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The Preaching of Peter

A popular document in early Christianity, the Preaching of Peter was widely assumed by early church fathers to have been composed by the apostle Peter himself. Most scholars today, however, think that it was written years after his death, sometime during the first part of the second century. The book no longer survives intact but is known only through the quotations of later authors, especially Clement of Alexandria, who lived at the end of the second century and the beginning of the third. On the basis of these fragmentary remains it is impossible to judge the original length or contents of the document. Some of its major emphases, however, are reasonably clear: according to its author, Christianity is superior to both to the cults of pagans, who naively worship idols and living creatures, and to the religion of the Jews, who in their ignorance worship angels and celestial bodies rather than the true God. In particular, the book emphasizes that Christ fulfilled the predictions of the Jewish Scriptures and brought salvation to all people. Everyone who learns the truth of Christ is to repent for the forgiveness of their sins. It is possible, given its themes, that the book was one of the first “apologies” for early Christianity, that is, a reasoned defense of the views of Christian over against the attacks of its cultured despisers among both pagans and Jews.

Clement of Alexandria Strom. 1.29.182

Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 6.5.39–41

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And in the Preaching of Peter you may find the Lord called “Law and Word.”

But that the most notable of the Greeks do not know God by direct knowledge but indirectly, Peter says in his Preaching, “Know then that there

Translation by J. K. Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) 21–24; used with permission.

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