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The Gospel of Peter in a Papyrus Fragment?

Yesterday I gave a lecture at the Biblical Archeology Society FEST here in Baltimore. Even though I’m (obviously) not an archaeologist, a lot of my work is connected with archaeology, especially the discovery of ancient manuscripts. In 1886 archaeologists digging in Akhmim Egypt were working through a cemetery and uncovered a tomb, from about the 8th century, they thought, that had, along with a skeleton, a 66 page parchment book. The book was written in Greek, and had four texts in it (all incomplete), including, on the first ten pages, a copy of what was identified as the Gospel of Peter.

If you’ve ever read the surviving Gospel of Peter, this is the text (or the translation of it!) that you have read. I can blog more about it at some point later. For now: this is an alternative account of the trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which is most famous for the resurrection scene, in which the narrator describes what actually happened when Jesus came out of the grave. It’s spectacular. Jesus is supported by two angels who are as tall as mountains, and he is taller still. And behind them, out of the tomb, comes the cross, which is asked “Have you preached to those who are asleep?” And the cross itself replies, “Yes.”

It’s a great text. But unfortunately, it is only a portion – the only surviving portion – of what was once a complete Gospel. But was it a complete Gospel? Or was it only a passion Gospel (like the later Gospel of Nicodemus) that gave an account only of the trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus? That has long been debated.

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The Giving Season
My SBL Conference

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    TomTerrific  November 23, 2013

    I hope while you are at the SBL meeting you can pick up some notion of what is happening with the Jesus’ Wife fragment.

    A year ago we were promised news after the first of the year. It hasn’t happened, but I don’t see many people getting their knickers in a knot over the delay, probably since they are scholars, not publicity seekers.

  2. Avatar
    Wilusa  November 23, 2013

    Oh yes, this is really interesting! Whether or not it’s from the Gospel of Peter, one can’t help wondering whether it would have gone on to include the bit about “the one who…has the power to cast your body and soul into the hell of fire.” A religion driven by fear…

  3. Avatar
    judaswasjames  November 23, 2013

    Bart,

    RE: “You will be like sheep in the midst of wolves.” “When the wolves tear the sheep apart …”

    Bart, Bart, Bart. When will you begin to listen to me? I’ve told you before about the mystic teachings present in the canon and in these Apocryphal texts. Here is yet *another* example. First, I tried to point out to you that “You will exceed them all, for you will sacrifice the *man that bears me*” is JUDAS in gJudas 56:20, ‘Judas’ being the successor James, who takes over for Jesus and is mystically *to die* upon becoming a realized Master or savior (reference “James” 13:25 from Codex Tchacos, “Then you will attain to the One who Is, and *you will no longer be James*”, and also “*woe to the one* who betrays [‘delivers’] me” from the canonical thematically inverted versions). You can even go to Zechariah 13:7 and see it there in the completely mistranslated (what scribes know Mysticism?) “Strike the shepherd …”. The ‘striking’ is done BY the Shepherd Master to “refine the little ones” spiritually — to become fit for the Lord (13:8-9). These passages are all *the same* metaphysical dynamic. Zechariah should read “Arise of sword of my Shepherd [Master], within the one who is my companion. Strike, O Shepherd, that the sheep may be troubled [not the received ‘scattered’], and I will *replace* my hand upon the little ones.” Verification for this poetic device is found at the beginning of the good/bad shepherd pericope at Zech. 11:1-2, “Open your doors, O Lebanon, … Wail, O Cypress”, which pericope CLOSES with a repeating of the poetic pairing at the end of chapter 13 with “Arise, O sword, … Strike, O Shepherd”… that the sheep may be ‘troubled’ in spirit, that is: ‘refined as silver and tested as gold are IN FIRE’ (verse 9).

    Until everyone picks up a book on Mysticism (www.RSSB.org, http://www.scienceofthesoul.org/) and gets on the same page on what these teachings are really saying, we will keep spinning our figurative wheels in the mire of disinformation and misunderstanding. Please try to understand what I am trying to tell you. I have read you for years, and in one of your books you even called for people like me to step in and contribute (can’t remember which one now, as it has been a while)… Well, here I am!

  4. Avatar
    JoshuaGordon  November 23, 2013

    http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/reviews/trobisch_first.htm
    what do you think of his proposal? He doesn’t look as trained and qualified as you and your fellow scholars, so I hesitate at the speculation. However, in some sense he may be right that the ‘line’ of Polycarp, Papias, put a basic canon together that gave the 4 gospels a final edited form. I find it interesting that the tradition of editing seems to have been seen as par for the course. Justin Martyr is referenced as having some but not all of the gospels and letters of Paul, and when his his compatriot Tatian got a hold of the four gospels, perhaps they themselves a current evolution of arrangement and compilation, he made the Diatessaron.

    (reply)

  5. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  November 24, 2013

    It still intrigues me how much farfetched fantasy was written during the first three centuries after the death of Jesus and this seems to affect the Gospel accounts as well.

  6. Avatar
    fishician  November 25, 2013

    Do you think that the reason the extra-Biblical gospels were not kept and preserved like the ones in the NT was because they eventually were deemed to be heretical or non-authentic, or just lack of effort, or some other reason?

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