Here are some other links that fall under the heading of "the nonexistent early papacy."
Papacy built on pious fiction and forgery, part 1
Papacy bult on pious fiction and forgery 2
The Integrity of the New Testament Canon
How the fictional early papacy became real
Papacy built on pious fictions and forgery 5
One of the works I'll be consulting is a 1927 work by James Shotwell and Louise Ropes Loomis, "The See of Peter," (New York: Columbia University Press, © 1927, 1955, and 1991).
Not all of this work is provided at Google Books, but I believe it was very important in helping other scholars of the past century to sort out and understand just where the papal claims came from. This work has collected "all the texts, as far as the editors have been able to collect them, which form the basis for the Roman belief in Peter's primacy. They are broken down as follows:
- "Those in the New Testament which throw light upon the extent of Peter's preeminence among the apostles and the scope of his later labors." These, of course, can be checked easily enough against the commentaries that are available.
- "All the historical references to Peter's sojourn and death at Rome that can be found in the Greek and Latin Fathers, down to the opening of the fifth century, when the Petrine tradition assumed its final shape. These references are, in a few instances, from very early writers, and in every case represent the opinions of sober and conscientious men, derived by them from older authorities now lost or from traditions regarded in their day as genuine." These, in 1927, included "little inherently incredible"
- The third group is made up of a curious and less respectable set of documents, the popular apocryphal literature, which grew up around the figure of Peter almost as soon as reliable records began, literature spring from misconceptions and confusions or else frankly fictitious.
After this, Shotwell and Loomis then look at "those which show step by step the development of the institution which he was believed to have founded, texts depicting both the awakening of the popes themselves to a consciousness of their unique position and the gradual recognition by others of their peculiar prerogatives, exegetical arguments drawn from the New Testament, instances of authority actually exercised, instances of authority actually exercised, disputed or admitted through the first three hundred years after Peter's death."
This second group of texts also break out into three parts:
- "A collection in the main of random sentences and incidental allusions" that "comprises every contemporary record that we have of the bishops of Rome to the end of the second century."
- A second group of texts carries the chronicle on to the reign of Constantine, at the opening of the fourth century."
- This last group of texts, far exceeding the other two in volume and diversity, portrays the popes of the fourth century, enriched and assisted, save for one short interval, by the friendly emperors, fully accepted as heads and leaders by their colleagues in the west and slowly, by dint of favoring circumstances, convincing even the reluctant East of their right to spiritual predominance.
My recommendation would be to scrap the entire thing as a boastful and fraudulent development that has only harmed the church. True, some may suggest that the administrative capabilities of the Roman church helped carry civilization through the "dark ages" of history. But that's a completely different thing from saying that it was "divinely instituted from the beginning."
Somewhere, I don't remember where (I'll look it up), someone characterized the the papacy as "the ghost of the Roman emperor, sitting upon the grave of the Roman empire." Or words to that effect. That is, I think, a very kind characterization. The details are much more sinister.