Second Epistle of Peter
|Second Epistle of Peter
II Peter in the Codex Sinaiticus, c. 350 CE.
The Second Epistle of Peter, often written simply as, II Peter, is a letter important to the Christian church and has been canonized as the twenty-second book of the New Testament. The letter was written in ancient Greek around 90-120 CE. Although it claims to be written by Peter, there are no professional historians who still argue that it was written by Peter. The author tells the reader to be wary of charlatans pretending to be followers of Jesus (ironic since it's a fraud), gives tips on how to identify false teachers (likewise), and warns of the impending destruction of the earth. This letter is in the public domain.
I read this letter to increase my understanding of Christianity.
Authorship and Dating
The author identifies himself as Peter the Apostle speaking to other church followers. While church tradition holds that the author is Peter, one of Jesus's 12 disciples, the majority of New Testament scholars are in agreement that Peter did not write the letter. They give several reasons:
- Historians date Peter's death to 64 or 67 CE, but they date the letter as having been written around 90-120 CE.
- Peter is described as an uneducated fisherman in the bible meaning he was most likely illiterate, but the letter is expertly written.
- Peter, being from Galilee, most likely spoke Aramaic or Hebrew, but the letter is written in scholarly Greek.
- In the Gospels, Peter is described as having been a close friend of Jesus, but this author doesn't mention a single shared event or anecdote of their travels.
There are no known original manuscripts. The oldest fragment is Papyrus 72 dated to around 200-225 CE.
In addition to Peter not being the author of this epistle, he also probably wasn't the author of the First Epistle of Peter, and, in fact, the letter carries such a different message and style than the first, that many New Testament scholars don't even believe that the two letters were written by the same person.
The author describes what a proper teacher of Jesus should be like, and details the hellfire that awaits any who teach differently. It ends with a reminder that the world will end in horrible destruction.
The letter borrows a lot from the Epistle of Jude, only with the references to the two apocryphal works excised.
One interesting aspect of this epistle is that it is the only book in the New Testament to refer to other writings as "scripture," indicating that it wasn't written until after the religion had already started to canonize its writings.
- One of the common arguments of Christian apologists is that God doesn't send people to Hell, people choose to go to Hell by refusing God's help. However, starting with (2:4) the author clearly explains that God himself sends angels and men alike to hell.
- I found this epistle to be depressing and bigoted. The author revels in vengeance and joyously awaits the destruction of the world.
- The author explains that he wasn't following cleverly invented stories about Jesus, but was an eyewitness (1:16). This is especially dishonest once you realize that the author wasn't an eyewitness. This lie is dug deeper in (1:20) where the author says that no prophecy or scripture came about from interpretation or the will of man, but from the words of God carried along by the Holy Ghost. And again in (2:2-3) where the author warns against greedy false teachers who would exploit people's faith for greedy shameful gain, which is most likely what the author is doing. It ends with the author telling the reader how they can identify his authenticity by saying, just like with Paul's letters, he speaks in the same manner throughout his letters (3:15-16). Of course, the author doesn't write the same as in the first epistle or the Gospel of Mark (for that matter, Paul doesn't write the same in all the letters attributed to him either)!
- The author describes people who mock celestial beings as being brutes, beasts, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, and to perish like beasts (2:12).