In this thread I’m discussing several Christian books that were considered by some early groups of believers and church leaders to be bona fide Scripture – written by apostles and inspired by God. All of the books I’m discussing were written by authors who were claiming to be Jesus’ closest disciple, Peter. But eventually church fathers became convinced otherwise, and the books were relegated to the trash heap of Christian curiosities.
Here’s one that has become known only in modern times and that has intrigued readers – both scholars and lay folk. What exactly did church leaders find objectionable about it? It was an account of Jesus’ life, a Gospel.
The Gospel of Peter: A Book That Had Some Supporters
One of the other books found in the small anthology discovered in Akhmim also claimed to be written by Peter, and it too was considered a book of Scripture by at least some Christians. But, like the Apocalypse, it also lost favor and disappeared from sight. This one, however, was a Gospel.
The first surviving reference to the Gospel of Peter comes to us from the writings of Justin Martyr, one of the earliest Christian apologists and theologians, writing around 150 CE. In his three surviving works Justin quotes the words of Jesus as found in the Gospels of the New Testament but he does not name the books. Not only does he not refer explicitly to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, he does not actually call the accounts of Jesus’ life “Gospels.” He instead refers to them as “Memoirs of the Apostles.” But which apostles? Whose “memoirs” did he have? Oddly, he mentions only one of the accounts known to him by name, and it is not what anyone would expect. It is a Gospel of Peter. Scholars have regularly argued that
This is one of the most intriguing non-canonical books that survives (in part). To learn more, join the blog and keep reading! Click here for membership options