THE “LETTER OF PETER TO JAMES” AND ITS “RECEPTION”
to be worthy, let them then be handed over in the way 2 in which Moses handed over his of ﬁce of a teacher to the seventy, in order that they may preserve the dogmas and extend farther the rule of the truth, inter preting everything in accordance with our tradition and not being dragged into error through ignorance and uncertainty in their minds to bring others into the like pit of destruction. 3 What seems to me to be necessary I have now indicated to you. And what you, my lord, deem to be right, do you carry ﬁttingly into effect. Farewell.
The Reception of the Letter
Now when James had read the epistle he called the elders to gether, read it to them and said: “As is necessary and proper, our Peter had called our attention to the fact that we must be cautious in the matter of the truth, that we should pass on the books of his preachings that have been for warded to us not indiscriminately, but only to a good and religious candidate for the position of a teacher, a man who as one who has been circumcised is a believing Christian, and indeed that we should not pass on all the books to him at once, so that, if he shows indiscretion in handling the ﬁrst, he may not be en trusted with the others. 2 He ought therefore to be proved for not less than six years. Thereafter, ac cording to the way of Moses, let him be brought to a river or a fountain where there is living water and the regeneration of the righteous takes place; not that he may swear, for that is not permitted, but he should be enjoined to stand by the water and to vow, as we also ourselves were made to do at the time of our re
generation, to the end that we might sin no more.
And let him say: ‘As witness I in voke heaven, earth, and water, in which everything is comprehended, and also in addition the all-pervading air, without which I am unable to breathe, that I shall always be obedient to him who hands over to me the books of the preachings and shall not pass on to any one in any way the books which he may give to me, that I shall neither copy them nor give a copy of them nor allow them to come into the hands of a copyist, nei ther shall I myself do this nor shall I do it through another, and not in any other way, through cunning or tricks, through keeping them carelessly, through depos iting them with another or through un derhand agreement, nor in any other manner or by means of any other artiﬁce will I pass them on to a third party. 2 Only if I have proved someone to be worthy—proving him as I myself have been proved, or even more, in no case for less than six years—if he is a religious and good candidate for the position of a teacher, I will hand them over to him as I have received them and certainly in agreement with my bishop.
Otherwise, though he be either my son or a brother or a friend or any other relation, if he is unworthy, I shall keep information away from him since it does not beﬁt him. 2 I shall allow myself neither to be frightened by persecutions nor to be de ceived by gifts. And even if I should ever come to the conviction that the books of the preachings which have been handed to me do not contain the truth, then also I shall not pass them on but shall hand them back. 3 When I am on a journey, I shall carry