On the DL today a claim, made by an odd, off-beat Internet cult, came up. I promised to look into it. The cult leader enlists Calvin in his campaign to de-canonize 2 Peter (because 2 Peter refers to Paul’s writings as Scripture, and his main goal is to attack Paul and the Pauline corpus), and I was asked about this by a caller. I managed to track down the claim on the group’s website, but it only gave a reference to Metzger, not to Calvin. So I looked up Calvin, and here is what he actually said:

   The doubts respecting this Epistle mentioned by Eusebius, ought not to keep us from reading it. For if the doubts rested on the authority of men, whose names he does not give, we ought to pay no more regard to it than to that of unknown men. And he afterwards adds, that it was everywhere received without any dispute. What Jerome writes influences me somewhat more, that some, induced by a difference in the style, did not think that Peter was the author. For though some affinity may be traced, yet I confess that there is that manifest difference which distinguishes different writers. There are also other probable conjectures by which we may conclude that it was written by another rather than by Peter. At the same time, according to the consent of all, it has nothing unworthy of Peter, as it shews everywhere the power and the grace of an apostolic spirit. If it be received as canonical, we must allow Peter to be the author, since it has his name inscribed, and he also testifies that he had lived with Christ: and it would have been a fiction unworthy of a minister of Christ, to have personated another individual. So then I conclude, that if the Epistle be deemed worthy of credit, it must have proceeded from Peter; not that he himself wrote it, but that some one of his disciples set forth in writing, by his command, those things which the necessity of the times required. For it is probable that he was now in extreme old age, for he says, that he was near his end. And it may have been that at the request of the godly, he allowed this testimony of his mind to be recorded shortly before his death, because it might have somewhat availed, when he was dead, to support the good, and to repress the wicked. Doubtless, as in every part of the Epistle the majesty of the Spirit of Christ appears, to repudiate it is what I dread, though I do not here recognize the language of Peter. But since it is not quite evident as to the author, I shall allow myself the liberty of using the word Peter or Apostle indiscriminately. (Commentary on 2 Peter)

   Calvin recognizes the historical debate and the fact that there is a lot of difference between the style of 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Anyone who has translated both books knows this to be true. The fact that we have a named scribe in 1 Peter (Silvanus) is important, of course. In any case, Calvin does not throw 2 Peter out of the canon, as was suggested, and really adds nothing to the discussion that had not been said before him.

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