Pseudepigraphical Writing(s)


How does a Catholic reconcile/understand/“should view” inspired books of the canon and the consensus of modern scholarship that some writings were pseudepigraphical writings (falsely-attributed works)?

Example is 2 Peter. The evidence can be pointed towards pseudepigrapical or pointed towards the Apostle Peter himself (or assistant of his); but in my humble opinion; the balance of evidence seems to suggest someone else.

Anyone know of some good sources (apologetical material, articles, websites) that wrestle with this concept??

God bless - James!


the Eternal Word is not consisting of primordial content.


The church is well aware of the situation surrounding the true authorship of the sacred Writings. True authorship is simply something that cannot be proven of many writings which is the reason the Catholic church depends heavily on sacred Tradition to fill these gaps.

The authorship of the book of Hebrews is probably the most unknown. In a recent video I heard Fr. Raymond Collins say about the author of the book of Hebrews, “Only God knows”. :slight_smile:

For more on pseudepigraphical writings see what one of my a favorite posters says here…



Thanks for the feedback. I’ll check that post out.


The synoptic understanding of script is based on the moral evidence of typology. Pre-supposing that typology is correct.


Since exactly zero “original” manuscripts exist, it is only Church authority via Sacred Tradition which vouches either for their authenticity or falsity. Not even Saint Jerome in the 300s had originals. All were long gone and he had only copies of copies of copies.

The Church was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit to seal the canon with the death of Saint John. Thus, the flood of spurious writings that followed were more easily vetted. As a general rule, I am wary of “modern scholarship.” Modern simply means “current fashion.”


Thanks p018. I’m wary of modern scholarship as well because too often modern scholars reflect their own perspectives into their research. However, I don’t want to totally reject the historical critical method & all the value it can bring to the table.

My understanding is that the majority of scholars tend to argue 2 Peter is pseudepigraphical. Not just a handful, but most critical scholars. They make a compelling case but it’s not air-tight. The case that it was written by Peter himself (or assistant) holds some weight as well.

Regardless, do you think the Church can faithfully argue God used a writer who was falsely attributing his work to an apostle to write an inspired work?? Since 2 Peter is already part of the canon, the Church would have to explain how 2 Peter could be falsely attributed (assuming one day it wanted to recognize it was falsely attributed to Peter) but it failed to accept other falsely attributed texts into the canon of scripture.

What do you think?


The demonstrable effect of entropy applies to everything in the physical realm, as well as matters of the intellect. Moderns assume that, the further away from an event they are, the more they know about it. As someone who was involved in the investigative process for three decades, I can assure you that this is rarely the case.

As well, the living tradition of the Church saw that this letter was preserved and perpetuated. The first challenges to the letter occurred about two hundred years after its appearance. It was never placed among the apocryphal books. In Peter’s lifetime, its authenticity was certainly known, as it was not a “lost” forgotten" or “hidden” epistles that suddenly appeared after Peter’s martyrdom.

As to it being challenged, Christ Himself was vociferously challenged since the date of His birth! Challenges (human doubt or envy) have no bearing on the truth of a matter, and reflect more the nature of those harboring the doubt or envy. Danger lurk in our attempts at intellectualizing the faith. We hold to mysteries by both faith and reason.

We know from the Gospels that Peter received revelations that none of the others did - witness 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6 about Christ’s descending to the dead. Doctrine is based on it and the Church has ruled on it. Attempts both before as well as thereafter are those of deconstruction - about which we are well advised to be vigilant. Bear in mind also that scholars need not even be Christian.

As with Hebrews, the document was clearly investigated at the time of its appearance. What is not known is who delivered it, since Peter was likely imprisoned. That unknown factor must have contributed to the letter’s acceptance - facts which we simply do not possess.

But the scholarly mind, like nature, abhors a void and so endeavors to fill in the blanks. Knowledge is sought, but must never be guessed at. Truth is not subject to opinion. Saint Jerome seems to have expressed no doubts about it.

Do modern scholars assume themselves greater than Jerome?


You wrote a fine defense for the canonical status of 2 Peter. I agree that 2 Peter is inspired. *The root of my question is whether the Church has the “room” or “ability” to accept a writing as “falsely attributed” yet still inspired? *

We know one of the metrics for canonical inspiration was whether or not the writing had apostolic origins; so accepting a writing as falsely attributed would be a direct attack that the early church misread a writing as apostolic when in fact it wasn’t. Could the church reconcile this (assuming pseudepigraphical evidence becomes overwhelming)?

I’m not arguing 2 Peter is falsely attributed, I’m trying to understand what the Church’s position would be if the evidence became too much to ignore. I use 2 Peter because it may be best candidate to use as an example.

Thank you for your feedback! God Bless


I don’t believe thats necessarily true if the Church believed second Peter reflected Peters views without contradiction . Whether the book was authored by him directly or his disciples
would be a moot point.


That makes sense & I’m with you on that.

The trouble I run into is this: The Church is okay if a disciple of an apostle wrote an epistle b/c it reflects the apostolic origin. How far into history can we reasonably apply this concept? Peter died ~62 A.D.; critical scholars date 2 Peter 90 A.D. or later. Is 30 years too much to write an epistle and claim Peter is the author? The first line of the epistle states the author is Peter himself, "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1).

Granted, the reliability of the dating of this epistle is not air-tight. So critical scholars must be wrong, but they do provide a very strong case. Hence the reason for my inquiry.

Thank you all!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit