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No evidence for Peter in Rome

Discussion in 'Biblical Archaeology' started by philadelphos, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    Shalom,

    I've been thinking about this for years, and this explains so much... Many Protestants idealise Peter and turn towards the RCC, quoting the pope, become ecumenical, boasting of having visiting Rome and the Vatican 'in awe', having seen the pope, etc. What I've noticed is that and it's almost always founded on a claim (a dogged insistance) that Peter was the first pope, bishop of Rome, 'the rock' (petra), the foundation of the church, etc... Even the most ardent Reformed scholars and ministers I know do this in one way or another...

    Yet, "There is no early textual evidence for Peter in Rome"...

    See William Marrion Branham (2005), An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages,
    http://download.branham.org/pdf/ENG/BK-AGES An Exposition Of The Seven Church Ages VGR.pdf


    Quote: "They claim that Peter was their first pope, and that he resided in Rome when there is ABSOLUTELY NO HISTORICAL FACT FOR IT" (Branham, p. 121)

    See Nicola Denzey Lewis (8 May 2019), The Apostle Peter in Rome: Jesus’ chief disciple examined, https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org...eople-in-the-bible/the-apostle-peter-in-rome/

    Quote: "There is no early textual evidence for Peter in Rome... it’s very hard to believe that he ever traveled there. Not only is it a very long way, according to the New Testament, Peter was a fisherman who was not very educated and who spoke only Aramaic; he was not the type of person that might travel widely across the Roman Empire to a large city where Latin and Greek were the dominant languages. The absence of connection between Peter and Rome in the New Testament, the lack of references to him in our earliest Roman Christian literature, and what we know of Peter’s background and character all combine to make it unlikely, to my mind, that he ever went to Rome. ...There is no solid evidence—textual or even archaeological—that Peter died in Rome."

    Anyone with more info and detail to shed light on this would be much appreciated. Please, comment with academic resources and references, books, articles, etc, and of course Scripture, manuscript evidence etc. Especially in the area of Early Church History, the (in-) validity of the Apostolic (Roman Catholic) Church, the execution of Early Church martyrs like Polycarp etc by Romans, Jews, and others. - No belligerent quips or ad hominem, thank you.

    Thank you and blessings :)

    "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Jn. 8:32)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  2. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    The only evidence for Peter in Rome is Church Tradition. This is however very early, with apocryphal gospels and writings from the 2nd century mentioning it, and the excavations in the 60s found a 2nd century shrine (the central grave around which others cluster in the Vatican Necropolis). So the belief has perhaps been present since at least the first 100 or so years of the Church.

    It is mentioned by Tertullian, and possibly Origen as derived from Eusebius, and by the 3rd and 4th century Gospels well established. Clement also reports Peter's Martyrdom along with Paul's, which strongly implies Rome, based on inference.

    To be fair, we won't get any better evidence than this, for a poor fisherman from Galilee, and a member of a persecuted, and at this stage, unimportant, sect. It would not be reasonable to expect more. To think he wouldn't end up in Rome is silly though, as all roads lead to Rome and Paul was a citizen, with a Christian community there already. Tacitus mentions how all 'superstitions' readily flock to Rome, and we know Christians were persecuted there in Nero's day. Why on earth couldn't a prominent early Church leader end up there?

    You can take it or leave it, but no alternative scenario is as well attested. It isn't provable beyond trust in these sources, but this is true for a lot of Roman history, which is dependant upon such written ones.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  3. Radagast

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    It doesn't actually say that. In fact, according to the New Testament, Peter wrote two epistles in Greek.

    That's complete nonsense. People of every kind, including common labourers, travelled to Rome, and the city had a variety of ethnic enclaves (in just the same way, you will find people in Los Angeles or New York today who speak very little English or Spanish).

    And according to Irenaeus, writing around the year 180, Peter did preach in Rome (Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 1).

    Clement of Alexandria, writing in about 190, said the same, in a passage quoted by Eusebius (History of the Church, Book 6, Chapter 14).

    Click on the links to see the documents.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
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  4. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    Yes, I've read much of Eusebius, a flamboyant orator and flattering sycophant. I wouldn't trust him to scratch my back let alone his historiography. These are non-primary secondary sources, practically hearsay, correct ?

    Do you have quotes, chapter, page, para and line ?
     
  5. Radagast

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    In spite of his flaws, I think we can trust his quote of Clement.

    I gave you two web links. How hard is it to use your browser's "find on page" feature to find the word "Rome"?

    (if "find on page" is new to you, on most browsers you hit ctrl-F)
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  6. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    Thank you, except that's selection bias. - Eusebius is flawed and untrustworthy, not 'despite his flaws'. His flaws undermine his credibility. Taking a quote from Eusebius would be like quoting Mad Magazine, or Mao's Little Red Book.

    For example, "The bishop (Eusebius) probably "met and conversed with the emperor" on no more than four occassions." (See, Drake, H.A. “What Eusebius Knew: The Genesis of the 'Vita Constantini'.” Classical Philology 8, no. 1 (1988). What Eusebius Knew: The Genesis of the "Vita Constantini" on JSTOR)
     
  7. Radagast

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    1. Eusebius's quote of Clement was only one of two quotes I gave.

    2. A whole lot of scholars share the belief that Eusebius's conclusions are sometimes suspect. However, I see no reason to doubt his quotations.

    And out of curiosity, when you say "Presbyterian," does that mean PCA, PCEA, EPC, FPCS, or something else?
     
  8. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    There is no textual evidence that Peter wrote in Greek. It is entirely possible he wrote in Aramaic and it was translated into Greek shortly afterwards.
     
  9. Radagast

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    There's no evidence of that, nor is there anything in the text that suggests it's a translation.

    And why couldn't Peter learn Greek? I've met working-class immigrants from all over the world who learned English. Why this belief that Peter was somehow stupid?
     
  10. Erik Nelson

    Erik Nelson Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Bones attributed to St Peter found by chance in 1,000-year-old church in Rome

    "The remains were forensically examined in the 1960s, with experts concluding that they belonged to a man in his early sixties who lived in the first century AD. That was proof enough for Pope Paul VI, in 1968, to declare them the bones of St Peter"
     
  11. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    Not the issue. But it is one of focus.

    Galatians 2:7
    But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised

    Paul was assigned to preach and write to the Gentiles, and Peter was assigned to speak and write to a Jewish audience.
     
  12. Radagast

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    Well, not only a Jewish audience -- see Acts 10.

    And anyway, the overwhelming majority of that Jewish audience (except for rural Galilee and Judea) spoke Greek. That's why they used the Old Testament in Greek.
     
  13. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    Indeed. But with the meeting recorded by Paul in Gal 2, they agreed that changed with Paul taking over the Gentile side of things.

    BTW - Cornelius was already a God Fearer, a gentile who lived a Jewish life. IOW, he was only a circumcision away from being fully Jewish.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  14. Radagast

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    Colour me sceptical on that one.

    And I think you're misreading the article: the bones declared to be those of Peter in 1968 were those underneath the Vatican (specifically, the church of St Peter), which is where tradition said they were. See here.

    That is, when Constantine asked the Christians in Rome in the early 300s where Peter was buried, they pointed at a specific graveyard, and Constantine then built a church on top of the graveyard.

    I'd be willing to bet that Peter's bones were somewhere under the church of St Peter, even if they're not in the box with "Peter" written on it.
     
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  15. Radagast

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    Not quite true, because Paul also preached to Jews in Asia Minor -- see elsewhere in Acts.

    And anyway, the overwhelming majority of the Jewish audience (except for rural Galilee and Judea) spoke Greek. That's why they used the Old Testament in Greek.
     
  16. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    I doubt the 'overwhelming majority' did. There was a lot of strife between the Greek speaking Hellenistai and the Aramaic speaking traditionalists. It is perhaps closer to the situation in Colonial Africa or India, where the majority didn't speak the rulers' languages, but educated natives did - with varying degrees of language ability as you go down, though a significant group certainly adopted Greek as their home language too.
     
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  17. Radagast

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    Absolutely an overwhelming majority. Most Jews lived outside the Holy Land.

    For example, there were 600,000 Jews in Jerusalem, but 1,000,000 in Egypt (for comparison, today there are still 600,000 Jews in Jerusalem, but 6,000,000 in the USA and 2,000,000 elsewhere -- altogether, more than in all of Israel).

    Most of the Jews outside the Holy Land spoke Greek, and so did many Jews in Jerusalem and in coastal cities of the Holy Land (we know this from inscriptions in synagogues).

    Jerusalem and coastal cities had large numbers of Jews that had come back from the Diaspora (either temporarily or permanently)

    And the NT was not primarily addressed to people in the Holy Land (many of those already knew about Jesus from His ministry anyway), it was primarily addressed to those outside (Gentiles and Greek-speaking Jews) for whom the message was completely new. There is no "Epistle to the Jerusalemites."
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  18. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    No 'we' don't.

    What poppycock, and fallacious argumentation. -- There are many inscriptions in LATIN across the Western world, on school buildings, hospitals, churches, universities, and government buildings, yet NO ONE SPEAKS LATIN. Why is that ?

    The same principle was true in the Ancient World, there was a lingua franca (language of trade, common tongue; plus regional dialects etc) and there was the official language of the oppressor, for formal public and official use like 'inscriptions on synagogues', names of elders, and first born children, etc.

    In fact, in Rome there are CHRISTIAN Churches with Hebrew Inscriptions to EVANGELISE to Jews... Similarly, in China, thousands of buildings have English inscriptions, yet no one speaks English...
     
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  19. Radagast

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    Here is a famous (Greek) synagogue inscription from Jerusalem. The date is somewhere between Jesus's birth and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.

    [​IMG]

    Theodotus, son of Vettenus, priest and archisynagogue, son of an archisynagogue, grandson of an archisynagogue, built the synagogue for the reading of the Law and the teaching of the commandments, and guest-house and the rooms and the water supplies for the lodging of strangers in need, which his fathers founded and the Elders and Simonides.

    Not only is the inscription Greek, but so is the name of the priest mentioned in it (Theodotus, who seems to be from a family that had lived in Rome). The mention of strangers indicates that this Greek-speaking synagogue was aimed at least partly at Jews visiting from the Diaspora.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  20. philadelphos

    philadelphos Sydney

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    "and Jerusalem was a mixture"
    -- Who said that ? You're fabricating quotes.

    "seems to be from a family that had lived in Rome" -- Rubbish.

    Thank you, I'm aware of the Theodotus Inscription, but if you know it you'll know that Theo references four generations (including himself) of elders in Mt. Opel in JERUSALEM.

    Quote: "Theodotus, son of Vettanos, a priest and an archisynagogos,* son of an archisynagogos grandson of an archisynagogos, built the synagogue for the reading of Torah and for teaching the commandments; furthermore, the hostel, and the rooms, and the water installation for lodging needy strangers. Its foundation stone was laid by his ancestors, the elders, and Simonides"
     
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