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 from an Arabic translation of a Greek original.
Our natural inclination, as I pointed out, would be to think that a *translation*, twice removed from an original, could not be as reliable a guide to what a text originally said as an actual copy in the original language. But the differences are so vast between the two, the Greek text and the Ethiopic, that scholars were driven to ask: which one is more like the book as originally written?
Recall, the Ethiopic is much longer than the other. It gives descriptions of more sins and punishments in hell than the Greek. (The Greek is a bit longer in describing the glories of heaven, but there is not much detail in either account). Moreover, in the Ethiopic the tour of heaven *follows* the tour of hell; in the Greek it’s the opposite. And just as important, in the Ethiopic the punishments and glory are to come later, after the Day of Judgment; in the Greek they come right away, as soon as a person dies.
As it turns out, scholars are unified in thinking that …
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