Wednesday, May 08, 2013

1 Peter Among Early Christian Writers

Lee Martin MacDonald notes the following use of 1 Peter among writers in the early Church:
Although there are several parallel phrases in Barnabas and 1 Peter (Barn. 5.6 and 1 Pet 1:20), it is only with Polycarp that clear use of 1 Peter is found (e.g., Pol. Phil. 1.3 and 1 Pet 1:8; Pol. Phil. 10:2 and 1 Pet 2:12).  The author of 2 Pet 3:1 (ca. 100-125, or possibly as late as 180) refers to the existence of an earlier letter by the Apostle Peter.  Eusebius claimed that Papias (ca. 100-150) knew and used 1 Peter (Hist. eccl. 3.39.17), and he includes it in the list of the recognised books (3.25.2 and 3.3.1).  Irenaeus was the first to use 1 Peter by name (Haer. 4.9.2; 4.16.5; 5.7.2), and thereafter many references are made to the book by the early church fathers.  Early witnesses validate the use of the book in the church, and it does not appear to have been seriously questioned in the fourth century, even though it is missing in the Muratorian Fragment.

Lee Martin MacDonald, The Biblical Canon: Its Origins, Transmission, and Authority (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 395-396.


Beau said...

Any thoughts about a Galilean fishermen writing a letter in fluent Greek?

Sean said...

Yes, several. The quality of the Greek is often deemed to be too good for a fisherman like Peter. This is based on Acts 4:13, and suggests that Peter could not have written this letter because he was ἀγράμματος, which is taken to mean that he was uneducated. But one wonders if too much is being made of this. Barrett has noted that “for ἀγράμματος, the opposite word would be not the γραμματικός but (in NT usage) the γραμματεύς: hence, a man without scribal training in the law.” This would suggest that Luke is describing a situation where Peter and John are rebuked as those without formal rabbinic training. It does not therefore suggest that Peter was completely illiterate. Furthermore, we should also note that much time has elapsed between this recorded event and Peter’s apparent arrival in Rome. It is possible that Peter was somehow (informally/formally?) educated during this interval, or perhaps an amanuensis, not named, authored this work. Given the knowledge of key Graeco-Roman ideas and concepts scattered throughout this letter, our author would at least have to be someone acquainted with these ideas.

Beau said...

But wouldn't someone in Peter's position have spoken Aramaic, not Greek?

Sean said...

What makes you think that Beau?

Deane said...

A good as place as any to ask this question - which I was wondering about towards the end of the question time after your recent paper in Dunedin, but didn't get to ask you:

Do any of the other works in the Petrine corpus contain virtue lists or vice lists? It's a fairly loose corpus, I know, if you include 2 Peter, the Apocalypse, the Gospel, the Acts, etc - so, I don't know what you'd conclude from their presence or absence. But perhaps if they are there, one might be able to argue for a tendency to use such lists in Petrine communities(?)