Biblical historians have many different opinions on who is responsible for the authorship of the New Testament writings. Concentrating on 1 and 2 Peter, their different conclusions can be analyzed. Scholars approach the study of authorship by carefully going over the writings themselves. They discover the how, when, why, who, and where of the writings. Each New Testament scholar has come to their own conclusion of the authorship of 1 and 2 Peter through this. Their different views of the authorship of 1 and 2 Peter will be discussed and compared in this paper.
1 Peter is a New Testament writing. It has only five chapters that seems to portray the purpose of bringing hope to Christians. Christians should lead their lives by serving God and knowing that the judgement of God will be coming. Their faith will be tested, but Christians are told stay true to God. The point is to tell Christians that they should keep to their faith no matter what is going on in the world. The people being addressed where those of the church whom were estranged from their old life. This letter has the same pattern of a Pauline letter, opening with a greeting and thanksgiving. Then it gives the purpose and reflects on the identity of Christians. It ends with an exhortation and closing. It is done neatly and kept in order. 1 Paul seems to have been written in Rome. It is written
for the churches in the area of northern Asia Minor. The time period could range from 60-72 C. E. during the time of Paul whom is considered to have traditional authorship.
2 Peter appears to be the “last testament” of the apostle who had authorship of it. Correct teaching is emphasized, showing that is a major concern of the author. The letter gives a warning that judgement will condemn those without good ethical conduct. This includes all heretics. In 2 Peter’s three chapters, the author expresses his believe of the time when judgement will come. The author uses the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophets’
testimonies, Peter’s eyewitness of the transfiguration of Jesus, and the writings of Paul. The author’s point is that the Parousia is real and not a myth. 2 Peter tells that the reason for the delay of the Parousia is that God’s time is different from human time. So, the coming has not occurred when it was believed it should have. It also says that God is delaying the coming to give time for humans to repent. 2 Peter seems to also have been written during the Apostolic Age and is one of the last New Testament writings.
In The New Oxford Annotated Bible, the authorship seems to be pointing to Peter himself to be the author. It also says that Silvanus could have been the author, but it is very doubtful. In the beginning, Peter is named, but at the end, Silvanus is mentioned in the closing.
In 2 Peter, the letter is presented to have been written by Simeon Peter. He says that he is the servant and apostle of Jesus, but there is doubt to this. By him saying this, doubts of authorship is brought forth. The time period is confused by the author saying this. The reason for this is Simeon Peter’s death was predicted by Jesus. If this happened, then he could not have been an apostle of Peter. Also, he claims to have had fellowship with Peter, but the way the author presents his interpretation of Paul’s letters, it is doubtful.
Another source is The Interpreter’s Bible Volume 12. This source also expresses authorship concerns, stating that 1 Peter was written by Peter with the help of Sylvanus who was like a brother to Peter. The place where 1 Peter was written seems to have been Rome. This is because of the fact Babylon is mentioned, and it is considered to be a cryptic name meaning Rome. The time period seems to have been in 60 C. E. because this is during the time of the lifetime of Peter.
2 Peter’s authorship is also discussed. Simon Peter is said to have been the author but this source doubts it. The difference is style with 1 Peter expresses that they do not have the same authors. The author is unknown, but wrote in the spirit of Peter, condemning heresy. Rome is considered to have been the place of authorship. Since there is proof that 1 Peter was written in Rome, and due to the fact that 2 Peter is heavily influenced by it, then 2 Peter
was also written in Rome. The influence that 1 Peter has on 2 Peter proves this. 2 Peter is also considered to have been written in the middle of the second century.
A third source is The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. It expresses that the beginning of 1 Peter definitely shows that the author is Peter himself. Also, the author stating that he was an eyewitness to Jesus backs up the belief that he is the author. There is no evidence why he wrote it. Only the belief that he did it to fortify the faith of who he was writing to could have been the explanation. There are arguments against Peter being the author. These come from claims that he only speaks of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The only explanation is that he is less concerned with his life, and more concerned with the fact that his death brought grace. This source states that there is no proof that can say Peter was not the author. If Peter is the author, then the date of the writings can fall around 64 or 67 C. E.
This source also discusses the authorship of 2 Peter. The apostle Simon Peter is considered to have authorship. This is considered to be an unclear fact though. The purpose of 2 Peter is clearer than the authorship. It is to go against the skepticism of the
Parousia. It is considered to be written around the second century, long after the apostolic age.
A fourth source is The Anchor Bible Series. This source discusses that the question of the author’s identity is raised in the text. Silvanus is questioned to be the author. He could be Peter’s secretary, his collaborator, or the true author. Paul is noted to be the author, but the mention of Silvanus in the text puts questions on this fact. The theological character of 1 Peter seems to have some of Silvanus’s touch in it. The language of 1 Peter also suggests this. The author has heavy influence of Pauline writings, and this shows that Peter might not be the author. For Peter to base a lot of 1 Peter on Pauline writings would make him switch from his Jewish beliefs to a more Gentile Christianity. It could be possible but very doubtful. The language of 1 Peter is more toward a Greek style than that of a Galilean fisherman, which was what Peter was. This could possibly show that he must have collaborated with someone, which was Sivanus.
2 Peter’s author presents himself as the apostle Peter. This would be Simeon Peter. This source believes that it was a follower of Peter that wrote 2 Peter though. The author’s purpose seemed to have been to preserve the apostolic tradition. Also, 2 Peter does not have any personal information about Jesus, showing that he could not have been Peter. The language is portrayed as Hellenistic, and not of a Galilean fisherman. This shows that the author is
unknown. There is no other evidence that tells who the author could have been. The latest 2 Peter was written could have been 90 C. E. It is also
believed that since the author wanted to have the identity of Peter, then the place of authorship was Rome.
As noted above, there are different views on the authorship of 1 and 2 Peter. Some of the bible scholars contrast each other and others are agree upon certain facts. For 1 Peter there is very many questions as to who the author is. The evidence points mostly to Peter being the true author. Silvanus has also been considered to be the author. If the evidence is examined closely, he could have only been Peter’s scribe. Some say that he was the author, or either he helped Peter write the letter. The text has many different influences that come from Peter though, so Silvanus might not have had anything to do with the writing of the letter.
2 Peter’s author will probably stay anonymous. Although Simeon Peter could have been the author there is strong evidence that he was not. It could have been someone who wanted to uphold the apostolic tradition, so this person wrote as Peter. The author only portrayed himself as Peter and was not actually Peter himself.
Bible scholars will probably continue to study the authorship if 1 and 2 Peter. One day they might find hard evidence to who the author really was.
Until then they can only use the text of the Bible to research the authorship. For 1 Peter, the authorship has more evidence showing Peter was the author. 2 Peter’s author could have been Peter but more evidence points to an unknown author.
Beasley, James R., et al. An Introduction to the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon
The Anchor Bible Series: The Epistles of James, Peter, and Luke. New York,
New York: Doubleday, 1964.
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1962.
The Interpreter’s Bible: The Holy Scriptures Volume 12. New York:
Abingdon Press, 1957.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York: Oxford University Press,