Saturday, October 23, 2010

St. Peter in Rome?

Did you know (I didn’t) that there is no contemporaneous evidence whatsoever that St. Peter was ever even in Rome? The two writers and co-workers who knew him personally, St. Luke (author of Acts) and St. Paul, never mention it.

Acts tells us that St. Peter went to Antioch, but not to Rome, although Rome was the much more important city. Why no mention of St. Peter in Rome? Could it be because he wasn’t there?

Acts reports that St. Paul went to Rome, but doesn’t say St. Peter did. Why the reference to St. Paul in Rome but not St. Peter? Could it be because he wasn’t there?

When St. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, he sent greetings to numerous Christians in that city, but not to St. Peter. Why not? Could it be because he not only wasn’t the Bishop of Rome, he wasn’t even there?

The very existence of the Epistle seems to show St. Paul doing the shepherding of the Church in Rome.

Furthermore, when St. Paul arrived in Rome, he found Christians already there, who came out along the Appian Way to greet him; see Acts 28:15. (That’s the same road we have here under the name of ‘Odos Egnatia, the main thoroughfare in this city. It’s a segment of the Appian Way.)

Apparently some of the Romans had been in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), had witnessed the miracle of the tongues, and had become believers then. (So, okay, you could say that since St. Peter preached to the crowd that day, he thereby founded the Church of Rome, but that’s a stretch, isn’t it?) But that's mere conjecture. Anyway, Christianity had come to Rome before St. Paul. But was St. Peter there at the time? Christianity, yes; St. Peter, no.

Even if he came to Rome in chains to be martyred there, as the story goes, this would still show St. Peter had not been the bishop in Rome, as he only arrived at the very end of his life.

The earliest mention of St. Peter in Rome, which my dear Rabbi Izaak says is pure fabrication, unsubstantiated, is Second Century.

I’ve heard that St. Nektarios actually proved that St. Peter never even was in Rome at all, but I can’t tell you that firsthand as I have not read whatever it is he wrote. If I can learn the name of it and if it exists in English and if I can get my hands on it, I’ll let you know!


Anam Cara said...

I confess, I always wondered about Peter and Rome....

I hope you find what St. Nektarios wrote. Please share it if you do!

Weekend Fisher said...

If I'm remembering right, Peter spent a lot of time in Antioch; even the Roman Catholic materials I have don't claim that he was in Rome before Paul was in Rome. Over 30 years passed between Jesus' ascension and Peter's martyrdom. A lot can happen in 30+ years.

For my own part, I seriously doubt that the accounts of Peter being martyred in Rome are invented. I expect he died in Rome. The next few bishops of Rome claimed to have known Peter directly; I don't know any reason to doubt that.

I'm recalling a quote from a writer early in church history, that based the whole idea of apostolic succession on the fact that churches like Rome had the teachings of Peter and Paul ringing in their ears.

The early church's testimony was that Peter had died at Rome.

I don't really doubt that the early church kept track of what happened to the apostles and those from whom they heard about Jesus, the traveling preachers that started this whole thing to which we belong.

I'm trying to figure out where you're coming from. Are you suggesting that Peter never went to Rome but made up their own early history? If so, then why would the other apostolic churches let them get away with it?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Hi, Anne,

Personally, I think trying to dispute the papal claims by denying Peter was ever in Rome is overkill, like taking a sledgehammer to a mosquito.

Still, I thought it interesting that so much doubt exists.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Hi, Anam Cara,

Or maybe somebody out there reading this can point us to the St. Nektarios piece???

Kacie said...

Yep. It's pretty doubtful Peter was ever there. He was the leader of the church in Jerusalem...

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Anne, I forgot to say that if St. Peter was not in Rome before St. Paul, then either he was not the first Bishop of Rome or else the Romans as yet had no leadership. That's one significant point here. Another is that if St. Peter was not in Rome before St. Paul, then he did not "plant", establish, the Church of Rome.