Apostle Peter went to Rome

Peter in Rome ?

Prof. Helmut Bouzek dealt with the question of how stable the tradition of Peter's stay in Rome is.

When compiling the most important traditions and findings about the Peter's tomb, I found that, regardless of the fact that Peter's stay in Rome is controversial or not provable, considerations can be made about his tomb. Now it seems appropriate to point out those facts that lead proponents and opponents of a stay in Rome by this apostle to the meeting.
Sources for this are the New Testament (canonical writings), the Apogryphs and various publications by Christian and pagan authors from antiquity to the present. It must be taken into account that the New Testament did not fall from heaven as a finished book, but developed slowly and only since the 4th century has it been established in today's scope that the debates and scholars are not in the original, that it is a Represents a message of salvation and is not a historical work or a geographical lexicon and that several passages have been added afterwards and are partly legendary and also contradictory.

The calling of the first disciples - and thus of Peter - is a good example of the contradicting account of an event in the gospels, which are named after men who did not write them.
In the Gospels according to Matthew (4.18-22) and Mark (1.16-20) there are fairly identical descriptions of the vocation at the Sea of ​​Galilee - today's Jam Kinneret. In the Gospel according to Luke - contrary to the representations in the previous Gospels - one reads nothing about Jesus walking along the lake and calling on the brothers Simon (Hebrew Shim'on, Greek Symeon) Peter (Aram. Kefa = stone) and Andrew to follow him. According to Luke 5, 1-11, there were many people on the lake shore who wanted to hear Jesus and were able to hear the hoped-for speech from Peter's boat. The abundant fishing brought about by Jesus caused Simon Peter and his work colleagues to give up everything and follow Jesus. According to the Gospel of John 1: 35-51, the matter was quite different; neither the location nor the timing and the nature of the calling reveal any proximity to the synoptic gospels.

A whitewashing manipulation to save Peter's honor can be found in Catholic translations of the New Testament. Luke 24:12 says: Matthew and Mark say nothing about the disciples going to the grave and this paragraph has been left out in the standard translation of the Holy Scriptures. In a footnote it is pointed out that the preceding text can be found in numerous manuscripts and that it is an insertion in the sense of John's Gospel 20, 3 - 10.

The so-called scriptures stand opposite the canonical scriptures. Although some of them were on an equal footing with the later canonized writings, these were not included in the canon. called . While the theologian and church writer Origen positively classified the pseudepigraphs as apocrypha compared to the secret books, the term soon became negative for the church fathers in their fight against them. In spite of this juxtaposition of genuine and inauthentic scriptures, the Church has drawn numerous stimuli for faith and doctrine from the Apocrypha and used apocryphal representations, where it seemed useful, to support its positions of faith.

The life path of the apostle Peter after Jesus' death (probably on April 3, 33) is only sparsely described in the New Testament. According to the Acts of the Apostles, he first stayed in Jerusalem and first made a short trip to Samaria (Acts 8:14). Another, also not long, journey took him to Lydda - today's Lod - and to the nearby town of Joppe - today's Jaffa - (Acts 9, 36-43), then he stayed in Caesarea (Acts 10, 1 ff ) and then returned to Jerusalem (Acts 11: 1 ff). Around the Easter time of the year 43 he was arrested and imprisoned on behalf of King Herod Agrippa I, but was freed by an angel (Acts 12, 1 ff) and in 49/50 he took part in the apostles' council (Acts 15, 1). There is nothing more to be found in the Acts of the Apostles about Peter.

It is striking that the Acts of the Apostles, otherwise always trying to find a balance between Peter and Paul, says nothing about a stay and / or death in Rome, although it was written after Peter's death, that of the Catholic Church 64 or 67 during the reign Emperor Nero is said to have taken place, was written and although it reports of Paul's stay in Rome.

From Paul's letter to the Galatians (Gal. 2, 11) it emerges that Peter traveled or moved to Antioch - today's Antakya / Hatay; that could have been in the year 45. Otherwise there is silence in the New Testament about Peter's whereabouts.
No, sparse and / or vague information always gives rise to all kinds of speculations.

The fact that St. Peter's Church in Rome stands above Peter's tomb is important for the Catholic Church and especially for the Pope, because this serves to strengthen the papal claim and the associated power to be the successor of the Apostle Peter.
It is therefore asserted in the Schott missal, among other things, that Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom under Emperor Nero; that after the departure of Jesus Peter took over the leadership of the disciples' congregation in Jerusalem and that his stay and his martyrdom in Rome under Emperor Nero are considered to be historically sufficiently secured.
On the other hand, there is no historical certainty regarding the year of the apostle's death, which could be between 64 and 67. This fact is also evident from the plaque in St. Peter's Basilica, on which the popes buried here are listed (Summi Pontifices in hac Basilica sepulti).

In the relevant literature - lists of the burial places of the popes and history books - one comes across the statement that Peter stayed in Rome from the year 33 until his death in the year 67. This negates the previously mentioned whereabouts of Peter and the points in time connected with them, or the apostle assumes that the apostle is busy traveling.

The American author Ralf Woodrow, member of the Evangelical Association, reports in his book of a tradition according to which Peter went to Rome around 41 and was bishop of Rome there for 25 years and was martyred in 66.

It is also claimed - as stated in the main article of the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints on Peter - that Peter set foot on Italian soil in Santa Maria di Leuca in 43 and that she traveled from here to Rome.
The coastal town of Santa Maria di Leuca is located in (at the end of the world), which means that a place name that no longer corresponds to today's worldview is used, but geographically correct at the southeasternmost point of Italy. Here, where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet at Capo Santa di Leuca, not only Peter, but also the Trojan hero and ancestor of the Romans, Aeneas, is said to have landed.

By naming different dates, no proof of a stay of Peter in Rome can be produced.
The advocates of a stay in Rome use the first letter of Peter as evidence, which they consider to be written by Peter himself and in which it says at the end: (5, 13).
But this letter, for Martin Luther 1523, is obviously forged, i.e. not written by Peter. The kinship with the letters of Paul, confirmed by modern exegesis, which so delighted Luther, makes Peter's authorship unlikely from the outset. In addition: the place of writing is supposedly Rome, because the author expressly greets at the end - a common code and secret name for the imperial capital. The name for Rome, however, in all probability only came up under the impression of the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, i.e. a few years after Peter's death. If Peter had used the name Babylon for Rome, he would have shown himself to be an enemy of the state and a conspirator against Rome and the Roman Empire. But the interests of Christians were just the opposite. In addition, Rome was the enemy capital mainly for Jews, but not for Christians.
That Peter worked in Babylon - today's Han-al-Mahawil in Iraq - is only accepted by Christian minorities, who assume that he visited several Jewish diaspora communities. It is not known whether Babylon even existed at that time. For a long time it was assumed in research that Babylon experienced a decline under the Seleucids and was finally abandoned under Parthian rule at the latest. The Roman Emperor Trajan is said to have only seen ruins here around 115. In the meantime, however, doubts have arisen about this point of view; In late antiquity, the Greek historian Prokopios of Caesarea mentioned Babylon as a production site for asphalt. When exactly Babylon lost all meaning is therefore now again controversially discussed.

Assuming that Peter is the author of the letter, it should have been written around the year 60, although the question of where it was written has not been answered. The difficult question of how Peter got to Babylon cannot be exchanged for the no less difficult question of how he got to Rome and then explain that he got to Rome sooner than Babylon, although it was closer to Peter Babylon than to go to Rome.

According to Christian tradition, Mark mentioned in the letter in question is said to be identical with the evangelist John Mark, who was the alleged founder of the church in Alexandria. The origins of the Christian Egyptian church are still completely in the dark. The widespread view that St. Mark himself had evangelized 42 in Egypt, has to be contradicted, because this church was mentioned for the first time in the year 303. Only the fact that, according to the Acts of the Apostles, Egyptians were also present at the Pentecost event (2, 1 - 13), suggests a direct reason for a Christianization of Egypt. Different dates are circulating for the possible missionary work and the founding of a church. There are authors who believe that missionary work began around 50; others want to know that a church was founded in 65. In any case, the Coptic Church sees him as their first Pope. Sources from the fourth century (Jerome, Eusebius of Caesarea, Acts of Mark) report the martyrdom of Mark in Alexandria on April 25, 68.

It is also strange that the famous canon list of the Roman church, the Muratori canon (around 200), does not mention the first letter of Peter, of all things, the letter of the alleged founder of the Roman Christian community. For this reason, conservatives like to have the document come from a secretary of the Prince of the Apostles, as it says at the end of the letter: (5, 12). This secretary hypothesis fails above all because of the strongly Pauline theology of the epistle, which speaks against Peter's authorship. It can therefore be assumed that the first letter of Peter was written between 90 and 95.

As far as the testimonies outside the New Testament are concerned, those in favor of Peter's stay in Rome cite the first letter of Clement as the most important. Clemens Clemens was Bishop of Rome, i.e. Pope according to the Catholic language, and wrote a letter to the congregation in Corinth around the year 96. But it is by no means clear from this letter that Peter was in Rome. Two things emerge from the text of the letter: first, that Clemens describes the apostles Peter and Paul as victims of - apparently intrigues. This shows something of the quarrels in the early Church and of the great deal of envy in human relationships. Second, it is noticeable that Clement only says of Paul that he evangelized and advanced. It is unclear whether one understands Rome or, more likely, Spain; in any case, the West, and thus Rome, is only awarded to Paul. It is an overuse of the text to want to read a stay in Rome from the sentences about Peter. Rather, it remains the same: There is no evidence from the earliest times of Christianity that Peter was ever in Rome.

The first unequivocal assertion that Peter was in Rome is found relatively late - around 170 - with Dionysius of Corinth in his letter to the Romans. Eusebius of Caesarea quoted this letter in his ecclesiastical history, in which it says: In his letter to the Romans, Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, claims that both apostles were martyred at the same time. He says: This Dionysius of Corinth is certainly suspect. First, because his testimony is from a later time, second, because this bishop was a long way from Rome and third, because he not only claims that Peter and Paul founded the Church of Rome together, but also that of Corinth, which is Corinth's own Paul's testimony refuted.

The Roman community also existed before Paul's stay in Rome, as evidenced by his letter to the Romans from the year 54 or 57 and the edict of Emperor Claudius I from the year 49, according to which the Jews who were instigated by a Chrestus (meaning Christ ) caused unrest everywhere, were expelled from Rome (Suetonius: Vita Claudii 25.4).

The wishful thinking that Peter was in Rome and founded the Roman church has become more and more entrenched. Around 190 the church father Irenaeus wrote: Even after Eusebius it was not Peter but Linus who was the first bishop of Rome. According to old papal catalogs, Linus is said to have taken office during Peter's lifetime and to have been bishop of Rome from 55 to 67.
The learned presbyter and later antipope Hippolytus of Rome claimed that Peter was the first bishop of Rome. He said of Pope Victor I that this (Eusebius, Church History V 28).

In addition to all of this, there is a legend that played an even greater role in the imagination, namely the legend that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome at his own request. This assertion can be found in the Apocrypha, namely in the so-called Acts of Peter, which were written in the years 180-190. The strange crucifixion is presented as a historical fact and according to the Acts of Peter the apostle was taken from the cross by a certain Marcellus, bathed in milk and wine, anointed and buried together with one in Marcellus' own tomb.

In addition to the Peter Rome tradition, there was also a very different Peter tradition. Eusebius calls Ignatius of Antioch in his church history. The first successor was called Evodius. Even after Origen and Jerome, Peter was the first bishop in Antioch. Nowhere is there any news that he ever gave up this bishopric.

Perhaps a bit confusing the whole story, which could be continued without encountering any clear evidence of Peter's stay in Rome. For many people, however, faith is of decisive importance, as it is known to move mountains, why not also the apostle Peter in Rome?

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Prof. Helmut Bouzek, email dated December 13, 2011

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Author: Prof. Helmut Bouzek - last updated on 09/12/2015
cite correctly: Prof. Helmut Bouzek: Article
The German National Library lists the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints in the German National Bibliography; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://d-nb.info/1175439177 and http://d-nb.info/969828497.