Re: [Synoptic-L] 1-2 Peter
- To: Synoptic
In Response To: Jack Kilmon
On: 1-2 Peter
I agree with Jack's conclusions on pseudonymity, and with much of the
evidence he cites. Some points strike me as weaker than others, and in
mixed company it may be better to leave those out, as offering points
for pseudo-refutation. The case is good enough without them. Here
would be my review of the position as Jack states it.
JACK: This epistle is written to the "exiles of the dispersion" in
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia." The historical
Shymeon bar Yona/Kefa/"Peter" died in the Neronian Roman persecution
of 64-67 CE when there WERE NO Christian communities in Pontus-Bithynia.
BRUCE: The idea that Peter ever visited Rome has itself been
challenged as a Roman authority myth. At minimum, it has certainly
been much elaborated in that sense. I think the best one can say is
that there are no competing traditions.
JACK: This epistle could ONLY have been written during the persecution
of Domitian in 95 CE, the same during which John of Patmos wrote
Revelation and I Peter was stimulated by
the completed Revelation already in circulation (96-98 CE).
BRUCE: Date or dates of Revelation are disputed among seemingly
competent authorities, and may need separate statement. One key item
would be specific points where 1Pt derives from or uses, and thus
shows knowledge of, Rev. A list of the strongest of these would be
very handy, to all who may be considering the position de novo.
I reached somewhat this conclusion by a different route, relying on no
absolute dates but rather on the series of literary derivations Acts 2
> Colossians > Ephesians > 1 Peter. We don't always need absolutedates to get the job sufficiently done for present purposes. Which is
good, because absolute dates usually are the hardest thngs to come by.
One of the few cases I can think of offhand is Mk 13 (summer of 40;
JACK: This epistle was CLEARLY written when Christians in those
provinces were being persecuted and the FIRST time that happened was
the last few years of the 1st century. Even the governor of this
province, in a letter to Trajan in 112 CE testified
that Christians first came there around 90 CE:
Alii ab indice nominati esse se Christianos dixerunt et mox negaverunt;
fuisse quidem sed desisse, quidam ante triennium, quidam ante plures annos,
non nemo etiam ante viginti.
BRUCE: Does this mean the first Christian presence, before which there
is no Christian presence, or does it indirectly document the existence
of a persecution 20 years earlier, in which some then Christians had
renounced their faith? I have usually seen the letter taken in the
latter sense. If so, if gives us a terminus a quo, and dates the
persecution that Jack refers to as the one of concern to 1 Peter. (Of
course, some relate 1 Peter to the Trajan persecution itself).
JACK: Therefore if some in these Asian churches, founded by Paul,
BRUCE: Galatia, no doubt. I think the foundation of other Asian
churches is much in question. For some of them, there seem not to be
even mythological foundation stories.
JACK: . . . had been Christians for THREE years, others more and a few
ABOVE TWENTY years ago in 112 CE, by my calculations there were
Christians there in 90 CE still many
years after the death of Shymeon Bar Yona/Kefa/Peter. Peter had been
dead 25 years!
JACK: We can't set aside the beautiful literary, almost classic, Greek and
extensive knowledge of Greek philosophy, including Gnosticism (also
something later than the lifetime of Peter).
BRUCE: Depends on how you define Gnosticism. I think there are traces
of that approach (the third way of salvation: actions, belief, or
knowledge, respectively my Alpha, Beta, and Gamma soteriological
categories) pretty early. What's the chronologically oldest reference
to knowledge of Jesus in even the NT texts? Here is another reference
point that, to me, dissolves on inspection into a reference area, and
is thus chronologically slippery in practice.
JACK: It is hard for me to imagine an illiterate, Aramaic speaking Galilean
fisherman (Acts 4:13) who needed his own Greek interpreter to help him with
his exchanges in Antioch and other Greek speaking communities (Papias,
Irenaeus, Justin, Eusebius) wrote an Epistle in the most literary and
rhetorical Greek of the NT.
BRUCE: Acts is out to compose a picture of a cardboard Peter and a
cardboard Paul, much assimilated one to the other, as part of his
irenic message in Acts I (which ends, at Ac 15:35, on a note of
complete reconciliation between Jewish and Gentile converts to the
Jesus movement, and on harmony between the respective centers,
Jerusalem and Antioch. The falsity of this construct is useful in its
way (chiefly because documents which agree with the Acts picture,
including both 1 and 2 Peter, have to be later that Acts, and thus at
a minimum post-Pauline), but the converse of the useful falsity is
that Acts cannot be used as truthful reportage. Can't have it both
ways, and this is the way I recommend as safer.
How illiterate Peter actually was, and how unaware of Greek culture
the Galileans in general were, seems to be one of those topics on
which the center of gravity of learned opinion has been shifting, in a
Greek direction, over recent decades. I don't trust Acts, and the
so-called Fathers have no independent knowledge (they are very much
indebted to Acts, down to and including Eusebius). Peter was a
successful commercial fisherman, which would have involved daily
working contact with common-interchange Greek. Though there seem to
have even been Greek-type amphitheaters in or near Galilee, I think it
fair to wonder how much of the high culture it is probablilistically
likely Peter would have acquired.
All this, in short, seems to me relatively soft territory. Which does
not greatly matter, because, to me, Jack's next point . . .
JACK: There is also no Aramaic interference in the sophisticated Greek
syntax of 1 Peter which would have been present if dictated to an
BRUCE: . . . will suffice by itself. Case closed.
JACK: The author of 1 Peter refers to himself as a SUMPRESBUTEROS, a
title that did not arise until the late first century and would not
have been used for a disciple (Apostles and elders distinguished at
BRUCE: Acts, schmacts. But the internal contradiction between the
author of 1 Pt's self-identification as an original apostle, and his
later reference to the apostles in the third person, show a false
identity that has been incompletely assumed by the author. This, by
the way, applies to several of these late documents. If the writer
can't consistently speak from the point of view of the announced
author, then he is not, in fact, that author, but a later writer using
a borrowed identity.
JACK: Additionally, "Babylon" was not used as a code word for Rome
until quite late in the 1st century.
BRUCE: Studies I have seen are more specific. Babylon was the old
destroyer and scatterer of the nation of Israel. Rome assumed that
role in Jewish imagery after 70, when Rome had destroyed the Temple,
and to some extent scattered its Jewish population. If this makes
sense, then we can in fact be more specific than "quite late in the
1st century." Use of the Babylon metaphor tends to put 1Pt and Rev, or
at least the relevant parts of both (if, as is claimed for both, they
are composite rather than integral texts) in the same post-70-
chronological category. This is enough, always granting the Neronian
scenario for the death of Peter, to establish the non-Petrine
authorship of 1 Pt (and, a priori, though after separate
argumentation, also 2 Pt).
JACK: This author is writing to churches that were founded by Paul
which Peter would not have done if Paul was alive.
BRUCE: I think this is shaky, and better omitted. Paul's letters show
constant interference, at "his" churches, from Peter, Jacob or his
stooges, Apollos, and unnamed others. It suited Paul's
self-certification argument to claim a franchise arrangement, with
himself having the franchise for Gentile areas. There can have been no
enforceable agreement of that kind, since Jews and Gentiles were
intermingled over much of the Pauline territory (and it seems not to
be firmly on the record that he ever preached to wholly Gentile
communities, or in mixed communities otherwise than by beginning with
the Jewish community). Paul is very assertive, but it is just when he
is loudest in his own defense that we might want to be most
circumspect in accepting what he says.
JACK: There are 35 references to the LXX in 1 Peter and Shymeon Bar
Yonah/Kefa/Petros could not read no less use the LXX which, btw, was
not widely used by Christian authors other than Paul until the last
two decades of the 1st century.
BRUCE: Much omitted argument here. I think what is left may be
arguable, though the argument for Petrine probability remains very
weak (ie, Peter used the LXX in writing to churches which would have
known the Scriptures that way). As a counter-argument, it establishes
only the possibility of Petrine authorship, and that on no very firm
ground. It will not stand against the better arguments against Petrine
authorship, including those above.
JACK: The letter is clearly referring to a persecution in Asia and
that began under Domitian long after the death of Peter.
BRUCE: Basically a repetition.
JACK: This letter is not only theologically Pauline but uses a Pauline
structure and the Paul invented XARIS UMIN KAI EIRHNH that appears in
Pauline or Pauline influenced Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians,
Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Philippians, Philemon, Titus
and 1 and 2 Timothy.
BRUCE: This documentation runs past the Pauline literature into the
post-Pauline literature, and thus proves (inter alia) that the
doctrine in question is not a signature trait for Paul. How Pauline
are the Deuteropaulines? These are questions it is good not to get
involved with in the middle of a demonstration.
More generally, I continue to deplore the simplistic dual approach
adopted and spread by Baur, which sees the NT world on a scale of two:
the opposition between Peter and Paul. That Acts does this is no
reason for us to follow suit, and that Paul polarizes nearly
everything he says in his own voice does not rule out - to my mind, it
rather requires - a more balanced stance on the part of those reading
the evidence at the present time. How Pauline is Mark? How Pauline is
Luke? How Pauline is Paul? I don't think there are easy answers to any
of these, and thus, from a tactical point of view, it may be unwise to
embark on an argument which assumes any of those answers as rock solid
and universally overwhelming.
JACK: It was not unusual, as well, for a pseudepigraph to also be
pseudotoponymic as well and this epistle has all the hallmarks of
having been written in Asia Minor rather than Rome, a claim to support
BRUCE: 2 Pt as framed as though written from Rome. In this as with the
Apostolic stance of the author (see above), there is inconsistent
follow-through in the text. It would be good, at this point in the
argument, to display a few of those internal contradictions. They are
to my mind conclusive, and have the advantage of being internal, and
thus up-close, evidence, on a par with Jack's point about absence of
Semitic interference in the Greek.
JACK: Now on to II Peter. / II Peter was written LATER than I Peter
(not the same author)
BRUCE: That the two have different authors rests chiefly, as I
understand it, on the utterly incompatible Greek styles. Accepting
that as true and cogent, all it proves is that the authors of the two
are different. It doesn't prove that neither of them was Peter. The
deutericity of 1Pt having been established in the previous argument,
it remains to show that 2 Peter cannot on its own merits be by Peter
(here again, the Greek style of 2 Pt, quite apart from its differences
from that of 1 Pt, is a strong argument).
JACK: . . and we have established that I Peter was written at the end
of the 1st century during the Domitian persecution. II Peter uses I
Peter as a source
BRUCE: Now we are coming down to it. If 2Pt knew 1 Pt, then it also
follows 1Pt, and in that case, all the arguments for the lateness of
1Pt (which in turn rule out Peter as the author) apply in full. This,
dare I suggest, is the way to do it. (Arguments about authorship as
such are among the least satisfactory in the toolkit; arguments about
relative date require only a detection of relationships and a
determination of their directionality, a much more standard technical
JACK: . . . and also uses Jude.
BRUCE: . . . which at this point in the argument is an unknown
quantity. The value of the evidence (I think, though against the
sometimes mono graphic-length arguments of others, that it can be
convincingly shown that Jude > 2Pt) depends entirely on what we can
find to say about Jude itself. Absent that information, the present
point, strictly speaking, contributes nothing to the case against
Petrine authorship of 2Pt.
JACK: At the time of II Peter, the Pauline epistles had been collected
II Peter 3:15-16 / ... our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with
the wisdom that God gave him ... His letters contain certain things
that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people
distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
This did not occur until the early second century . . .
BRUCE: Not proved, and in my opinion, even doubtful. Goodspeed's
scenario for the Corpus Paulinum has many attractive features, but
also some arguable ones. It seems to me not necessary to conclude, as
does Goodspeed, that (1) the Pauline letters were totally unknown
until collected, and that (2) they were all instantly and universally
known the moment they *were* collected. The evidence, as far as I know
it, seems to permit several stages in the growth of the Pauline
corpus, as a thing known to people other than the recipients of the
letters. I also doubt, against Goodspeed, that Paul himself was
totally forgotten for a few decades after his death. The text record
is capable of being read in the opposite sense, and my present best
guess is that the opposite sense is somewhat more likely.
JACK: . . but MOST important of all, a "New Testament" added to the OT
did not happen until 150 CE and the Pauline epistles were not
considered "scripture" until then. That the historical Peter would
even see the collected epistles of Paul (some written
after his death) and considered them SCRIPTURE is totally absurd.
BRUCE: That much most will grant. The precise date of 150 for the
first sense of a Christian canon parallel to, and having authority
with, the OT might need more detailed demonstration.
JACK: II Peter probably dates to about 170 CE.
BRUCE: Maybe, and maybe 60 or so years earlier, neither option doing
any damage to the present main point, which is to refute Petrine
Isn't the whole "canon" question something of a red herring? We know
that Barnabas and Hermas were canonical, in the sense of being
included with other writings that we continue to regard as canonical,
as late as the 4c. I think the more cogent approach is via authority:
What was the first Christian text which had authority status with even
a small fraction of the Jesus followers, either when written or later
on? My own guess would be the Epistle of Jacob (a prototype of the
kind of distance preaching that we see in both the Pauline and
non-Pauline epistles, not to mention 1 Clement and, yes, Barnabas). A
case can also be made for the Gospel of Mark, and (based on a slightly
different geography of acceptance) for the Gospel of Matthew; nor need
Marcion have been the first to think well of the Gospel of Luke. And
speaking of Luke, it seems to be the case that Acts, in either its
proto form (Acts I) or its final form (Acts II), was a source, and
thus an authority (in the sense that readers would have accepted it as
such) for the writer of Ephesians as well as for the writer of 1 Pt.
When Paul quotes a hymn to the Philippians, he relies on that text
having weight and sonority and familiarity and prior acceptance with
the faithful at Philippi. When the author of 2Pt calls himself Symeon
Peter (a form of name used elsewhere ONLY in Acts), he expects that
this agreement with a familiar tradition about Peter will carry weight
and convincement with the recipients, who he wants to convince are
hearing straight from Peter.
How many other church organists may there be, out there in radioland?
Hymnology is among the most powerful carriers of tradition. Because of
its backup by the power of music (not to be underestimated, whether in
a Greek context or out of it), and because its texts are not *read to*
an audience, but *recited by* that audience, that is, from the inside
out, it has a force of convincement not readily achieved by any mere
document on papyrus. It is thus no surprise that we seem to see hymns
being quoted, by convincement texts, both inside and outside the
genuine Pauline core. Some late works on 1Pt poohpooh the idea
(carried perhaps to the point of self-refutation by Boismard, but
there may be sounder and more intermediate positions) that 1Pt quotes
from baptismal or other hymns. I'm not so sure. The hymn question in
turn brings up the question whether 1Pt is one document or two, the
two (at least in the view of Beare, followed with variations by
several) being an original sermon to those entering on the Christian
life, not inappropriately following their baptism into the community
of the saved, but not necessarily reserved for that occasion only,
plus an addendum which epistolizes the earlier sermon and adds the
weight of that sermon to a new exhortation addressed to those
suffering martyrdom on a previously unprecedented scale.
If, as seems to be the case, resort to hymns in documents of
convincement is a common rather than an exceptional practice, then the
probability that the early part of 1Pt can be read that way is
somewhat increased. (Whether the hymns are specifically baptismal is a
separate question, and still more separate is the proposal, made
however with some not unimpressive evidence, that 1Pt is simply the
scenario for a whole ceremony of baptism). If it is found to be
increased to the point of probability, then the two-layer hypothesis
gains proportionately. If it gains enough to be even worth retaining
as a possibility, then I think it should indeed be figured into the
calculations for literary secondarity at this or that point. If, for
example, 1Pt A (the Christian Life sermon) did NOT refer to a certain
set of roughly datable texts, whereas 1Pt B (the persecution
exhortation) did refer to them, or betray awareness of them, then the
evidential weight of those references (or awarenesses) would apply
only to 1Pt B, leaving 1Pt A to be potentially earlier.
Is it plausible to regard 1Pt as an epistolization of an older, and
perhaps already familiar, sermon? In the light of the cannibalization
of Jude (whenever dated) by 2Pt (ditto), I think we have to admit at
least the theoretical possibility that one document may gain in
convincement (at least in the view of its perpetrator) by doing just
that. The familiar is the acceptable; the strange arouses suspicion.
Do we see these late documents attempting to coast on what was
familiar to the intended recipients? Most certainly we do; both Paul
and the documents here under consideration make a point, not of
acquainting people with ideas, but of "putting them in remembrance" of
ideas they already accept.
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- Jeff Peterson wrote:
> ..... Your "ordinary follower of Jesus" wouldJeff,
> have found it just as difficult to believe that while the Pillars didn't
> understand how followers of Jesus should conduct themselves at table, Paul
What I'm trying to say here is that one can accept a hero who has minor
flaws, such as the earnest but fallible Peter who emerges from a casual
reading of the gospel of Mark. But a follower of Jesus can't accept a hero
who is fundamentally on the wrong track christologically. So Paul could not
have portrayed Peter in this way without upsetting many of his Galatian
> I think the reality described by 1:11 is more complex than Paul having had aJames and Peter were expecting the kingdom of God to come with power
> visionary experience which included a command to "Preach this," with a list
> of propositions appended. Rather, as persecutor he had already heard what
> Jesus' followers were proclaiming about him (viz., the crucified Messiah had
> been raised and enthroned with God, inaugurating the age of deliverance
> promised in Scripture) .....
(Mk 9:1, derived from logia saying C12), i.e. the overthrow of the Roman
occupiers and the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. This clearly
hadn't happened when Paul came on the scene. Paul's supporter, Mark, had to
replace the hopes of the original disciples for the establishment of a new
Israel (saying C21, c.f. Mt 19:28) with a reward in the life to come (Mk
10:29-30). This echoed Paul's promise of eternal life (e.g. Rom 6:22-23).
The idea that the kingdom had been inaugurated by the coming of Jesus arose
after the deaths of the original disciples when it began to look as if the
return of Jesus was delayed and might be delayed a lot longer.
> Your last sentence [regarding the ability or otherwise of the Galatians toTravel was indeed facilitated by the Pax Romana, and also by the widespread
> check Paul's claims] neglects the extent of travel in the early Empire, and
> the use made of this mobility to connect early Christian communities;
> ..... We know that Paul organized Corinthians and Macedonians for an
> embassy to Jerusalem (1 Cor 16:34; 2 Cor 9:4),
Roman roads. But it was still slow. Your example above concerns a journey
which Paul regarded as most important. Travelling several days merely to
check on the truthfulness or otherwise of Paul's assertions in Galatians
would have been a lot less palatable.
> It was very shortsighted of Paul to maintain that he and the Pillars agreedBut as I indicated earlier in this thread, I don't think Paul claimed that
> on the gospel if contact with their followers was a real possibility for his
> converts, and if the reaction of a Jerusalem Christian to an acclamation
> like "Praise be to the God and Father of our crucified Messiah Jesus, who
> raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand" would have been,
> "Come again?"
the pillars agreed on the gospel.
> ..... Peter and theI don't see 9:9 or 14:9 as indicating eventual enlightenment.
> other disciples are depicted as uncomprehending regarding Jesus' impending
> death and resurrection during his ministry, but their eventual enlightenment
> and proclamation of these events is clearly anticipated (9:9; 13:913; 14:9,
> 2728; 16:7).
As for 14:28 and 16:7, I take these verses as early interpolations designed
to rehabilitate Peter. They are quite inconsistent with the rest of the
> In historical terms, once Jesus is executed, a Christology like thatI agree. But my understanding of what transpired is that James, Peter et al.
> ascribed to Peter in 8:2733 becomes untenable .....
changed to a 'Son of Man' christology (see my reconstruction of the logia),
Paul faced up to the inconsistency by glorying in the crucifixion (e.g. 1
Cor 1:23 : "we proclaim Christ crucified"), but playing down the belief in
Jesus as messiah by (for the most part) using "Christ" merely as a sort of