Were the Catholic Epistles of Peter, James and John Forged?2 min read

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New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman argues for the illiteracy of Peter, James and Jude, that would disable them to compose such lengthy, well-reasoned Greek texts, namely, the Catholic Epistles. For him, James was a later book that is intended to correct the misinterpretation of Pauline Epistles. 

Fr. Malaty sees that it is not excluded that Peter had some Greek knowledge as noticed that Andrew, Peter’s brother, and Philip had Greek names. He also considers the role of the Holy Spirit who enables Peter to preach on the Pentecost, and to contend against the Jewish leaders. Regarding 1 Peter, Fr. Malaty states that the theology and the concepts of the epistle match Peter’s preaching in Acts regarding God’s judgment, Christ the cornerstone, and the Father who raised Christ from the dead. Moreover, he doesn’t exclude the secretary hypothesis (i.e. that someone assisted St. Peter in writing the letter in Greek). Hence, Silvanus, who is mentioned at the end of the epistle may be the one who assisted in the editing of the epistle. 

Although he acknowledges its difficulties, American Theologian Michael Kruger argues for the authenticity of 2 Peter. He debates that if it is pseudonymous, then the author has not presented any different views that are not already present in New Testament books. The epistle had neither similarity to pseudonymous Petrine literatures nor reference to a second century controversy. Kruger maintains that: “there is more evidence of an early date than most are willing to acknowledge…The case for historical contradictions seemed somewhat inconclusive”1

New Testament Scholar Richard Bauckham asserted that there is no contradiction between James and Paul. While Paul insisted that justification is by faith alone, he expected that believers should do good deeds, which result from faith (2 Cor. 9:8; 1 Cor. 15:58; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 5:6). The concept of faith, which James had described, was the intellectual appeal to truth, and that would not be the same sense of faith that Paul talked about. The same is applied for the concept of works2

  1. Michael J. Kruger, “The Authenticity of 2 Peter “Journal-Evangelical Theological Society” 42, no. 4 (1999): 645-672 
  1. Richard Bauckham, James (London: Routledge, 2002), 133 

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