Are Some Books of the Bible Forged, Part 3
It depends on your source
In declaring some books of the bible and the ancient world as forgeries, a lot depends on the ancient source modern scholars draw from to form their opinions and conclusions.
For example, Dr. Ehrman relies heavily on ancient writers and scholars who were no different from him. He uses Didymus the Blind, Jerome and Eusebius words to help come to the conclusion that 2 Peter is a forgery.
They said the book was a forgery and Dr. Ehrman seems to side with them. He writes
The book of 2 Peter was rejected by a number of
early church fathers, as discussed by both Jerome and Eusebius,
but none more straightforwardly than the notable Christian
teacher of Alexandria Didymus the Blind, who argued that “the
letter is false and so is not to be in the canon.” 10 Peter, in other
words, did not actually write it, according to Didymus, even
though the author claimed to be Peter. (pg. 27)
Yet no attempt is made by Dr. Ehrman to establish the credibility of their opinion. While these men are included in the group called the Church Fathers, a close examination of their faith makes their faith suspect.
Jerome, Eusebius and Didymus all were influenced or taught by Origen. Origen’s works were condemned by the 5th Ecumenical Council.
But Once Again
There is no compelling evidence that 2 Peter was forged. The opinions of 3 ancient writers who lived long after Peter cannot condemn the epistle. They may have taken a dislike to the contents of the book or to Peter himself and used that negative thought to influence their views on Peter’s 2nd letter.
Dr. Ehrman himself on page 80 of his work clearly states that Jesus’ disciple he named Peter was not the author. One piece of evid3ence Dr. Ehrman uses to support his thesis is that 2 Peter uses similar material that Jude wrote in his short book.
Another reason Dr. Ehrman uses is one that he says all scholars accept as a reason for it being a forgery. The letter seems to be written after Peter’s death but that conclusion can only come if Peter died in the early 60s AD.
We actually do not know when Peter died, so he still could have been around later in the first century to pen that work. The final reason Dr. Ehrman gives, found on page 82, is that Peter was supposedly illiterate.
Like the others, this is also a very flimsy argument. Being illiterate does not stop the Holy Spirit from communicating God’s truth to Peter. Nor does it stop Peter from dictating what the Holy Spirit told him to a secretary or in those days a scribe.
If dictation is grounds for being a forgery then every business letter dictated by a businessman to his secretary is now a forgery The arguments for 2 Peter being a forgery is not compelling at all.
Was the ancient world illiterate
If you talk to archaeologists like Dr. Wm. Dever, or Bible scholars like Dr. Ehrman, they are under a firm conviction that the ancient world was not very literate. But again the reasons supporting that conclusion are not convincing.
While Dr., Ehrman makes the claim that ancient society was not like the modern era, where almost everyone in the west and other countries receive an education.
The problem with his comparison to the modern world is that if only the Library of Congress survived into the future, most future archaeologists would conclude that the vast majority of Americans were illiterate.
That is because they left no written work to prove they were literate. This would be the conclusion regardless of the fact that most people are not writers and do not leave written evidence showing their education levels.
A lack of written evidence is not enough to declare the ancient world illiterate. As one scholar pointed out, and his name escapes me at this writing, the ancient world is filled with written monument, laws, military exploits and other declarations.
Some of them are found in very remote locations. That scholar went on to say that if the ancient world was illiterate who were these rulers and elites writing to? If it were to the elites, they did not have to produce such elaborate monuments but downsized them and placed them in urban regions.
The problem of time and elites
One other reason Dr. Ehrman claims that Peter could not have written 2 Peter was because so few ancient works survive. Then since the majority of ancient works that survive were written by the elite members of society, he then assumes that only the elite could read and write.
A lowly Galilean fisherman was not counted among the ancient elite. But that is another false idea. It has been said by others that if America does not survive, the only author to have his written works uncovered in the future would be Isaac Asimov
Yet, that fact would not declare that the rest of the American citizens were illiterate or did not write books, magazine articles and so on. Mr. Asimov just wrote so much that he is basically guaranteed a future presence.
The misunderstanding of the Lingua Franca
Far too often scholars, including Dr. Ehrman, claim that most Hebrews did not really know their own mother tongue. It was replaced by the lingua franca of the day- Aramaic.
This is a misleading and demonstrates a lack of understanding of how a lingua franca works. In today’s world English is the current lingua franca. Yet, I know of no country, no nation of people, who are willing to give up their mother tongue and use English as their sole language.
I taught English in Korea for approx. 14 years, and not one Korean would ever think about rejecting their own language in favor of using English. China, Japan and even Middle Eastern countries are exactly the same.
Their mother tongue is part of their identity and they would not sacrifice that in favor of pleasing a few westerners who do not want to learn a new language.
Besides the Holy Spirit would have communicated to Peter in the language that he knew. Peter’s educational level would not be a factor nor would his ability to read and write come into play. Dr. Ehrman under-estimates God in his attack on 2 Peter.
Some final comments
The forgery arguments rarely make sense. They are constructed on flimsy logic, a lack of rational thinking and rarely include the truth. There is no compelling reason or evidence to declare 2 Peter a forgery.
The only common thread that ties Dr. Ehrman and other scholars’ arguments together is the unbelief of those scholars. They are not following the Holy Spirit to the truth thus they are vulnerable to deception.
2 Peter is not forged and it was written but God who used Peter to either write or dictate his message to his creation.
© 2019 David Thiessen