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2 Peter claims to be written by the apostle Peter:

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)

And later in the same chapter:

17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

The internal claims for authorship are very strong & unambiguous. It regularly shows up in manuscripts together with 1 Peter (see here), which had strong external attestation from very early on.

Yet it has been beset by doubt for many years: Eusebius included 2 Peter in his list of disputed books (see here); Origen was uncertain about its authorship as well (see here).

Why was the authorship doubted then and why is it doubted now? What evidence suggests that Peter was not the author?


Notes offered in hopes of promoting robust responses:

  1. To give a fair shake to those who come down on the other side of the authorship debate and wish to offer a counterpoint, I've posed the mirror image of this question here: Authorship of 2 Peter - evidence in favor of Peter

  2. I am not just asking about vocabulary and hapax legomena as this question is, though I don't mind if answers build a portion of their case on vocabulary.

  3. I am not asking if Peter had the requisite level of literacy to write a letter--the practice of using an amanuensis in antiquity isn't really in dispute (see further discussion on scribes here).

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We begin by noting the obvious that the document called "2 Peter" is either a pseudepigraphon (a forgery) or it is not.

The argument against the authenticity of 2 Peter essentially rests on three observations:

  1. A few (admittedly significant) antenicaean father express doubts such as Origen; Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History vi 25, iii 3); Jerome, etc. This exacerbated by the fact until after 200 AD, no Christian writer directly quotes 2 Peter.
  2. The language and style of 2 Peter is very different from that of 1 Peter
  3. 2 Peter calls the writings of Paul "Scripture" and places them on a par with the inspired canon of the OT. 2 Peter 3:15, 16. It is claimed that such a status for Paul's writings could not achieved this by the supposed time that 2 Peter (if genuine) was written.
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  • The difference in the language style between 1 Peter and 2 Peter probably says that for each letter Peter used different amanuenses that helped him considerably with his Greek. This along with the tradition that Peter assisted Mark with the Gospel of Mark seems to indicate that Peter struggled with Greek.
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 27 at 11:26
  • @PerryWebb - agreed - Peter may not have had any Greek at all.
    – Dottard
    Mar 27 at 11:31

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