Did Peter die for his faith (martyred)?
Clarifying the question
Question: Was the apostle Peter killed in a way that could have been prevented if he merely renounced his faith?
The relevance of these reports
Before reading the reports below, notice that this unanimous belief that Peter was martyred is relevant not only because the reporters in question were likely warranted in their belief, but because they expected their readers to find the report plausible and/or take it for granted, suggesting a sea of other potential reporters were already also in existence. Moreover, for each of the reports, remember that the authors in question believed their report before, perhaps long before, the date in which they finally authored their work.
[A.D. 70-99] John says Peter was martyred
John wrote that Peter was martyred (in A.D. 70-100):
The Author of The Gospel of John: “[Jesus said to Peter] ‘…but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.”[John 21:18]
- If you believe in Jesus's ability to prophesy, you will see this as a prophecy of Peter's crucifixion. If you believe Jesus is not divine, you will sooner see this as a retrojected prophecy after Peter had already been crucified.
[A.D. 97] Clement says Peter was martyred
Clement wrote that Peter was martyred (before A.D. 97):
Clement of Rome: “…persecuted and put to death. …the illustrious apostles. Peter… when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him." [1 Clement 5-6 (1st letter to the Corinthians)]
[A.D. 150] The author of The Acts of Peter says he was
The author of The Acts of Peter wrote (in A.D. 150-200):
The author of The Acts of Peter: “Peter thus spake, and all the brethren wept, behold four soldiers took him and led him unto Agrippa. [who] commanded him to be crucified on an accusation of godlessness. 37 …[Peter said] I beseech you the executioners, crucify me thus, with the head downward… 38 And when they had hanged him up after the manner he desired, he began again to say:…” [(Gnostic) Acts of Peter 36-38]
[A.D. 185] Origen says Peter was martyred
Origen wrote that Peter was martryred (in c. A.D. 185—c. 254):
Origen: “[Peter preached in] Rome [and there was] crucified.” [Commentary on Genesis vol 3.] (Eusebius of Caesarea: “Peter appears to have preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia to the Jews of the dispersion. And at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head-downwards; for he had requested that he might suffer in this way. …These facts are related by Origen in the third volume of his Commentary on Genesis.” [History of the Church 3.1]
[A.D. 175] Pseudo-Hippolytus says Peter was martyred
c. A.D. 175-200, Pseudo-Hippolytus wrote that Peter was martryred:
Pseudo-Hippolytus: “Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downward, as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner.” [“On the Twelve Apostles of Christ,” Ante-Nicean Fathers Vol. 5. 3]
But so what? This says he was “killed for political reasons” (Carrier) and this book contains “a tale which includes, among other things, a talking dog, a flying wizard, and the resurrection of a tunafish… [and that Jesus's] Resurrection was spiritual, not physical.”
[A.D. 290?] Caius, Presbyter of Rome said Peter was martyred
Caius, Presbyter of Rome said Peter was martyred (c. A.D. 290?)
Caius, Presbyter of Rome (c. A.D. 290?): “And I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you choose to go to the Vatican…, you will find the trophies of those who founded this church.” [Fragments of Caius I]
[Most/all the apostles died over their belief in Jesus's resurrection]
[Brackets] mean “forthcoming”