Toward Understanding the New Testament
Obert C. Tanner, Lewis M. Rogers, Sterling M. McMurrin
The Jewish Christian Tradition
[p.385]Usually the letters in the Christian canon are divided into two groups: (1) the genuine Pauline epistles and the deutero-Pauline letters, the Pastorals and Hebrews, and (2) James, 1 Peter, Jude, 2 Peter, and 1, 2, 3 John. The latter group is often referred to as the “Catholic” or “General” epistles because they were supposedly written to the church in general rather than to a particular Christian community or congregation or to an individual.
James, 1 Peter, Jude, and 2 Peter can be grouped together as constituting the Jewish-Christian tradition of the canon. Among these four writings, 1 Peter and James were perhaps the most influential. They bear two of the most illustrious names in early Christian history.
Most scholars agree that the evidence against the authenticity of 1 Peter as a letter by the apostle Peter is convincing, yet the letter claims the authority of Peter and some critics believe that he may have written it. However, internal evidence reveals a significant similarity of religious concepts with those in Paul’s letters, particularly Romans. For example, Paul’s phrase “in Christ” is used three times (1 Pet. 3:16, 5:10, 14); also, the structure of the letter—salutation, thanksgiving, and benediction—is similar to that of Paul’s letters. To account for this similarity, those who hold that the letter is authentic to Peter suggest that Peter had an amanuensis, either Barnabas or Silvanus, to whom he dictated the letter. The Pauline characteristics of the letter can be attributed to Silvanus, as he had been early associated with Paul.
But even this indirect connection with Paul is improbable. Although Silvanus was apparently associated with Paul, there is no evidence to indicate that he had been the companion of Peter. [p.386]It is also unlikely that Peter, who was generally regarded as chief among Jesus’s disciples, would have relied so heavily upon Paul’s ideas. Moreover, Peter was a Galilean fisherman who probably knew very little Greek. In contrast, 1 Peter was written in scholarly Greek, included quotations from the Septuagint, and displayed a style and a vocabulary of classical terms such as might be expected from the pen of one who had command of the Greek Koine. According to Papias, Peter was so unfamiliar with Greek that he required an interpreter.
It is more likely that 1 Peter was written by an unknown Christian from the church in Rome. That he was from Rome seems apparent from the words “she who is at Babylon” (1 Pt 5:13), in all probability a reference to Rome.1
First Peter seems to have been written at a date later than Paul although the writing does reveal affinity with Paul and Paulinism; the language of 1:5, 22, and 2:13f, 16f closely parallels passages in Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians (Gal 3:23, 5:13; Rom 7:23, 12:9f, 13:1-4). That it was not written later than 150 CE is indicated by Polycarp’s clear use of it in his letter to the Philippians.2 The exhortation to “tend the flock of God that is your charge … not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge” (1 Pt 5:2f) suggests an ecclesiastical organization not found in the earliest Christian communities. Most conclusively, however, the correspondence between Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, and Trajan, the emperor of Rome (ca. 111 CE), indicates that the Christians of the provinces of Asia Minor were to be executed if discovered.3 Though apparently written for all Christians, 1 Peter had particular meaning for the gentile Christians of Bithynia and other provinces of [p.387]Asia Minor given such threat of persecution (1 Pt 1:1, 6). If the apostle Peter was the author, the letter would be dated around 64 CE, since Peter’s execution supposedly took place in Rome under Nero. But a more probable date for the letter is 95 to 115 CE.4
Employing the epistolary form of the Pauline letters, the author writes to the “exiles of the dispersion,” Christian converts living in the Roman provinces of Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. The expression “exiles of the dispersion” may have been a metaphor for these Christians as the new Israel scattered among the nations as ancient Israel had been in exile centuries earlier. In any event the author writes under the pseudonym of Peter, “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” and addresses them as “chosen and destined by God” (1 Pt 1:1f). The letter form is repeated in the conclusion (1 Pt 5:12-14). Here brief reference is made to Silvanus and Mark. Apparently, 1 Peter is the basis of the tradition that a close historical connection existed between Peter and Mark and between Mark’s Gospel and Peter.
New converts are reminded that they should expect to suffer “various trials” in order for the genuineness of their faith to be “tested by fire” (1 Pt 1:6f). Because persecution is to be understood as a test of faith they should rejoice that they have been “born anew” to a living faith and to an inheritance “kept in heaven.” The author assures them that the outcome of persevering in faith will be the salvation of their souls (1 Pt 1:9). Even the prophets of ancient times prophesied of the grace which was to be theirs. These prophets, the author insists, were serving not themselves or the people of ancient Israel but those Christians to whom this letter was addressed. Even the angels longed to see the things they have been privileged to see fulfilled in their own time (1 Pt 1:10-12).
One can see in these passages the development of a tradition of suffering. The models are Christ, Paul, and Peter. Christ is the supreme model; he suffered for those who believe in him, leaving them “an example.” And since he suffered in the flesh for them, they should “arm themselves with the same thought,” living their [p.388]lives by the will of God (1 Pt 2:21, 4:1f). Peter and Paul are examples of those early Christian heroes who, being perfect in their obedience to Christ, accepted their suffering with courage, humility, and joy, and persevered in faith to the end just as Christ had done.
The author proclaims to the Christians in Asia Minor that they were ransomed with the blood of Christ, that Christ was “destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times” for their sake (1 Pt 1:18-20). They are God’s people who have been “born anew to a living hope” through Christ’s resurrection. In the promise of salvation, he says, they have cause to rejoice (1 Pt 1:3, 6).5 Christ is the foundation of a new life and a new hope. He is the cornerstone, but a living stone that will cause men to stumble because they disobey the word (1 Pt 2:4-8). They are urged to be holy in their conduct, setting their hope on the grace that is coming to them. Hence the author makes a special appeal to scripture, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pt 1:13-16).6
Continuing this theme, the author exclaims that they are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Pt 2:9). But even as God’s own people, they are to regard themselves as exiles and aliens among the Gentiles. (1 Pt 1:1, 17, 2:11). According to 1 Peter, this world is temporary and soon to pass away. In the interim, Christians are to live in the world but look to the next, the spiritual world, for the fulfillment of their hopes and aspirations. The other world is their real home; it is their goal and destiny. Undoubtedly, this image of the other world as the reality is for the author the basis of an interim ethics rather than an ethics for living in this world.
A kind of interim or “meanwhile” standard of morality seems to follow from this other-world emphasis, an ethics based on the supremacy of God’s authority. Christians must honor all men, even the emperor, and they are to fear God. “One is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly” (1 Pt 2:19). [p.389]If one does right and suffers for it patiently, he has God’s approval, and suffering for righteousness brings a blessing. Resting their case on God and Christ, they are to “live as free men” and allow nothing to terrify them (1 Pt 2:16, 3:6). They are to maintain good conduct among the gentiles, but more important they are to be subject to human institutions; servants must obey their masters and women should be reverent and modest, “of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pt 2:13, 18, 3:1-7). There is no program for social or political action in 1 Peter, although there is an exhortation for harmony and unity. Nowhere in scripture is there a more impressive catalogue of personal moral virtues descriptive of a holy people. Here in the New Testament is a flowering of the Judaic genius for moral religion. Baptism brings new life in the grace of Christ, but redemption requires purity of soul through obedience to truth and love of one another. The author and the Christians he addresses live in anticipation of the End of the age. This is the time and the place of their exile, but the End is near (1 Pt 1:17, 4:7).
Some scholars believe that much of the exhortation material in 1 Peter is taken from the formal instruction of new converts at the rite of baptism.7 It is possible that a portion of the liturgical formula of baptism is present in 1 Peter in 1:23; “you have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” Emphasizing the importance of the formula, the author added that the word “is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Pt 1:25). Also, 1 Peter makes note of Christ’s preaching to the spirits in prison who disobeyed in Noah’s day.8 The reference to Noah’s ark and the flood, emphasizing that a few were saved “through water,” is employed as typology, for “baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you” (1 Pt 3:20). Presumably [p.390]baptism saves as the Flood saved Noah and his descendants. Baptism in the time of 1 Peter obviously had become established as the basic church ritual.
Questions about the authorship, date, purpose, and audience of the letter of James are among the most difficult in New Testament literature. A few scholars contend, primarily on the basis of the opening lines, that it is a letter from James, the brother of Jesus. If their judgment was correct, this is clearly one of the earliest letters in the New Testament. Apparently Origen, writing in the third century, was the first to arrive at this conclusion; he seems to have identified the author of the document as Jesus’s brother. Those who hold this view on authorship usually argue that the substance of James and parts of the synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew, are sufficiently similar to support the view that James preserves some of the original sayings of Jesus.
Many scholars, however, especially non-Catholics, have rejected this conclusion and the early date it would require.9 James the brother of Jesus apparently died about 62 CE. It seems improbable that a document written by so prominent a figure as James, leader of the early Christian community in Jerusalem, would have remained unknown for almost two centuries. Equally important is the fact that James is written in scholarly Greek of a quality second only to Hebrews in the Christian canon. It seems unlikely that James, the brother of Jesus, would have written in such fluent Greek. The excellence of the Greek, the vocabulary, and its similarity to the Greek diatribe, suggests to some scholars that the author of James probably was a Jewish-Hellenistic Christian who used the name “James” as a pseudonym.10 Others have argued that the lack of teaching in the document which is specifically Christian tells against authorship by James. Some insist that if James was the author, the Jewish legalism of the Jerusalem church [p.391]would be evident. Certainly the document does not appear to have been written in the context of the intense Judaizing controversy between Paul and Jerusalem.
Dating this document depends on the question of authorship, which clearly is problematic. The fact that Origen assumed it to be earlier than his own time excludes the possibility of placing it much later than 150 CE. The author’s apparent use of 1 Peter and his familiarity with some letters in the Pauline corpus indicate a date early in the second century, perhaps around 125. According to Kümmel, the date “cannot be determined more exactly than toward the end of the first century.”11
Various locations have been suggested as the place of the writing of James, including Rome, Syria, and Galilee. It purports to be a letter written by James to a number of scattered groups of Jewish Christians, “to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (Jas 1:1). Aside from this greeting, there seems to be no clearly recognizable historical occasion or situation which would explain its composition. The original was probably a sermon or homily consisting primarily of moral exhortations on a range of important Christian values. Even so this in itself would not explain or account for the inclusion of this document in the canon. Here the literary talent of the author, the excellence of his expressions in the Greek language, his rhetorical skill and persuasiveness must be taken into consideration. Undoubtedly, these explain its inspirational and faith-promoting quality and why it was later canonized for general use in the church.
Still N. Perrin’s comment that James “has no discernible structure”—that it “simply moves from theme to theme as the mind of the homilist takes him”—is hardly justified.12 This sermon-letter does have a focal point: a demand for moral conscience and moral action. James is committed to the moral religion rooted [p.392]in the teachings of Jesus and the Hebrew-Jewish prophets and grounded in the expectation of the judgment to come.13 The author’s instructions—on apathy, insincerity, arrogance, libertinism, the condition of the rich and the poor, faith and works, and on human passion and unfaithfulness—can be brought together as features of this emphasis.
The appeal in James goes back to the foundations of the Christian religion. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (Jas 1:27). This definition contains the heart of the prophetic theme found in Jesus and in the prophets Amos, Micah, and Isaiah, and in the Hebrew Law—social justice. Clearly, it is the writer’s intention to reaffirm the centrality of morality as preparation for the day of judgment.
The letter indicates that some Christians had become indifferent to the moral requirements of the proclamation about Christ and salvation and had apparently taken the position that the doctrine of grace, of faith in Christ alone, based upon Paul’s thought, guarantees salvation and freedom from the Law. In the author’s view, this minimizes the importance of the moral law in the Christian proclamation. Undoubtedly the author believed that such Christians had substituted the externals of religion, the performance of ritual and profession of correct belief, for the authentic religion of love. But for James, the actual doing of God’s will was essential; merely hearing the word and observing the institutional forms and apparatus were not sufficient. The thesis of James is clear: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. … He who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing” (Jas 1:22, 25).
It is at this point that the writer of James insists that religion must find expression in conduct. His statement which follows is one of the best known in the Christian scriptures: “What does it [p.393]profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? … So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (Jas 2:14, 17). To strengthen his instruction on faith and works, the author provides examples from the Old Testament: Abraham was justified by works when he offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice; in this instance faith was active along with Abraham’s works (Jas 2:21f). The same was true of Rahab when she aided the messengers from Joshua and sent them out of Jericho by a different route (Jas 2:25). The analogy and summary of the relation of faith and works is widely quoted in the Christian churches, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead” (Jas 2:26).
One of the major problems in James is its relation to Paul with its commitment to moral religion, its treatment of the doctrine of justification, and the relation of faith to works. Martin Luther, whose doctrine was intensely Pauline in the matter of salvation by faith, was strongly opposed to the Epistle of James. It has often been held in low esteem by very conservative modern Protestants. R. H. Fuller’s explanation has merit: “Faith” in James has “the characteristic sub-apostolic sense, i.e., propositional faith.”14 But “faith” is also closely connected to the moral virtues—steadfastness, patience, perseverence.
Much of the polemic of James is directed against boastful and pretentious Christians who claimed to possess superior wisdom. Some of these (the libertines) advocated freedom from the Law and used Paul as their primary source. James’s purpose was more to combat corrupt Paulinism than to oppose Paul’s doctrine. Moreover, it may be that the claim to special wisdom was related to the office of Teacher in the church. It seems likely that some were seeking the prestige of office to promote their own doctrines. According to James, they who teach are to be strictly judged (Jas 3:1). [p.394]”Who is wise and understanding among you?” he asks, and warns them against jealousy and selfish ambition (Jas 3:13). The wisdom of the jealous and selfish is “earthly, unspiritual, devilish” (Jas 3:15). In contrast, the wisdom from above is “pure.… without uncertainty or insincerity” (Jas 3:17). The author exhorts his “brethren” to call upon God for wisdom:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God. … But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. (Jas 1:5-8)
The author concludes that inordinate desires and passion lead to unfaithfulness and aggressive acts against one another.
Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. … You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (Jas 4:1-3)
Clearly this author is concerned that this generation of Christians no longer lives under the expectation of the imminent end of the age and consequently ignores the urgency of doing God’s will. He declares, “you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas 4:14). All boasting, he maintains, is arrogance. Instead, they should place their trust in the Lord’s will.
Apparently the church in James’s day had begun to take note of members who favored those of wealth over the poor. For James no partiality could exist among the faithful. God has chosen the “poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (Jas 2:5). Here as throughout the document the appeal is to the moral law, particularly the new word from Christ in Matthew’s Gospel, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Jas 2:8; Lv 19:18).
The threat of persecution and suffering provides the background for this writing. However, no imminent crises are referred to. Rather, a general deterioration of morality prompts the author to [p.395]call for steadfastness in faith, perseverence, and loyalty to the church.
The Old Testament prophets and Job are cited by James as examples of patience and perseverence in time of great stress. They possessed the Christian virtues he hopes to instill in his readers, who are exhorted to see that the church provides for uncertainties in their future. If anyone is sick, the elders may be called to anoint him with oil. If any has sinned, prayer and confession will bring forgiveness (Jas 5:15f).
Jude and 2 Peter
The originals of Jude and 2 Peter were probably polemical tracts revised as letters to imitate the Pauline format. They purport to have been written by Simon Peter, the chief apostle of Jesus, and by Jude, the brother of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. Obviously, the names “Peter” and “Jude” are used here as pseudonyms. In Jude the author identifies himself as a “brother of James” but does not identify himself as the brother of Jesus. Presumably, he knows the doctrine of virgin birth; Jesus could not have had any real brothers and sisters.15
The precise date for these documents remains problematic. Ecclesiastical and doctrinal developments, including evidence of the centrality of the baptism ritual, reference to “love feasts,” the failure of the Parousia, and the emergence of Gnosticism as a major threat to the unity of the church suggest a date around the middle of the second century. Such concerns would preclude the possibility of their having originated in the time of the historical persons Peter and Jude. Since 2 Peter seems to have borrowed a significant portion of the 25 verses of Jude, Jude was probably written at a slightly earlier date than 2 Peter.16
Jude and 2 Peter together reflect a period of severe stress in Christian history. They describe a church facing great internal turmoil created by false, greedy, and licentious teachers and reacting [p.396]defensively to threats to its security. Jude and 2 Peter represent two different but related appeals to authority in early Jewish Christianity. While Jude claims to be a “brother of James” and therefore, presumably, one of the brothers of Jesus,” the author of 2 Peter identifies himself as “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1).
Heresy and rebelliousness are related issues in Jude and 2 Peter. The heretical teachers threatening the congregations were probably Gnostics and gnostic-like Christians. In some congregations a majority of the members may have been gnostics in their religious beliefs. It appears that some were libertines who may have engaged in sensual practices in their rituals. Others, referred to as scoffers and doubters, were perhaps gnostic skeptics who rejected some of the standard doctrines of the church such as the resurrection and the Parousia. They may have opposed the literal beliefs of the tradition and replaced them with myth or symbolism more palatable to Hellenistic Christians.
Jude’s approach is direct and personal; he appeals to his readers as his “Beloved” and to the salvation which they and he have in common. He exhorts them “to contend for the faith” which was entrusted to them and about which they had been “once for all” fully informed (2 Pt 1:1). Clearly, in these passages “faith” has a different meaning than for Paul. Here, faith, “once for all” delivered to them as a trust, refers to belief in the apostolic tradition, which had become established in the church.17 Faith requires believing in and accepting this tradition as God’s word and rule for living.
According to Jude, some ungodly persons had secretly gained admission to the Christian community (Jude 4), persons designated in the scripture as doomed for destruction. Remember, he says, the pre-[p.397]dictions of the apostles who said that in the last days there would be skeptics who followed their own passions (Jude 17f). The author’s judgment about the severity of this problem is indicated by the harshness of his attack: He calls the intruders “loudmouthed boasters; flattering people to gain advantage” who set up division within the community (Jude 16). Others he calls “waterless clouds,” “fruitless trees,” “wandering stars” and “malcontents, following their own passions” (Jude 12f, 16). They are devoid of the Spirit; they “pervert the grace of our God … and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4, 19).
The apocalyptic tradition is strong in Jude and 2 Peter. Apocalyptic texts, of course, were popular and widely read by both Jews and Christians throughout the first and second centuries. Apocalyptic prediction was effective in strengthening the faith of the members and preserving the unity of the church by demonstrating through biblical references that God’s plan is eternal and no changes have occurred in the tradition. Every detail of the present and future is known to God, and much has already been revealed through his prophets. Thus the difficult and sometimes unfortunate events in Christian history up to their time—the skepticism and apathy, heresy, rebellion against authority, and even the participation in libertine-sexual practices—were known to God in advance and predicted in the scriptures. Jude includes as scripture certain texts from the Jewish Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Second Peter seems to have intentionally omitted all references to apocalyptic works which were not included in the Christian canon. This difference is an important clue to understanding the development of the Christian canon.
The apocalyptic passages in Jude emphasize a final judgment day and the certainty of God’s punishment.18 He refers to angels, who “did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling” and were kept “in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). This motif of fallen angels was probably borrowed from the book of Enoch, a major Jewish apoc-[p.398]alyptic writing. Jude says of Enoch that he prophesied of the Lord’s coming to execute judgment on all of the ungodly (Jude 14f).
The writer reminds his “beloved” of disbelief and rebellion against authority in ancient times when God’s punishment was certain and severe, how the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were punished with eternal fire because the people indulged in unnatural lusts, and how those who rebelled in Moses’s day were destroyed by God’s punishment. All such disbelievers and rebels “walk in the way of Cain … and perish in Korah’s rebellion” (Jude 11).
Second Peter purports to have been written as a testament of the chief apostle, Simon Peter.19 However, the content and style indicate that it was written well beyond the time of Peter and Paul and in fact may be the latest writing in the Christian canon, possibly as late as 150 CE. It was written to defend Peter’s teaching against the interpretations of Paul made by some Christians. The author takes care to show that his intention is only to remind his readers of essential beliefs, for they already know the tradition and are well grounded in its truths. Expecting death in the near future, he leaves his own testament, that they (the apostles) were not deceived when they told them of the power of Jesus Christ (2 Pt 1:12-15). They were eye witnesses of Christ’s majesty and heard the voice of the Almighty proclaim (following the wording of Matthew): “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (2 Pt 1:16f; Mt 17:5. .Undoubtedly, this personal witness, testifying to the Transfiguration reported in the synoptic Gospels, was intended to support the authority of the apostolic tradition.
Second Peter emphatically insists on the surety of the prophetic word concerning the day of judgment and the certainty of the punishment of the ungodly. The author claims that Christians “have the prophetic word” and warns them to pay attention to this until the final day of judgment (2 Pt 1:19). Prophecy is not a matter of personal interpretation. The ancient Hebrews had false prophets and teachers among them. He cites evidence from the Old Testa-[p.399]ment of God’s punishment of the ungodly, who promise freedom but are themselves slaves of corruption (2 Pt 2:1-10).
It has also been suggested that perhaps two brief letters (2 Peter 1:1-2:22 and 3:1-18) may have been combined in canonical 2 Peter.20 Scoffers were saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? … all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pt 3:3f). Clearly, this is an acknowledgment of the delay of the Parousia. Evidently, large numbers of Christians were troubled by what must have been seen as a failure of the Second Coining.
The author’s explanation of the delay in the Parousia is significant for the study of the history of Christian doctrines. He contends that God’s chronology or time table is different from man’s, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pt 3:8). However, the author insists, “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness.” Rather God is patient in order for all to come to repentance and be saved. But the “day of the Lord will come like a thief [that is, unexpected], and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise” and the earth will be consumed by fire (2 Pt 3:9f). Thus, in 2 Peter the doctrine of the Parousia means especially the day of judgment and the destruction of the ungodly.
The author’s relationship to Paul is very important for understanding not only 2 Peter but all the documents purporting to represent the views of the apostle Peter and other writings from the Jewish Christian tradition—James, Jude, and 1 Peter. Second Peter speaks of “our beloved brother Paul” but significantly adds, “there are some things in them [his letters] hard to understand” (2 Pt 3:15f). Undoubtedly, this comment refers to the ambiguities found in some of Paul’s writings, for example, his teaching about freedom. Perhaps the author wanted to correct an errant Paulinism which the “ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction.” He cautions them to beware lest they be carried away by the word of lawless men and lose their own stability (2 Pt 3:16).[p.400]
[p.386]1. That “Babylon” was a symbol for Rome is suggested by its use in Jewish apocalyptic literature and in The Revelation to John 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, 18:2, 10, 21. See The Jerome Biblical Commentary for a summary of the arguments for and against the Petrine authorship and about the date and place of composition. J. A. Fitzmyer argues that the letter was written by Peter from Rome ca. 64 CE.
2 See Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians 1: 3, 8:1, 10:2.
3. This is referred to in Pliny’s Letter to the Emperor Trajan and Trajan’s response. See Howard Clark Kee, The Origins of Christianity, Sources and Documents (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1973), 51-53.
7. Perrin refers to 1 Peter as a “baptism homily” (Norman Perrin, The New Testament: An Introduction [New York, 1973], 257f). Kümmel and others maintain that baptism is not the central point of 1 Peter, that references and allusions to baptism are used in support of the main theme, which is the necessity for the strengthening of Christians for suffering (W. G. Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, rev. ed., trans. by H. C. Kee [New York: Abingdon Press, 1973], 421).
8. The reference to “the spirits in prison” (1 Pt 3:19) is probably related to the myth of “the sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-7, whose descendants were the Nephilim or giants (Gn 6:4) believed to have introduced evil into the world before the flood.
9. R. H. Fuller and W. G. Kümmel are among those who reject this conclusion. Kümmel discusses the various persons in New Testament literature named “James” and details the arguments for and against Jamesian authorship (Kümmel, Introduction, 411-13).
11. According to R. H. Fuller, “James” is the only one of the New Testament authors who “refers to the local Christian congregation as a ‘synagogue'” (2:2). This, he concludes, indicates rather clearly that the author is a Jewish Christian (R. H. Fuller, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament [London: Duckworth, 1966], 152).
14. Fuller, Introduction, 154. Martin Luther’s attack on the value of James is well known: “the epistle of St. James is an epistle full of straw, because it contains nothing evangelical … because in direct opposition to St. Paul … it ascribes justification to works. … not once does it give Christians any instruction or reminder of the passion, resurrection, or Spirit of Christ.” “Preface to the New Testament”; “Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude,” in John Dillenberger, ed., Martin Luther, Selections From His Writings (New York, 1961), 19, 35.
17. Kümmel, commenting on the meaning of faith in Jude, concludes that faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (3) is an early Catholic concept of faith. See Kümmel, 426f. Martin Luther regarded Jude as dependent on 2 Peter. It is “an excerpt from, or copy of, the second epistle of St. Peter” and not to be “among the canonical books that lay the foundation of faith.” “Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude.”