How Would an Early Christian “Know” Which Books Peter Wrote?

So if there were lots of books in circulation that claimed to be written by the apostle Peter, why did some of them (1 and 2 Peter) come to be accepted both as his and as canonical scripture, and others come to be deemed forgeries and excluded from the canon?

The first point to stress is that Christians in the second, third, and fourth centuries had no real way of knowing which, if any, of these books Peter wrote.  They were ...

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The Books of Peter

I return now to the thread I had been working on before devoting the last few posts to the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke.  If you recall, some time ago I indicated that I had become a bit obsessed with a rather interesting if largely unasked question, of why the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament but the book of 2 Peter did.

When I started on that thread, I thought it would take three ...

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An Intriguingly Legendary Account of Jesus’ Death

Here is some more of the intriguing (later) Gospel, allegedly written by none other than Joseph of Arimathea, the figure who, in the New Testament Gospels, buried Jesus.  It is entirely apocryphal of course, based on some information from the Gospels, later legends, and an extremely vivid imagination!   The point of these posts has been to talk about whether Jesus ever wrote anything.  Here he does, kind of.  While hanging on the cross.  You don’t find stories like *this* every ...

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A Gospel Written by Joseph of Arimathea!

In yesterday’s post on the letter forged in Jesus’ name, allegedly to the king of Edessa Abgar, I mentioned another text in which Jesus is alleged to have written a letter.  This one is even stranger.  Far stranger.  It is a letter he writes from the cross to the cherubim in heaven.  It’s in a (much) later gospel called the Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea, an account of Jesus’ Passion allegedly written by the obscure figure in the NT Gospels ...

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Do Any Forgeries Claim to be Written by Jesus?

I have received an interesting question about ancient forgeries.  If we have lots of forgeries in the name of Peter — and lots of others in the names of other apostles: Paul, James, Jude, Thomas, Philip, etc. etc. — why don’t we have any forgeries allegedly written by Jesus himself?  As it turns out we do.  The most famous was, at one time, well known indeed.

Here is the question and my response.


If Peter was named as an author of these ...

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Early Debates about the Gospel of Peter

This is the second of my two posts on the Gospel of Peter, and in some ways it is the more important one.  Here I talk about what we knew about the Gospel, before it was discovered, from the writings of the ancient church fathers.  One of these discussions in particular will provide us with the information I’m heading for, of why the Gospel was not accepted into the canon of the New Testament.  (It shows only a single instance ...

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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!


Another Glimpse Into the Past

11.6 The Discovery of ...

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Talking Dogs and Resurrected Slaves

As I indicated yesterday, for the next few days I have decided to post the new “boxes” that I am including in the seventh edition of my textbook The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.  Since these are relatively short – most of them 300-400 words – I will be doing two-posts-a-day.  (I don’t want to combine two boxes into one post, since they are all on completely different topics from one another; but I want ...

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A Peculiar Story of Peter’s Martyrdom

Now, in response to the question I started answering a few days ago, I discuss the earliest account we have of the martyrdom of Peter.   It is an odd account, and not widely known.  Here is what I say about it in my book Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene.


Peter as Martyr

The death of Peter by execution is already alluded to in the Gospel of John – which evidently, then, had been written after the event occurred.  As Jesus ...

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Thomas and His Identical Twin Jesus, in the Acts of Thomas

In my previous post I mentioned the Apocryphal Acts of Thomas, a text that assumes Judas Thomas was actually Jesus’ twin brother.   Here I can describe the book itself, where the idea that the two are *identical* twins appears to move along the plot in a rather humorous way..  Here is what I say about the matter in my book Lost Christianities.




The Acts of Thomas narrates the adventures of Thomas, Jesus’ brother, in his missionary work on the ...

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