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SUMMARY OF DISSERTATION I.
Doubts thrown on the authority and genuineness of the second epistle of St. Peter, from the difference of style between it and the first. The assertion of Grotius that it was rejected by many churches, too strong. The difference of style allowed ; but not such a difference as ought to create any doubt of the genuineness of the epistle : reasons for this given. No reason to think that St. Peter did not write both epistles himself. Probable grounds shown that this was the case. Comparison of the second chapter of St. Peter's second epistle with the epistle of St. Jude. Probable that both translated from some old Hebrew book. Language of St. Jude plainer and more simple than that of St. Peter. Many instances where the sentiments and notions of both are the same, but the manners of expression very different. This agreement and disagreement probably arose from both writers following the same copy in the Jewish language, and each translating for himself. The subject matter common to the two epistles (2nd of St. Peter and Epistle of Jude) without doubt taken from some old Jewish author, by one or both of these writers. Reasons given why one was not a transcriber from the other. This may account for different styles in St. Peter's two epistles ; also for the difference of style in the second epistle itself. But hence another objection may be taken against the authority of the second epistle of St. Peter. It is an old one against the epistle of Jude, that he quotes the spurious book of Enoch. Is not St. Peter's second epistle become liable to the same charge? For an account of this spurious book of Enoch the reader is referred to Fabri
cius, in his Codex Pseud. Vet. Test. It was a mere romance full of Hellenistic inventions; but there is no evidence that this book was extant in the days of the Apostles, or that St. Jude quotes it. What the true ancient book was which he quotes, or what authority it had, is unknown; but it was not among the Jewish canonical books. Reasons however given why it might be used, which show that little regard is due to the ancient objection against the authority of St. Jude's epistle. Some notions indeed in which these two epistles agree, which could not possibly be drawn from any ancient Jewish book, being Christian notions peculiar to the gospel times. Passages which show this agreement given : these passages commented
Shown from hence that there is no necessity to suppose that St. Jude transcribed St. Peter's epistle: more probable that both he and St. Peter wrote from the common plan communicated to the churches, and drew their description of the false teachers from the same apocryphal book. At any rate the old objection against the authority of the second epistle of Peter, drawn from the difference of style between his first and second epistles, is removed.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST. PETER.
THE occasion I had in the first of the foregoing discourses to consider and compare together the two epistles of St Peter, led me to inquire into the grounds and reasons of the ancient doubt concerning the authority and genuineness of the second epistle. It will be worth while to examine the fact, and state it fairly; which will enable us to judge whether this doubt is well founded or no.
The learned Grotius, in his Annotations on this epistle, observes, “ that many of the ancients were of opinion that this was not an epistle of St. Peter the Apostle, induced thereunto by the difference of style between this and the first epistle, (acknowleged by Eusebius and Jerome,) and -by this epistle's having been rejected by many churches.” Huetius * reports the case more accurately, and tells us that this second epistle was, inter dubias collocata ab aliquibus-propter styli cum priore discrepantiam : “reckoned doubtful by some, because the style of it was different from that of the first epistle.” This is the truth of the case, and this the only reason to be found in antiquity of the doubt concerning this epistle. Grotius's second reason, that this epistle was not received in many churches, is too strongly expressed, and not sufficiently warranted. Origen is the first, as far as appears, who mentions the doubt about this epistle :
“ St. Peter,” he tells us, “ left one epistlé confessedly his, perhaps too a second; for of this there is doubt.”+
* Demonstratio Evang. p. 21.
+ Πέτρος-μίαν επιστολήν ομολογουμένην καταλέλοιπεν, έστω δε και δευτέpav, åupuldanetai ydp. Origen, ap. Euseb. lib. vi. cap. 25.
Eusebius informs us, “that there never was any doubt of St. Peter's first epistle ; but as to the second, the tradition was, that it was not canonical: nevertheless appearing to many (or to the generality) to be an useful piece, it was used jointly with the other Scriptures." ** That this second epistle was received and used by the church in Eusebius's time, appears, I think, from this very passage: he says it was used with the other Scriptures, and that all the ground there was to doubt of its authority, was an ancient tradition, which probably was no other than the authority and report of Origen before cited. That this doubt ever affected whole churches, or that there were churches which rejected this epistle, does not appear: if this had been the case, it would have been a stronger objection against the authority of the epistle than the ancient suspicion, and more worthy of the historian's notice.
What submission is due to the doubts of antiquity, when we have only the doubt transmitted to us without the reasons on which it was grounded, I need not inquire; but surely when we have the reasons of the doubt preserved, we have a very good right to judge and inquire for ourselves. And this happens to be the case here : St. Jerome takes notice of this doubt, and tells us the reason of it: “ the second epistle,” says he, “ is rejected by many, (or by most, a plerisque) because it differs in style from the first." +
The whole doubt, you see, is founded on a piece of criticism, started at first probably by some man of learning and figure, and followed implicitly by others. The usage and authority of the church, for aught that appears to the contrary, were on the side of the epistle, and prevailed at last against the learned observation ; which was the very case of St. Jude's epistle, which for a like reason was rejected by many, but the general authority of the church prevailed to establish it: auctoritatem
* Την δε φερομένην αυτου δευτέραν, ουκ ενδίαθετον μεν είναι παρειλήφαμεν» όμως δε πολλούς χρήσιμος φαινείσα, μετά των άλλων εσπουδάσθη γραφών. Lib. iii. cap. 3. Vid. cap. 25.
+ Quarum secunda à plerisque rejicitur propter styli cum priore dissonantiam.-Catal. Script. Eccles.
vetustate et usu meruit, et inter sanctas Scripturas comparatur. *
That there is a difference in the style of the first and second epistle of St. Peter is allowed; but it is not such a difference as ought to create any doubt of the genuineness of the epistle. One reason is, because this difference of style does not run through the whole epistle, but affects only one part of it; another reason is, that this difference may be more probably accounted for, than by supposing the second epistle to come from another hand than the first.
The second epistle is divided into three chapters : the first and the third stand clear of this difficulty, agreeing very well with the style of the first epistle. The second chapter is full of bold figures, and abounds in pompous words and expressions: it is a description of the false prophets and teachers who infested the church, and perverted the doctrines of the gospel ; and it seems to be an extract from some ancient Jewish writer, who had left behind him a description of the false prophets of his own or perhaps earlier times; which description is applied both by St. Peter and St. Jude to the false teachers of their own times. If this be the case, where is the wonder that a passage transcribed from another author, and inserted into this second epistle, should differ in style from St. Peter's first epistle ? especially considering that the style of this passage differs as much from all the rest of this second epistle, as it does from the first. St. Jerome † supposed, and others I have followed his opinion, that St. Peter made use of different interpreters to express his sense in his two epistles; but had this been the case, the difference of style would have appeared in the whole epistle, and not in one part of it only, which is the present state : and I see no reason to think that St. Peter did not write both the epistles himself.
Were this nothing but a conjecture, yet so reasonable a one it is, that the doubt raised against this second epistle merely from this difference of style, could hardly stand before it.
* Hieron. Catal. Script. Eccl. + Epist. ad Hedibiam, qu. 2.
# Estius, Calmet, &c.