How Would an Early Christian “Know” Which Books Peter Wrote?

So if there were lots of books in circulation that claimed to be written by the apostle Peter, why did some of them (1 and 2 Peter) come to be accepted both as his and as canonical scripture, and others come to be deemed forgeries and excluded from the canon?

The first point to stress is that Christians in the second, third, and fourth centuries had no real way of knowing which, if any, of these books Peter wrote.  They were ...

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The Books of Peter

I return now to the thread I had been working on before devoting the last few posts to the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke.  If you recall, some time ago I indicated that I had become a bit obsessed with a rather interesting if largely unasked question, of why the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament but the book of 2 Peter did.

When I started on that thread, I thought it would take three ...

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Could Peter Have “Written” 1 and 2 Peter Some Other Way?

Here is the last of my three posts digging down deeper into the question of whether Peter would have, or could have, written the books we now call 1 and 2 Peter, composed in highly literate Greek by someone skilled in Greek composition.


It should come as no surprise that Peter could not write Greek (or Aramaic, for that matter).  As it turns out, there is New Testament evidence about Peter’s education level.  According to Acts 4:13, both Peter ...

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Seriously. How Many People in Antiquity Could Write?

I have received some push-back from readers who object to my view that Simon Peter, Jesus’ disciple, a fisherman from rural Galilee whose native language was Aramaic, living among lower-class people who spoke Aramaic, almost certainly could not have written a highly stylized and sophisticated Greek treatise such as we find in the book of 1 Peter.   My sense is that I will never convince anyone who thinks that it is simply “common sense” that of course he could learn ...

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Who Wrote 1 Peter?

This post is to close out my discussion of 1 Peter, from the New Testament.  Who actually wrote it?  Spoiler alert: we don’t know, but it probably wasn’t Peter.

On several occasions on the blog I’ve talked about the issue, most recently at length in a repost earlier this year:  That’s where I give the fuller story.  For now I give just the simple side of things, as I lay it out in my undergraduate textbook on the New ...

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The Situation Behind the (“Forged”) Book of 1 Peter

I am in the midst of talking about works attributed to Peter, the chief disciple, which have come down to us from the early church.  I should be clear, I think each and every one of these writings was “forged.”   I don’t think Peter himself wrote any of them – 1 Peter, 2 Peter, the Gospel of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, or any of the other Petrine works that we now have.  Each was written by a different author, ...

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The So-Called First Letter of Peter

I am nearly at the end of my discussion of “Petrine” works in early Christianity, the books that some early Christian or another had been written by Peter, the closest disciple to Jesus in the New Testament.  There are other books connected with Peter that I have chosen not to talk about, at least at this point, including legendary accounts of his missionary activities, some of which are really interesting and were, at one point, highly influential.

At this stage, though, ...

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Introducing the Book of 2 Peter

To make sense of the difficulty I’ve been having in figuring out what they Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the NT, but the book of 2 Peter did, I need to say a bit about the latter – and probably about *other* Petrine books that did or did not make It (which also claim to be written by Peter even though the author was someone else).   Here is a brief introduction to the book of 2 Peter, ...

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Miraculous Conversions in the Book of Acts

This new box in my New Testament Introduction deals with one of the fascinating and best documented phenomena from early Christianity — that the earliest followers of Jesus were believed to be able to do great miracles, leading to the conversion of outsiders to the new faith.  This notion is recorded already in our earliest sources.  Here is what I say about it from the book of Acts, our first account of the spread of Christianity.


Another ...

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Did Peter Use a Secretary for his Writings? A Blast from the Past

Looking through some posts of blogs-past I came across this interesting one from six years ago now!   I think it’s an intriguing question, and the answer is not what most people would probably think.



What do you make of the author’s reference to a Silvanus in 1 Peter 5:12? Could it be that this really is Peter saying he used a secretary to write this letter? I know you said there is little to no evidence that people used secretaries, ...

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