Why are there some petrine epistles rather than none?

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It was Leibniz who famously posed that question to trump all questions: Pourquoi il y a plutôt quelque chose que rien? “Why is there something rather than nothing?” (Principes de la nature et de la grâce fondés en raison §7). In this essay I pose an analogous question about the small corpus of ancient letters attributed to the apostle Peter: Why are there some Petrine epistles rather than none? This question might seem strange inasmuch we experience the existence of the Petrine epistles as a given, and we have a picture of the production of apostolic pseudepigrapha in late antiquity that tempts us to think of Petrine epistles as a naturally occurring species. In fact, however, the production of this genre of literature in the name of this apostle was not at all inevitable. Closer examination reveals that the Petrine epistles are not a naturally occurring species but an anomaly. Explaining why any were written at all turns out to be an instructive exercise in the study of early Christian history and literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeter in Early Christianity
EditorsHelen K. Bond, Larry W. Hurtado
Place of PublicationGrand Rapids
ISBN (Print)9780802871718
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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