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Preaching of Peter

A work, probably of the late second century, purporting to contain a collection of Peter's sermons written by the apostle himself. No copy of it has survived, but there are fairly extensive quotations in Clement of Alexandria* and Origen.* It seems to have been an orthodox book, which Origen considered might have been genuine, and to have originated in Egypt. It had an apologetic purpose to show the superiority of Christianity to Judaism and paganism. Christians find Christ to be the Law and the Word, and they worship God through Him with direct and perfect knowledge.

PETER, PREACHING OF. A document quoted by Clement of Alexandria, who introduces his extracts in the form, “Peter says in the Preaching,” without raising any questions of origin or authenticity. Origen mentions its use by Heracleon, but indicates the need to inquire whether the text is “genuine, spurious or mixed” (in John 13:17). In De principiis (praef. 8) he refers to a Doctrine of Peter, which he decisively rejects as not by Peter or any other person inspired by the Spirit of God; but it is not certain that this is the same document. Eusebius flatly repudiates the Preaching, along with the other Petrine apoc. (Hist. III. 3. 2). The longest of Clement’s quotations, which is also summarized in Origen’s reference, is concerned with worship: God should not be worshiped after the manner of the Greeks, who take material things and serve stocks and stones; nor after the manner of the Jews who worship angels, the months, and the moon. Christians should worship through Christ in a new way, as a third race, according to a new covenant. This has clear associations with the apologetic tradition in its rejection of polytheism, idolatry, and false Jewish worship. The apologist Aristides may have used the book, and it is also possible that it was known to Theophilus of Antioch, although neither mentions its title. On the other hand, the Alexandrian attestation and the reference to the worship of animals (weasels, mice, cats, dogs, and apes) suggest Egypt as the land of origin. Other quotations record a post-resurrection discourse of Jesus, in which He bids the disciples to go out into the world after twelve years “that no one may say: We have not heard it,” and a passage affirming “how all was written that he (Jesus) had to suffer.” The twelve-year period (evidently of mission confined to Israel) appears also in other lit., and according to some Gno stics Jesus remained with the disciples throughout this time (Bauer, NTAp, II, 44f.), but the Preaching is not a Gnostic document. The fragments are perfectly orthodox, and the passage last quoted shows the apologetic concern to stress the conformity with the Scriptures of the passion and resurrection of Jesus. The significance of the document lies in the fact that it represents the transition from early Christian missionary preaching, as presented e.g. in Acts, to later Gr. apologetic (see NTAp, II, 96f.). Since it was used by Heracleon, it must be dated at the latest to the first half of the 2nd cent.

Two other documents call for mention: (a) The Syriac Preaching of Peter (in Cureton, Syriac Documents) has no connection with the present text, but is a later work possibly connected with the Acts of Peter (NTAp, II, 93f.); (b) attempts have been made to connect the Preaching with the Kerygmata Petrou, identified among the sources of the pseudo-Clementine lit. (see NTAp, II, 102ff.), but apart from the similarity of title and the association with Peter, the two works appear to be quite different. The Kerygmata derives from a Jewish-Christian milieu, subject to Gnostic influence and prob. in Syria.


ANT, 16ff.; NTAp, II, 94ff.