Study Guide

James, 1-2 Peter, Jude What's Up With the Title?

What's Up With the Title?

The authors of New Testament books didn't title their works, but later generations of Christians needed a way to organize them neatly into one volume, so they slapped titles on these bad boys.

The most commonly used titles for these four books—The Epistle of James, The First Epistle of Peter, The Second Epistle of Peter, and The Epistle of Jude—pretty much say it all. It just means that these books of the Bible are:

  • letters
  • that they were written by guys named James, Peter, and Jude.

Easy, right? Except no one really knows if James, Peter, and Jude actually wrote 'em. It's possible that these guys put pen to paper to write down their thoughts about Jesus, but it's more likely that someone else wrote one or two of these letters and just pretended they were from one of these apostolic big wigs. Today, we'd cry forgery and give the books one-star reviews on Amazon.com, but this was a really common practice back in the first century.

You'll also notice that, unlike most New Testament letters, these four aren't named for the recipient of the letters (like Romans, Corinthians, or Galatians to name a few)—they're named for their authors. Mostly that's because we don't know exactly who they were written to, but it also gives them a bit of heft. It would be like another Twilight book coming out under the title, The Tales of Stephenie Meyer.

Hey, we'd read it.

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