Friday, December 11, 2009

The Authorship of 2 Peter

The final exam in General Epistles approacheth, and it promises a mini-essay on the final exam about the authorship of 2 Peter. I told the students I would send them some notes on what points they should cover to get full points, although I am not demanding that they take any particular position on the issue. Most, I assume, will argue for literal Petrine authorship.

Here are the relevant data to consider in the essay:

1. The Greek style of 2 Peter
  • Style is different from 1 Peter, often called "Asiatic"
  • Would a Galilean fisherman write Greek with Homeric and classical Greek overtones?
  • What if both 1 and 2 Peter were written by different secretaries, who were primarily responsible for its style and manner of presentation?
2. The likely incorporation of material from Jude
  • Why would Peter borrow from Jude? If Jude is late, it would seem to preclude Peter.
  • But we do not know for sure either when Peter or Jude died, when Jude as written, and of course some think Jude borrowed from 2 Peter.
3. The contrast in eschatology from 1 Peter
  • 1 Peter says the end of all things is near and that the judgment has begun. 2 Peter seems to say that in the future, scoffers will ask why Christ has not come back yet.
  • This difference seems quite substantial. At the very least it would seem to imply a different audience from 1 Peter. But of course this is a tension Christians affirm even today. We affirm an imminent expectation of Christ's return while living as if the world might still be here in a hundred years.
4. Alternation between present and future tense
  • 3:3 says, scoffers will come. But 3:4 speaks of them in the present tense, "they forget."
  • If pseudonymous, the shift surely would imply that the audience would know it was not really Peter writing, but a literary device, and thus no deception would be involved.
  • Could be vivid writing, getting strongly into the heads of future scoffers; sometimes you can see what's coming, even though it's only starting
5. Possible sense that the apostles are all dead
  • 3:2 could be taken to talk about the apostles and founding Christian prophets in the past tense; 3:4 could be taken to say that the fathers of Christianity will die before the scoffers come.
  • If pseudonymous, surely the implication would be that a literary device is in play, since anyone would notice a document talking about its putative author in the past tense.
  • Apostles could be more general than the twelve; prophets could refer to OT prophets.
6. Possible broadening of the scope of Paul's audiences
  • Paul wrote to specific audiences. 2 Peter seems to be written to all Christians. 3:15 seems to imply that at least one of Paul's letters, perhaps Romans, was directed at the audience of 2 Peter, and thus all Christians. How naturally would the historical Peter have made this shift, to see Romans or Paul's letters as letters to all people rather than particular letters to particular audiences?
  • If we believe in revelation, God could inform Peter of such a shift in an instant.
7. Possible collection of Paul's writings
  • Would Paul's writings be available somewhat universally within 10 years of their writing?
  • It is possible.
8. Consideration of Paul's writings as Scripture
  • Paul's writings seem to be considered Scripture like the Old Testament writings--quite remarkable development within some ten years of their writing and by someone known to differ with Paul on various issues in the past.
  • Again, God could inform Peter of such a shift in an instant.

1 comment:

Anders said...

Hello Ken Schenck!

You wrote:: “Consideration of Paul's writings as Scripture
• Paul's writings seem to be considered Scripture like the Old Testament writings--quite remarkable development within some ten years of their writing and by someone known to differ with Paul on various issues in the past.“

Quote from www.netzarim.co.il : “The earliest extant Church historian, Eusebius further documented (EH III.xxvii.4-6) that the original Nәtzarim accepted only the Jewish Tana"kh as Bible and only The Netzarim ("their own") Hebrew Matityahu (NHM) as an authentic account of the life and teachings of Ribi Yәhoshua, never accepting the the 2nd-4th century, heavily gentile-redacted (Greek), NT.”

You wrote: “Possible sense that the apostles are all dead
• 3:2 could be taken to talk about the apostles and founding Christian prophets in the past tense; 3:4 could be taken to say that the fathers of Christianity will die before the scoffers come."

Christianity was not found by the followers of Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth, nor his followers Netzarim.
Logical research that proves that statement is found in the above website.

Anders Branderud