[A], [B], [C]
As promised, here is my reply to Bravo's attack on the authenticity of 2 Peter. As I have already indicated, Bravo likes to do what is called "stacking the deck." Bravo cites only those sources that agree with his presuppositions, but fails to refer to the responses which expose the weakness and fallacies in the argumentation of his sources.
Bravo also appeals to sources which assert that the "majority of scholars" reject Petrine authorship, as if the majority somehow determines truth. Truth determines truth, facts determine truth, not an appeal to an alleged "majority." Bravo's appeal to the "majority" only proves that he is a master at committing logical fallacies, in this case, the logical fallacies known as ad populum and appealing to authority. Just in case Bravo doesn't know what these fallacies are, here are their meanings:
Appeal to Popularity
(argumentum ad populum)
A proposition is held to be true because it is widely held to be true or is held to be
true by some (usually upper crust) sector of the population.
This fallacy is sometimes also called the "Appeal to Emotion" because emotional appeals often sway the population as a whole.
(i) If you were beautiful, you could live like this, so buy Buty-EZ and become
beautiful. (Here, the appeal is to the "beautiful people".)
(ii) Polls suggest that the Liberals will form a majority government, so you may as well vote for them.
(iii) Everyone knows that the Earth is flat, so why do you persist in your outlandish claims? (Source)
Appeal to Authority
(argumentum ad verecundiam)
While sometimes it may be appropriate to cite an authority to support a point, often it
is not. In particular, an appeal to authority is inappropriate if:
(i) the person is not qualified to have an expert opinion on the subject,
(ii) experts in the field DISAGREE ON THIS ISSUE.
(iii) the authority was making a joke, drunk, or otherwise not being serious
A variation of the fallacious appeal to authority is hearsay. An argument from hearsay is an argument which depends on second or third hand sources.
(i) Noted psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane recommends that you buy the EZ-Rest Hot Tub.
(ii) Economist John Kenneth Galbraith argues that a tight money policy s the best cure for a recession. (Although Galbraith is an expert, not all economists agree on this
(iii) We are headed for nuclear war. Last week Ronald Reagan remarked that we begin bombing Russia in five minutes. (Of course, he said it as a joke during a microphone test.)
(iv) My friend heard on the news the other day that Canada will declare war on Serbia. (This is a case of hearsay; in fact, the reporter said that Canada would not declare war.)
(v) The Ottawa Citizen reported that sales were up 5.9 percent this year. (This is hearsay; we are not n a position to check the Citizen's sources.)
Show that either (i) the person cited is not an authority in the field, or that (ii) there is GENERAL DISAGREEMENT AMONG THE EXPERTS in the field on this point. (Source)
Needless to say, I will also be doing some "deck stacking" of my own. I will cite sources that have responded to the liberal denials of the conservative dating and authorship of specific NT books, in this case 2 Peter. This is done to offset the claims made by Bravo's sources, enabling our readers to see the weakness and desperate attempts of Bravo to undermine the veracity of the NT documents.
Again, we would like to apologize to our readers for these lengthy citations, but we know of no better way than to reproduce word for word the evangelical conservative responses to the liberal attacks. With this said, we proceed to our rebuttal.
The following quite lengthy section is taken from Donald Guthrie's New Testament Introduction, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL., third edition (revised) in one volume December 1970, pp. 820-21, 828-48. Guthrie lists the reasons why certain scholars reject Petrine authorship. Since these reasons have already been noted in Bravo's article, we will not be reproducing them here. We will only focus on Guthrie's responses to the liberal claims against Petrine authorship. All bold and capital emphasis ours.
a. The Epistle's own claims
There can be no doubt that the author intends his readers to understand that he is the apostle Peter. He calls himself somewhat strikingly Symeon (or Simon) Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ (i.1). He states that the Lord showed him the approach of his own death (i. 14). He claims to have been an eyewitness of the transfiguration (i.16-18) and records the heavenly voice, which he had himself heard on the holy mount. He mentions a previous Epistle, which he had written to the same people (iii.1) and refers to the apostle Paul in terms of intimacy as our beloved brother Paul (iii.15), although he admits with refreshing candour that Paul's letters contain many difficult statements.
Such evidence certainly leaves us with the impression that the author is the apostle Peter. But the veracity of all these statements has not only been called in question, but other internal evidence has been brought forward, which is alleged to make the self-claims of the Epistle untenable and these objections will need to be carefully considered. Before doing so it should be fully recognized, as E. F. Scott has pointed out, that we have no choice but to regard 2 Peter as either genuine or as a later work deliberately composed in him name. In other words, if its genuineness is found to be untenable, the only alternative is to regard it as spurious, in the sense of being a forgery
b. The case for Petrine authorship
(i)The personal allusions.
In spite of the widespread custom of appealing to contemporary pseudepigraphic practice in support of the view that the personal allusions are merely literary devices, considerable caution is necessary before this kind of argument can be allowed any weight. It must at once be recognized that there are no close parallels to 2 Peter, if this Epistle is pseudepigraphic. The normal procedure was to adopt a fairly consistent first person style, particularly in narrative sections. This style was not specially adapted for Epistles, and this is probably the reason for the paucity of examples of pseudepigrapha in this form. It is much easier to account for the development of pseudonymous Acts and Apocalypses (as those attributed to Peter), although even these appear to be later developments than 2 Peter (see pp. 858ff. on the relationship of 2 Peter to the Apocalypse). Comparative study of pseudepigraphy cannot, of course, lead to a conclusive rejection of a pseudepigraphic origin for 2 Peter, because 2 Peter may be in a class of its own, but it does lead to the demand that evidences for pseudepigraphic origin should be conclusive. It is against this background that the following examination will be conducted.
1. It must at once seem strange that the author uses the double name Simon Peter, when the name Simon does not appear in I Peter, which was presumably used as a model, if 2 Peter is pseudepigraphic. The difficulty is even greater if the form Symeon is the correct reading, for neither in the Apostolic Fathers nor in the Christian pseudepigraphic literature is it used. Indeed, it occurs elsewhere only in Acts xv.14 and is obviously a primitive form. M. R. James, who disputed the authenticity of 2 Peter, admitted that this was one of the few features which made for the genuineness of the Epistle. We should certainly expect that an imitator of I Peter would have kept closer to his model in the salutation, since in iii.1 he is going to imply that his present letter is in the same sequence as the first. It is not possible in this case to treat the variation as an unconscious lapse on the part of the author, for he would hardly have begun his work with a lapse and, in any case, would not have lapsed into a primitive Hebrew form NO LONGER IN USE IN HIS OWN DAY. The only alternative is to assume that the use of the name Simeon was a deliberate device to give a greater impression of authenticity. In that case it would be necessary to suppose that the author had been studying the book of Acts or else that the form had independently survived orally in the author's own circles. On the whole, the author's name presents much greater difficulty for the pseudepigraphic writer than for Peter himself, who, in any case, would enjoy greater liberty in varying the form. If Zahn is right in holding that the recipients were Jewish Christians, it might be possible to explain the Hebrew form of the name on the grounds that for such readers this would be more appropriate. But Zahn's hypothesis is generally disputed (see discussion below).
2. There is undoubtedly a connection between 2 Peter i.14 and the saying in John xxi.18f., but there is no need to explain this by literary dependence. If Peter himself wrote 2 Peter and heard with his own ears the Lord's prediction, there would be nothing extraordinary in the connection. The main problem is how Peter would have known that the event was so imminent. The situation would be modified if the word tachine meant not soon, as it is generally rendered, but swift, which is the meaning it must sustain in ii.1 of this Epistle. There is a strong presumption that it means the same in both places. The emphasis would not then be on the imminence, but on the manner of Peter's death. But, in any case, if a pseudepigraphist was making an indirect allusion to John xxi.18, where Peter is told that some violent death awaited him when he was old, there would be less point in the tachine to indicate imminence. It did not require much foresight for an old man to suggest that his end was not far away. Moreover, a pseudepigraphist writing this would not appear to add anything to the information contained in the canonical sources, in spite of writing after the event. This may, of course, be a tribute to the pseudepigraphist's skill, but it could equally well be a witness to the veracity of Peter's own statement.
3. The meaning of 2 Peter i.15 is problematic. The statement reads, And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things (RSV). But to suppose that this refers to Mark's Gospel is precarious for there is no evidence to support it. These things are presumably things already mentioned in verse 12, which points back to the doctrinal statements of the preceding verses. Evidently the anticipated document was to be doctrinal in character and it is difficult to see how this was fulfilled in Mark's Gospel. It is better to suppose that this projected letter was either never written or has since been lost. It can hardly be regarded as an evidence of a pseudepigraphist's hand, in spite of Kasemann's suggestion that this allusion was included to give 2 Peter the character of a testament of Peter. 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 generations. 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.
4. But are the references to the transfiguration narrative natural for the apostle Peter? There is no denying that the pseudepigraphists were in the habit of making passing allusions to known events in the lives of their assumed authors, in order to create the historical setting necessary for their literary productions. But there is no parallel to Peter's allusion to the transfiguration, for the prophetic section does not require such a setting to make it intelligible. Indeed, it is difficult to see why a pseudepigraphist would have chosen this particular incident, especially as it does not, like the death and resurrection of Jesus, play a prominent part in early Christian preaching. The only justification for the choice would be the possibility of using it as an introduction to an esoteric revelation in the same way as the book of Enoch uses Enoch's journey through the heavens. But the author of 2 Peter does not claim to be making any new revelation on the basis of his hero's experiences on the mount of transfiguration. He appeals to it almost incidentally as a verification of the prophetic word he intends to impart. But this is a perfectly natural procedure and does not in itself demand a pseudepigraphic author. Peter himself could just as naturally have referred to his own remarkable experience, as he does in I Peter v.1.
Moreover, the form of this transfiguration account differs from the Synoptic accounts in certain details, and this demands an explanation. Is this easier to account for on the authenticity hypothesis than the pseudepigraphic? It would, at first sight, seem strange that any writer introducing an allusion to an historical incident, would have varied the account. There is no mention of Moses and Elijah; the Synoptic hear him is omitted; an emphatic ego is added; the order of words is changed; and the words hon eudoxesa are only partially paralleled in Mathew and not at all in Mark and Luke. Such variations suggest an independent tradition, and as far as they go favour a Petrine authorship rather than the alternative. It is, of course, possible to suppose that 2 Peter is reproducing an account from oral tradition, but it is much more natural to assume that this account is a genuine eyewitness account. It is significant that there is a complete absence of embellishment, such as are often found in the apocryphal books, and in fact can be illustrated in relation to the transfiguration from the fragment attached to the Apocalypse of Peter.
The idea of the holy mount (to horos to hagion) need not be as late a development as some scholars suppose, for the central feature is not veneration of a locality, but the appreciation of the sanctity of an impressive occasion in which the writer himself shared. The real issue is whether a pseudepigraphist would have singled out this particular mountain for special veneration. There does not appear to be any compelling reason why he should have done so. If he merely sensed that Peter would have regarded the mount as holy because of the theophany, the description might just as well reflect the real reactions of the apostle. As a genuine eyewitness account, it is highly credible; as a pseudepigraphic touch, it would have been a device of rare insight, which for that very reason makes it less probable.
It will be seen from these considerations so far THAT THERE IS LITTLE TANGIBLE EVIDENCE for non-authenticity from the personal allusions. There is, in fact, nothing here which requires us to treat the Epistle as pseudepigraphic.
(ii) Historical problems.
1. Many scholars who might be prepared to admit that the preceding evidences are not conclusive but corroborative, consider that the allusions to Paul tips the scales against Petrine authorship. But here again caution is needed. It must at once be noted that Peter's words need not imply the existence of an authorized corpus of Paul's letters. The all in iii.16 need mean no more than all those known to Peter at the time of writing. There is no suggestion that even these were known to the readers. Indeed, the writer is informing them of the difficulties in understanding these letters and it can hardly be supposed that they would have been unaware of this had they been acquainted with them. On the other hand, the Epistles in question have had sufficient circulation for the false teachers to twist them from their true interpretation.
Of much greater difficulty for the authenticity of the Epistle is the apparent classification of Paul's Epistles with the other scriptures. Now this again is a matter of interpretation. It is possible to contend that graphai does not mean scriptures but writings in general. The meaning would then be that these false teachers show no sort of respect for any religious writings and that this attitude was extended to Paul's writings. Such an interpretation is supported by the fact that in i.21 Old Testament prophecy is clearly regarded as bearing the mark of divine inspiration, whereas the reference to Paul lacks such a distinctive claim. He writes according to wisdom, but it is nonetheless a wisdom given to him (iii.15). Moreover the writer appears to be classing his own writing on the same level as Paul's, which would point to a time before the accepted veneration of Paul's writings (unless, of course, a pseudepigraphist is doing this to secure authority for his own writing-but see the discussion below, pp. 846f.).
But the usual New Testament interpretation of graphai is Scriptures (i.e. Old Testament) and it must be considered as more likely that that is its meaning here. Is it possible to conceive of Paul's writings being placed so early on a par with the Old Testament? It is not easy to answer this question with any certainty. Many scholars would answer categorically in the negative on the grounds that allowances must be made for a considerable delay before such veneration of Paul's writings was reached. Indeed, some would maintain that a period of neglect followed Paul's death and that interest was revived only after the publication of Acts, but this hypothesis is open to serious criticism. When all has been said there is practically no evidence at all to show precisely when Paul's letters first began to be used alongside the Old Testament.
There is NO DENYING that Paul himself considered his own writings to be invested with a special authority and, moreover, that he expected his readers generally to recognize this fact (cf. 2 Thes. iii.14; I Cor. ii.16, vii.17, xiv.37-39). We may either interpret this as the overbearing attitude of an autocrat or else AS EVIDENCE OF THE APOSTLE'S CONSCIOUSNESS OF WRITING UNDER THE DIRECT INSPIRATION OF GOD. But if the latter alternative is correct and if it were recognized by the churches generally, there would be less surprise that during the apostolic age writings of apostolic men were treated with equal respect to that accorded to the Old Testament. There can be no doubt that in both I and 2 Peter the prophetical and apostolic teaching is placed on a level (cf. I Pet. iv.11, i.10, 11). That this was characteristic of the primitive period seems to be borne out by the readiness with which the sub-apostolic age treated the apostolic writings with such respect. Admittedly, the Apostolic Fathers do not as explicitly place Paul on the same level of inspiration as the Old Testament, but it may be claimed that this is implicit in their approach. If by AD 140 Marcion could be sufficiently daring to exalt his Apostolicon to the complete detriment of the Old Testament, at some time previously the orthodox Christian Church must virtually have treated them as equal. Marcion was not introducing a volt-face, but pushing the natural development to an extreme limit in the interests of dogmatic considerations. Similarly developments are found in the growth of second-century pseudepigraphic apostolic literature, which must presuppose an existing body of authoritative apostolic literature. To place 2 Peter in the vanguard of this movement may at first seem a reasonable hypothesis, but it does not explain why this writer is so much in advance of his contemporaries in his regard for Paul's writings. Is it not more reasonable to suggest that in the apostolic period Peter may have recognized the value of Paul's Epistles even more fully than the later sub-apostolic Fathers? These latter do not speak of Paul as our beloved brother, but in more exalted ways as, THE BLESSED AND GLORIOUS Paul (Polycarp, Ad Phil. iii); THE BLESSED Paul (1 Clement xlvii. 1; Polycarp, Ad Phil. xi); THE SANCTIFIED Paul right blessed (Ignatius, Ad Eph. xii. 2). The description in 2 Peter would be almost over-familiar for a pseudepigraphist, although it would be wholly in character with what we should expect of the warm-hearted apostle portrayed in the Synoptic Gospels. This is either a genuine appreciation on the part of Peter himself or skilful representation by his imitator. The former alternative is rather easier to conceive than the latter.
Another consideration arises here. 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. Rather than pointing to a later origin, this self-candour of Peter's is a factor in favor of authenticity. It is surely not very surprising that Peter, or any of the other original apostles for that matter, found Paul difficult. Has anyone ever found him easy?
2. In evaluating the reference to the second letter in 2 Peter iii.1, the first problem to settle is whether or not this is a reference to I Peter. It is generally taken for granted and probably seems strongly to support this contention. Since there is a clear reference to an earlier letter and since I Peter already is known to us, it is a natural assumption that the two letters are to be identified. Both Spitta and Zahn rejected this assumption because they held that, whereas I Peter was addressed to Gentiles, 2 Peter was addressed to Jewish Christians. Few, however, have followed them in this (see further comments on readers below, pp.848f.). In addition they both maintained that in I Peter the author does not seem to have preached personally to these people, whereas in 2 Peter he has (cf. I Pet. i.12; 2 Pet. i.16). This distinction may be right, but is not absolutely demanded by the evidence. Bigg maintained that nothing more need be meant than that the recipients knew perfectly well what the teaching of the apostles was'. A much more weighty consideration is that I Peter does not fit the context of 2 Peter iii.1, which clearly implies that the former Epistle is like the present in being a reminder about predictions of coming false teachers. There is much to be said for the view that the former Epistle of 2 Peter iii.1 is not I Peter, but a lost epistle. On this assumption the reference could not be regarded as a literary device, for it would have no point unless the previous letter were well known. On the other hand, 2 Peter iii.1 does not absolutely demand that both Epistles should say the same thing and it may be possible to make I Peter fill the bill by appealing to the frequent allusions to prophetic words within that Epistle. Since there is room for difference of opinion on the matter, it can hardly be claimed that here is a clear indication of pseudonymity, although it might be corroborative evidence if pseudonymity were otherwise established. There is, in any case, nothing unnatural about the reference if both Epistles are Petrine.
3. The next problem to discuss is the occasion reflected in the Epistle. 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 OF FAVOUR OF A FIRST-CENTURY DATE and is rather more in support of authenticity than the reverse. (But see the further discussion on these false teachers, pp. 853ff.)
4. The objection based on iii.4, regarded as a reference to a former generation, is rather more weighty, although it is subject to different interpretations. Everything depends on the meaning in this context of pateres (the fathers). Most commentators assume that these are first generation Christians who have now died. The meaning of the verse would then be that questions have arisen over the veracity of the parousia, because ever since the first generation of Christians died everything has continued in the created order, just as they always have done previously. This interpretation would make good sense, but would clearly imply some interval since the first generation and this would at once exclude Petrine authorship. But is it correct? Nowhere else in the New Testament nor in the Apostolic Fathers is pateres used of Christian patriarchs and the more natural interpretation would be to take it as denoting the Jewish patriarchs, in which case the statement would amount to a rather exaggerated declaration of the changelessness of things. This would certainly give a reasonable connection with the allusion to the creation account and later to the flood.
Either interpretation is possible, but if this is the report of a second-century pseudepigraphist it needs to be explained how he could have thought that Peter would be able to look back on the first generation of Christians from some even earlier age. We should need to assume that he gave himself away through a foolish slip in historical detail, a not uncommon failing among pseudepigraphists. But the explanation is not very substantial since the statement in 2 Peter iii.4 is put into the mouths of the scoffers and would on this hypothesis presumably reflect current opinions. But questions regarding the parousia would be much more natural in the apostolic age than later. The Apostolic Fathers do not betray such concern over the delay in the parousia.
5. Zahn's interpretation of the reference to your apostles was to restrict it to those who had actually worked among the leaders and he saw no difficulty in the writer including himself. The point of the humon is that of contrast with the false teachers who in no sense belong to the readers. The combination of prophets and apostles is, of course, found in Ephesians ii.20, and is no certain evidence of a second-century provenance.
(iii) Literary problems.
Assuming for our present purposes that Jude is prior to 2 Peter (but see the discussion on this on pp. 919ff.), the problem arises whether the apostle Peter could or would have cited the lesser-known Jude. It has been suggested that no apostle would ever have made such extensive use of a non-apostolic source, but this supposition is fallacious, for it has already been seen from I Peter that Peter was the kind of man who was influenced by other writings. But the position in 2 Peter is admittedly of a different character in that it seems to involve the author in an expansion of an existing tract without acknowledgement. If Jude is prior to 2 Peter, therefore, it must be regarded as unexpected that such use is made of it and this would weigh the evidence rather against than for authenticity. At the same time it is equally, if not more, unexpected for a pseudepigraphist to adopt such a borrowing procedure. Indeed, it is quite unparalleled among the Jewish and early Christian pseudepigrapha. The question arises why so much of Jude needed to be incorporated. About the only reasonable suggestion on the late-date theory is to suppose that Jude's tract had failed because of its lack of an impressive name and so the same truths with considerable additions were attributed to Peter. But did no-one have any suspicions about this process? It would have been less open to question had the author made his borrowing from Jude less obvious.
Yet perhaps not too much emphasis should in any case be placed on this feature since there is no mention of difficulty over borrowing in any of the comments of Church Fathers concerning the retarded reception of this Epistle. If 2 Peter is prior, the difficulty would vanish altogether as far as that Epistle is concerned and it would then be necessary only to explain why Jude published an extract of a major part of 2 Peter under his own name. In that case, it would seem that Jude is writing when the situation predicted in 2 Peter has already been fulfilled and his Epistle would then be intended to remind the readers of this fact (cf. Jude17).
Nothing need be added to what has already been said on the literary connections between this Epistle and Paul's Epistles, but the relationship between I and 2 Peter is more significant. Several similarities between the Epistles exist, but not all scholars are agreed as to the reason for these. If Peter were author of both, there would be a ready explanation. If he were author of I Peter but not 2 Peter, direct imitation would need to be postulated, although this is difficult in view of the differences. If both were pseudepigraphic, it would be the first Christian instance of the development of a group of writings attributed to a famous name.
The difference in the use of the Old Testament in the two Epistles should not be exaggerated. While the variation in formal quotation must be admitted, it is a remarkable fact that where 2 Peter approaches the nearest to direct quotations, these are made from Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah, all of which are formally cited in I Peter. Indeed Proverbs and Isaiah are particular favourites of both authors. This kind of subtle agreement suggests the subconscious approaches of one mind rather than a deliberate imitation. It is difficult to regard it as purely accidental. Two other factors may be mentioned by way of corroboration. The similar appeal to the history of Noah is suggestive, although this could conceivably have been due to imitation. The estimate of the Old Testament in both authors is remarkably similar, for the statement in 2 Peter i.20, 21 regarding the inspiration of Scripture prophecy through the agency of the Spirit of God is fully consonant with the obviously high regard for the prophetic Scriptures in the first Epistle (cf. I Pet. i.10-12).
(iv) Stylistic problems.
It is notoriously difficult to devise any certain criteria for the examination of style and this is particularly true where comparison is made between two short Epistles. The area of comparison is so restricted that the results MAY WELL BE MISLEADING. Moreover, subjective impressions are likely to receive greater stress than is justified. At the same time, no-one can deny that the stylistic differences between the Epistles are real enough. Mayor pointed out that the vocabulary common to the two Epistles numbers 100 words, whereas the differences total 599. Variations of subject-matter would naturally account for many of the differences and it is not easy to decide what significance is to be attached to the rest. Both Epistles have a number of words found nowhere else in the New Testament (59 in I Peter, 56 in 2 Peter) and among these there are in both certain words of particular picturesqueness. On the whole these word totals have little importance in view of the small quantities of literature from which they are taken. But the grammatical words are rather a different matter. The fewer particles in 2 Peter than I Peter point to a different style, which may indicate a different hand. It may be possible to account for some of this variation by reference to the different mood of each writing. I Peter is more calmly deliberative that 2 Peter, which seems to have been produced in a state of strong feeling.
The aptness for repetitions found in 2 Peter has been noted and it is certainly marked. But, although it is rather more noticeable in 2 Peter than in I Peter, there are many instances of it in the latter. At times the author of 2 Peter falls into metrical cadences and this has been found a difficulty, but prose writers at times use poetic forms and this need occasion no great surprise.
If the linguistic characteristics are considered too divergent to postulate common authorship between I and 2 Peter, the difficulties would, of course, be considerably lessened, if not obviated, by the amanuensis hypothesis for one Epistle. If Peter, for instance, were author of I Peter, with the assistance of Silvanus as amanuensis, and author and scribe of 2 Peter, it would be possible to account for these stylistic differences and similarities. Or, if Jerome's hypothesis is preferred, both Epistles might be attributed to different amanuenses. This may be regarded by some as a desperate expedient to avoid a difficulty, but so widespread was the use of amanuenses in the ancient world that it ought not to be dismissed from consideration, at least as a possibility. There is now no means of telling what liberty of expression would be granted by Peter to any amanuensis whom he may have employed. It is in the realm of conjecture to declare that an apostle would or would not have done this or that.
(v) Doctrinal problems.
Much New Testament criticism is dominated by an over-analytical approach and this is particularly true in doctrinal comparisons. It is a fallacious assumption that any author of two works must give equal attention in both to the same themes, or must always approach any one theme in a similar way. The fact that 2 Peter deals more fully with the parousia theme than I Peter constitutes no difficulty for those who consider this difference to be due to difference of purpose. But is this sufficient to explain the important omissions of Petrine themes from 2 Peter? Could the author of I Peter have written an Epistle without mentioning the cross or resurrection of Christ? This is an important question which cannot be lightly dismissed. Whereas in I Peter there are specific references to the atoning work of Christ (e.g. i. 18, ii. 21ff.), there are less specific allusions in 2 Peter. Frequently Christ is called Saviour (soter). Through Him men are purged from sin (i.9). It is the Master who has bought believers (ii.1), and this cannot refer to anything other than a redemptive act in Christ. Apart from the implicit background of the cross, these allusions in 2 Peter would be unintelligible.
The resurrection and ascension of Christ appear to be replaced by the transfiguration, and this is certainly unexpected. But the author's purpose is to authenticate his own personal knowledge of the glory of Christ, which appears to have been more illuminated on the mount of transfiguration than during the resurrection appearances. In the latter the full majesty was veiled. But does the emphasis in 2 Peter betray a degenerate Christology? A fair assessment of the evidence would not support such a contention. The titles applied to Christ are Saviour, Lord and Master. He is central in the whole thinking of the believer (cf. ii. 20, i.2, 8). To Him is ascribed eternal glory (iii.18). Kasemann is dominated by the thought of non-Christian religious notions in the text, but these do not proceed naturally from the Epistle itself. It should be noted that the great emphasis on the Lordship of Christ in this Epistle presupposes the resurrection and ascension, since without these the doctrine could not have developed.
Turning to the eschatology of the Epistle, we must enquire whether Kasemann is justified in regarding this as sub-Christian. The hope of parousia with its practical outcome in providing a motive for holy living is fully in accord with the eschatology of the rest of the New Testament (2 Pet. iii.1ff.; cf. Jn. ii.28, iii.3). If anything, the eschatology is more primitive than in some parts of the New Testament and this is a point in its favour. The description of the eschaton (end), although dramatic with its accompanying destruction of the heavens and earth by fire, is seen to be extraordinarily restrained when compared, for instance, with the Apocalypse of Peter. An important factor for the dating of the Epistle is the absence of the second-century Chiliastic interpretation of Psalm xc.4, in spite of the fact that this passage is quoted in 2 Peter iii.8. A second-century pseudepigraphist would have done well to avoid this possible pitfall.
The different terms used in I Peter and 2 Peter to describe the Lord's coming have often been noted (apokalupsis and its cognate verb in I Peter and parousia, hemera kuriou, hemera kriseous in 2 Peter), but little weight may be put upon this. Paul in I Corinthians and 2 Thessalonians uses both apokalupsis and parousia, and there is no reason why Peter should not have used both words on different occasions.
As to the ethics of 2 Peter, there are exhortations in the Epistle which show the ethical appeal to be based on doctrine (cf. i.8f., where fruitfulness is particularly stressed; iii.11ff, where Christian behaviour is geared to the eschatological hope). There is emphasis on stability, restraint of passion, righteousness, purity. A variety of moral virtues is enumerated (i.55ff). But is the impetus mainly self-effort? Kasemann and many others believe that it is. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit is mentioned only once (i. 21) and then in relation to the inspiration of Scripture. The reason for this may lie in the particular tendencies of the readers. It is evident that the false teachers, at least, do not put much self-effort into their Christian behaviour, and the writer is clearly fearful lest their lax approach should infect the Christian believers to whom he is writing. This would explain the stronger emphasis on individual zeal than is found in I Peter. The absence of any close connection between ethics and the doctrine of the Spirit does not mean that the writer did not recognize such a connection, but rather that he saw no need to emphasize it (cf. Paul's approach in Colossians where the Spirit is mentioned once only, Col i.8).
On the whole it cannot be said that there are any substantial differences in doctrine when this Epistle is compared with other New Testament books. Although there are omissions, there are no contradictions. There are no features which are of such a character that they could not belong to the apostolic age. The doctrinal considerations are, in fact, rather more favourable to a primitive than to a later origin for the Epistle.
Little comment is needed on the Hellenistic terms used in this Epistle, for it is impossible to say what degree of impact on an author's mind environment might be expected to have. It will obviously differ with different minds. The main problem over 2 Peter is whether the apostle Peter, with his Jewish fisherman's background, could reasonably be expected to be acquainted with these expressions. None of the terms is of a type which could not have formed part of the vocabulary of a bilingual Galilaean. The difficulty arises only when it is ASSUMED that in 2 Peter they are used in a developed sense as in Greek philosophy or the mystery cults. In that case a fisherman would have to be ruled out. But the bandying about of some such terms as knowledge (gnosis) or virtue (areta) need not suppose acquaintance with current philosophical discussions, any more than it does today. This is the kind of evidence which is most convincing to those who have already concluded on other grounds that 2 Peter cannot have been produced in the first century AD.
So far the approach to Petrine authorship has been mainly negative in the course of examining the arguments brought against it. But there are a few considerations of a more positive character.
(vi) Additional considerations.
1. Similarities with the Petrine speeches in Acts will first be considered. No great weight can be attached to these similarities since they are merely verbal and their significance will naturally depend on the degree of credibility assigned to the Acts speeches. At most they can be corroborative. For instance, the words obtained (i.1; cf. Acts i.17), godliness (i.6; cf. Acts iii.12), day of the Lord (iii.10; cf. Acts ii.20) and punished (ii.9; Acts iv.21) all occur in both books. The incidental character of these parallels could be a point in their favour, since a pseudepigraphist might be expected either to have included more obvious parallels or else to have ignored the Acts source altogether. They might be regarded as echoes of one man's vocabulary, but the argument obviously cannot be pressed.
2. There are certain indirect personal reminiscences, which might support Petrine authorship. Words are used (skene, tabernacle and exodus, departure) which are found together in Luke's transfiguration narrative. They are used in a different context in 2 Peter, but this in itself would support the suggestion that they had made a deep impression on Peter's mind and are subconsciously brought into play as Peter muses about the transfiguration (i.17f.). It may be a subtle psychological support that these two words are used before the transfiguration account is included, but at a point in the Epistle where the writer's mind is moving rapidly towards its conclusion.
3. The superiority of 2 Peter over the Petrine spurious books is another point in its favour. A comparison of its spiritual quality with the spiritual tone of the Gospel of Peter, the Preaching of Peter, the Acts of Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter cannot fail to impress even the most casual reader with the immeasurable superiority of the canonical book. This is in itself no conclusive evidence of the authenticity of 2 Peter, for if this Epistle is pseudepigraphic it could conceivably follow that this pseudepigraphist excelled himself, while the others did not. But the problem goes deeper than this, for spiritual quality is not a matter of skill, but of inspiration. In spite of all the doubts regarding the Epistle, the discernment of the Christian Church decided in its favour because the quality of its message suggested its authenticity. It was the same discernment which confidently rejected the spurious Petrine literature.
The summing up of the case for and against authenticity is not easy, because there are strong arguments on both sides. The external evidence, at least, indicates a certain lack of confidence in the book, although the cause is not specifically stated. At the same time the internal evidence poses many problems, not all of which can be answered with equal certainty, but none of which can be said categorically to exclude Petrine authorship. The dilemma is intensified by the difficulties confronting alternative views of authorship. 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 pseudepigraphists 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.
In addition to this there are difficulties in finding a suitable occasion which might have prompted such a pseudonymous Epistle. It is a fair principle to suppose that pseudonymity would be resorted to only if genuine authorship would fail to achieve its purpose. In this case it would require a situation in which only apostolic authority would suffice. In most of the acknowledged Christian pseudepigrapha, a sufficient motive is found in the desire to propagate views which would not otherwise be acceptable. Thus the device was used widely among heretical sects. But in orthodox circles the need would be less pressing, for the whole basis of their tradition was apostolic and any literary works whose doctrine was wholly in harmony with that tradition would not need to be ascribed rather artificially to an apostolic author. The writer of 2 Peter says nothing which the apostolic writers of the other books of the New Testament would not have endorsed. There is no hint of esoteric doctrine or practice. What was the point, then, of ascribing it to Peter? Since the false teachers where showing no respect for Paul (2 Pet. ii.16), would they have shown any more for Peter? If it be maintained that these teachers were using Peter's name against Paul and that this obliged the orthodox Church to answer them in Peter's name, would they not be using the very method they would condemn in their opponents? 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.
The choice seems to lie between two fairly well defined alternatives. Either the Epistle is genuinely Petrine (with or without the use of an amanuensis), in which case the main problem is the delay in its reception. Or it is pseudepigraphic, in which case the main difficulties are lack of an adequate motive and the problem of its ultimate acceptance.
Both obviously present some difficulties, but of the two the former is easier explained. If 2 Peter was sent to a restricted destination (see discussion below) it is not difficult to imagine that many churches may not have received it in the earlier history of the Canon. When it did begin to circulate it may well have been received with some suspicion, particularly if by this time some spurious Petrine books were beginning to circulate. That it ultimately became accepted universally must have been due to the recognition not merely of its claim to apostolic authorship, but also of its apostolic content. Under the latter hypothesis it would be necessary to assume that its lack of early attestation and the existence of suspicions were because its pseudepigraphic origin was known, and that its later acceptance was due to the fact that this origin was forgotten and the Epistle mistakenly supposed to be genuine. While there is nothing intrinsically impossible about this reconstruction, it requires greater credibility than the authenticity hypothesis. The dilemma for pseudepigraphic hypotheses is caused by the fact that attestation for the book would be expected very soon after its origin on the assumption that some would at once assume from its ascription that it was genuine. This evidently happened in the case of the Apocalypse of Peter which is attested in the Muratorian Fragment, but never commanded any further acceptance except in Egypt. But in spite of Harnack's arguments for placing 2 Peter in the late second century, FEW MODERN ADVOCATES OF PSEUDEPIGRAPHIC ORIGIN PLACE IT SO LATE. At a period when the orthodox were on the alert to test the validity of all literary productions, it is difficult to see how an earlier pseudepigraphic production would have gained currency after a considerable interval of time, especially against marked suspicions.
Noted Evangelical and NT scholar and professor, Douglas J. Moo critiques the evangelical acceptance of a pseudonymous author for 2 Peter:
"But we think this is an unfortunate move. The acceptance of 2 Peter as both pseudonymous and inerrant requires us to believe that the claim in 1:1 would not have been understood in its day as a claim to authorship-which is unlikely. We have many examples of certain kinds of books being written in someone else's name-apocalypses especially. And we have evidence that some people, even in the early church, wrote letters in other people's names (2 Thess. 2:2). But what we also find is that such books and letters were always regarded with suspicion. L. R. Donelson concludes after a thorough study: No one ever seems to have accepted a document as religiously and philosophically prescriptive which was known to be forged. I DO NOT KNOW OF A SINGLE EXAMPLE.
The very fact that 2 Peter was accepted as a canonical book, then, presumes that the early Christians who made this decision were positive that Peter wrote it. Those who did not think that Peter wrote it barred it from the canon for this reason. In other words, we have to choose between (1) viewing 2 Peter as a forgery, intended perhaps to claim an authority that the author did not really have-and therefore omit it from the canon; and (2) viewing 2 Peter as an authentic letter of the Apostle Peter. The have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too theory of a canonical pseudepigraphon does not seem to be an alternative.
As a matter of fact, however, we do not think the reasons scholars put forward for thinking that the apostle Peter could not have written this letter are at all convincing. Let me deal briefly with each of the objections we listed above.
(1) The Greek of 2 Peter has an undeniable literary and even philosophical flavor, quite different from the Greek of 1 Peter. But (a) there is nothing in the letter that Peter, after many years of ministry in the Greek world, could not have written; (b) Peter may have deliberately chosen to write in this style because of the needs of his readers, and (c) the more commonplace Greek of 1 Peter may be the result of the help of an amanuensis (Silvanus?-see 1 Peter 5:12).
(2) Nothing the false teachers were propagating is unknown in the first century church.
(3) Other New Testament texts suggest that of the Lord and certain New Testament books were being regarded as scriptural from an early period.
(4) While some Christians expressed doubts about 2 Peter, many others accepted the book from the beginning. People probably had doubts because the book was not widely used and because there were so many Petrine forgeries about.
(5) Nothing in 2 Peter suggests any kind of ecclesiastical organization or hierarchy; and early Catholicism itself is a dubious concept.
(6) Resemblances between 2 Peter and the testament form are undeniable. But the use of this form within a letter renders comparison with other testaments dubious. We should accept the plain meaning of the letter's opening words and accept it as an authentic letter of the Apostle Peter. (Moo, The NIV Application Commentary: 2 Peter, Jude [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI 1996], pp. 23-24; bold emphasis ours)
We also recommend that our readers read the following superb articles defending 2 Peter's Petrine authorship: , .
Even though we could have quoted many other references, these should suffice for now.
Before concluding, we would like to mention a couple of points. First, the fact that certain Christians didn't accept 2 Peter is a testimony to the extreme care, caution and integrity of the early Church in discovering the NT canon. The early Church didn't just accept any book simply because it claimed to be written by an apostle or because it was completely orthodox in content. The book was accepted on the grounds that it could be shown to have originated from the time of the Apostles and was in agreement with the rest of the genuine Apostolic writings. Therefore, the Church's hesitance in accepting 2 Peter demonstrates that the first Christians weren't simply arbitrarily accepting books that agreed with their doctrines, but were more concerned with whether the book was handed down from the Apostles and/or their companions as inspired revelation. As Bruce Metzger, one of Bravo's favorites, noted regarding the Church's slow process of determining the NT canon:
"The slowness of determining the final limits of the canon is testimony to the care and vigilance of early Christians in receiving books purporting to be apostolic. But, while the collection of the New Testament into one volume was slow, the belief in a written rule of faith was primitive and apostolic ... In the most basic sense neither individuals nor councils created the canon; instead they came to perceive and acknowledge the self-authenticating quality of these writings, which imposed themselves as canonical upon the church." (Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth and Content [New York: Abingdon Press, 1965], p. 276; bold emphasis ours)
Second, as both Guthrie and Moo noted, 2 Peter circulated to a few communities at first and is therefore not surprising that not all Christians accepted 2 Peter. By the time the letter had reached them doubts would have naturally arisen regarding its genuineness, especially when there were other pseudonymous works claiming to be written by Peter.
Third, as I had already indicated in a previous rebuttal, a late or even second century dating does nothing to refute my argument that the first Christians viewed the individual books of the NT as inspired. It actually trashes Bravo's weak attempts of undermining the NT and only exposes his attempt to obfuscate matters. Since 2 Peter 1:20-21 states that scripture is the result of the Holy Spirit guiding the prophets to inscripturate God's revelation, and since 2 Peter 3:15-16 places Paul's letters with the "rest of scriptures", this means that Paul's letters were recognized as Scripture by the Christian community! Whether Peter wrote 2 Peter or not has no bearing on the issue at hand, namely that the early Christian communities recognized Paul's letters as inspired Scripture on par with the OT.
Even some of Bravo's very own sources admit this:
"2 Pet 3:15 indicates that a group of Pauline letters were being read ON THE SAME LEVEL as "the other Scriptures"; but 2 Pet is notoriously hard to date." (Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy, ed., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary [Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990; Nihil Obstat. Imprimatur: Reverend William J. Kane. Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Washington, Nov. 15 1988], p. 1046)
The third objection to Petrine authorship concerns the reference in 3:15-16 to Paul's letters AS SCRIPTURE (his statement that they are difficult to understand is simply an early confirmation of what many still think). This seems to imply that Paul's letters had already been collected together, something that scholars have until very recently considered unlikely until sometime late in the first century at the earliest. It also implies A RECOGNIZED AUTHORITATIVE STATUS for the Pauline Letters, something that many scholars do not consider to have been given until well into the second century. Such a late date of composition seems to be confirmed by references in 2 Peter to the apostles and fathers as "in the past," like the prophets... (Lee Martin McDonald & Stanley E. Porter, Early Christianity and Its Sacred Literature [Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 2000], p. 140)
Amazingly, Bravo in his article placed emphasis on the wrong and irrelevant aspects of these citations, all the while failing to see how these very citations acknowledge my point that 2 Peter 3:15-16 classifies Paul's letters as Scripture!
The late NT scholar Raymond E. Brown readily acknowledged that 2 Peter 3:16 classifies Paul's letters as Scripture. In commenting on the dating of 2 Peter, Brown notes:
" At one end of the spectrum, II Pet was certainly in existence by AD 200, since the text is preserved in the 3d-century Bodmer P72 and it was known by Origen. At the other end, a number of after point to a date no earlier than ca. 100. e.g: after the apostolic generation was dead and expectations of the second coming during their lifetime had been disappointed (II Pet 3:4-thus after 80); after I Pet (II Pet 3:1) which may have been composed in the 80s; after Jude which may have been composed ca.90; after there was a collection of Pauline letters (II Pet 3:15-16) which probably did not take place much before 100; after THOSE LETTERS WERE SEEMINGLY RECKONED AS SCRIPTURE (II Pet 3:16: as they do the other writings of Scriptures)-a development attested for Christian writings in the early 2d century " (Brown, Introduction To The New Testament, Doubleday, p. 767; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Bravo then quotes the New Jerusalem Biblical Commentary and an additional source which, though acknowledging the fact that the term Scripture (graphe) functions as a technical term presumably for the OT canon and thus for inspired revelation, deny that 2 Peter 3 classifies Paul's letters as Scripture:
In other words, 2 Peter like Timothy was also written pseudonymously, according to Harper Collins Bible Dictionary:"even well into the second century[.]" Furthermore, scholars are not certain if 2 Peter puts Paul's writings to equal authority with the "other scriptures":
2 Pet 3:16 put the writings of Paul on a par "with the Other Scriptures," but we are not certain that this indicates total equality with the OT.
Factor number three states that
The exclusion of Petrine authorship on the basis of an appeal to the collected Pauline Letters as "scripture," indicating a date into the second century, cannot be easily mitigated, unless one is able to show that the use of . . . (graphe) in the plural is not a technical term (as it appears to be virtually everywhere else in the NT) or that the Pauline letters were gathered together and achieved authoritative status very early. Some have tried to show that the Pauline writings were gathered together very early, but this has yet to be proven. The author may infact not know the entire Pauline corpus but be alluding merely to all the letters known to him at the time, and the Scriptures he is referring to may be what we now call the OT.
In one of their footnotes they state that
The writer of 2 Pet 3:15-16 appears to recognize Paul's writings as Scripture, but this passage does not indicate what the "other scriptures" were (OT or NT), nor does this take away from the point that the writers of the NT were not consciously aware that they were writing sacred Scripture.
First, we have already exposed the lie that the NT authors were unaware that they were writing sacred Scripture, since we have seen that in cases like Paul and John these men were aware that they were writing revelation. Also notice that Bravo's citations basically contradict each other since some assert that 2 Peter affirms Paul's letters as scriptures, while others say it is not certain. This only serves to highlight the confusion which exists amongst Bravo's so-called "majority." This only exposes the weakness in Bravo's fallacious appeal to an alleged majority since his appeal does absolutely nothing to undermine my arguments. All it proves is that Bravo is good at committing logical fallacies such as the fallacy of appealing to authority and of ad populum!
Second, the fact that Peter likens Paul's letters to the other Scriptures is an indication that Peter is in fact placing Paul's writings on the same exact level with the OT. This can be seen from the consistent NT use of Scripture/Scriptures to refer to the inspired OT writings:
"He said to them, How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." Luke 24:25-27
"He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:44-45
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." John 5:39-40
"the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures." Romans 1:2
"Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;" Romans 16:25-26 NASB
Interestingly, these passages state that the OT prophetic Scriptures predicted the coming of Christ and the preaching of the Gospel. This is the same Gospel that Paul and the other Apostles were commissioned to pass on to others both orally and in writing. As a matter of fact, Paul claimed that he received this Gospel through revelation from God:
"Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man," Galatians 1:1, 11-16
Contrast this with Jeremiah's calling:
"The word of the LORD came to me, saying, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Ah, Sovereign LORD, I said, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child. But the LORD said to me, Do not say, "I am only a child." You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:4-10
That Paul received his calling by a revelation from God, in a fashion similar to that of the OT prophets, implies that Paul knew that he was functioning on the same (if not higher) level as/than they, having similar (if not greater) authority!
Douglas Moo puts this into perspective:
The implicit point Peter is making emerges from his claim that the false teachers distort Paul's letters as they do the other Scriptures. The word other (loipos) shows that Peter considers the letters of Paul to belong to the category of Scripture. Some scholars think that this means no more than that Peter considered Paul's writings to be authoritative. But the word Scriptures (graphai) ALWAYS REFERS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT TO THOSE WRITINGS CONSIDERED NOT ONLY AUTHORITATIVE BUT CANONICAL- in a word, it refers to the Old Testament Peter therefore implies that the letters of Paul have a status EQUIVALENT to that of the canon of the Old Testament itself. (Moo, op. cit., p. 212; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Moo goes on to say:
PETER'S SUGGESTION THAT Paul's letters belong in the category of Scriptures cannot be properly understood without some understanding of the formation of the canon of the biblical books and of the significance of this formation.
The word canon means a measuring rod. Early Christians applied it to those books that they considered the authoritative measuring rod by which one could determine what was orthodox and what was heretical. The matter is vigorously debated, but there is good evidence that by the time of Jesus, Jews were already operating with at least a de facto canon of authoritative books.
The New Testament uses the word, graphe, usually in the plural, graphai, to refer to these authoritative Jewish Scriptures. Used fifty times in the New Testament, the word ALWAYS refers to the authoritative writings that we call the Old Testament. The plural is the more usual, indicating the collection of books (e.g., Luke 24:27 ). The singular usually denotes a single text from the Old Testament (e.g. James 2:8 ) Some scholars claim that the word is also applied to passages not found in our Old Testament, but the claim cannot be substantiated. The New Testament authors' restriction of the word Scripture to those books we now call the Old Testament suggests that they were operating with an implicit, closed canon.
Other evidence tends to confirm this conclusion. For instance, New Testament writers NEVER quote as an authoritative source any book that is not found in the Old Testament canon. To be sure, Jude does cite passages from the Pseudepigrapha (vv. 9 and 14-15). We will deal with this passage in the commentary below, but suffice to say here that it is not clear that Jude refers to either of these texts as authoritative, nor does he cite them as Scripture or with the kind of introduction we usually find when Scripture is quoted.
An incidental confirmation of the existence of a canon of Scriptures in Jesus' day that looked much like ours is Matthew 23:35: And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Abel is, of course, mentioned in the early chapters of Genesis. The martyrdom of Zechariah son of Berekiah, on the other hand, is described in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21. The point is this: In the Hebrew Bible, 2 Chronicles is the last book. The order in which Jesus cites these martyrs, therefore, suggests that he was familiar with a Bible in which Genesis comes first and 2 Chronicles last-exactly what we now have in our Old Testament.
It is against this background, then, that we must assess Peter's suggestion that Paul's letters also belong in the category of Scripture. The first thing to note is that Peter does not straightforwardly call Paul's letters Scripture. He is much less direct, associating Paul's letters with Scripture rather than identifying them as Scripture. We find the same kind of indirect association in 1 Timothy 5:18, the other relevant New Testament passage Here we also find a New Testament text (Luke 10:7) associated indirectly with an Old Testament passage (Deut. 25:4).
Such indirect allusion is just what we might expect at this point in time. As with most doctrines, the idea of the New Testament books as Scripture developed only over time, as these books were used and found to be profitable by the early Christians. In fact, it took a couple of centuries before the process of recognizing and accepting a New Testament canon was complete. Peter was certainly not at the point where he could formulate A FULL-BLOWN concept of the New Testament canon.
If, then, we had the opportunity to ask Peter to clarify and elaborate his point, what might he have said? Would he have argued that the letters of Paul should be added to the canon of authoritative books? This would have been difficult, for, as we have seen, New Testament evidence points to a closed first-century canon of Scriptures. Perhaps, then, he would have had to suggest the creation of an additional canon alongside the existing one- in effect, an Old and New Testament. But the fact is that we do not know, and Peter himself had undoubtedly not thought through the matters to this extent. What is important is that he suggests that Paul's letters are like the Old Testament Scriptures.
For Peter, this would have meant two things. (1) Paul's letters ARE INSPIRED BY GOD. In this very letter, Peter enunciates this idea of inspiration (see our discussion of 1:20b-21). Paul's letters also, PETER INFERS, ARE THE PRODUCT OF GOD'S SPIRIT, CARRYING PAUL ALONG SO THAT HE WROTE WHAT GOD WANTED HIM TO WRITE. Paul likewise made clear that inspiration is an integral quality of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).
(2) Paul's letters are authoritative. Authority is the byproduct of inspiration. Precisely because God, by his Spirit, speaks in them, Paul's letters are to be heeded as if they were the words of God himself. It is this important and practical point that Peter is most interested in. He has been trying to convince his readers to accept the truth about Christ's Parousia and so to devote themselves to a holy life. And he wants them to know that Paul supports his own view of things, not that of false teachers (as the false teachers were perhaps claiming). Associating Paul's letters with Scripture gives them an authority that his readers should recognize and obey.
Ultimately, of course, Peter writes with the same kind of authority as does our dear brother Paul.' How he viewed his own writing, whether he had begun to entertain any notion that it, too, was Scripture, is impossible to know. But this does seem to be the implication of what Peter says here about the letters of his fellow apostle Paul." (Moo, pp. 215-217; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Finally, we conclude with the words of the Apostolic Fathers, the very eye and ear witnesses of the Apostles, regarding their view of Paul. The following citations are taken from The Apostolic Fathers- Greek Texts and English Translations (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1999), edited and revised by Michael W. Holmes. All bold and capital emphasis ours:
Take up THE EPISTLE of the BLESSED PAUL the apostle. What did he first write you in the "beginning of the gospel"? Truly HE WROTE to you IN THE SPIRIT about himself and Cephas and Apollos, because even then you had split into factions (The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians Commonly Known as First Clement, # 47, d. 96 AD; Holmes, p. 83)
Interestingly, this Clement maybe the same Clement alluded to in Paul's Epistle:
"Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." Philippians 4:3
Ignatius of Antioch wrote:
I know who I am and to whom I am writing. I am a convict, you have received mercy; I am in danger, you are secure. You are the highway of those who are being killed for God's sake; you are fellow initiates of Paul, who was sanctified, who was approved, who is deservedly blessed - may I be found in his footsteps when I reach God! - who in every letter remembers you in Christ Jesus. (The Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians, 12:1; Holmes, p. 145)
I do not give you orders LIKE PETER AND PAUL: THEY WERE APOSTLES, I am a convict; they were free, but I am even now still a slave (The Letters of Ignatius to the Romans, 4:1; Holmes, p. 171)
Bravo has attacked the authenticity of Ignatius' letters. As is the case with Bravo's rebuttals, he had much to say but no substance to offer. Suffice it to say, I will be exposing Bravo's weak attempts of trying to undermine Ignatius' letters in a forthcoming rebuttal, Lord Jesus willing.
I am writing you these comments about righteousness, brothers, not on my own initiative but because you invited me to do so. For neither I nor anyone like me CAN KEEP PACE WITH THE WISDOM OF THE BLESSED AND GLORIOUS PAUL, who, when he was among you in the presence of the men of the time, ACCURATELY AND RELIABLY TAUGHT THE WORD CONCERNING THE TRUTH. And when he was absent he wrote you letters; if you study them carefully, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BUILD YOURSELVES UP IN THE FAITH that has been given you, "which is the mother of us all [Galatians 4:26]," while hope follows and love for God and Christ and for our neighbor leads the way
"But the love of money is the beginning of al, trouble [1 Timothy 6:10]." Knowing, therefore, that "we brought nothing into, nor can we take anything out [1 Timothy 6:7]," let us arm ourselves with "the weapons of righteousness [2 Corinthians 6:7; Romans 6:13]" and let us first teach ourselves to follow the commandment of the Lord
Knowing therefore, that "God is not mocked [Galatians 6:7]," we out to live in a manner that is worthy of his commandment and glory. Similarly, deacons must be blameless in the presence of his righteousness, as deacons of God and Christ and not of men: not slanderers, not insincere, not lovers of money, self-controlled in every respect, compassionate, diligent, acting in accordance with the truth of the Lord, who became a "a servant of all [1 Timothy 3:8-13; Mark 9:35]." If we please him in this present world, we will receive the world to come as well, inasmuch as he promised to raise us from the dead and that if we prove to be citizens worthy of him, "we will also reign with him [2 Timothy 2:12]"- if, that is, we continue to believe. (The Letter Polycarp to the Philippians, 3.1-5:1; Holmes, pp. 209, 211)
I have been deeply grieved for Valens, who once was a presbyter among you, because he so fails to understand the office that was entrusted to him. I warn you, therefore: avoid love of money, and be pure and truthful. "Avoid every kind of evil [1 Thessalonians 5:22]." But how can a man who is unable to control himself in these matters preach self-control to someone else? If a man does not avoid love of money, he will be polluted by idolatry, and will be judged as one of the Gentiles, who are ignorant of the Lord's judgment. "Or do we not know that the saints will judge the world," as Paul teaches? But I have not observed or heard of any such thing among you, in whose midst THE BLESSED Paul labored, and who were HIS LETTERS of recommendation from the beginning. For he boasts about you in all the churches-those alone, that is, which at that time had come to know the Lord, for we had not yet come to know him. Therefore, brothers, I am deeply grieved for him and for his wife; may the Lord grant them true repentance. You, therefore, for your part must be reasonable in this matter, "and do not regard" such people "as enemies [2 Thessalonians 3:15]," but, as sick and straying members, restore them, in order that may save your body in its entirety. For by doing this you build one another.
For I am convinced that you are all well trained in the Sacred Scriptures and that nothing is hidden from you (something not granted to me). Only, as it is said in these Scriptures, "be angry but do not sin [Ephesians 4:26]", and "do not let the sun set on your anger [Ephesians 4:26]." Blessed is the one who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you. (The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians, 11:1-12:1; Holmes, pp. 217, 219)
Polycarp not only praises Paul, but shows that he is very familiar with Paul's writings, going so far as to call Ephesians 4:26 Scripture!
It is quite evident that these men knew that the Apostles had greater authority than they. The Apostolic Fathers clearly believed that the Apostles were speaking and writing with the inspiration of the Holy Sprit. This in turn demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the early Church did believe in the inspiration of the individual books of the NT.
And since Bravo has got quite a fascination for liberal, critical scholar Bart D. Ehrman here is what the latter says about the early Church's view of the NT books:
In any event, Jesus's teachings were soon seen to be as authoritative as the pronouncements of Moses - that is, those of the Torah itself. This becomes even more clear later in the New Testament period, in the book of I Timothy, allegedly by Paul but frequently taken by scholars to have been written in his name by a later follower. In I Tim. 5:18 the author is urging his readers to pay those who minister among them, and supports his exhortation by quoting "the scripture." What is interesting is that he then quotes two passages, one found in the Torah ("Do not muzzle an ox that is treading," Deut. 25:4) and the other found on the lips of Jesus ("A workman is worthy of his hire"; see Luke 10:7). It appears that for this author, Jesus's words are already on a par with scripture.
Nor was it just Jesus's teachings that were being considered scriptural by the second- or third-generation Christians. So too were the writings of his apostles. Evidence comes in the final book of the New Testament to be written, 2 Peter, a book that most critical scholars believe was not actually written by Peter but by one of his followers, pseudonymously. In 2 Peter 3 the author makes reference to false teachers who twist the meaning of Paul's letter to make them say what they want them to say, "just as they do with the rest of the scriptures" (2 Pet. 3:16). It appears that Paul's letters are here being understood as scripture.
Soon after the New Testament period, certain Christian writings were being quoted as authoritative texts for the life and beliefs of the church. An outstanding example is a letter written by Polycarp, the previously mentioned bishop of Smyrna, in the early second century. Polycarp was asked by the church at Philippi to advise them, particularly with respect to a case involving one of the leaders who had evidently engaged in some form of financial mismanagement within the church (possibly embezzling church funds). Polycarp's letter to the Philippians, which still survives, is intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its propensity to quote earlier writings of the Christians. In just fourteen brief chapters, Polycarp quotes more than a hundred passages from these earlier writings, asserting their authority for the situation the Philippians were facing (in contrast to just a dozen quotations from the Jewish scriptures); in one place he appears to call Paul's letter to the Ephesians scripture. More commonly, he simply quotes or alludes to earlier writings, assuming their authoritative status for the community. (Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Who Changed the Bible and Why [HarperSanFrancisco, 2005], pp. 31-32)
Despite his comments regarding the alleged pseudonymity of 1 Timothy and 2 Peter, even Ehrman admits that these books, along with Polycarp, affirm the inspiration and authority of specific writings which eventually became part of the NT canon.
This rebuttal sufficiently exposes the weakness and fallacies of Bravo's attempted response and smokescreens. This concludes this section. The next section to follow shortly, Lord Jesus willing.
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