medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

> >> Right - I seem to recall reading something that
> supports
> >> that.  Of course, the whole culture of the era
> offers a host
> >> of reasons both men would wind up in 
> >> Rome (it seems almost inevitable at some level). 
> >I haven't followed the whole if
> I'm merely repeating information, please forgive me.  On
> the one hand your statement is quite right.  On the 
> other hand, there is evidence that Peter didn't make it
> to Rome and that the story, though early, that he died there
> (I Clement) is false.  For one thing, there's 
> the ossuary with Christian symbols and the name Simon bar
> Jona inscribed on it.  Michael Goulder wrote on this a few
> years ago in the Scottish Journal of 
> Theology,  (2004), 57 : 377-396 "Did Peter Ever Go to
> Rome?  He makes some compelling arguments, but I don't
> think he's successful at explaining I 
> Clement away.
> I'll admit not being familiar with the ossuary in
> question but now am curious. 

Hello George, 

The ossuary was found in the '40s at a Dominican monastery.  I didn't know about until a discussion elsewhere about a year and a half ago.  Not sure if anyone really qualified has looked at it recently.  Of course, the distinct possibility is that the Jerusalem box and the Roman relics are parts of the same man, after Peter's death and decomposition, some of his bones were left in Rome while others were taken in an ossuary back to Jerusalem.  The tell tale sign it seems to me would be if there a box of Mrs. bar Jona with Simon bar Jona's since Eusebius, drawing on earlier sources, relates their martyrdom to be at the same time.  A god-awful documentary that spawned a great deal of discussion about 2 years ago now mentioned it, but I didn't see the documentary (which by the way was claiming to have found Jesus' burial plot and that of his family.)

> Equally, I'll admit a > tendency to prefer I Clement over "recent
> discoveries" since > we all know how dubious some of those can be (like >the> "James brother of Jesus" debacle).

Quite agree.  The problem with the Clement reference though is that he doesn't mention specifically where Peter was martyred; we assume that he means Rome and its implicit in the fact that it was "among us" and he's writing from Rome.  But for some, that isn't specific enough.  

> Equally> equally, I've no delusions about someone even as 
> close to events like Clement making a case for oral
> traditions which may, or may not, have basis in fact. 

Much depends on when we think Clement is writing.  The usual date is the 90s, but JAT Robinson makes a case for pre-70 that I think has not had the attention it deserves.  If Clement is to be identified with the person of the same name mentioned in Paul's letters and the Petrine letters, then that makes the case stronger that Clement is not merely reporting oral tradition that developed in his lifetime.  While "the Church" has always assumed the connection, wearing our historical hats we have to say that we have no corroborating evidence either way.

> the claims of I Clement don't seem to have 
> any counter-arguements (that I'm aware of) from
> contemporary writers, that doesn't mean that during the
> controversies with the Gnostics that such writings 
> didn't disappear. . . 

I doubt Gnostics or Marcion etc would have had any problem with Peter dieing in Rome.  Their claims to authority didn't rest on the physical connection; in fact it was probably in response to the "spiritual" claims to authority of Gnostics of various stripes, Marcionites, Montanists etc that the idea of apostolic succession was developed: to provide a living chain of tradition from the "present" back to Jesus himself.

> I've seen some argue from Acts and the Pauline
> canonical corpus that there is no evidence that Peter was in
> Rome, however I don't (personally) find those 
> arguements compelling for a host of reasons. 

Yes, I've seen that as well.  Its simply an argument from silence and a classic case of "lack of evidence is not evidence of lack" or to restate lack of evidence that Peter was in Rome does not lead to the conclusion that Peter wasn't in Rome (especially since we have no evidence that he was anywhere else).

> Goulder's> article should make for fascinating reading.

It is, if ultimately unconvincing, at least to me.

<snipped material>
> One of the things I've found curious about Roman
> primacy is that elements of it seem to be nascent already
> with I Clement (the fact that a Roman bishop - 
> whatever his nature - is intervening in the affairs of
> another "particular" Church) and the whole
> Quartodeciman controversey particularly with Victor. 

Oh yes, certainly.  Even by the end of the first century we seem to have the centers with apostolic connections being more important than those without.  Ephesus likewise is intervening in the affairs of other churches if the sources are indicative as is Antioch to a more limited degree if Ignatius' letters are authentic.  And yes, Rome by virtue of  having Peter and Paul and Peter as "prince of the apostles" etc would have had a bigger idea of itself.

> I'm kind 
> of a mind that the Petrine primacy reflected in the NT is
> more about Peter than Rome (as some have argued in regard to
> Cyprian's emphasis on Peter in 
> "The Unity of the Catholic Church" but I wonder
> how much distinction there was between "Peter" and
> the bishop of Rome during the time in question.  The 
> Chalcedonian declaration seems something of an affirmation
> of tradition - although one can certainly still argue with
> how Roman primacy develops, 
> particularly from the Gregorian Reform onward. . . 

Well, therein lies a sticky problem too, in how "primacy of Rome" works out in theological questions and debates from Chalcedon on, the East largely ignores Rome, and when it does pay attention to Rome, it is often in a flurry of mutual excommunications until 1054.

> And it does seem that possesion of personal relics were
> commonly used to support various church's claims to
> orthodoxy and status. 

Oh absolutely, from an early point.....

 During the 
> Quartodecimen controversy in the 2nd century the Q. bishops
> argued that not only did they follow a tradition established
> by John, but also argued that they 
> had John's remains and the remains of other apostolic
> notables . . . I'm pretty sure that's in
> Eusebius' history, but thought there was an earlier
> writing that 
> argued it as well. . . 

Eusebius is drawing on earlier writings, including Papias and Irenaeus.

> >> I've always found it curious that Paul seems
> to have
> >> faded into the background by the third century, at
> least as
> >> far as a "player" in Roman primacy and 
> >> (apparently) even pilgrimage.  
> >I'm always surprised by the pilgrimage aspect, but
> not the primacy.  After all, Peter knew Jesus in the flesh
> and spirit and was the first leader of the 
> Jerusalem church.  Paul, while important for the church,
> wasn't known to have done major miracles and by his own
> confession didn't know the human 
> Jesus, so his role in arguing the primacy of Rome is small.
> >Larry Swain
> True, that - not that such a minor factor seems to have
> made Paul inclined to "kiss the fisherman's
> ring" ;-))

Oh, of course not!  For one thing, it was a later development, after Paul and Peter were martyred.  Later traditions of course work to gloss over the differences Paul speaks of in Galatians, which we see already happening in the late first century pseudo-Petrine letters.

Best Regards, 

Larry Swain


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