Is II Peter Forged as so many “critics” claim? Why is it that you are considered a “good” critic of history when you are able to “show” that what was believed historically, may not be true?
Reading along today, reviews of a counseling book I was interested in, I came across a review by “realworlder” who has a very positive review of my book. But, he said something that caught my eye. He talked about II Peter text being 2nd century polished Greek. Okay, I thought to myself. That does make sense. If there was to be a pseudepigraphy and 2nd century it would be smooth greek by one more educated than the Apostle Peter.
But, that’s not the way it is at all. I Peter is good, smooth Greek and II Peter is rough Greek. Okay, that seems to be backwards to what one would expect if there was a forgery involved here and that is probably why “realworlder” got confused. But the ultimate answer may be there really is no forgery here.
Over at The Christian Critic, Josh Olds reviews Dr. Bart Ehrman‘s Forged. He quotes Dr. Ehrman as saying that “whoever wrote II Peter is not Simeon Peter.” Then Josh points out how much Dr. Ehrman makes lots of assumptions about the books he claims to be forgeries and does not deal in hard facts.
It’s ironic that in a book meant to discuss deception in the Bible that Ehrman and his publisher would go to such great lengths to deceive his audience to bolster his arguments. Despite the entire theme of the book being the forgery within the canonical Scriptures, by my count only 62 of the book’s 291 pages deal with books within the Bible. Even if I was generous and gave 10 more pages of content to that total, the result is still only about a quarter of the book. The majority of the text is dedicated to non-canonical forgeries and discussions of forgery in general. It’s good discussion, but it’s clearly not what the book sets itself up to be. Ehrman doesn’t even consider the fact that these may not be forgeries but rather concerns himself with the “popular myth” that forgeries are A-OK.
Of course the Book, Forged, by Dr. Ehrman is about lots more that II Peter but we can make a case for the Apostle Peter being the author of the Second Peter. Many of the modern critics claim that II Peter is a forgery because the book claims to be written by the Apostle Peter.
First, there is an excellent thesis over at Bible.org. which gets into many of the issues related to determining authorship. There is an excellent statement there regarding claims to forgery by Charles Bigg:
Claims that personal references prove forgery are based purely on prejudice because unless the ink is still wet and the author long dead, it cannot be proved to be false. Charles Bigg says, “As regards what an author says about himself, we can ask only whether…it is possible or impossible. But no document was ever condemned as a forgery upon this ground.” Charles Bigg, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, International Critical Commentary
Did you get that? To prove a book was NOT written by an author, you would have to have evidence at the time of the writing that the “claimed” author was dead. What do modern critics do? They simply date the writing after the author’s death. But the point Bigg makes is that critics have to be there when the ink is wet. Were they? None living today were there.
Modern writings about authorship use circumstantial evidence, usually filled with presumption and generally don’t step outside the box in thought when developing their theses.
If we just step back and look at the data a different way, history may take on a new form. Most scholars simply overlook the plain meaning of the text. There are pseudo-Petrine works out there but all these do not make II Peter pseudo-Petrine.
The differences in style of I Peter and II Peter may be easily explained by something amanuensis (that means scribe or ghostwriter). That does not mean that the scribe “wrote” the book for the author as Dr. Ehrman as claimed in Jesus Interrupted. It means that the scribe penned the letter. For I Peter, Silas was the scribe( see I Peter 5:12). For II Peter, written just before his death, someone transcribed his words who had less command of the Greek language. The differences in style between the two letters may be accounted for in different subjects and different intent of the letters. There was a time lapse between the two letters and new sources may have been used that account for differences. There is some evidence in II Peter that the audience changed to the Christian community as a whole where I Peter was directed to Jewish Christians in Asia Minor.