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 living many decades or even centuries after the books had first been put in circulation. The books were passed around from one church to the other before *anyone* on record claimed that they really were or really were not written by Peter. And how would they know?
They almost certainly didn’t have any “insider information.” Where would their information have come from? Simply from other people who said so, one way or the other. And 99.9% of these people accepting, or rejecting, this book or another were not specialists trained in sophisticated modes of literary analysis. Most of them couldn’t even read. Those who could read did not have advanced, elite educations. Most of those with advanced, elite educations still were not trained as literary sleuths. How many literary sleuths were there in the first century of the church? We don’t know of any.
So how did they know? The short answer, I’m afraid, is
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