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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