Re: Was Peter the first bishop of Rome?
- Hi, Rob:
Thank you for your concession on Peter having been in Rome and martyred there. That leaves, betwen the two of us, two questions to resolve: (1) whether or not Peter ever became "Bishop of Rome" and (2) whether or not Peter handed down his episcopate to a successor.
This may also answer the points raised by Bill. But I will respond to him also, may be citing this same refernece.
My response to both questions is contained in a 500+ page book Entitled: "S. Peter, Bishop of Rome, or, The Roman episcopate of the Prince of the Apostles: proved from the Fathers, history, and archaeology, and illustrated by arguments from other sources (1888)"
I have reproduced below the "Introduction" for your evaluation and perusal. I have also the website for your access shoould you wish to delve deeper into the book.
In Service to the "Lay People of God"
Y11 INTRODUCTION (From the book).
MY original and principal object in writing this volume was
positive and not controversial. It was undertaken with the
hope that whatever polemics I might be drawn into should
be in the field of history rather than that of religious doctrine.
For, after all, the question of S. Peter's Roman Episcopate
is one of much interest to Catholics for its own sake, and
well worthy of the investigation of students of history quite
independently of its theological bearings.
Nevertheless, the Catholic tradition that S. Peter was
Bishop of Rome is of importance not only from an historical
point of view, but also in the province of dogma within the
Church, and of controversy with those outside its pale. For,
as held by Catholics, in correlation with the succession of
the Roman Pontiffs, it is in its theological aspect a great
fact intimately bound up with what is of revealed faith
viz., the permanent institution by our Lord Jesus Christ of
the Primacy in His Church. It forms, indeed, the actual
verification in all time of that wondrous promise recorded
in the Gospels which our Divine Lord made to S. Peter :
" Thou art Peter : and upon this rock I will build My
Whilst, as regards controversy, it is a matter
of vital moment to Protestants; and one which they have
ever most strenuously assailed, driven thereto by the very
necessity of their position as opponents of the Catholic
Faith. Hence, in spite of my general aim, I have found it
impossible to avoid treating the subject to a large extent
apologetically, and in its theological aspect.
* Matt. xvi. 18, 19,
The one historical point which, above all, I desire to prove
and elucidate in this work is the Roman Episcopate of S.
Peter. In the course of my argument I have been obliged
to touch at some length on the collateral facts of his journey
to Rome, his residence there, the part that he took with S.
Paul in founding and consolidating the Roman Church, and
the martyrdom of the two Apostles together in the Eternal
City. I have, however, treated of these and other matters
only as subsidiary to that which is the main and central
fact of my inquiry, S. Peter's Roman Episcopate. My
reason was, because this is the one point in his history of
most importance to Catholic theology, and most commonly
impugned by Protestant historians and controversialists.
Many of these will concede the probability, at least, of the
other events, but all, with very few exceptions, are unani
mous in denying that S. Peter was ever Bishop of Rome.
Of course, it was not for its own sake principally that
I set out to treat of this point of history. I did so on
account of its important bearing on the Succession of the
Roman Pontiffs to the See of Peter, and their inheritance of
his Primacy. Consequently, once drawn within the sphere
of theology, I determined to enter fully into the relations
that exist between the See of Rome and the Primacy in
the Catholic Church conferred by our Lord on S. Peter.
This subject occupies an important place in my work.
It is true, as I endeavour to show in these pages, that
S. Pete's Roman Episcopate was not intrinsically and ante
cedently necessary for the legitimate succession of the
Bishops of Rome to his Primacy. For on the proof from
revelation, that our Lord conferred the Primacy on Peter
with the intention of its being perpetual in His Church it
is at once clear that the Bishops of Rome alone are the de
facto rightful inheritors of that prerogative, and that their
title of succession to Peter therein is of Divine origin and
institution. For this, however, there was no intrinsic or
absolute need that S. Peter should have been Bishop of
Kome; since it is quite conceivable that the Primacy might,
by some other mode of Divine appointment, have passed
from that Apostle to the line of Eoman Pontiffs without
his ever having been himself Bishop of the See. Still,
though this was evidently antecedently possible, there can
be no doubt that S. Peter's Roman Episcopate was, in the
order of actual fact, the means chosen by Divine Providence
for the transmission of the Primacy, and for its perpetual
permanence in the See of Rome. This is, certainly, involved
in the whole Catholic tradition and belief. Hence S. Peter s
Eoman Episcopate forms a subject of deep theological
interest to which no one could adequately do justice, should
he treat it merely as a historical fact, and apart from its
The admission that S. Peter was really Bishop of Rome,
on the part of such non-Catholics as hold the Primacy of
Peter in any sense to be of Divine institution, should, I am of
opinion, lead them, by strict logical sequence, to concede the
truth of what are commonly called the Papal claims, and by
consequence to the acknowledgment of the Catholic Faith as
a whole. But, even so, I incline to doubt whether the
simple intellectual admission of a fact of this sort however
cogent, strictly speaking, it may be for the logical conviction
also of its consequences would, apart by itself, as a rule at
least, morally suffice to form the requisite natural constituent
or accompaniment of that supernatural preparation of the
mind and will which is a necessary condition for the assent
of faith. Men are not wont to be practically convinced, or /
persuaded to believe, by arguments of bare logic. And mere
intellectual conviction on such a matter-of-fact truth as that
S. Peter was Bishop of Rome however evident its appre
hension, and however pregnant with further important con
sequences it might be seen to be would scarcely lead to an
acceptance of those other doctrinal facts and truths which it
directly, or indirectly, involves. Since faith, albeit an intellectual
faculty, depends principally for its exercise on some bias of the will; and the will is attracted and biassed by moral, rather than by merely speculative, truths.
Best regards to all in the Name of Jesus the Christ
--- In email@example.com, "Rob" <faithhasitsreasons@...> wrote:
> I see no need to dispute that Peter eventually ended up in Rome and that he was martyred there. But this does not show that he was the bishop of Rome, much less that he transferred his office to a successor.
> You quoted the following:
> Ignatius of Antioch: "Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict" (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 110]).
> First, this statement does not prove that Peter was in Rome, since it could mean simply that Peter wrote to the Roman Christians and commanded them in a letter (just as Paul did). Again, I think Peter may well have made it to Rome, again as Paul did, but neither one of them was "the bishop of Rome." Ignatius's statement also supports the Protestant view that church leaders following the passing of the apostles did not have apostolic authority.
> You also offered the following quote:
> Dionysius of Corinth: "You [Pope Soter] have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time" (Letter to Pope Soter [A.D. 170], in Eusebius, History of the Church 2:25:8).
> Ignoring the term "Pope," which is not actually used by Dionysius in this quote, this statement also supports the Protestant view. It shows that Peter and Paul taught Christians in both Corinth and Rome and both were martyred in Rome -- but says nothing about Peter being a bishop of Rome or Soter's predecessor.
> Here's another quote:
> "Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church" (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]).
> Same observation as before; Peter and Paul, not just Peter, went to Rome, and the statement says nothing about Peter being the bishop of Rome.
> Then there's this quotation, also from Irenaeus:
> "But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the succession of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church [of Rome], because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3, 3, 2).
> Irenaeus's claim here is not that Peter or Paul was the bishop of Rome, but that they were both involved in the establishment of the church there. Now, historically, we know that this statement is factually incorrect. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome in his epistle to the Romans (Rom. 1:7). At the time, the Roman believers were already established in churches, including at least one house church (Rom. 16:5), and more than one is implied. Yet Paul is explicit that he had not yet been in Rome (Rom. 1:10-15). This was in about AD 57, about four years before Paul went to Rome for the first time, and roughly eight or nine years before Paul was martyred in Rome (according to our best information). So Irenaeus's statement is not quite accurate. Now, in the more general sense that Peter and Paul both went to Rome and taught the Christians there, Irenaeus's claim that the church in Rome had apostolic foundations is defensible. But in any case Irenaeus is not claiming that Peter was the first bishop of Rome.
> You then quoted Irenaeus as follows:
> "The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the letter to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:21]. To him succeeded Anacletus, and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. He had seen the blessed apostles and was acquainted with them. It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the apostles and had their traditions before his eyes. And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the apostles. In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith. ... To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded . . . and now, in the twelfth place after the apostles, the lot of the episcopate [of Rome] has fallen to Eleutherius. In this order, and by the teaching of the apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us" (ibid., 3, 3, 3).
> Please notice, Isa, that Irenaeus does not claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome. It was Peter and Paul together, not just Peter, who, according to Irenaeus, "handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus." This cannot mean that Linus was Peter's successor, because Irenaeus says that Peter and Paul, not just Peter, handed over the office to Linus. Thus, what this means is not that Linus succeeded Peter but that Linus received his office from Peter and Paul; that is, they conferred the office on him. Now, whether this is historically accurate or not is another question, but in any case Irenaeus is not saying that Peter was the first pope. Irenaeus's larger point is that these men were personally acquainted with the apostles and could therefore represent the apostles' teachings with more accuracy than men who had never known the apostles.
> The idea that the bishop of Rome was "sitting in Peter's chair" does not seem to arise until the third century. The evidence we have from the second century writers whom you quote is against this claim.
> In Christ's service,
> Rob Bowman
Religion is not science. Nobody could have "corrected" the Bishop of Rome. The most one can do really is to propose or argue a different "opinion" on certain subject, like the canonicity of certain writings from that expressed by the Pope, or on the Pope's stand on certain "unsettled" church issues. Of course, one can expose abuses by Popes, as did Luther on the sellling of iidulgences. But that did not happen in the first 1000 years of the Catholic Church.
In the Service of the Lay People of God.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "William" <eliadefollower@...> wrote:
> I wrote very little in the post about the bishop in Rome being corrected. Most of it was cut and paste from my cited sourde.
> Likewise you use of the Catholic Encyclopedia and Eusebius to defend your position is roughly comparable to asking the fox if he raided the chicken coop. Those which have reason to defend the position of Rome will find ways to defend it rather then admit wrongdoing. Please find non-Catholic defenses of this incident. Also remember, there is evidence that Eusebius intentionally corrupted sources to accomodate his patron, Constantine, even as he sought, as a historian, to present the truth. Eusebius is one of the sources I refer to in support of the fact that Acts in not historical, but rather denies history when inconvenient.