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Recent scholarship has argued that the Letter of Peter to James that stands at the head of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies has an origin distinct from the rest of the text that follows. The present article builds upon this premise by locating the letter amidst the contested nature of Petrine authority and tradition in the second century, as evidenced in a variety of other texts. One of the distinct features of this letter is its focus on proper ἑρμηνεία, in this instance not of the Hebrew scriptures, but instead of Peter’s “books of preachings,” which are being twisted by some unnamed opponents. This recognition of interpretive polysemy as a dangerous problem that must be restrained by a fixed κανών passed down through a ritualized process has close parallels to the arguments put forward by Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria against their opponents.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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