Was St. Peter Ever in Rome?
Refuting a Persistent Protestant Prejudice


These posts from P to Kim Yong-Jae (whose words are KY>) originally appeared in FidoNet OpenBible in September 1995, as part of the "Bateman on Trial" series. Thanks to Joe Gallegos for supplying some of the information in these posts. The Joe Gallegos files mentioned PAPACY.ZIP (debate with an Orthodox Christian who became Catholic a few years later, Pedro Vega) along with PAPACY1.ZIP (answers more objections from Reformed Baptist apologist James White) are available in text or HTML format from his web site CorUnum Catholic Apologetics (see my links) which goes in depth with a lot of the historical objections to the Papacy, and contains much documentation from the Church Fathers on many doctrines of the historic Christian faith.

The first part is a (somewhat) humorous fictional dialogue in a trial setting on current scholarship (Catholic and Protestant) regarding the Apostle Peter's presence and martyrdom in Rome. Following this will be an article (dated late 1996) I wrote on modern Evangelical Protestant apologists who still doubt St. Peter's presence in Rome. For detailed discussion of the Biblical and patristic evidence for the Papacy, and answers to many Evangelical or Orthodox objections to the Catholic teaching, two of the best and most recent books available are

Jesus, Peter, and the Keys: A Scriptural Handbook on the Papacy by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and David Hess (Queenship Publishing, 1996) covers the Biblical material in a question/answer format, and contains many quotations from the Church Fathers

see Commentary on Matthew 16 and the Church Fathers from David Palm and Robert Sungenis in response to James White's review of the book JESUS, PETER AND THE KEYS edited by Scott Butler, et al

Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church by Stephen K. Ray (Ignatius Press, 1999) covers the Biblical material in depth, Peter's presence in Rome, the evidence from the first five centuries of the Church, and answers to anti-Catholic challenges and objections from Evangelical folks like William Webster and James White


WAS PETER IN ROME?

KY> Peter was never there! Peter's tomb was also discovered outside *Jerusalem*; there is historical documentation to verify this factor.

I will give you three days to retract this absurd statement. Today is September 19, 1995.

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Date: 09-27-95 / From: P / To: KIM YONG-JAE / Subj: Bateman on Trial / Conf: OpenBible

Hello Kim! Yes, I am back. Did you miss me?

I asked you to retract your statement that "Peter was never in Rome." You did not retract.

So let the pounding begin.....

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"These present very good facts, which are, more often than not, ignored, and even avoided. These Catholic authors prove that their religious institution is not the church of Christ." Kim Yong-Jae on Charles Bateman's posts -- OpenBible 9/8/95

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"On the other hand stands united Catholicism -- immovable amid the ebb and flow of human innovations, impregnable to the attacks of heresies, indifferent to the rise and fall of empires, surviving spoliation, superior to schism, steadfast in persecution, and calmly watching the disintegration of its enemies! Thus does the changeless Church of Rome endure, and thus she will endure, till Christ who founded her shall come again.

"Wonderful Body of the Living Christ! In faith, in sacraments, in doctrine, in ceremonial, in language, in discipline, in its identical catechism, and in its one obedience to a single head in chapel, in cathedral, in hamlet, in metropolis, in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and on the islands of all seas -- everywhere and at all times it is the same!

"Surely if the testimony of 1,900 years does not effectively prove the Church of Rome to be the institution founded by our Savior on the Rock of Peter, then has the world no Church of Christ at all."

from REBUILDING A LOST FAITH by John L. Stoddard who was a double convert from Protestantism to Agnosticism to Catholicism -- cited in "Identifying the Church of Christ" THIS ROCK magazine (March 1992)

KY> So is the testimony of Roman Catholic authorities who have dared to be bold enough to tell the truth of the matter.

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WAS PETER IN ROME?

You are the Prosecutor. Charles Bateman is your assistant. The accused is the Catholic Church.

The crime is usurping the role of the Holy Spirit by claiming the Apostle Peter is the first Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

I am the Defense attorney. The Lurkers of OpenBible are the Jury.

We shall deal with the following statement in the Bateman/Yong posts.

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KY> In fact, no mention is made of Peter ever being in Rome at ANY time in the 27 documents of the oldest existing record of the Christian Faith. The Apostle Paul wrote an Epistle to the church at Rome, named approximately SIXTEEN (16) people, by name, and never mentioned Peter. That was NO oversight on his part. Peter was never there! Peter's tomb was also discovered outside *Jerusalem*; there is historical documentation to verify this factor. Even if that were not the case, Paul's neglect at mentioning Peter, in Romans 16, is INEXCUSABLE, if Peter were Head of the Church.

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JUDGE: The Court shall come to order! (bang, bang, bang)

YONG-JAE: Peter was NEVER in Rome! The prosecution rests, your Honor.

JUDGE: Counsel for the Defendant, call forth your first witness.

P: Thank you, your Honor. Defense calls the Apostle Peter!

YONG-JAE: Objection, your Honor!

JUDGE: Overruled.

P: Please take the Witness stand. State your name for the Jury.

PETER: Rock.

YONG-JAE: Objection, your Honor!

JUDGE: Overruled. See Matthew 16:18. Please continue Mr. P.

P: Now state your present occupation.

PETER: Head Apostle and the First Pope, and....

YONG-JAE: Objection, that has yet to be established.

JUDGE: Sustained. Jury is to disregard Witness' last remark.

PETER: ...and Holder of the Keys of Heaven and fisherman on the side.

P: Now I ask you plainly, tell us precisely where you were in the years circa 63-64 A.D. ?

PETER: "By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. She who is in BABYLON, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen."

(1 PETER 5:12-14 NKJV)

JUDGE: You may step down. Counsel, call your next witness.

P: Defense calls J.N.D. Kelly, distinguished Church historian and Principal of St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. State your name and your present occupation.

KELLY: John Norman Davidson Kelly. I am a Canon of Chichester Cathedral and a Fellow of the British Academy; since 1966 I have been a member of the Academic Council of the Ecumenical Theological Institute, Jerusalem. My publications include EARLY CHRISTIAN CREEDS, EARLY CHRISTIAN DOCTRINES, THE EPISTLES OF PETER AND OF JUDE, and JEROME. I'm also fond of tea and crumpets. I'm sure you've heard of me?

P: Yes. Now please tell us plainly, was Peter in Rome??!!

KELLY: "It seems certain that Peter spent his closing years in Rome. Although the NT appears silent about such a stay, it is supported by 1 Peter 5:13, where 'BABYLON' is a code-name for ROME, and by the strong case for linking the Gospel of Mark, who as Peter's companion (1 Pet 5:13) is said to have derived its substance from him, with Rome. To early writers like Clement of Rome (c. 95), Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107), and Irenaeus (c. 180) it was common knowledge that he worked and died in Rome."

THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF POPES (Oxford Univ Press, 1988), p. 6

P: Thank you, Dr. Kelly. See you at Wimbledon next year.

Defense next calls Shotwell and Loomis. While this may sound like a comedy team of the 1950's, they are the authors of the massive study THE SEE OF PETER. Tell us you two, was Peter in Rome??

SHOTWELL/LOOMIS : "The First Epistle of Peter has been the fundamental text for the contention that Peter was in Rome. Its closing salutation, 'The church that is in Babylon....saluteth you' (1 Peter v,13), refers UNDOUBTEDLY to Rome. Babylon was then in ruins, and there was no tradition for five centuries that Peter had been there, whereas the tradition connecting him with Rome is one of the STRONGEST in the Church. Babylon is used for Rome in the Sibylline Oracles and in Revelation (14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2,10).....

"Upon the whole, there seems nothing improbable in the tradition and the belief of Catholic writers in St. Peter's early labors in Rome. His martyrdom there, at a later period, is vouched for by a fairly continuous line of references in the documents from Clement on."

THE SEE OF PETER (NY: Octagon Books, 1965) by James T. Shotwell and Louise Ropes Loomis, p. 56-57, 58-59

P: You may step down. Defense calls the editors of the Evangelical NEW BIBLE COMMENTARY 21st Century Edition (1994). Please tell us where was Peter writing his First Epistle?

NBC: "In 5:13 the writer sends greetings from 'she who is in Babylon, chosen together with you'. This seems like a reference to the local church in Babylon, but it is unlikely that Peter would have gone to the former capital of Nebuchadnezzar's empire.

"By Peter's time it was a sparsely inhabited ruin (fulfilling Isaiah 14:23). In Rev 16:19 and 17:5 'Babylon' is used as a cryptic name for Rome, and Col 4:10 and Phm 24 (most likely written in Rome) show that Mark was there with Paul. In 2 Tim 4:11 Mark is in Asia Minor, and Paul sends for him to come, most probably to Rome."

P: What about the fact Paul does not mention Peter in his Epistle to the Romans?

NBC: "The fact that neither Peter nor Paul mentions the other in the list of those sending greetings from Rome merely suggests that they were not together at the time of writing their letters. All this points to the theory that Peter was writing from Rome, which is supported by the evidence of Tertullian (praescrip haeret, 36) and Eusebius (Eccl History, 2.25.8; 2.15.2 and 3.1.2-3)."

NEW BIBLE COMMENTARY (Intervarsity Press, 1994), p. 1370 edited by Donald Guthrie with D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham

P: Defense calls the infamous liberal scholar Adolph Harnack.

HARNACK: "...to deny the Roman stay of Peter is an error which today is clear to every scholar who is not blind. The martyr death of Peter at Rome was once contested by reason of Protestant prejudice."

McBirnie adds: "Since the end of World War II great interest has been focused upon the excavations under the church of St. Peter in Rome. It has now been officially announced by the Pope that the grave of Peter has been found. Most scholars today accept the Roman stay of Peter."

Adolph Harnack is cited in THE SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES (Revised Edition) by William Steuart McBirnie (Tyndale House, 1973), p. 35

P: Dr. Harnack, are you saying Mr. Yong-Jae and Mr. Bateman are blind and prejudiced?

HARNACK: You got that right, tough guy.

P: Okay. Next we call James White, author of THE KING JAMES ONLY CONTROVERSY (Bethany House, 1995). Please state your full name for the Jury.

WHITE: James Robert White. I work for myself. I run the very small organization Alpha and Omega Ministries. I am the Director of Ministries there. In fact, I'm the only employee. I am also the Scholar in Residence at Grand Canyon University and teach Church history and Greek. I debate Roman apologists on the side and have defeated Gerry Matatics every time I have debated him. I have also beaten Robert Fastiggi, Patrick Madrid (the Mad Patter), Robert Sungenis and Scott Butthead,
I mean, Butler. I am "the best critic of Roman Catholicism in the United States today." I have written books attacking Romanism and am working on a large one that will blow away the volumes put out by Moody, William Webster, and Norm Geisler.

P: Wow! You are very impressive. You must have something very important you would like to say about our current subject?

WHITE: Why, yes, I do. I do indeed. You see, "In fact, there is a GOOD possibility that Peter did not go to Rome AT ALL."

ANSWERS TO CATHOLIC CLAIMS : A Defense of Biblical Authority (Crowne Publ, 1990) by James R. White, p. 103

P: What??? Would you mind repeating that for the Jury?

WHITE: I said, "there is a GOOD possibility that Peter did not go to Rome AT ALL." You see, there was a huge Jewish population in Babylon at the time (Answers, p. 103-104), so Peter could be taken literally in 1 Peter 5:13. He wrote and died in Babylon, not Rome.

YONG-JAE: Amen, brother.

P: You can't be serious, man. Babylon was in ruins. Aren't you paying attention to this trial? Harnack just called you a blind man above! What about the overwhelming historical evidence?

WHITE: I don't care. The Pope is not the Vicar of Christ on earth and Peter NEVER went to Rome. He was NEVER there! I'm sorry but I have been doing a bunch of research and Loraine Boettner is quite correct. Rob Zins thinks so too. Yeah, Zins is cool.

P: Are you nuts??? I was going to call Boettner next.

WHITE: Okay, please do.

P: Defense calls Loraine Boettner, author of the most infamous anti-Catholic book of all time that is filled with hundreds and hundreds of errors, titled ROMAN CATHOLICISM published by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers in 1962. How are we today, Dr. Boettner? Please state your name and present occupation.

BOETTNER: Dr. Loraine Boettner, rhymes with Bet-ner. I was born on a farm in northwest Missouri and apparently that is where I learned my history -- yes, from the pigs and cows. I also graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Th.B. in 1928 and a Th.M. the next year. I studied systematic theology under the late but never too late Charles W. Hodge. In 1933 I received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity and in 1957 the degree of Doctor of Literature. However, I did not learn a damn thing and saw my most famous book on ROMAN CATHOLICISM through the presses in 1962. I am damn proud of it too. Have written a few other books but those pale in comparison.

I taught Bible for 8 years in Pikeville College, KY and lived in Rock Port, MO until my death in 1990.

P: Thank you, Dr. Boettner. Please say what you want to say.

BOETTNER: Peter NEVER went to Rome. "There is no allusion to Rome in either of his epistles....There is in fact no New Testament evidence, nor any historical proof of any kind, that Peter ever was in Rome. ALL rests on legend."

ROMAN CATHOLICISM (P&R, 1962), p. 117

BATEMAN: Amen, brother. Preach it.

P: You guys are nuttier than James White. Your Honor, I want to have this witness arrested for contempt of court -- either that or declare him a mental incompetent. He is simply not fit for trial and we should dismiss his whole testimony as historically absurd.

YONG-JAE: Objection, your Honor. Boettner preaches the truth!

JUDGE: Both Counsel approach the bench, please. The Court will take a 20-minute recess.

[Meanwhile, there is a discussion at the Bench -- and it is decided that both James White and Loraine Boettner are incompetent witnesses.]

JUDGE: The Jury is to disregard the testimony of James White and Loraine Boettner. They are complete morons on this point. Defense, call your next expert witness.

P: We call the biggest anti-Catholic critic of all time, who wrote the 500-page volume THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH, the Anglican Fish of the last century, George Salmon, who James White can't hold a candle to and in fact rips off all of Salmon's arguments. Tell us about Peter, Dr. Salmon?

SALMON: "Some Protestant controversialists have asserted that Peter was NEVER at Rome...I think the historic probability is that he was; though, as I say, at a late period of the history, and not long before his death....[but some] Protestant champions had undertaken the impossible task of proving the negative, that Peter was NEVER at Rome. They might as well have undertaken to prove out of the Bible that St. Bartholomew never preached in Pekin."

"For myself, I am willing, in the absence of any opposing tradition, to accept the current account that Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome. We know with certainty from John xxi that Peter suffered martyrdom somewhere. If Rome, which early laid claim to have witnessed that martyrdom, were not the scene of it, where then did it take place? Any city would be glad to claim such a connexion with the name of the Apostle, and NONE but Rome made the claim."

"If this evidence for Peter's Roman martyrdom be not deemed sufficient, there are few things in the history of the early Church which it will be possible to demonstrate."

THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CHURCH : A Refutation by George Salmon, D.D. (Baker, 1959, orig 1888), p. 348,349

P: Next we call New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce.

BRUCE: "That Peter as well as Paul was put to death at Rome under Nero is the UNANIMOUS testimony of Christian tradition so far as it touches this subject."

"That Peter and Paul were the most eminent of many Christians who suffered martyrdom in Rome under Nero is CERTAIN; that they were claimed as co-founders of the Roman church and that this, together with their martyrdom there, conferred great religious (as distinct from political) prestige on that church, is likewise CERTAIN...."

NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY (Doubleday and Co, 1971) by F.F. Bruce, p. 403,410

P: Next -- Lutheran scholar Oscar Cullmann.

CULLMANN: "It is sufficient to let us include the martyrdom of Peter in Rome in our final historical picture of the early Church, as a FACT which is relatively though not absolutely assured. We accept it, however, with the self-evident caution that we have to use concerning many other facts of antiquity that are universally accepted as historical. Were we to demand for all facts of ancient history a greater degree of probability, we should have to strike from our history books a large proportion of their contents."

PETER : Disciple, Apostle, Martyr (1962) by Oscar Cullmann, p. 114

P: Next -- German historian and archaeologist Hans Lietzmann.

LIETZMANN: "ALL the early sources...clearly suggest to us, namely, that Peter sojourned in Rome and died a martyr there. Any other hypothesis regarding Peter's death piles difficulty upon difficulty, and cannot be supported by a single document."

PETER AND PAUL IN ROME cited in Bruce, p. 404

P: Next -- Church historian Jaroslav Pelikan.

PELIKAN: "The martyrdom of both Peter and Paul in Rome....belongs to [Christian] tradition. It has often been questioned by Protestant critics, some of whom have even contended that Peter was NEVER in Rome. But the archaeological researches of the Protestant historian Hans Lietzmann, supplemented by the library study of the Protestant exegete Oscar Cullmann, have made it extremely difficult to deny the tradition of Peter's death in Rome under the emperor Nero.

"The account of Paul's martyrdom in Rome, which is supported by much of the same evidence, has not called forth similar skepticism."

THE RIDDLE OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM (Abingdon Press, 1959) by Jaroslav Pelikan, p. 36-37

P: Next -- that famous anti-Catholic critic of last century Bishop Charles Gore of England.

GORE: "[It is] quite certain that he [Peter] died there [Rome] a martyr's death in the persecution under Nero (about A.D. 65)."

ROMAN CATHOLIC CLAIMS (Longmans, Green and Co, 1920 11th ed) by Charles Gore, p. 93-94

P: Next -- the exhaustive study conducted by Daniel O'Connor.

O'CONNOR: "The almost complete silence of the New Testament, and in particular the silence of Paul's Epistle to the Romans and the Book of Acts, is NOT decisive evidence for or against the theory of a Roman residence of Peter. On the other hand, 1 Peter 5:13 IS plausibly interpreted as testifying to a Roman residence of the apostle."

"...it does seem highly probable that Peter did visit Rome. As has been stated previously, the tradition is too old and too unchallenged in antiquity to be challenged with any force in the present."

"...if the suggestions and implications which are drawn from certain of these early notices are studied with those of the later sources, there results a most persistent tradition which sets the martyrdom of Peter in Rome within the reign of Nero (most probably between A.D. 64 and 67)."

"In summary, it appears more plausible than not that: (1) Peter did reside in Rome at some time during his lifetime, most probably near the end of his life. (2) He was martyred there as a member of the Christian religion. (3) He was remembered in the traditions of the Church and in the erection of a simple monument near the place where he died. (4) His body was never recovered for burial by the Christian group which later...came to believe that what originally had marked the general area of his death also indicated the precise placement of his grave."

PETER IN ROME : The Literary, Liturgical, and Archaeological Evidence (Columbia University Press, 1969), by Daniel Wm O'Connor, p. 207-209

P: How about some Catholic sources too!

NCE: "It is quite certain that Peter spent his last years in Rome. The first of the two epistles ascribed to him was written from 'Babylon,' a code name for Rome....[what] can be said with certainty is that he went to Rome and was martyred there."

NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, Volume 11, p. 204

P: Please send in Karl Keating of Catholic Answers!

YONG-JAE: Objection, your Holiness, I mean, your Honor! That is Special Pleading!

JUDGE: Overruled. Now, shut up, and let the man speak!!!!!

KEATING: "Pope Paul VI was able to announce officially something that had been discussed in archaeological literature and religious publications for years, that the actual tomb of the first Pope had been identified conclusively, that his remains were apparently present, and that in the vicinity of his tomb were inscriptions identifying the place as Peter's burial site, meaning early Christians knew that the Prince of the Apostles was there.

"The story of how all this was determined, with scientific accuracy, is too long to recount here. It is discussed in detail in
John Evangelist Walsh's THE BONES OF ST. PETER.

"It is enough to say that the combination of historical and scientific evidence is such that no one willing to look at the facts with an open mind can doubt that Peter was in Rome. To deny that fact is to let prejudice override reason."

CATHOLICISM AND FUNDAMENTALISM : The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" (Ignatius Press, 1988), p. 204-205

P: Then by all means, bring in Mr. John Evangelist Walsh!

YONG-JAE: No, noooo, noooooo! I can't take it anymore!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JUDGE: Mr. Bailiff, would you please remove both Mr. Yong-Jae and Mr. Bateman from the courtroom. Please handcuff them, arrest them, and beat them silly with large wet noodles.

I am not going to have such outbursts in my lovely courtroom. Please continue, Mr. P. You are entertaining as usual.

P: As I said, send in Mr. John Evangelist Walsh and have him carry in the very bones of St. Peter himself! On second thought, I'll just quote from his outstanding book published by Doubleday.

Please tell us who you are and what you do, Mr. Walsh.

WALSH: John Evangelist Walsh. I am the author of several books and senior editor at Reader's Digest and the prime spokesman for the Reader's Digest Condensed Bible. My books include ones on the Shroud of Turin, the Wright Brothers, and John Paul Jones.

P: Please tell us about your book, THE BONES OF ST. PETER.

WALSH: "In A.D. 68, Simon bar-Jonah, commonly known as Peter -- the man who in the Gospels walks so humanly at the right hand of Jesus -- was executed by crucifixion. For centuries the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church held that St. Peter's Basilica was built to honor and preserve the true grave of the Prince of the Apostles.

"Here is the fascinating account of the excavation that tunneled through the tangle of ancient structures buried beneath the
magnificent high altar of the Basilica to finally locate the mortal remains of St. Peter.

"For nearly two thousand years the relics of St. Peter represented one of the Church's greatest treasures -- and a widespread conspiracy of silence was imposed in an effort to safeguard them. Then in 1939 began the archaeological exploration that was to span thirty years -- as researchers, scholars, and scientists sifted through layers of subterranean structures and back in time through cherished ruins to slowly unravel the secrets surrounding the burial of St. Peter.

"THE BONES OF ST. PETER is the engrossing true story of how the puzzle was finally solved -- of how the bodily remains of St. Peter were rescued from centuries of oblivion."

THE BONES OF ST. PETER : The First Full Account of the Search for the Apostle's Body (Doubleday, 1982) by John Evangelist Walsh, cover flaps of book

LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS

1 Start of excavations beneath St. Peter's Basilica
2 The roofless Caetennius tomb after clearing of the interior
2a Tomb of a second-century Roman merchant
3 Water accumulation beneath St. Peter's Basilica
4 The narrow street between the two rows of second-century Roman tombs under the basilica
5 The street between the tombs, looking east
6 Crudely sketched heads on the wall of the Valerius tomb
7 The Christ-Helios mosaic on the ceiling of the Julius tomb
8 Monsignor Ludwig Kaas
8a Father Engelbert Kirschbaum
9 Sketch reconstruction of the original shrine erected by the Emperor Constantine
9a A later remodeling of the original Constantinian shrine and the high altar area
10 The present high altar of St. Peter's Basilica
11 The Niche of the Pallia
12 The front wall of the underground chapel
13 The north side of the shrine beneath the high altar
14 The second-century graffiti wall
15 Remaining portion of Peter's grave in the original soil of Vatican Hill
16 The ceiling of the central chamber beneath the high altar
16a Some of the human bones found beneath the red wall
17 Overhead view (sketch reconstruction) of the red wall complex
18 The original second-century entrance to the alleyway behind the red wall
19 The alleyway behind the red wall after excavation
20 The alley side of the red wall, which cuts across Peter's grave
21 A few of the second- and third-century graves
22 A model reconstruction of the Tropaion
23 The graffiti wall standing beside and above Peter's grave
24 Close-up of a portion of the graffiti wall
25 Dr. Margherita Guarducci
25a The wooden box in which the bones from the graffiti wall were preserved
26 Sketch of an inscription from the graffiti wall
27 The chunk of plaster from the red wall containing Peter's name
27a The interior of the marble-lined repository hidden in the graffiti wall
28 Skeletal remains identified as St. Peter's
29 Skeletal remains identified as St. Peter's
30 Skeletal remains identified as St. Peter's
31 The bones of St. Peter returned to the repository in the graffiti wall
32 The bronze grillwork doors guarding the entrance to the shrine and grave beneath the high altar

ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT

1 Side view of the basilica showing approximate extent and depth of the excavations
2 Outline of the two basilicas, ancient and modern
3 The succession of second- and third-century Roman tombs leading toward the high altar
4 Cross section side-to-side (north-south) of the basilica
5 Plan of the basilicas lower level
6 Plan showing location of the red wall and the graffiti wall
7 Side view beneath the high altar showing the relation of the red wall and the Tropaion to the remaining portion of Peter's grave
8 Plan of the second century red wall complex
9 Sketch reconstruction of the alleyway running behind the red wall
10 Front view of the red wall
11 Overhead view of Peter's original grave
12 The red wall complex isolated from adjacent structures
13 Surviving parts of Peter's skeleton

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

WALSH: "For various sorts of timely assistance, especially in obtaining materials and in the work of translation, I wish to offer my sincere thanks to the following: Dr. Margherita Guarducci of Rome University; Annamaria Conti of the Italian edition of The Reader's Digest; Luciano Belanzoni of Rome; Monsignor H. Monni and Don Michel Basso of the Vatican; Mary Cannizzaro, Robert Goyette, Carol Tarlow, and Virginia Armat; Sterling Library, Yale University; the staff of the Dixon Homestead Library, Dumont, New Jersey.

"A special debt of gratitude is owed to all those scholars whose meticulous regard for the facts, and whose sincere attempts to interpret those facts, whether pro or con, have made my own studies so rewarding an experience."

Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

ST. PETER THE APOSTLE (Acts 2:29 RSV)

The same goes for St. Peter -- in Rome. But you are under the delusion

KY> Peter was never there! Peter's tomb was also discovered outside *Jerusalem*; there is historical documentation to verify this factor.

Two words for you -- PROVE IT.

For a complete historical debate on the Primacy of Peter and the Papacy in the early Church, please get the following files:

From this web site: see Commentary on Matthew 16 and the Church Fathers from David Palm and Robert Sungenis in response to James White's review of the book JESUS, PETER AND THE KEYS edited by Scott Butler, et al

From the Joe Gallegos CorUnum web site: PAPACY.ZIP and PAPACY1.ZIP (among many excellent resources on the early Fathers) in response to an Orthodox Christian (Pedro Vega) and a Reformed Baptist apologist (James White)

And the best book currently available on St. Peter and the Papacy from the Bible and the Fathers in defense of Catholic teaching is

Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church by Stephen K. Ray (Ignatius Press, 1999)


WAS PETER "EVER" IN ROME?

An Anti-Catholic Prejudice Continues

by P


Here are a few comments from recent books claiming to offer a "factual" critique of Catholic beliefs from Scripture and history. Consider what these books say on whether St. Peter went to Rome in light of the above evidence from Protestant and Catholic historians/scholars.

From A VIEW OF ROME : A Guide to Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Roman Catholics (Moody Press, 1995) by John Armstrong, who is also editor of the more comprehensive series of essays by prominent evangelicals titled Roman Catholicism (Moody, 1994) --

After stating the Catholic position on the Papacy, Armstrong says

"But a number of nagging questions remain: 1) Was Peter EVER in Rome? WE DON'T KNOW FOR SURE, but even if he was it proves nothing. A PROBLEM, however, is this: when Paul wrote his epistle to the Roman church, why does he address personal greetings to twenty-seven different people but never mention Peter? Strange omission, I believe, if he were the supreme head of this flock." (A View of Rome, page 77 [emphasis added] )

Leaving aside the question of Peter's primacy (see the Joe Gallegos site and the books I mentioned for the evidence), why do evangelical authors continue to raise the question : "Was Peter EVER in Rome?"

Smells like more anti-Catholic prejudice to me.

Here are other recent books by more popular Catholic bashers.

From everyone's favorite anti-Catholic, Dispensationalist author and speaker Dave Hunt --

"As for the testimony of history, it is not certain that Peter EVER resided in Rome, much less that he was the first Bishop of Rome. Even if that were conceded on the basis of the INSUFFICIENT evidence offered, we are certain that Peter was not the Pope." (Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist [Harvest House, 1990] from Appendix [A] "Was Peter the First Pope?" page 294)

Dave Hunt modifies this "hard stance" somewhat in a more recent book --

"....there is no record that Peter was ever Bishop of Rome, and therefore no Bishop of Rome could possibly be his successor. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (178-200), provided a list of the first 12 Bishops of Rome. Linus was the first. Peter's name does not appear. Eusebius of Caesaria, the Father of church history, never mentions Peter as Bishop of Rome. He simply says that Peter came to Rome 'about the end of his days' and was crucified there. Paul, in writing his epistle to the Romans, greets many people by name, but not Peter. That would be a strange omission if Peter had been living in Rome, and especially if he were its bishop!" (A Woman Rides the Beast [Harvest House, 1994], page 99-100)

Peter's name does not appear in the succession list of St. Irenaeus? See Against Heresies 3:3:1-3. Maybe that is because this is a list of SUCCESSORS of Peter, and Saints Peter (and Paul) are explicitly mentioned by Irenaeus as FOUNDERS of the Church at Rome, "the greatest and most ancient Church known to all...[and] because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world...." (St. Irenaeus 180-99 AD, from Jurgens, Faith of the Early Fathers, volume 1, page 90).

Hunt goes on to say a little later (and claims throughout the book) : "Nor was the Bishop of Rome considered to be the pope of the universal Church until about A THOUSAND YEARS after Pentecost!" (A Woman Rides the Beast, page 100 [emphasis added] )

William Webster, an ex-Catholic turned Evangelical, in an essay for the Armstrong book above, takes this claim one step farther --

"The attitudes and practices of the Fathers and councils reveal that the church NEVER viewed the bishops of Rome as being endowed with supreme authority to rule the church universal. And there NEVER has been a supreme human ruler in the church." (from Armstrong, Roman Catholicism : Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us [Moody, 1994], page 280 [emphasis added] )

Webster goes on to cite the "universal bishop" controversy of Pope Gregory the Great as supposed "evidence" which I have thoroughly answered from the 2-volume work by F. Holmes Dudden on St. Gregory. This myth of "no Papacy in the early Church" is exploded in the site by Joe Gallegos (with help from John Chapman and B.C. Butler). I hope to write my own compilation when I gather enough primary source material (see the books by Scott Butler and Stephen Ray for recent complete studies on the subject).

Webster, who has written some recent works against the Papacy of the Catholic Church, also has doubts about St. Peter's presence in Rome, although he admits there is "some evidence" :

"While there is some historical evidence that Peter may have been in Rome and was martyred there, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that he was ever bishop of Rome. There are a number of writings from the first to the fifth centuries which speak of the fact that both Peter and Paul founded the Church at Rome and that both were martyred there....There has been a strong tradition that Peter was martyred at Rome, but whereas we do know that Paul was in Rome and had a direct influence on the church there, we do not know that for certain about Peter." (Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History [Banner of Truth, 1995], page 45, 46)

I have to ask: why the continued doubt about St. Peter's presence and influence in Rome (and apparently for Webster not St. Paul) if not that this shows an extreme anti-Catholic prejudice against the Papacy?

On to a more "respectable" anti-Catholic book that does not deal in the sensationalism of a Dave Hunt (though less "scholarly" than Webster or White), by the ex-Catholic James G. McCarthy, also producer of a popular anti-Catholic video --

"If Peter established his ministry in Rome at some later date, one would think that Paul would have mentioned him in his letter to the Romans. Written about 58 A.D., Paul neither addressed the letter to Peter nor makes any mention of him, even though he greets 26 other people in Rome by name (Romans 16:1-16). Neither does Paul refer to Peter in any of his four letters written from a Roman prison about A.D. 61: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. In his last letter from Rome, written about A.D. 66, Paul writes that he was QUITE ALONE : 'At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them' (2 Timothy 4:16)." (The Gospel According to Rome [Harvest House, 1995] by James G. McCarthy, page 253-254, [emphasis added] )

If it was true that St. Paul was "quite alone," it would prove that NO Christians AT ALL were in Rome at the time which even McCarthy does not believe. Of course that can't be what the apostle means since he wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome (i.e. Romans). To his credit, however, McCarthy does at least admit the following --

"Nevertheless, some scholars believe that Peter came to Rome before he was martyred there about 67 A.D. They point to the closing greetings of his first letter as evidence. Peter writes: 'She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark' (1 Peter 5:13). Some believe that Babylon was a code name for Rome." (McCarthy, page 254)

While overall the arguments used in this book against the Catholic Church and her doctrines are, in my opinion, quite weak (compared with recent works by Norm Geisler and James White), McCarthy at least admits "some scholars" do acknowledge Peter's presence in Rome.

Finally, from the recent anti-Catholic book by James R. White --

"We have no evidence from Peter's pen that he views himself as a Pope or that he was even the bishop of Rome, for that matter. When Paul wrote to the Church at Rome in A.D. 55-57, it is plain that Peter was not there. When Paul was in Rome and was writing the prison epistles, he never mentioned Peter. In fact, in one place, those epistles make it clear that either Peter was not in Rome, or he had actually abandoned Paul! In 2 Timothy 4:16, written close to the end of his life, Paul writes that 'no one supported me' at the first defense -- a devastating charge against Peter IF [emphasis author] Peter had been at Rome at this time, for Paul asks that the Lord 'not hold it against them.'

"Indeed, if we take the view that Peter was the bishop of Rome, but was absent from the Church much of the time, it seems strange that either Peter never wrote to his own church, for we have no such letter, or that they did not think enough of the letter to keep it around as in the case of Paul's epistle to the Romans." (The Roman Catholic Controversy [Bethany House, 1996], page 110)

White continues: "If there is no evidence for the Papacy from Peter himself...." leaving the impression in the reader's mind that this supposed "doubt" about Peter's presence in Rome is "evidence" against the Papacy. On page 109, White stated "there is no reference to Rome" in the epistles of St. Peter, ignoring the evidence from 1 Peter 5:13.

In his previous book published in 1990, Answers to Catholic Claims (page 103), White had stated there is a "GOOD possibility" that Peter may never had been in Rome at all! Changing his mind in his recent anti-Catholic effort, White buries the following in an endnote #5 --

"The early tradition of the Church associates Peter with Rome throughout. Anyone going solely on the basis of the reports of the Fathers must conclude Peter was in Rome, at the very least at his death." (James White, The Roman Catholic Controversy, page 246)

I commend James White for at least including this factual statement, but that it must be relegated to a note near the end of the book says something about the persistent prejudice many anti-Catholic authors and publishers of books attacking the Catholic Church (in the past and present) have regarding St. Peter's presence in the Church at Rome.

P

See also Studies on the Early Papacy by Dom John Chapman
And The Primitive Church and the See of Peter by Luke Rivington


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