Now, The Gospel of Peter

I am devoting this thread to understanding why the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament, when other Petrine books, especially 2 Peter, did make it in.  I’ve summarized what happens in both these books, but to contextualize my remarks further, I have to provide information on yet another Petrine book that did not make it in, the “Gospel of Peter.”  I’ve talked about this Gospel several times on the blog before, but since it is ...

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Introducing the Apocalypse of Peter

As I said in my last post, I have been putting a lot of time into reading the scholarship on the Apocalypse of Peter, an early-second-century text that describes the torments of the damned in some graphic detail, and that almost came to be accepted as part of the New Testament canon.  I’m puzzling long and hard over why, in the end, it did not make it in.   It’s not an easy question to answer, given our scant discussions of ...

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A Very Perplexing Question

As many of you know I am on sabbatical this year at the National Humanities.   This gives me a year off from teaching duties in order to focus on my research for my next book.   I am not working on a trade book for a general audience, but a scholarly monograph meant for academics in the field of Early Christian studies.   I’ve talked about the book before on the blog, but want to say a few more things about it ...

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Discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library and Some Crucial Missing Parts!

I have been making two-posts-a-day, giving the new “boxes” that I’ve written for the seventh edition of my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.  Today, as it turns out, the two boxes I was going to post are both about the Nag Hammadi Library (the so-called “Gnostic Gospels”).  So I’ll simply include both of them in this one post.  Happy reading!

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Another Glimpse Into the Past

11.6 The Discovery of ...

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What Was Discovered in the Nag Hammadi Library?

I have started a short series in response to a question about the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, discovered in 1945 among a cache of documents near Nag Hammadi Egypt.  In my last post I gave the story typically recited by NT scholars for the discovery of this “Nag Hammadi Library.”   Some scholars have doubted the story, and we may never know the details.  What is not in dispute is what was actually discovered.

This is what I say about it in ...

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How the Gospel of Thomas Was Discovered

A few days ago I responded to a reader’s comment by saying something about how I am reluctant these days to label the Gospel of Thomas a “Gnostic” Gospel.  Several readers responded to my comment by asking what in the blazes I could possibly mean.  So I thought I would respond.  But then I realized that to make sense of anything I have to say about the matter will require me to start at the beginning — since some readers ...

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Is 1 Clement Older than Some Books of the New Testament?

This will be my final post on the book of 1 Clement.  Now that I’ve summarized what the book is about and said something about its author, I can turn to the original question I was asked, about its date.  The time of its writing is an important question, for a reason you might not suspect.

It is almost always said – I myself regularly say this, as a kind of simple “short hand,” knowing that it’s probably not literally true, ...

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Did a “Pope” Write the First-Century Book of 1 Clement?

I return her to the book of 1 Clement, probably unknown to many people on the blog, but an important work written at about the time of some of some of the writings of the New Testament – or so I’ll b arguing in the post after this.  First I need to say something about the author.  Why is it attributed to someone named Clement?   Could this really have been written by a first-century pope (i.e., the Bishop of the ...

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The Letter of First Clement: An Overview

I received a request recently about one of the “Apostolic Fathers.”  This term does not refer to just any of the post-canonical writers of early Christianity, but to a specific group of ten (or eleven, depending on how you count) authors who were later considered “authoritative” in some sense by proto-orthodox thinkers, but were believed to have been writing after the NT period.  They include letters by Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna, and texts called 1 and 2 ...

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The Different Terms for Literary Deception

In the Seminar on Ancient Forgery at Rice University a few days ago, I made a presentation in which I urged (all of us) scholars to decide on which terms we use to describe different kinds of literary phenomena associated in one way or another with literary deceit.

My view is that since there are different phenomena (even if these can overlap), we ought to have distinct terms to refer to them – otherwise it just gets confusing.  It can be ...

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