Sorting by


Eternal Life and Damnation

In my summaries of the Apocalypse of Peter and the Apocalypse of Paul, as a couple of readers noticed, there was a striking difference in emphasis.  Both of these early Christian texts (the first from the second century, the other from the fourth or possibly the fifth?) narrate guided tours of the realms of the blessed and of the damned, and both seem more interested in describing the torments of the lost than the ecstasies of the saved. The former focuses on moral sins that lead to eternal punishment: seductresses, adulterers, murderers, children who are disobedient to parents, slaves who are disobedient to masters, women who had sex before marriage; and sundry other things.   To be sure, some of the sins are “religious” – blasphemy, socerery, and so on.  But in this case, “torment is for everyone forever according to his deeds.” The Apocalypse of Paul, on the other hand, is far more concerned about sins within the church, sins of ecclesiastical and doctrinal error: ascetics who break their vows; church people not commited completely [...]

2020-04-03T02:30:46-04:00March 27th, 2017|Afterlife, Christian Apocrypha, Public Forum|

Touring Hell: The Apocalypse of Peter

I am about ready now (I think!) to dig more deeply into a thread on the Invention of the Afterlife – the tentative title of the book that I *hope* will be my next one.  I’ve been putting off starting the thread in earnest because, in fact, I don’t feel particularly ready for it.  I’m just at the preliminary stage of my reading and have many dozens of books I need to work through before I can even think about sketching out how I want to broach the subject in my book (I have about a hundred unread books on various aspects of the matter sitting on my shelf now, as we speak, and I’m collecting more virtually every day). But I think that I will be doing this book differently from others I’ve done – at least with respect to the blog.  I’m thinking about using the blog as a way to think out loud about some of the topics I’m covering in my reading.  I’m not sure that everything I read about will [...]

A Third Forgery in the Name of Peter

As I mentioned in the two previous posts, in my talk at Unity Village the other night, I introduced my discussion of whether there could be forgeries in the New Testament by introducing three forgeries from *outside* the New Testament; the first was the Gospel of Peter with its giant Jesus and walking-talking cross at the resurrection and the second was the letter of Peter to James in which he attacks “the man who is my enemy,” a transparent reference to the apostle Paul. The third is the one I’ll mention here: another book allegedly, but not really, written by Peter, this time an apocalypse, the Apocalypse of Peter. As it turns out we have three “apocalypses” allegedly written by Peter. The one I dealt with in my talk is the most famous of the three, one discovered in 1886, in the same book in which the Gospel of Peter is found. It is a 66-page book that contains four texts. In some ways the Apocalypse of Peter is the most interesting. It is the [...]

Go to Top