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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Authorship.

1. Analysis of Authorship.

Three different explanations of 2 Peter's authorship must be distinguished—(1) Peter wrote the letter; (2) during Peter's lifetime someone else wrote it under Peter's authority; (3) someone else wrote it after Peter's death (the majority position)—though (1) gradually merges into (2) as the scribe Peter used is given more autonomy. The arguments about authorship divide into four. First, language and style: 2 Peter's Hellenistic Jewish thought expressed in Greek Asiatic rhetoric cannot be attributed to the author of 1 Peter, nor to Jesus' Palestinian disciple. Thus explanation (1) must be discounted. Secondly, dating: Peter died in 64–8 CE making his involvement in 2 Peter (1 and 2) feasible (dates from 60 CE were possible), but unlikely (80–90 CE was preferred). Thirdly, genre: because Jewish Testaments were pseudonymous, some suggest that 2 Peter's testamental nature implies that it is pseudonymous. However, arguing from genre to pseudonymity can be flawed: Revelation is explicitly an apocalypse but unlike other apocalypses it is not pseudonymous. Furthermore, it was observed above that 2 Peter is not a Testament: its testamental features may have been drawn from works not seen as pseudonymous (e.g. the farewell speeches in Deut 33 and Mk 13 ), and hence would not have been connected with pseudonymity. Fourthly, content: is the text implausible in Peter's mouth? Aside from the features examined in relation to dating, the suggestions are weak: Peter would not need to bolster his authority by the story of the transfiguration ( 1:16–18 )—but this account is part of his defence of the parousia; Peter would not have used the Jude-like source—but were apostles always original? Thus, explanations (2) and (3) are feasible, though dating favours (3). However (3) would mean that the text was pseudonymous—falsely claiming Peter as its author ( 1:1, 16, 18; 3:1 ). Early Christian pseudonymity is not well understood, but there is a natural distinction between pseudonymity which was (intended to be) deceptive, and that which was not (transparent fictions). The lack of imitation of 1 Peter would be surprising if 2 Peter was aiming deceptively to assert Petrine authorship. Deceptive pseudonymity also presents hermeneutical difficulties: should one suspend disbelief—read it as if it were by Peter—or ignore the story and structure of the text and excavate from it the thoughts of a later generation? It is also unclear how it would function as part of the Christian canon. Non-deceptive pseudonymity relies heavily on genre—readers need to understand what is going on in order not to be deceived. The Jewish Testament is the only real suggestion for a non-deceptive genre for 2 Peter, but it does not fit well (above), nor is it certain that Testaments were seen as non-deceptive.

2. Approaches to 2 Peter.

Thus, it is not clear how to approach 2 Peter. It could be by Peter, though the dating makes this difficult. If it is not, it would be convenient if it were non-deceptive pseudonymity—to be read as ‘what Peter would have said’—but since evidence for this is lacking, this is perhaps wishful thinking. If deceptive, different readers will wish to read it in very different ways. Recent methods of biblical interpretation sidestep this issue—a literary approach simply takes the text on its own terms (a letter by Peter)—a canonical approach is similar because that is its status within the canon. The approach taken here is to read 2 Peter as a letter written by Peter. Furthermore, because of its dependency on a Jude-like source, Jude will be used to illuminate the obscure parts of ch. 2 .

E. Structure.

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