Shuck and Jive

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Gospel of Peter

The Gospel of Peter was found by a monk in Egypt in 1884. It is a fragmentary gospel and it tells the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but with some interesting twists. It may be the earliest account of the Resurrection. This is from Geoff Trowbridge:

Modern scholars initially had assumed that Peter was dependent upon the canonical gospels, but more recently the possibility has been examined that the passion narrative is in fact the earliest of the known accounts. The gospel contains none of the "special" Matthean or Lukan material that would be expected if those gospels had priority. In fact, Peter's source for the passion narrative may have been the same one used by both Mark and John.

The Gospel of Peter was eventually branded as heretical, if for no other reason, because it seemed to deny the suffering of Jesus. The particular passage (4:1) reads, "And they brought two criminals and crucified the Lord between them. But he himself remained silent, as if in no pain." However, this agrees with the expected silence of the "suffering servant" in Isaiah 53:7, and therefore is not a docetic statement.

You can read Raymond Brown's translation on-line. Here is a snippet:

But in the night in which the Lord's day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher. But that stone which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered. And so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding).

And while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, and the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens. And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, 'Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?' And an obeisance was heard from the cross, 'Yes.'
A talking cross! Cool, eh? Find out more about The Gospel of Peter and other texts of early Christianity that are now being examined afresh at our Jesus Seminar on the Road September 12-13.

Arthur Dewey will take us through The Gospel of Peter during the Saturday afternoon workshop. Don't forget that the early bird discount ends August 22nd!


  1. John wrote that the Gospel of Peter "may be the earliest account of the Resurrection."

    In The Case for the Real Jesus, both theological reasons and critical analysis are given that reject the early date. In the book, Dr. Craig Evans says "Crossan is just about alone on that point. Very, very few scholars would say the Akhmim fragment could be as early as the New Testement Gospels, but I'm not so sure even they would say it's got an early core on which the canoncial Gospels depend."

    The reasons given in Strobel's book:
    * Jesus was described as non-human
    * Author was unknowledgable of first century political and cultural realities
    * the fragment is anti-Semitic (reflecting a later writing)
    * this would make the stories of Jesus' resurrection move from the fantastic to the more mundane

  2. I loved reading this post and now you have given me things to follow up on!

    Did I tell you that I am beginning my masters in theology program this fall?

  3. "Did I tell you that I am beginning my masters in theology program this fall?"

    I didn't catch that! How exciting! Where and who and what?