In an article on the Authorship of the Petrine epistles in Wikipedia a comment is made:

The great majority of scholars agree that Peter has not written this letter. For example, textual critic Daniel Wallace (who maintains that Peter was the author) writes that, for most experts, "the issue of authorship is already settled, at least negatively: the apostle Peter did not write this letter" and that "the vast bulk of NT scholars adopt this perspective without much discussion". Werner Kümmel exemplifies this position, stating, "It is certain, therefore, that 2 Pet does not originate with Peter, and this is today widely acknowledged", as does Stephen L Harris, who states that "[v]irtually no authorities defend the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter." Evangelical scholars D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo wrote that "most modern scholars do not think that the apostle Peter wrote this letter...

It sounds pretty impressive, as it is a form of admission against interest. But has anyone actually published a statistical analysis to confirm this concession by evangelical scholars?

For example, I read someplace that Craig Keener apparently surveyed the literature and found that the majority of academic papers on the subject favoured the traditional authorship of Mark, Luke and Acts, despite statements to the contrary by some “critical” scholars. Has this been done for other books in the New Testament?

  • 1
    Interesting post. But to me a controversy of authorship is not nearly as troubling as the multitude of inconsistencies in any single book of the NT (let alone if we contrast multiple books therefrom). Likewise, do I really care whether Shakespeare was a pseudonym used by one individual or multiple people? Not at all. What matters at this point is the content of that literature. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 10:55
  • My question was just whether it can be scientifically established, statistically speaking, that the majority of living scholars on earth believe some of the books in the N.T. are fraudulent. The ability to detect textual embellishments is a rather subjective exercise. Although, more recently, some have tried to be a bit more objective by doing linguistic computational analysis using an algorithm for authorship verification. For example, see this report on the works of Shakespeare. aclanthology.org/D13-1151.pdf
    – Jess
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 16:11
  • 4
    Just to say there is a big difference between "fraudulent" and "not written by the person they are named for". Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 18:48
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    DJ, Bruce Metzger has a helpful article, "Literary Forgeries & Canonical Pseudepigrapha." The problem with theories of "honorable" pseudepigraphy is that there is a lack of evidence from early church leaders that they ever endorsed working with such a concept in collecting what is now the N.T. Canon. Galen, the learned physician of the 2nd c. A.D., describes pseudepigraphy authorship, in his day, as literary forgeries. They were first multiplied in numbers when the kings of Egypt and of Pergamum sought to outdo each other in their efforts to increase the holdings in their respective libraries.
    – Jess
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 19:38
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    The material in Wikipedia is heavily slanted toward the opinions of the higher critics. I do not know the actual numbers but I would be surprised if Wikipedia is actually correct; that is, there is not actually a majority of "scholars" who believe Peter to be a pseudepigraphon.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


Determining the exact number or percentage of scholars who believe certain New Testament books are fraudulent is a challenging task. Scholarly opinions on authorship and authenticity vary, and it's difficult to quantify them precisely. However, I can provide some information on the general trends and debates within New Testament scholarship.

When it comes to the authorship of specific New Testament books, opinions can be divided. Some books, such as the Gospel of Mark, Luke, and Acts, have traditionally been attributed to specific authors (Mark and Luke, respectively) within the Christian tradition. However, there is ongoing debate and scholarly discussion regarding these attributions and the authorship of various other books in the New Testament.

In terms of statistical analyses, they are relatively rare in this field, and it would be challenging to find a comprehensive study that quantifies the beliefs of scholars on the authorship of all the New Testament books. The majority of scholarly work in New Testament studies consists of individual studies, commentaries, and monographs that discuss specific books or topics.

Craig Keener, whom you mentioned, is a prominent New Testament scholar known for his extensive research and commentary work. While I don't have specific information on whether he conducted a statistical analysis regarding the majority opinion on the authorship of Mark, Luke, and Acts, it's plausible that he compiled and assessed scholarly opinions on these books in his research.

It's worth noting that within the field of New Testament studies, there are various scholarly perspectives and methodologies. Some scholars approach the texts from a more conservative or traditional standpoint, while others employ critical methods and may question traditional attributions. This diversity of perspectives contributes to ongoing scholarly debates.

If you are interested in exploring the authorship of specific New Testament books or the scholarly discussions surrounding them, I can provide more information and highlight notable viewpoints and arguments.

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    – agarza
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 13:21
  • I think you stole the words out of several people's mouths... A very thorough way of saying "not that I know of." Hope to hear more from you. Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 23:21

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