Gospel of Peter

1.0 The Gospel according to Peter and the Revelation of Peter:1)http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1892_robinson-james_peter-gospel-apocalypse.pdf

1892  by James Armitage Robinson BD (Fellow and Assistant Tutor of Christ’s College) and Montague Rhodes James MA (Fellow and Dean of King’s College)



2.0 The Development of the Canon of the New Testament: Gospel of Peter2)http://www.ntcanon.org/Gospel_of_Peter.shtml

(Syria, 100-130 CE)

Down to 1886 scholars were aware of a Gospel of Peter, but not so much as a single quotation from it was known. Origen casually refers to it in his Commentary on Matthew (10.17) when discussing the brethren of Jesus, and Eusebius records the negative opinion expressed by Bishop Serapion of Antioch after he had read a copy of this apocryphal gospel:

… most of it is indeed in accordance with the true teaching of the Savior, but some things are additions to that teaching, which items also we place below for your benefit.

Unfortunately, Eusebius, to whom we are indebted for a copy of this part of Serapion’s letter, did not quote the specific points which the bishop found objectionable; he apparently brought it into connection with ‘Docetists’. In another place, Eusebius classifies the Gospel of Peter as one of the heretical writings.

In the winter of 1886-7 a large fragment of the Greek text of the Gospel of Peter was discovered in a tomb of a monk at Akhmîm in Upper Egypt. It is a manuscript from the 8th century – an online text is available. A smaller 2nd-3rd century fragment was discovered later at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.

The text, which is translated in [Schneemelcher] v. 1 pp. 223-226, tells of the passion, death, and burial of Jesus, and embellishes the account of his resurrection with details concerning the miracles that followed. The responsibility for Christ’s death is laid exclusively on the Jews, and Pilate is exonerated. Here and there we find traces of the Docetic heresy, and perhaps this is the reason why Jesus’ cry of dereliction on the cross is given in the form ‘My Power, my Power, why have you forsaken me?’.

Written probably in Syria between 100-130 CE the Gospel of Peter shows acquaintance with all 4 canonical Gospels but seems, in general, to have taken only limited notice of them. According to the investigation made by [Denker] pp. 58-77, it appears that almost every sentence of the passion narrative was composed on the basis of Scriptural references in the Old Testament, particularly in Isaiah and the Psalms. He argues that the work is a product of Jewish Christianity written sometime between the two Jewish uprisings. For differing opinions see [Schneemelcher] v. 1 pp. 217-222.

3.0 The Development of the Canon of the New Testament: Apocalypse of Peter3)http://www.ntcanon.org/Gospel_of_Peter.shtml

(Egypt, ~135 CE)

The Apocalypse of Peter is best known for its lurid descriptions of the punishments of hell. It is an outstanding an ancient example of that type of writing by means of which the pictorial ideas of Heaven and Hell were taken over into the Christian Church. In contrast to the Revelation of John which displays the final struggle and triumph of Jesus Christ, its interest no longer lies on the person of the Redeemer, but on the situation in the after-life, on the description of different classes of sinner, on the punishment of the evil and the salvation of the righteous. If the Apocalypse of Peter as a book lost its meaning in time, the ideas represented in it lived on in various ways — Sybyllines II; Apocalypse of Paul; apocalypsis seu visio Mariae virginis; right up to the full tide of description in Dante’s Divina Commedia.

For the identification of the Apocalypse of Peter and the assessment of its significance and influence, the citations in the Church Fathers are particularly important. Theophilus of Antioch (about 180 CE) alludes to a verse of the Akhmîm fragment (see below). Clement of Alexandria (before 215) twice quotes chapters 4 and 5. Methodius of Olympus (about 311) once quotes chapter 8. Macarius Magnes (about 400) quotes chapters 4 and 5 once each.

The full text has been known to us for only a century. During the excavations instigated by S. Grébaut in the winter of 1886/87 in cemetery A at al-Hawawis in the desert necropolis of Akhmîm, parchment leaves of the Greek version were discovered in the grave of a Christian monk. In addition to this fragment of text, some further unpaginated leaves were found with parts of the Book of Enoch and the Gospel of Peter. The three texts, which are today in Cairo, are all from the same hand and were written in the 8th or 9th century. The Greek text, which occupies not quite half of the original book, was divided by Harnack into 34 verses. The identification of the text results from a quotation adduced by Clement of Alexandria in his Eclogae Propheticae.

The Ethiopic translation has been known since 1910. A. Dillmann had already referred to the extensive Ethiopic translation of the Corpus Clementinum, which may go back to the 7th-8th century. S. Grébaut finally published Pseudo-Clementine literature from MS No 51 of the Abbadie collection, and added a French translation. It was however M. R. James who, in a fundamental study, first succeeded in classifying the Ethiopic text correctly.

We do not know the original text of the Apocalypse, the Greek and Ethiopic texts frequently diverge from each other.

The earliest possible date of origin can be determined through the date of 4 Esdras — about 100 CE — which was probably used in the Apocalypse of Peter and 2 Peter, the priority of which was demonstrated by F. Spitta. The latest possible date, using the quotations of Theophilus above, is 180. We thus come, with H.Weinel, if in interpreting the parable of the fig-tree in c. 2 we also relate the Jewish Antichrist who persecutes the Christians to Bar Chocba, to approximately the year 135 as the probable time of origin.

The Apocalypse presumably came into being in Egypt (c.f. Clement); the reference to Egyptian worship of animals also points in this direction. In this connection however we must refer above all to the ancient Egyptian Peter tradition. Starting from a first rendering into Coptic, the Ethiopic translation probably came into being – as usual – through Arabic versions. To this extent our Ethiopic text, linguistically not altogether unexceptional, is only the last in a series, with all the imponderables that entails.

In its description of heaven and hell the Apocalypse draws on the Orphic-Pythagorean mystery religions. The motif of the river of fire, certainly goes back to ancient Egypt. The ideas of the last judgment, the resurrection of the dead, the destruction of the world by fire, etc., are to be traced back, through the medium of Jewish Apocalyptic (the Book of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Zephaniah, Wisdom of Solomon, etc.) to oriental origins.

4.0 What is the Gospel of Peter?:4)http://www.gotquestions.org/gospel-of-Peter.html

The Gospel of Peter is a pseudepigraphal work that purports to be written by Peter but in fact relates a false view of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Peter contains 60 verses and deals with events surrounding the end of Jesus’ life. The original is thought to have been written c. AD 150, although the earliest extant manuscript dates from the 8th or 9th century.

The first mention of the Gospel of Peter was made by Bishop Serapion of Antioch (c. AD 200) in a letter titled “Concerning what is known as the Gospel of Peter.” In this letter Serapion advised church leaders not to read the so-called Gospel to their congregations because of its Docetic content. He also condemned the Gospel of Peter as a forgery.

What is Docetism? One form of Docetism (Marcionism) maintained that Christ was so divine he could not have been human. He only appeared to be made of flesh and blood, His body being a phantasm. Other groups held that, while Jesus was a man in the flesh, Christ was a separate entity who entered Jesus’ body in the form of a dove at His baptism, empowering Him to perform miracles. The “Christ entity” then abandoned Jesus on the cross. Docetism was unequivocally rejected at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and is regarded as heretical by Catholics and Protestants alike. Docetism largely died out during the first millennium.

The Gospel of Peter says that on the cross Jesus cried out, “My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me,” rather than “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). In the account of the crucifixion, the Gospel of Peter carefully avoids saying that Jesus died, asserting instead that He “was taken up.” This idea of escaping actual death is mirrored in the Qur’an, Sura 4:157–158: “But Allah took him up unto Himself.” The Gospel of Peter suggests that Christ was “taken up” to the Divine Presence at the moment His divine power left His bodily shell, which had only been a temporary residence. This teaching, together with the claim that Jesus “remained silent, as though he felt no pain” on the cross, highlights the error of Docetism.

Another way in which the Gospel of Peter differs from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is the description of events after Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb. The Gospel of Peter says that the guards “saw the heavens opened, and two men descend with a great light and approach the tomb. . . . Again they saw three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them. And the heads of the two reached to heaven, but the head of him who was led by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, ‘You have preached to them that sleep.’ And a response was heard from the cross, ‘Yes.’” This passage has some Gnostic leanings.

Here are some of the main problems with the Gospel of Peter:

The crucifixion takes place in Rome, not Jerusalem.
Joseph of Arimathea is said to be a personal friend of Pontius Pilate.
Pontius Pilate is exonerated from all responsibility. Herod Antipas takes over for him, assuming the responsibility which, in Luke’s Gospel, Herod declines to accept.
Jesus is “taken up” from the cross, and His death is not mentioned.
Two supernatural beings enter the tomb, and three emerge.
The cross is described as floating out of the tomb and saying “Yes” to a voice from heaven.
There is no mention of witnesses seeing Jesus alive after He was dragged out of the tomb.

And if that is not enough to shed doubt on the veracity of the Gospel of Peter, we also have the testimony of Eusebius. The historian made reference to the Gospel of Peter in his writings, claiming that Apollo was the god originally mentioned in the Gospel of Peter, not Jesus Christ. Eusebius said the name of Jesus Christ was written over the name of Apollo.

The Gospel of Peter disagrees with the four canonical Gospels in vitally important areas, including the physical death and bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

5.0 Does the Gospel of Peter belong in the New Testament?:5)by Ryan Turner https://carm.org/does-the-gospel-of-peter-belong-in-the-new-testament

The canon of the New Testament was reserved only for those writings that were either written by an apostle or an associate of an apostle.  Since the Gospel of Peter was written in the mid second century, it is not a candidate for inclusion in the New Testament.  The numerous embellishments in the Gospel of Peter clearly indicate that it was composed in the second century and was not written by the apostle Peter.  This second-century date of authorship is in conformity with modern New Testament scholarship’s appraisal of the Gospel of Peter.  Therefore, the early church rightfully rejected this Gospel which was falsely attributed to Peter.

Background Information about the Gospel of Peter

What is the Gospel of Peter?

Though incorrectly ascribed to the apostle Peter, the Gospel of Peter is comprised of 14 paragraphs (or 60 verses), written around 150 A.D., which describes the events surrounding the end of Jesus’ life including his trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.1  This Gospel is only partially preserved in one 8-9th century manuscript, beginning and ending in mid sentence (Harris, 245).2  The Gospel of Peter contains many similarities with the New Testament Gospels including the basic outline of the end of Jesus’ life with his trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, but it also contains a number of additions including, most notably, a description of the actual resurrection event with two giant angels, a super-sized Jesus, and a talking cross emerging from the empty tomb.

When was the Gospel of Peter discovered?

The Gospel of Peter was allegedly discovered in 1886-1887 during excavations in Akhmîm, upper Egypt.  A ninth century manuscript was found in the coffin of a monk which is now known as the Akhmîm fragment.  Interestingly, this fragment contains no name or title.  However, since the manuscript had (1) alleged docetic3 overtones and was (2) found in the midst of other works attributed to the apostle Peter, such as the Apocalypse of Peter, scholars think that the Akhmîm fragment belonged to the Gospel of Peter.4

Do any ancient writers talk about the Gospel of Peter?

Prior to the discovery of the Akhmîm fragment in 1886-87, scholars knew very little about the Gospel of Peter.  Their first main source was Eusebius of Caesarea (c. A.D. 260-340), the well-known early church historian, who noted that the Gospel of Peter was among the church’s rejected writings and had heretical roots.5  The second main source for the Gospel of Peter is a letter by Serapion, a bishop in Antioch (in office A.D. 199-211), titled “Concerning What is Known as the Gospel of Peter.”6  Bishop Serapion notes that the Gospel of Peter had docetic overtones and advised that church leaders not read it to their congregations.  From Bishop Serapion’s statements we know that the Gospel of Peter was written sometime in the second century, but we are left with little knowledge of its actual contents from Serapion’s statements alone.7

Is the Gospel of Peter a Gnostic Gospel?

There is some debate among scholars regarding whether the Akhmîm fragment actually is a Gnostic document.  There are two possible Gnostic examples in 4:10 [paragraph 4] and 5:19 [paragraph 5].  Paragraph 4 describes the crucifixion of Jesus and states, “But he held his peace, as though having no pain.”  This may reflect the Gnostic view of Docetism which viewed Jesus as not possessing a phyiscal body.  This would explain Jesus’ lack of pain on the cross.  Furthermore, paragraph 5 describes Jesus’ death cry on the cross as, “My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me.”  Some scholars see this as a reference to “…a docetic version of the cry of dereliction which results from the departure of the divine power from Jesus’ bodily shell.”8However, some scholars dispute these references as referring to full blown Gnosticism or Gnostic teachings at all.

When was the Gospel of Peter written?

Though this work was attributed to the apostle Peter (Par. 14), contemporary New Testament scholars rightfully note that the Gospel of Peter is a second century A.D. work.  Most scholars would not date this Gospel before 130-150 A.D because of: (1) the numerous historical errors including a preponderance of legendary embellishments and lack of first century historical knowledge, and (2) the likely dependence which the Gospel of Peter has on the New Testament Gospels.  For these reasons among many, most scholars today reject the Gospel of Peter as giving us as accurate of a portrait of Jesus as the standard New Testament Gospels and regard it as a late composition from the second century A.D.

Historical Errors

Error #1: The Guilt of Jews

The confession of the Jewish authorities guilt (par. 7; 11) lacks historical credibility.9 The confession of the Jewish authorities makes more sense in a context after 70 A.D. where the Jews were blamed for the destruction of Jerusalem as a result of not accepting Jesus as the Messiah.  Furthermore, the reference of the Jewish scribes and elders saying, “For it is better, say they, for us to be guilty of the greatest sin before God, and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned,” likewise reflects a period after 70 A.D. and is definitely not earlier than the Synoptic material.

Error #2: The High Priest Spending the Night in the Cemetery

Furthermore, the author of the Gospel of Peter (or Akhmîm fragment) possessed very little knowledge of Jewish customs.  According to paragraphs 8 and 10, the Jewish elders and scribes actually camp out in the cemetery as part of the guard keeping watch over the tomb of Jesus. Craig Evans wisely notes, “Given Jewish views of corpse impurity, not to mention fear of cemeteries at night, the author of our fragment is unbelievably ignorant (Evans, Fabricating Jesus, 83).”  The ruling priest spending the night in the cemetery; no ruling priest would actually do that.  Due to these serious blunders, it is highly unlikely that this Gospel reflects earlier material than the New Testament gospels.  Instead, the author is most likely far removed from the historical events surrounding Jesus’ death and burial.

Error #3: Embellishment of the New Testament Resurrection Accounts

There are a number of apparent embellishments in the Gospel of Peter, especially surrounding the guarding of the tomb and the resurrection.  Regarding the guarding of the tomb, there are seven even seals over the tomb (8), and a great multitude from the surrounding area comes to see the sealing of the tomb.  Though these are certainly historical possibilities, it appears to indicate that these are embellishments compared to the more simple accounts in the New Testament Gospels.

The New Testament writers never describe exactly how the resurrection took place, since presumably no one was there to witness it other than the guards.  Perhaps the most fascinating part of the Gospel of Peter’s account is that it actually describes the resurrection of Jesus (9-10)!

“9 And in the night in which the Lord’s day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb. And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in. 10 When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him who was lead by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yea.”10

This resurrection account does not retain anything of the historical soberness that is in the New Testament resurrection accounts.  Instead, this description of the resurrection of Jesus has a large angel whose head “reached unto the heaven,” and a giant Jesus whose head “overpassed the heavens!”  Finally, the best example is the talking cross.  The voice from heaven says, “Thou has preached to them that sleep.”  The cross responds by saying, “Yea.”  While it is possible that there was a giant Jesus whose head surpassed the heavens and a talking cross, it is more likely that this story is probably an embellishment of the simpler empty tomb and resurrection accounts in the New Testament Gospels.  It is probably just another attempt like some other Gnostic Gospels to “fill in the gaps” in the events surrounding Jesus’ life.

How anyone could think of this resurrection account as more primitive than the Gospels seems quite unreasonable.  Evans wisely states, “…can it be seriously maintained that the Akhmîm fragment’s [Gospel of Peter’s] resurrection account, complete with a talking cross and angels whose heads reach heaven, constitutes the most primitive account?” (Evans, 84).

Dependence on the New Testament Gospels

It is difficult to prove exact literary dependence by the Gospel of Peter on the New Testament Gospel; however, there are at least a couple instances in Peter which are best explained by the author having familiarity with the canonical New Testament Gospels.  The Gospel of Matthew is a prime example, with its guard at the tomb of Jesus.  The Gospel of Peter author likely took this account and embellished it by having Jewish leaders come and camp out at the tomb overnight.  This may have served the apologetical purposes of the author of the Gospel of Peter which reflected conditions after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.  Furthermore, the centurion’s confession (par. 11) appears to also reflect the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 27:54; cf.Mk. 15:39; Lk. 23:47).

Finally, the Gospel of Peter’s reference of the thief uses the same Greek words to reference the thief in paragraph 4 (4.10, 13), which likely reflects the Gospel of Luke (23:33, 39).

Since the Gospel of Peter is likely a second century work due to the historical errors listed above, it is likely that the Gospel of Peter at least used similar traditions that are found in the New Testament Gospels, if not the Gospels themselves.  This is a much more sober conclusion rather than basing our argument on source criticism alone, which is often bound with mere speculation of hypothetical sources and layers of editing and redaction.  Anyhow, given the numerous embellishments and historical errors, it is likely that the author had some familiarity with the canonical Gospels and combined it with his own speculations.  However, to what extent the author had knowledge of the New Testament Gospels, we may never know.

Conclusion

Despite the claims of some, the Gospel of Peter does not belong in the New Testament due to its serious embellishments and likely dependence on the New Testament Gospels.  For these reasons among many, most scholars today reject the Gospel of Peter as giving us as accurate of a portrait of Jesus as the standard New Testament Gospels, and regard it as a late composition from the second century A.D.

A Summary of the Evidence for a Second Century Date of the Gospel of Peter

Historical Errors and Embellishments

  • Seven seals are used to seal the tomb of Jesus (Paragraph 8).
  • A crowd from Jerusalem comes to see the sealed tomb of Jesus (Par. 9).
  • The Jewish leaders camp out at the tomb of Jesus overnight.
  • The Jewish leaders fear the harm of the Jewish people (Par. 8).  This does not descibe the historical situation of the Jews before the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D.
  • The Resurrection story actually describes how Jesus exited the tomb with two giant angels, a super-sized Jesus, and a talking cross.

Late References

  • Transfer of responsibility of Jesus’ death away from Pilate to Herod and the Jews.
  • “The Lord’s Day” reference (Par. 9) indicates a later time period (cf. Rev. 1:10; Ignatius’sEpistle to the Magnesians 9:1).

Possible Gnostic Overtones

  • Silence during the crucifixion “as if he felt no pain.”  This could be consistent with a docetic view of Jesus which was common in Gnostic circles.
  • Crucifixion cry is “my Power!” “my Power!” which likely indicates a supernatural being departed from him.
  • Jesus’ death is described as being “taken up,” implying that he was rescued without dying.  This would be consistent with some Gnostic views that thought since Jesus was not fully a man, he could not actually die on the cross.

Possible New Testament Parallels

  • The centurion’s confession (Par. 11) appears to reflect the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 27:54; cf. Mk. 15:39; Lk. 23:47).
  • The posting of the guard at the tomb appears to reflect the Gospel of Matthew.

Sources

  • Bock, Darrell L. The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth behind Alternative Christianities. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006.
  • Evans, Craig A. Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.
  • Evans, Craig A. “The Apocryphal Jesus: Assessing the Possibilities and Problems.” 147-172. In Craig A. Evans and Emanuel Tov, eds. Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008.
  • Harris, Stephen L. The New Testament: A Student’s Introduction. Fourth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.
  • Head, P. M. “On the Christology of the Gospel of Peter,” Vigiliae Christianae 46 (1992), 209-224.
  • Strobel, Lee. The Case for the Real Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.

Reference

  • To read a copy of the Gospel of Peter, please visit: http://sacred-texts.com/bib/lbob/lbob30.htm. I also consulted “The Gospel of Peter” in The Ante Nicene Fathers, volume 9, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, pp. 7-8.
  • 2.Interestingly, we do not know if the Gospel has a report on Jesus’ public ministry and miracles since the copy of the Gospel of Peter that we have is just a fragment.  The Akhmim fragment ends abruptly with probably an appearance of Jesus about to take place at the Sea of Galilee.  Some scholars state that the Gospel of Peter fragment may date to the 7th century.  See P. M. Head, “On the Christology of the Gospel of Peter,” Vigiliae Christianae 46 (1992), 209.
  • 3.Docetism was a belief in the early centuries of Christianity which held that Jesus was fully divine, but not fully human.  In other words, Jesus was God, but not man since physical reality is evil.
  • 4.A few scholars debate whether the Akhmîm fragment actually is the Gospel of Peter, but for the sake of argument, we will just assume that the Akhmîm fragment actually is the Gospel of Peter especially since this is the consensus view of scholarship today.
  • 5.Ecclesiastical History, 3.3.1-4; 3.25.6; and 6.12.3-6
  • 6.Bishop Serapion’s letter is actually preserved by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History 6.12.3-6
  • 7.Some scholar have attempted to find parallels or quotations of the Gospel of Peter in other early church fathers including Origen, but these parallels are questionable.
  • 8.Head, 214. Head does not actually ascribe to this viewpoint.
  • 9.It is possibly based on Jesus’ statements about Jerusalem (Lk. 21:20-24; 23:48) and perhaps to Caiaphas’s counsel (Jn. 11:49-50).
  • 10.http://sacred-texts.com/bib/lbob/lbob30.htm
6.0 Gospel of Peter. κατά Πέτρον ευαγγέλιον:6)From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Peter

The Gospel of Peter (Greek: κατά Πέτρον ευαγγέλιον, kata Petrōn euangelion), or Gospel according to Peter, is one of the non-canonical gospels rejected as apocryphal by the Church Fathers and the Catholic Church‘s synods of Carthage and Rome, which established the New Testament canon.[1] It was the first of the non-canonical gospels to be rediscovered, preserved in the dry sands of Egypt.

A major focus of the surviving fragment of the Gospel of Peter is the passion narrative, which is notable for ascribing responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus to Herod Antipas rather than to Pontius Pilate.

Composition

Authorship

The Gospel of Peter explicitly claims to be the work of the Apostle Peter:

“And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves:” — GoP, 7.
“But I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea;” — GoP, 14.

However, scholars generally agree that Gospel of Peter is pseudepigraphical (bearing the name of an author who did not actually compose the text).[2]

The true author of the gospel remains a mystery. Although there are parallels with the three Synoptic Gospels, Peter does not use any of the material unique to Matthew or unique to Luke. Raymond E. Brown and others find that the author may have been acquainted with the synoptic gospels and even with the Gospel of John; Brown (The Death of the Messiah) even suggests that the author’s source in the canonical gospels was transmitted orally, through readings in the churches, i.e. that the text is based on what the author remembers about the other gospels, together with his own embellishments.[3]

Ron Cameron and others have further speculated the Gospel of Peter was written independently of the synoptic gospels using an early proto-gospel. A consequence of this is the potential existence of a source text that formed the basis of the passion narratives in Matthew, Luke, and Mark, as well as in Peter. Origen makes mention of the Gospel of Peter as agreeing with the tradition of the Hebrews. The relationship to the Gospel according to the Hebrews becomes more clear when Theodoret states that the Nazarenes made use of the Gospel of Peter, for we know by the testimony of the Fathers generally that the Nazarene Gospel was that commonly called the Gospel according to the Hebrews. The same Gospel was in use among the Ebionites, and, in fact, as almost all critics are agreed, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, under various names, such as the Gospel according to Peter, according to the Apostles, the Nazarenes, Ebionites, Egyptians, &c, with modifications certainly, but substantially the same work, was circulated very widely throughout the early Church.[4]

Date

The gospel is widely thought to date from after the composition of the four canonical gospels. Scholars are divided as to the exact date of the text, with Bart Ehrman placing it in the first half of the second century and considering it to have been compiled based on oral traditions about Jesus, independent of the canonical gospels.[5] The dating of the text depends to a certain extent on whether the text condemned by Serapion, Bishop of Antioch upon inspection at Rhossus is the same as the text that was discovered in modern times.[6] The Rhossus community had already been using it in their liturgy.[7]

Later Western references, which condemn the work, such as Jerome and Decretum Gelasianum, traditionally connected to Pope Gelasius I, are apparently based upon the judgment of Eusebius, not upon a direct knowledge of the text.[8]

Historical references

Into modern times the Gospel of Peter had been known only from early quotations, especially from a reference by Eusebius[9] to a letter publicly circulated by Serapion in 190–203, who had found upon examining it that “most of it belonged to the right teaching of the Saviour,” but that some parts might encourage its hearers to fall into the Docetist heresy. Serapion’s rebuttal of the Gospel of Peter is otherwise lost.

Origen also mentions[10] that the Gospel of Peter, together with “the book of James”, was the source for the Catholic Church doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary.[original research?] It would appear that the former text to which Origen was referring is another Gospel of Peter, as evidenced to date: two papyrus fragments from Oxyrhynchus, both in the Ashmolean Museum: P.Oxy 4009 and P.Oxy 2949 contain no such reference and what is referred today as the Gospel Of Peter, discussed below, contains a Passion narrative only.

2nd Clement refers to a passage thought to be from the Gospel of Peter: 2 Clem 5:2 For the Lord saith, Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves.

2 Clem 5:3 But Peter answered and said unto Him, What then, if the wolves should tear the lambs?

2 Clem 5:4 Jesus said unto Peter, Let not the lambs fear the wolves after they are dead; and ye also, fear ye not them that kill you and are not able to do anything to you; but fear Him that after ye are dead hath power over soul and body, to cast them into the Gehenna of fire.

The saying of 5:2−4 appears to be from the lost Gospel of Peter.[11]

Discovery

The Gospel of Peter was recovered in 1886 by the French archaeologist Urbain Bouriant in the modern Egyptian city of Akhmim (sixty miles north of Nag Hammadi). The 8th- or 9th-century manuscript had been respectfully buried with an Egyptian monk. The fragmentary Gospel of Peter was the first non-canonical gospel to have been rediscovered, preserved in the dry sand of Egypt. Publication, delayed by Bouriant until 1892,[12] occasioned intense interest.[13] From the passion sequence that is preserved, it is clear that the gospel was a narrative gospel, but whether a complete narrative similar to the canonical gospels or simply a Passion cannot be said.

Two other papyrus fragments from Oxyrhynchus (P.Oxy 4009 and P.Oxy. 2949) were uncovered later and published in 1972. They are possibly, but not conclusively, from the Gospel of Peter and would suggest, if they belonged, that the text was more than just a passion narrative. These small fragments both seem to give first person accounts of discussions between Jesus and Peter in situations prior to the Passion week.

To date it is one of four early non-canonical narrative gospels, which exist only in fragmentary form: this Gospel of Peter, the Egerton Gospel, and the two very fragmentary Oxyrhynchus Gospels (P.Oxy. 840 and P.Oxy. 1224). The main point of interest from the first[14] has resided in establishing its relationship to the four canonical gospels.

Contents

220px-Das_Fragment_von_Akhmim_in_Griechisch

Click image to enlarge: A fragment of the manuscript, found at Akhmim

J. Rendel Harris (1852–1941) decided to introduce it to the public in A Popular Account of the Newly-Recovered Gospel of Peter. He opens with a description of its discovery, offering his opinions regarding its date and original language. Classifying the work as a Docetic gospel, Harris defines the community in which it arose as well as its use during the Patristic age. He translates the fragment and then proceeds to discuss the sources behind it. Harris is convinced that the author borrowed from the canonical accounts, and he lists other literature that may have incorporated the Gospel of Peter, with special emphasis on the Diatessaron.

One of the chief characteristics of the work is that Pontius Pilate is exonerated of all responsibility for the Crucifixion, the onus being laid upon Herod, the scribes, and other Jews, who pointedly do not “wash their hands” like Pilate. However, the Gospel of Peter was condemned as heretical already ca. 200 AD for its alleged docetic elements.

The opening leaves of the text are lost, so the Passion begins abruptly with the trial of Jesus before Pilate, after Pilate has washed his hands, and closes with its unusual and detailed version of the watch set over the tomb and the resurrection. The Gospel of Peter is more detailed in its account of the events after the Crucifixion than any of the canonical gospels, and it varies from the canonical accounts in numerous details: Herod gives the order for the execution, not Pilate, who is exonerated; Joseph (of Arimathea, which place is not mentioned) has been acquainted with Pilate; in the darkness that accompanied the crucifixion, “many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down”.

Christ’s cry from the cross, in Matthew given as Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? which Matthew explains as meaning “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is reported in Peter as “My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me”‘. Immediately after, Peter states that “when he had said it he was taken up”, suggesting that Jesus did not actually die. This, together with the claim that on the cross Jesus “remained silent, as though he felt no pain”, has led many early Christians to accuse the text of docetism. The account in Peter tells that the supposed writer and other disciples hid because they were being sought on suspicion of plotting to set fire to the temple, and totally rejects any possibility of their disloyalty.

The centurion who kept watch at the tomb is given the name Petronius. Details of the sealing of the tomb, requested of Pilate by the elders of the Jewish community, elaborates upon Matthew 27:66, “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch”, saying instead:[15]

“And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb. And with them came elders and scribes to the sepulchre, and having rolled a great stone together with the centurion and the soldiers, they all who were there together set it at the door of the sepulchre; and they affixed seven seals and pitched a tent there and guarded it. And early in the morning as the Sabbath was drawing on, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.”

Most importantly, the Resurrection and Ascension, which are described in detail, are not treated as separate events, but occur on the same day:

“9. And in the night in which the Lord’s day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend with a great light and approach the tomb. And the stone that was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.

10. When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders, for they too were close by keeping guard. And as they declared what things they had seen, again they saw three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them. And the heads of the two reached to heaven, but the head of him who was led by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, You have preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yes.”

The text is unusual at this point in describing the Cross itself as speaking, and even floating out of the tomb, which has led some scholars[who?] to suspect it of gnostic sympathies. The text then proceeds to follow the Gospel of Mark, ending at the short ending (where the women flee the empty tomb in fear), adding on an extra scene set during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, where the disciples leave Jerusalem, and ends, like the short ending, without Jesus being physically seen.

Notes

1.0 Thomas Patrick Halton, On Illustrious Men, v. 100, CUA Press, 1999. pp 5–7

2.0 .Strobel, Lee (1998). The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. p. 27. ISBN 0-310-22655-4.

3.0 Death of the Messiah, Appendix 1 Gospel of Peter – B3 Composition, Doubleday, 1994. Vol. 2, p. 1334-1335

4.0 Walter Richard Cassels, Supernatural Religion – An Inquiry Into the Reality of Divine Revelation, Read Books, 2010. Vol. 1, p. 419-422

5.0 Ehrman and Pleše 2011, pp. 370-372.

6.0 Ehrman and Pleše 2011, p. 371.

7.0 Ehrman and Pleše 2011, pp. 365-366. Also Foster 2007, p. 325

8.0 Jerome, Of famous men, I: “…the books, of which one is entitled his Acts, another his Gospel, a third his Preaching, a fourth his Revelation, a fifth his Judgment are rejected as apocryphal.”

9.0 Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. vi. 12 (full quote at earlychristianwritings.com)

10.0 .Origen of Alexandria. “The Brethren of Jesus”. Origen’s Commentary on Matthew in Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume IX. Retrieved 2008-09-18.

11.0 Ehrman, Bart. “After the New Testament,” Lecture 15. The Teaching Company Limited Partnership, 2005.

12.0 Bouriant, “Fragments du texte grec du livre d’Énoch et de quelques écrits attribués à saint Pierre” in Mémoires de la mission archéologique française au Caire 1892.

13.0 An early reaction was E. N. Bennett, “The Gospel according to Peter” The Classical Review 7.1/2 (February 1893), pp. 40-42.

14.0 As noted by E. N. Bennet 1893, p. 40.

15.0 .http://www.orthodox.cn/patristics/apostolicfathers/peter.htm

References

  • Foster, P, (2007), ‘The Gospel of Peter’, Exp. Times, Vol. 118, No. 7, p. 318-325.
  • J. Rendel Harris, A Popular Account of the Newly-Recovered Gospel of Peter
  • John Dominic Crossan, The Cross That Spoke: The Origins of the Passion Narrative. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.
7.0 Gospel of Peter:7)http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelpeter.html

Text

Resources

Information on the Gospel of Peter

F. F. Bruce writes (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, p. 93):

The docetic note in this narrative appears in the statement that Jesus, while being crucified, ‘remained silent, as though he felt no pain’, and in the account of his death. It carefully avoids saying that he died, preferring to say that he ‘was taken up’, as though he – or at least his soul or spiritual self – was ‘assumed’ direct from the cross to the presence of God. (We shall see an echo of this idea in the Qur’an.) Then the cry of dereliction is reproduced in a form which suggests that, at that moment, his divine power left the bodily shell in which it had taken up temporary residence.

F. F. Bruce continues (op. cit.):

Apart from its docetic tendency, the most striking feature of the narrative is its complete exoneration of Pilate from alll responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate is here well on the way to the goal of canonisation which he was to attain in the Coptic Church. He withdraws from the trial after washing his hands, and Herod Antipas takes over from him, assuming the responsibility which, in Luke’s passion narrative, he declined to accept. Roman soldiers play no part until they are sent by Pilate, at the request of the Jewish authorities, to provide the guard at the tomb of Jesus. The villians of the piece throughout are ‘the Jews’ – more particularly, the chief priests and the scribes. It is they who condemn Jesus to death and abuse him; it is they who crucify him and share out his clothes among themselves.

In The Death of the Messiah, Raymond Brown maintains that the Gospel of Peter is dependent on the canonical gospels by oral remembrance of the gospels spoken in churches. The opinion that the Gospel of Peter is dependent upon the canonical gospels directly is also a common one.

Ron Cameron argues that the Gospel of Peter is independent of the canonical four (The Other Gospels, pp. 77-8):

Identification of the sources of the Gospel of Peter is a matter of considerable debate. However, the language used to portray the passion provides a clue to the use of sources, the character of the tradition, and the date of composition. Analysis reveals that the passion narrative of the Gospel of Peter has been composed on the basis of references to the Jewish scriptures. The Gospel of Peter thus stands squarely in the tradition of exegetical interpretation of the Bible. Its sources of the passion narrative is oral tradition, understood in the light of scripture, interpreted within the wisdom movement. This accords with what we know of the confessions of the earliest believers in Jesus: in the beginning, belief in the suffering, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was simply the conviction that all this took place “according to the scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3-5). In utilizing scriptural references to compose the work, the Gospel of Peter shows no knowledge of the special material distinctive to each of the four gospels now in the New Testament. The developed apologetic technique typical of the Gospel of Matthew and of Justin (a church writer who lived in the middle of the second century), which seeks to demonstrate a correspondence between so-called prophetic “predictions” in the scriptures and their “fulfillments” in the fate of Jesus, is lacking. The use of quotation formulas to introduce scriptural citations is also absent.All of this suggests that the Gospel of Peter is an independent witness of gospel traditions. Its earliest possible date of composition would be in the middle of the first century, when passion narratives first began to be compiled. The latest possible date would be in the second half of the second century, shortly before this gospel was used by the Christians at Rhossus and the copy discovered at Oxyrhynchus was made. It is well known that the passion narrative which Mark used originally circulated independently of his gopel; the Gospel of John demonstrates that different versions of this early passinon narrative ewre in circulation. It is possible that the Gospel of Peter used a source similar to that preserved independently in Mark and John. The basic stories underlying the accounts of the epiphany and the empty tomb are form critically discrete and probably very old. In fact, these stories are closely related to certain legendary accounts and apologetic fragments that intrude into the gospel of the New Testament (Matt. 27:51-54, 62-66; 28:2-4; Mark 9:2-8 and parallels). The Gospel of Peter‘s exoneration of Pilate, the Roman procurator who had Jesus killed, and the accompanying anti-Jewish polemica are secondary additions to these primitive narratives, imported from a situation in which the Jesus movement was beginning to define itself in opposition to other Jewish communities.

Form criticism and redaction criticism indicate that the Gospel of Peter was dependent upon a number of sources, but it is quite possible that the document as we have it antedates the four gospels of the New Testament and may have served as a source for their respective authors. The Gospel of Peter was probably composed in the second half of the first century, most likely in western Syria. As such, it is the oldest extant writing produced and circulated under the authority of the apostle Peter. The creation of a passion and resurrection narrative was the product of a communitiy of believers who understood the ultimate activity of God to have taken place in their own time, when the powers of unrighteousness and death were conquered by God’s definitive act of raising the dead. Accordingly, the fate of Jesus is interpreted, in the hindsight of scripture, as God’s vindication of the suffering righteous one.

J.D. Crossan is most famous for his reconstruction of a Cross Gospel preserved in the Gospel of Peter that served as the basis for the passion narrative in all four canonical gospels. Crossan has set forward this thesis briefly in Four Other Gospels as well as in his book The Cross that Spoke.

Koester has criticized this hypothesis for several reasons: the Gospel of Peter has been preserved mostly in one late manuscript, making certainty about the text difficult; Crossan seems to underestimate the role of oral tradition and assigns all the gospel materials to earlier noncanonical sources; finally, appearance stories cannot have been present in the passion narrative because they are independent of each other in the canonical gospels (Ancient Christian Gospels, pp. 219-20). Koester reaches slightly different conclusions about the passion narrative behind Peter (op. cit., p.240): “The Gospel of Peter, as a whole, is not dependent upon any of the canonical gospels. It is a composition which is analogous to the Gospels of Mark and John. All three writings, independently of each other, use an older passion narrative which is based upon an exegetical traidition that was still alive when these gospels were composed, and to which the Gospel of Matthew also had access. All five gospels under consideration, Mark, John, and Peter, as well as Matthew and Luke, concluded their gospels with narratives of the appearnces of Jesus on the basis of different epiphany stories that were told in different contexts. However, fragments of the epiphany story of Jesus being raised from the tomb, which the Gospel of Peter has preserved in its entirety, were employed in different literary contexts in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew.”

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 8:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 9:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 10:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 11:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 12:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 13:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

Gospel of Peter Content Column  No. 14:8)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.


SOURCES

1.0) Source: http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1892_robinson-james_peter-gospel-apocalypse.pdf

2.0) Source: http://www.ntcanon.org/Gospel_of_Peter.shtml

3.0) Source: http://www.ntcanon.org/Gospel_of_Peter.shtml

4.0) Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/gospel-of-Peter.html

5.0) Source: https://carm.org/does-the-gospel-of-peter-belong-in-the-new-testament

6.0) Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Peter

7.0) Source:

8.0) Source:

9.0) Source:

10.0) Source:

11.0) Source:

12.0) Source:

13.0) Source:

14.0) Source:


Related: Non Canonical Text

Apocryphal New Testament Writings List


Related: Early Christian Writings

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1892_robinson-james_peter-gospel-apocalypse.pdf
2, 3. http://www.ntcanon.org/Gospel_of_Peter.shtml
4. http://www.gotquestions.org/gospel-of-Peter.html
5. by Ryan Turner https://carm.org/does-the-gospel-of-peter-belong-in-the-new-testament
6. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Peter
7. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelpeter.html

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