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Early Years of Christianity: The Apostolic Era.
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I. [See page 213.]

ON THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER.

We have spoken of only one Epistle of Peter, because it seems to us impossible to admit, with any certainty, the authenticity of the second. It is noteworthy that it is only mentioned for the first time by Clement of Alexandria, and even that quotation is not direct. Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.," vi, 24. Origen, who cites it, ("Comment. in Joannem," iv, 135,) is the first and only one of the "Fathers" of the third century who clearly appeals to its authority. The Church of Syria, the testimony of which is of great value, did not acknowledge this epistle, and Eusebius ("Hist. Eccles.," iii, 55) quotes it among the "Antilegomena." The doubt was current as late as the fourth century, for Jerome says, "Scripsit Petrus duas Epistolas, quae Catholicæ nominantur, quarum secunda a plerisqne ejus esse negatur propter styli cum priore dissonantiam." "De Viris illustribus," c. i.

On the other hand, the First Epistle of Peter has in its favor the highest possible testimony. Eusebius, "Hist. Eccles.," iii, 39; iv, 14; Irenæus, "Contr. Hæres," iv, 9, 2; Clement of Alexandria, Stromat.," iii, 73; Tertull., "C. Scorp.," i, 2.

If we proceed to the examination of the internal evidences, they are very unfavorable to the authenticity of the Second Epistle of Peter. 1st. The style has scarcely any analogy to that of the first epistle. 2d. The dependent relation of this epistle to that of Jude is very marked; the author constantly takes up the text of Jude as a theme to be worked out. (See the parallelism of the two epistles in M. Arnaud's "Commentary on Jude.") 3d. The writer insists upon his apostolic degree with a strange mannerism, resembling that of the apocryphal writings, (i, 13-18.) 4th. He quotes the collection of Paul's epistles as forming part of the canon of the New Testament, which had no existence at this time, (2 Peter iii, 16;) in the year 64 or 65, he speaks of these epistles as being among the number of canonical Scriptures; this is an extraordinary anachronism.

There is nothing incredible in the pretension of the unknown author to pass for Peter. The whole apocryphal literature of the second and third centuries is full of fictitious scriptures, and the name of Peter is that most commonly employed. May we not suppose that an orthodox Christian, at the close of the second century, indignant at the supposed opposition between Peter and Paul, appealed to in the "Clementines," composed this epistle to set forth their deep harmony, making use, perhaps, of some fragments of the preaching of Peter which tradition may have preserved, for the commencement of the epistles? Calvin, in his embarrassed comments on this letter, betrays a doubt, which he is unable to dispel from his own mind or from the minds of his readers: "Cæterum," he says, in his introduction, "de auctore non constat, nunc Petri nunc apostoli nomini promiscue mihi permittam." "As there is no certainty about the author, I shall permit myself to say indifferently, Peter or the Apostle." Let us observe that there is nothing in this epistle in contradiction to other canonical writings; it contains no special or new. revelation. It is better frankly to express a doubt as to its authenticity than to sanction the idea that Christian belief is bound absolutely to the traditional canon fixed by the Church of the fourth century.

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