The Aberrant View of the Afterlife in the Apocalypse of Peter

As we have seen on the blog before, when church leaders were deciding which books should be counted among the Christian Scriptures, to go along with the “Old Testament,” they used a range of criteria:   a book had to be written by an apostle or at least by an active companion of an apostle; it had to be widely used throughout the early Christianity communities; and it had to convey teachings that were widely accepted (by the “right” thinkers) as ...

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Finally. Why Did the Apocalypse of Peter Not Make It Into the Canon?


Sometimes in my courses on the New Testament my students have trouble understanding why I’m so interested (OK, obsessed) with the small details of the text, rather than the “big picture.”  Who cares if this or that little detail is a possible contradiction or problem for other reason?  What matters is the overall message, right?

Yes, that’s right on one level.  But on another level (or two or three) the small details really matter.  Not only is the big picture made ...

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Other Manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Peter, And Why It Matters

In my last post about the Apocalypse of Peter I got down in the weeds a bit to talk about the discoveries and character of the two main manuscript sources of evidence we have of the document, a Greek version discovered in 1886-87 (the manuscript was produced in the sixth century or so) and an Ethiopic translation, found in a writing numbered among the so-called Pseudo-Clementines, and published in 1907-10.  Expert linguists have shown that this Ethiopic translation was made ...

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How Do We Know What Was Originally in the Apocalypse of Peter?

It was a long time ago that I started a thread dealing with the question of why the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament but 2 Peter did.  I’ll give a summary here of where we are in the discussion just now, but if you want the full play-by-play, use the search function to look up Apocalypse of Peter; I’ve been blogging on it, on and off, since November 11.  And it’s time finally to ...

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Was the Apocalypse of Peter Originally Part of the New Testament?

The Apocalypse of Peter was a reasonably popular book in some Christian churches of the first three or four Christian centuries.  It was not as massively influential as the four Gospels or the writings of Paul, but even so, a number of Christian individuals and churches saw it as a Scriptural text, written by Peter.

The book is first mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment, a late second century text written from Rome, which discusses the books that, in the anonymous author’s ...

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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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