825]

"The reference in 2 Peter 3:15-16 to Paul's letters need not refer to the complete corpus of his letters but only to those known to the writer of these verses. The collecting of Paul's letters would have begun as soon as a church or some influential person recognized their value. Paul's instruction about exchanging letters (cf. Col 4:16) and their public reading (1Thess 5:27) would have facilitated the collection of his letters. That Luke or Timothy were traveling companions of Paul makes them likely collectors of his writings. [Blum, EBCOT, Intro]
 
 

The text refers to a previous Pauline epistle written to the readers (v.15), and by the time of the writing of 2 Peter, most of Paul's letters would have been informally circulated anyway.

Again, this argument is a case of over-assumption...
 
 

(12) The issues of false teachers (2Pet 2:1) obviously presuppose a problem that would only arise after all the apostles had been dead, and is an attempt to justify (apologia, in other words) that of the apostolic tradition of orthodoxy.

Huh?!

This is so patently false--at least as it is worded here--that I cannot imagine where this came from. The NT is FILLED with references to current false teachers (Tit 1.11; 1 Tim 1.3ff; Acts 15.1), false prophets (1 John 4.1; Acts 13.6), false witnesses (1 Cor 15:15), false brethren ( 2 Cor 11:26; Gal 2.4), and false apostles (2 Cor 11:13). Most of the apostles are alive while these events were happening.

[For a discussion of anti-orthodox systems and teachers, see the relevant section in the debate with James Still.]

Now, if I back up for a moment and try to do some "source criticism" on your friend's comment, I could perhaps make a guess that he has omitted the word "Gnostic" from his argument. Since HiCritz have argued that the problem described in 2 Peter must be Gnosticsim, and with Gnosticism being 'late', this would make 2 Peter 'late' as well--certainly after the death of Peter. So, with a little imagination, I could reword his objection into something more reasonable:

The issues of false teachers (2Pet 2:1) obviously presuppose a problem [with Gnosticism] that would only arise after all the apostles had been dead,

 

There are numerous problems with this position, but the main one is that 2 Peter (and Jude, for that matter) do not give us enough detailed information to identify these teachers with later Gnosticism:

"It is a legacy from the criticism of F.C. Baur and his school that a tendency exists for all references to false teachers in the New Testament in some ways to be connected up with second-century Gnosticism. In spite of greater modern reluctance to make this unqualified assumption, the idea dies hard that no heresy showing the slightest parallels with Gnosticism could possibly have appeared before the end of the first century. The facts are that all the data that can be collected from 2 Peter and Jude) are insufficient to identify the movement with any known second-century system. Rather do they suggest a general mental and moral atmosphere which would have been conducive for the development of systematic Gnosticism. Indeed, it may with good reason be claimed that a second-century pseudepigraphist, writing during the period of developed Gnosticism, would have given more specific evidence of the period to which he belonged and the sect that he was combating. This was done, for instance, by the author of the spurious 3 Corinthians and might be expected here. The fact that the author gives no such allusions is a point in favour of a first-century date and is rather more in support of authenticity than the reverse." [NTI:828]
 
 
Plus, you have to remember that second-century Gnosticism does not arise "full-blown" in that century! "A common objection is that the writer is opposing Gnostic teaching, which does not make its appearance until well after Peter's day. But there is no Gnostic system known to us that matches what 2 Peter says; to say that the writer is opposing Gnosticism is to go beyond the evidence. It must always be borne in mind that when we meet Gnosticism in the second century, it is a group of eclectic systems that gathered their teaching from a variety of sources. There is no doubt that some of the teachings that were later to appeal to the Gnostics go back to apostolic times, but this does not mean that Gnosticism does. The fact that this writer opposes such teaching is no reason for saying he was not Peter." [CMMM:436-7]
 
 
Indeed, the description best fits a different group altogether: "Given the reports of charlatans so prominent in antiquity and parallels to all the ideas in existing Greek and Jewish conceptions in the first century, it is likely that the opponents are simply Diaspora Jews almost completely overtaken by Greek thought [BBC, Intro to 2nd Peter]
 
Again, the data is simply insufficient to support his/her argument.
 
 
 
 

(13) Neither of the works are quoted in any christian documents until the early and mid second cent(c. 120ce). They should already have been in existence for nearly 60 years.
 
 

So?

There are just too many variables in the mix to turn this into an argument against Petrine authorship.

"As for the contention that knowledge of 2 Peter was geographically limited, it could be that persecution, the brevity of 2 Peter, or its remote destination resulted in its not being widely circulated in the first hundred years of the church." [EBCOT, Intro to 2 Peter]
 
And even this issue needs to be put in perspective: "The attestation for 2 Peter is weaker than that for most other New Testament books but stronger than that of early Christian books that did not become part of the New Testament, especially those claiming to be Petrine. [BBC, Intro to 2 Peter]
 
Also, your friend needs to remember that we only have 2-3 Christian documents before 120 ad (e.g., Clement, Didache, Polycarp), and the themes of 2 Peter may not have lent themselves to use in those works. Given its brevity and specialized subject matter, it is not at all surprising that it was not cited by these few works.

The historical situation is simply too complex for this objection to have any real force to it.
 

............................................
 

I showed him your stuff on Pseudonymity, but he said that you completely left out the Pseudoepigriphal stuff, which was deemed "worthy".

Of course I did--my article was on pseudonymous LETTERS...I did not get into the Pseudoepix at all...and this issue of First and Second Peter is a case of a LETTER--so it DOES apply to this question.
 

[The larger issue of Pseudepix is less relevant (if at all) to the questions of epistolary lit--and that is my point of that article. Your friend would still need to answer the arguments in that piece, before he could maintain confidently his belief in the pseudonymity of the Petrine epistles.]
 
 
 

This guy knows alot about the DSS, and he's making ALL sorts of claims about Revelation and other parts of the NT being dependant upon them.

For example, 1QH 1:7 By Thy Wisdom all things exist from Eternity, and before creating them You knew their works forever and ever. Nothing is done without You.. // John 1:1,3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God...All things were made by Him, and nothing that was made was made. I *think* this can be resolved with OT verses like Proverbs 8:22, Psalm 33:9, and Job 28:12-27.

Then he doesn't know a lot about the DSS (smile)...

The issue of the relationship between the NT and the DSS is very complex, but you can be sure that we don't have many "dependent" situations at all! ALL the different "first-century Judaisms" shared massive amounts of worldview, language, theology, ethics, idioms, conventions, exegetical procedures--there are TONS of 'parallels' to be found between ANY of the various groups (e.g., Quman, Pharisees, Zealots, Christians, "Hellenistists", common folk, Herodians, Sadducees, and the many sub-groups reflected in the pseudepix and apocrypha). But the conclusions one derives from that are (1) notoriously difficult to substantiate; and (2) generally un-spectacular.

The scholars have a term for it: "parallelomania"!
 
 

This guy is so hasty. It seems like his Bible doesn't have footnotes...He sees something like an NT verse in the DSS, doesn't even BOTHER to check the OT...and goes into all the chat rooms convincing Christians that the NT is dependant upon the DSS.

Yeah, I know the type (used to be one 10-15 years ago...smile)...but once you get busted up a couple of times (sometimes by humans and more often by God), you tend to listen to the other side more carefully (Prov 18.13), to examine things more carefully (1 Thess 5.21), and to represent their side more fairly (it's an anti-slander ethic)...

And yeah, they do need to be more self-critical in their approach, especially if they are being evangelistic with hasty conclusions.

It is good that your friend reads and thinks--but he/she needs to read and think more critically about the arguments in their sources and the counter-arguments from other sources...
 
 

This apologetics stuff is sure hard. Without your site, we'd be lost. Thanks for everything you've done.

Thanks for kind and encouraging words, and I wish I could do more...

I hope this helps...
 
 

Glenn Miller
November 6, 1999


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