Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah,
v.2: Appendix I: Gospel of Peter. A noncanonical passion narrative., pp 1317-1349

(detailed summary)

Gospel of Peter. A noncanonical passion narrative

Table of Contents

  1. Text of the Gospel of Peter
  2. Sequence and Contents of GPet
    1. Sequence Table (comparing GPet to the canonical Gospels)
    2. Comparing the contents of GPet and Those of the Canonical Gospels
    3. Overal Proposal about Composition Based on Sequence and Contents
  3. Aspects of the Theology of GPet
    1. Ancient Debate about the Docetism of GPet
    2. Discernable Theological Features of GPet
  4. When and Where was GPet Composed

Next chapter: Appendix II - Dating the Crucifixion (Day, Monthly Date, Year)

List of chapters

During an archaeological campaign in the years 1886-1887 at Akhmîn in Egypt (the city of Panopoulos in early Christian Egypt, see map), a French team made the discovery of 33 sheets of parchment written on both sides, of which pages 2 to 10, dated around the 7th-9th century, contained a text written in Greek, beginning with a half-sentence about the trial of Jesus and ending with a half-sentence about the sea where Jesus was to appear to his disciples. It seems that this is all the copyist had to copy. Biblical scholars have subsequently identified this text in which Peter speaks in the first person with the gospel of Peter referred to by the Church Fathers and which seems to have been in circulation in Antioch before the year 200. In the 1970s, two fragments of Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2949, in which 16 words appear that partially resemble those found in the gospel of Peter 2:3-5, supported the idea that this gospel was known in Egypt in the second century.

Notes on the following text:

  • The proposed Greek text is that published by Mark M. Mattison, who uses the transcription of Walter R. Cassels, The Gospel According to Peter: A Study (Longmans, Green, And Co.), 1894.
  • The English translation is by Raymond Brown.

Symbols used for the Greek text:

[ ] Reconstructed text
( ) Letters not included but implied
< > Editorial correction of a scribal error
{ } Letter erroneously added by the scribe
' ' Letters inserted over the line by the scribe
  1. Text of the Gospel of Peter
     Greek TextEnglish Translation
    1:1τ[ῶν] δὲ Ιουδαίων οὐδεὶς ἐνίψατοτὰς χεῖρας οὐδὲ Ηρῴδης οὐδ' εἷς [τ]ῶν κριτῶν αὐτοῦ καὶ [μὴ] βουληθέντω(ν) νίψασθαι, ἀνέστη ΠειλᾶτοςBut of the Jews none washed his hands, neither Herod nor one of his judges. And since they did not desire to wash, Pilate stood up.
    1:2καὶ τότε κελεύει 'Ηρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς παρ[αλη] μφθῆναι τὸν κ(ύριο)ν, εἰπὼν αὐτοῖς ὅτι ῞Οσα ἐκέλευσα ὑμῖν ποιῆσαι αὐτῷ, ποιήσατε.And then Herod the king orders the Lord to be taken away, having said to them, "What I ordered you to do, do."
    2:3(ε)ἱστήκει δὲ ἐκεῖ Ιωσὴφ ὁ φίλος Πειλάτου καὶ τοῦ κ(υρίο)υ καὶ εἰδὼς ὅτι σταυρίσκειν αὐτὸν μέλλουσιν ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν Πειλᾶτον καὶ ᾔτησε τὸ σῶματοῦ κ(υρίο)υ πρὸς ταφήνBut Joseph, the friend of Pilate and of the Lord, had been standing there; and knowing they were about to crucify him, he came before Pilate and requested the body of the Lord for burial.
    2:4καὶ ὁ Πειλᾶτος πέμψας πρὸς 'Ηρῴδην ᾔτησεν αὐτοῦ τὸ σῶμα.And Pilate, having sent to Herod, requested his body.
    2:5καὶ ὁ 'Ηρῴδης ἔφη Ἀδελφὲ Πειλᾶτε εἰ καὶ μή τις αὐτὸν ᾐτήκει, ἡμεῖς αὐτὸν ἐθάπτομεν, ἐπεὶ καὶ σάββατον ἐπι φώσκει· γέγραπται γὰρ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ἥλιον μὴ δῦναι ἐπὶ πεφονευμένῳ. And Herod said: 'Brother Pilate, even if no one had requested him, we would have buried him, since indeed Sabbath is dawning. For in the Law it has been written: 'The sun is not to set on one put to death.'"
    2:5cκαὶ παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν τῷ λαῷ πρὸ μιᾶς τῶν ἀζύμων τῆς ἑορτῆς αὐτῶν.And he gave him over to the people before the first day of their feast of the Unleavened Bread.
    3:6Οἱ δὲ λαβόντες τὸν κ(ύριο)υ ὤθουν αὐτῶν τρέχοντες καὶ ἔλεγον· Σύρωμεν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θ(εο)ῦ ἐξουσίαν αὐτοῦ ἐσχηκότες.But having taken the Lord, running, they were pushing him and saying, "Let us drag along the Son of God now that we have power over him."
    3:7καὶ πορφύραν αὐτὸν περιέβαλλον καὶ ἐκάθισαν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ καθέδραν κρίσεως λέγοντες· Δικαίως κρῖνε βασιλεῦτοῦ ΙσραήλAnd they clothed him with purple and sat him on a chair of judgment, saying: "Judge justly, King of Israel."
    3:8καί τις αὐτῶν ἐνεγκὼν στέφανον ἀκάνθινον ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς τοῦ κυρίουAnd a certain one of them, having brought a thorny crown, put it on the head of the Lord.
    3:9καὶ ἕτεροι ἑστῶτες ἐνέπτυον αὐτοῦ ταῖ'ς' ὄψεσι καὶ ἄλλοι τὰς σιαγόνας αὐτοῦ ἐράπισαν ἕτεροι καλάμῳ ἔνυσσον αὐτὸν καί τινες αὐτὸν ἐμάστιζον λέγοντες· ταύτῃ τῇ τιμῇ τιμήσωμεν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θ(εο)ῦ.And others who were standing there were spitting in his face, and others slapped his cheeks. Others were jabbing him with a reed; and some scourged him, saying, "With such honor let us honor the Son of God."
    4:10καὶ ἤνεγκον δύο κακούργους καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν ἀνὰ μέσον αὐτῶν τὸν κ(ύριο)ν. αὐτὸς δὲ ἐσιώπα ὡς μηδέν πόνον ἔχων.And they brought two wrongdoers and crucified the Lord in the middle of them. But he was silent as having no pain.
    4:11καὶ ὅτε ὤρθωσαν τὸν σταῦρον ἐπέγραψαν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ.And when they had set the cross upright, they inscribed that "This is the King of Israel."
    4:12καὶ τεθεικότες τὰ ἐνδύματα ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ διεμερίσαντο καὶ λαχμὸν ἔβαλον ἐπ' αὐτοῖς.And having put his garments before him, they divided them up and threw as a gamble for them.
    4:13εἷς δέ τις τῶν κακούργων ἐκείνων ὠνείδησεν αὐτοὺς λέγων· Ἡμεῖς διὰ τὰ κακὰ ἃ ἐποιήσαμεν οὕτω πεπόνθαμεν οὗτ<ο>ς δὲ σωτὴρ γενόμενος τῶν ἀν(θρώπ)ων τί ἠδίκησεν ὑμᾶς;But a certain one of those wrongdoers reviled them, saying: "We have been made suffer thus because of the wrong that we have done; but this one, having become Savior of men, what injustice had he done to you?"
    4:14καὶ ἀγανακτήσαντες ἐπ' αὐτῷ ἐκέλευσαν ἵνα μὴ σκελοκοπηθῇ ὅπως βασανιζόμενος ἀποθάνοι.And having become irritated at him, they ordered that there be no leg-breaking, so that he might die tormented.
    5: 15Ἦν δὲ μεσημβρία καὶ σκότος κατέσχε(ν) πᾶσαν τὴν Ιουδαίαν· καὶ ἐθορυβοῦντο καὶ ἠγωνίων μήποτε ὁ ἥλιος ἔδυ, ἐπειδὴ ἔτι ἔζη· γέγραπται αὐτοῖς ἥλιον μὴ δῦναι ἐπὶ πεφ<ο>νευμένῳBut it was midday, and darkness held fast all Judea; and they were distressed and anxious lest the sun had set, since he was still living. [For] it is written for them: "Let not the sun set on one put to death."
    5:16καί τις αὐτῶν εἶπεν· Ποτίσατε αὐτὸν χολὴν μετὰ ὄξους· καὶ κεράσαντες ἐπότισανAnd someone of them said: "Give him to drink gall with vinegary wine." And having made a mixture, they gave to drink.
    5:17καὶ ἐπλήρωσαν πάντα καὶ ἐτελείωσαν κατὰ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτῶν τὰ ἀμαρτήματα.And they fulfilled all things and completed the sins on their own head.
    5:18Περιήρχοντο δὲ πολλοὶ μετὰ λύχνων νομίζοντες ὅτι νύξ ἐστιν <τινὲς δὲ> ἐπέσαντοBut many went around with lamps, thinking that it was night, and they fell.
    5:19καὶ ὁ κ(ύριο)ς ἀνεβόησε λέγων Ἡ δύναμίς μου ἡ δύναμις κατέλειψάς με καὶ εἰπὼν ἀνελήφθηAnd the Lord screamed out, saying: "My power, O power, you have forsaken me." And having said this, he was taken up.
    5:20καὶ αὐτ<ῆ>ς ὥρας διεράγη τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ τῆς Ἰερουσαλὴμ εἰς δύοAnd at the same hour the veil of the Jerusalem sanctuary was torn into two.
    6:21καὶ τότε ἀπέσπασαν τοὺς ἥλους ἀπὸ τῶν χειρῶ(ν) τοῦ κ(υρίο)υ καὶ ἔθηκαν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἡ γῆ πᾶσα ἐσείσθη καὶ φόβος μέγας ἐγένετοAnd then they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord and placed him on the earth; and all the earth was shaken, and a great fear came about.
    6:22τότε ἤλιος ἔλαμψε καὶ εὑρέθη ὥρα ἐνάτηThen the sun shone, and it was found to be the ninth hour.
    6:23ἐχάρησαν δὲ οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ δεδώκασι(ν) τῷ Ἰωσὴφ τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ἵνα αὐτὸ θάψῃ ἐπειδὴ θεασάμενος ἦν ὅσα ἀγαθὰ ἐποίησενAnd the Jews rejoiced and gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it, since he was one who had seen the many good things he did.
    6:24λαβὼν δὲ τὸν κύριον ἔλουσε(ν) καὶ εἴλησε(ν) σινδόνι{ν} καὶ εἰσήγαγεν εἰς ἴδιον τάφον καλούμενον Kῆπον ἸωσήφAnd having taken the Lord, he washed and tied him with a linen cloth and brought him into his own sepulcher, called the Garden of Joseph.
    7:25τότε οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ οἱ <ἱ>ερεῖς γνόντες οἷον κακὸν ἑαυτοῖς ἐποίησαν ἤρξαντο κόπτεσθαι καὶ λέγειν· Οὐαί ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἡμῶν ἤγγισεν ἡ κρίσις καὶ τὸ τέλος ἸερουσαλήμThen the Jews and the elders and the priests, having come to know how much wrong they had done themselves, began to beat themselves and say: "Woe to our sins. The judgment has approached and the end of Jerusalem."
    7:26ἐγὼ δὲ μετὰ τῶ(ν) ἑταίρων μου ἐλυπούμην καὶ τετρωμένοι κατὰ διάνοιαν ἐκρυβόμεθα ἐζητούμεθα γὰρ ὑπ' αὐτῶν ὡς κακοῦργοι καὶ ὡς τὸν ναὸν θέλοντες ἐμπρῆσαιBut I with the companions was sorrowful; and having been wounded in spirit, we were in hiding, for we were sought after by them as wrongdoers and as wishing to set fire to the sanctuary.
    7:27ἐπὶ δὲ τούτοις πᾶσιν ἐνηστεύομεν καὶ ἐκαθεζόμεθα πενθοῦντες καὶ κλαίοντες νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἕως τοῦ σαββάτουIn addition to all these things we were fasting; and we were sitting mourning and weeping night and day until the Sabbath.
    8:28συναχθέντες δὲ οἱ γραμματεῖς και Φαρισαῖοι καὶ πρεσβύτεροι πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἀκούσαντες ὅτι ὁ λαὸς ἅπας γογγύζει καὶ κόπτεται τὰ στήθη λέγοντες ὅτι· Εἰ τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ ταῦτα τὰ μέγιστα σημεῖα γέγονεν ἴδετε ὅτι πόσον δίκαιός ἐστινBut the scribes and Pharisees and elders, having gathered together with one another, having heard that all the people were murmuring and beating their breasts, saying that "If at his death these very great signs happened, behold how just he was,"
    8:29ἐφοβήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ ἦλθον πρὸς Πειλᾶτον δεόμενοι αὐτοῦ καὶ λέγοντεςfeared (especially the elders) and came before Pilate, begging him and saying,
    8:30Παράδος ἡμῖν στρατιώτας ἵνα φυλάξω<μεν> τὸ μνῆμα αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τρεῖς ἡμ[έρας] μήποτε ἐλθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ κλέψωσιν αὐτὸν καὶ ὑπολάβῃ ὁ λαὸς ὅτι ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀνέστη καὶ ποιήσωσιν ἡμῖν κακά"Give over soldiers to us in order that we may safeguard his burial place for three days, lest, having come, his disciples steal him, and the people accept that he is risen from the death, and they do us wrong."
    8:31ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος παραδέδωκεν αὐτοῖς Πετρώνιον τὸν κεντυρίωνα μετὰ στρατιωτ<ῶ>ν φυλάσσειν τὸν τάφον καὶ σὺν αὐτοῖς ἦλθον πρεσβύτεροι καὶ γραμματεῖς ἐπὶ τὸ μνῆμαBut Pilate gave over to them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to safeguard the sepulcher. And with these the elders and scribes came to the burial place.
    8:32καὶ κυλίσαντες λίθον μέγαν κατὰ τοῦ κεντυρίωνος καὶ τῶν στρατιωτῶν ὁμοῦ πάντες οἱ ὄντες ἐκεῖ ἔθηκαν ἐπὶ τῇ θύρᾳ τοῦ μνήματοςAnd having rolled a large stone, all who were there, together with the centurion and the soldiers, placed (it) against the door of the burial place.
    8:33καὶ ἐπέχρεισαν ἑπτὰ σφραγῖδας καὶ σκηνὴν ἐκεῖ πήξαντες ἐφύλαξανAnd they marked (it) with seven wax seals; and having pitched a tent there, they safeguarded it.
    9:34πρωΐας δὲ ἐπιφώσκοντος τοῦ σαββάτου ἦλθεν ὄχλος ἀπὸ Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ τῆς περιχώρου ἵνα ἴδωσι τὸ μνημεῖον ἐσφραγισμένο(ν)But early when the Sabbath was dawning, a crowd came from Jerusalem and the surrounding area in order that they might see the sealed tomb.
    9:35τῇ δὲ νυκτὶ ᾗ ἐπέφωσκεν ἡ κυριακή φυλασσόντων τῶν στρατιωτῶν ἀνὰ δύο δύο κατὰ φρουρά(ν) μεγάλη φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷBut in the night in which the Lord's day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven;
    9:36καὶ εἶδο(ν) ἀνοιχθέντες τοὺς οὐρα[ν]οὺς καὶ δύο ἄνδρας κατελθόντας ἐκεῖθε<ν> πολὺ θέγγος ἔχοντας καὶ ἐγγίσαντας τῷ τάφῳand they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher.
    9:37ὁ δὲ λ{ε}ίθος ἐκεῖνος ὁ βεβλημένος ἐπὶ τῇ θύρᾳ ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ κυλισθεὶς ἐπεχώρησε παρὰ μέρος καὶ ὁ τάφος <ἠ>νοίγη καὶ ἀμφότεροι οἱ νεανίσκοι εἰσῆλθονBut that stone which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered.
    10:38ἰδόντες οὖν οἱ στρατιῶται ἐκεῖνοι ἐξύπνισαν τὸν κεντυρίωνα καὶ τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους παρῆσαν γὰρ καὶ αὐτοὶ φυλάσσοντεςAnd so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding).
    10:39καὶ ἐξηγουμένων αὐτῶν ἃ εἶδον πάλιν ὁρ<ῶ>σιν ἐξελθόντ<α>ς ἀπὸ τοῦ τάφου τρεῖς ἄνδρ<α>ς καὶ τοὺς δύο τὸν ἕνα ὑπορθοῦντας καὶ σταυρὸν ἀκολοθοῦντα αὐτοῖςAnd while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them,
    10:40καὶ τῶν μὲν δύο τὴν κεφαλὴν χωροῦσαν μέχρι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ τοῦ δὲ χειρα<γ>ω<γ>ουμένου ὑπ' αὐτῶν ὑπερβαίνουσαν τοὺς οὐρανούςand the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens.
    10:41καὶ φωνῆ<ς> ἤκουον ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν λεγούσης· Ἐκήρυξας τοῖς κοιμωμένοιςAnd they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, "Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?"
    10:42καὶ ὑπακοὴ ἠκούετο ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ <ὅ>τι· ΝαίAnd an obeisance was heard from the cross, "Yes."
    11:43συνεσκέπτοντο οὖν ἀλλήλοις ἐκεῖνοι ἀπελθεῖν καὶ ἐνφανίσαι ταῦτα τῷ Πειλάτῳ And so those people were seeking a common perspective to go off and make these things clear to Pilate;
    11:44καὶ ἔτι διανοουμέ(ν)ων αὐτῶν φαίνονται πάλιν ἀνοιχθἐντες οἱ οὐρανοὶ καὶ ἄν(θρωπ)ός τις κατελθὼν καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ μνῆμαand while they were still considering it through, there appear again the opened heavens and a certain man having come down and entered into the burial place.
    11:45ταῦτα ἰδόντες οἱ περὶ τὸν κεντυρ<ί>ωνα νυκτὸς ἔσπευσαν πρὸς Πειλᾶτον ἀφέντες τὸν τάφον ὃν ἐφύλασσον καὶ ἐξηγήσαντο πάντα ἅπερ εἶδον ἀ<γ>ωνιῶντες μεγάλως καὶ λέγοντες· Ἀληθῶς υἱὸς ἦν θ(εο)ῦHaving seen these things, those around the centurion hastened at night before Pilate (having left the sepulcher which they were safeguarding) and described all the things that they indeed had seen, agonizing greatly and saying: "Truly he was God's Son."
    11:46ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πειλᾶτος ἔφη· Ἐγὼ καθαρεύω τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῖν δὲ τοῦτο ἔδοξενIn answer Pilate said: "I am clean of the blood of the Son of God, but it was to you that this seemed (the thing to do)."
    11: 47εἶτα προσελθόντες πάντες ἐδέοντο αὐτοῦ καὶ π<α>ρεκάλουν κελεῦσαι τῷ κεντυρίων<ι> καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις μηδὲν εἰπεῖν ἃ εἶδονThen all, having come forward, were begging and exhorting him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say to no one what they had seen.
    11:48Συμφέρει γάρ φασίν ἡμῖν ὀφλῆσαι μεγίστην ἁμαρτίαν ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ μὴ ἐμπεσεῖν εἰς χεῖρας τοῦ λαοῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ λιθασθῆναι"For," they said, "it is better for us to owe the debt of the greatest sin in the sight of God than to fall into the hands of the Jewish people and be stoned."
    11:49ἐκέλευσεν οὖν ὁ Πειλᾶτος τῷ{ν} κεντυρίων<ι> καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις μηδὲν εἰπεῖνAnd so Pilate ordered the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.
    12:50ὄρθ<ρ>ου δὲ τῆς κυριακῆς Μαριὰμ ἡ Μαγδαλ<η>νὴ μαθήτρια τοῦ κ(υρίο)υ φοβουμένη διὰ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους ἐπειδὴ ἐφλέγοντο ὑπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς οὐκ ἐποίησεν ἐπὶ τῷ μνήματι τοῦ κ(υρίο)υ ἃ εἰώθεσαν ποιεῖν αἱ γυναῖκες ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀποθνήσκουσι καὶ τοῖς ἀγαπωμένοις αὐταῖςNow at the dawn of the Lord's Day Mary Magdalene, a female disciple of the Lord (who, afraid because of the Jews since they were inflamed with anger, had not done at the tomb of the Lord what women were accustomed to do for the dead beloved by them),
    12:51λαβοῦσα μεθ' ἑαυτῆς τὰς φίλας ἦλθε ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον ὅπου ἦν τεθείςhaving taken with her women friends, came to the tomb where he had been placed.
    12:52καὶ ἐφοβοῦντο μὴ ἴδωσιν αὐτὰς οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ ἔλεγον· Εἰ καὶ μὴ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ ἐσταυρώθη ἐδυνήθημεν κλαῦσαι καὶ κόψ<α>σθαι καὶ νῦν ἐπὶ τοῦ μνήματος αὐτοῦ ποιήσωμε(ν) ταῦταAnd they were afraid lest the Jews should see them and were saying, 'If indeed on that day on which he was crucified we could not weep and beat ourselves, yet now at his tomb we may do these things.
    12:53τίς δὲ ἀποκυλίσει ἡμῖν καὶ τὸν λίθον τὸν τεθέντα ἐπὶ τῆς θύρας τοῦ μνημείου ἵνα εἰσελθοῦσαι παρακαθεσθῶμεν αὐτῷ καὶ ποιήσωμεν τὰ ὀφ<ε>ιλόμεναBut who will roll away for us even the stone placed against the door of the tomb in order that, having entered, we may sit beside him and do the expected things?
    12:54μέγας γὰρ ἦν ὁ λίθος καὶ φοβούμεθα μή τις ἡμᾶς ἴδῃ καὶ εἰ μὴ δυνάμεθα κἂν ἐπὶ τῆς θύρας βάλωμεν ἃ φέρομεν εἰς μνημοσύνην αὐτοῦ κλαύσομεν καὶ κοψόμεθα ἕως ἔλθωμεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον ἡμῶνFor the stone was large, and we were afraid lest anyone see us. And if we are unable, let is throw against the door what we bring in memory of him; let us weep and beat ourselves until we come to our homes.'
    13:55καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι εὗρον τὸν τάφον ἠνεῳγμένον καὶ προσελθοῦσαι παρέκυψαν ἐκεῖ καὶ ὁρῶσιν ἐκεῖ τινα νεανίσκον καθεζόμενον μὲσῳ τοῦ τάφου ὡραῖον καὶ περιβεβλημένο(ν) στολὴν λαμπροτάτην ὅστις ἔφη αὐταῖ<ς>·And having gone off, they found the sepulcher opened. And having come forward, they bent down there and saw there a certain young man seated in the middle of the sepulcher, comely and clothed with a splendid robe, who said to them:
    13:56Τί ἤλθατε τίνα ζητεῖτε μὴ τὸν σταυρωθέντα ἐκεῖνον Ἀνέστη καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰ δὲ μὴ πιστεύετε παρακύψατε καὶ ἴδ<ε>τε τὸν τόπον ἔνθα ἔκει'το' ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀνέστη γὰρ καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἐκεῖ ὅθεν ἀπεστάλη"Why have you come? Whom do you seek? Not that one who was crucified? He is risen and gone away. But if you do not believe, bend down and see the place where he lay, because he is not here. For he is risen and gone away to there whence he was sent."
    13:57τότε αἱ γυναῖκες φοβηθεις<αι> ἔφυγονThen the women fled frightened.
    14:58ἦν δὲ τελευταία ἡμέρα τῶν ὰζύμων καὶ πολλοί τινες ἐξήρχοντο ὑποστρέφοντες εἰς τοὺς οἴκους αὐτῶν τῆς ἑορτῆς παυσαμ<έ>νηςNow it was the final day of the Unleavened Bread; and many went out returning to their home since the feast was over.
    14:59ἡμεῖς δὲ οἱ δώδεκα μαθηταὶ τοῦ κ(υρίο)υ ἐκλαίομεν καὶ ἐλυπούμεθα καὶ ἕκαστος λυπούμενος διὰ τὸ συμβὰν ἀπηλλάγη εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦBut we twelve disciples of the Lord were weeping and sorrowful; and each one, sorrowful because of what had come to pass, departed to his home.
    14:60ἐγὼ δὲ Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ Ἀνδρέας ὁ ἀδελφός μου λαβόντες ἡμῶν τὰ λίνα ἀπήλθαμεν εἰς τὴν θάλ{λ}ασσαν καὶ ἦν σὺν ἡμῖν Λευεὶς ὁ τοῦ Ἀλφαίου ὅν κ(ύριο)ςBut I, Simon Peter, and my brother Andrew, having taken our nets, went off to the sea. And there was with us Levi of Alpheus whom the Lord...

    At first sight, we must take note that the manuscript we have, which we place between the 7th and 9th centuries, is a copy of a text from the 2nd century, and therefore we must accept that during this period of 600 years which separates it from the original, the copyists did not hesitate to make modifications during the various retranscriptions, all the more so as it was not a canonical text, but a text of private circulation.

  2. Sequence and Contents of GPet

    1. Sequence Table (comparing GPet to the canonical Gospels)

      Note: we have underlined the elements unique to the Gospel of Peter

      I. 1:1 - 2:5: Trial before Herod (with Pilate present)27:11-26 Only Pilate23:2-25 Pilate & Herod18:28 - 19:16a only Pilate
      1:1 Herod refused to wash hands27:24 (Pilate)  
      1:2 Herod ordered Lord taken away   
      2:3-5b Request for Lord's body: Joseph -> Pilate -> Herod27:57-58 Joseph-> Pilate23:50-52 Joseph-> Pilate19:38a Joseph -> Pilate
      2:5c Herod gave Lord over to the people 27:26 Pilate to soldiers23:25 Pilate to their will19:16a Pilate to them
      II. 3:6-9: Way of cross; mocking; scourging27:27-3223:26-3219:2-3, 16b-17a
      3:6 They (Jews) pushed and dragged Son of God27:31b Roman soldiers led23:26 They led 19:16b They took along
      3:7-9 Purple clothing, judgment chair, mocked King of Israel, thorny crown, spat, slapped, struck with reed, mocked Son of God 27:27-31a all items except slap; King of Jews as title (see 27:19 [judgment seat]; also 27:39-43 on cross)(see 23:35-37 on cross)19:2-3 crown of thorns, purple robe, King of Jews, slaps
      III. 4:10-6:22: Crucifixion27:33-5623:33-4919:17b-37
      4:10 Crucified amid wrongdoers; silent, no pain27:38 amid bandits23:33 amid wrongdoers19:18 amid others
      4:11 Title on cross: King of Israel27:37 Jesus, King of Jews23:38 King of Jews19:19 Jesus the Nazorean, King of Jews
      4:12 Divided garments27:35 23:34b19:23-24
      4: 13 Penitent wrongdoer  23:40-43  
      4:14 No leg-breaking  19:31-33
      5:15 Midday darkness anxiety less sun set27:45 (6th-9th hours)23:44-45a (6th-9th hours)  
      5:16-18 Drink: gall with vinegary wine; they fulfilled all things; sin on their head: thought it was night27:34, 48 Two drinks: (sweet) wine with gall and vinegary wine23:36 Drink: vinegary wine19:28-30 Drink: vinegary wine; he finished all things
      5:19 Lord screamed "My power"; he was taken up27:46 "My God"  
      5:20 Veil of sanctuary torn27:51a23:45b 
      6:21 Drew out nails; placed him on earth; earth shaken; fear27:51b, 54  
      6:22 Sun shone; 9th hour27:4623:44 (9th hr) 
      IV. 6:23 - 11:49: Burial27:57-6623:50-5619:38-42
      6:23-24 Jews gave body to Joseph; he washed him; linen cloth; "his own" sepulcher; garden27:58b-60 (no garden); his tomb23:53-54 (no "his own"; no garden)19:38b-42 (no linen cloth; no "his own")
      7:25 Sorrow of Jews; beat themselves 23:48 crowds striking breasts 
      7:26-27 Peter and companions; sorrow, fasting   
      8:28 - 11:48 Guards at tomb; angelic opening; came out with gigantic Lord and talking cross; guards silenced27:62-66; 28:2-4, 11-15  
      V. Women at empty tomb; Appearances of the Lord   
      12:50 - 13:57: Women at empty tomb28:1, 5-1024:1-11, 22-2320:1-2, 11-18
      14:58-60: After feast 12 go home; Peter et al. at the sea  21:1-23 Peter et al. at the sea see risen Lord

      The gospel of Peter follows the classic sequence from the crucifixion to the burial and the empty tomb, assuming that the appearance accounts of the risen one were to follow. But it is only in a few short sequences that it comes closer to Mark/Matthew than to the other gospels (e.g., by placing the way of the cross in sequence II before the mockery and scourging, or in sequence III where the darkness, the drinking of the vinegar, the cry of Jesus and the tearing of the temple veil follow each other, even though the sequence of the cry and the drinking is reversed. Overall, the divergences from the gospel accounts suggest that Peter's gospel is not based on the gospel accounts. Conversely, it would take a great deal of imagination to conclude that the gospel accounts were inspired by the gospel of Peter. In short, their independence must be admitted.

    2. Comparing the contents of GPet and Those of the Canonical Gospels

      What we will now compare are not the words used, but the items or episodes. The presence of an asterisk indicates that an item does not appear in John, and is therefore a characteristic of the synoptic accounts.

      1. Items shared by GPet and more than one of the canonical Gospel
        • Use of generalized term "the Jews" (Matt, John)
        • Pilate's role in Jesus' death is not so important as that of the Jewish authorities
        • Joseph has dealings with Pilate over the burial of Jesus' body
        • Joseph was a friend/disciple of Jesus or did not vote against him
        • Getting the body off the cross is related to the approaching Sabbath
        • Jesus mocked as king with purple/scarlet clothing, crown of thorns, scourging, spitting, striking
        • Judgment chair/seat with relation to Jesus or to Pilate (Matt, John)
        • Crucifixion of Jesus between two criminals
        • Inscription on the cross that Jesus was King of the Jews/Israel
        • Gambling to divide his clothes/garments
        • Mention of the 6th hour and *darkness over the earth/Judea
        • Offered a drink of vinegary wine
        • *Jesus' final words as "My power/my God" (Mark/Matt)13
        • *Veil of the sanctuary rent/torn
        • Joseph buries Jesus in a tomb *in a linen cloth
        • A (*large) stone covers the tomb entrance; eventually rolled/taken away
        • On Sunday Mary Magdalene (and others) come to tomb
        • There they are addressed by explicitly or implicitly angelic figure(s) who explain the absence of Jesus' body

      2. Items shared by several canonical Gospels but absent from GPet
        • Pilate's major role in the trial of Jesus and his finding Jesus not guilty
        • Barabbas and the cries of the crowd to crucify Jesus
        • Carrying of the cross by Jesus and/or *Simon of Cyrene
        • *Several mockeries of Jesus hanging on the cross
        • *Confession of Jesus (Son of God, just) by the centurion immediately after death14
        • Women at the cross or onlooking from a distance; *women at burial
        • Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene at tomb (Matt, John)
        • Jesus appearing to disciples/Twelve in Jerusalem (Luke, John)

        Although these elements are less numerous than those in list (a), many of them are major components of the passion and resurrection narratives.

      3. Items peculiar to GPet and Mark.

        First, let us note that there are three items that are particular to Mark and that are not found in the other canonical gospels or in the Gospel of Peter: the reference to the third hour, Pilate who asks if Jesus is already dead, and the women at the empty tomb who say nothing to anyone.

        • The use of the word kentyriōn (centurion)
        • The women's question about the stone of the tomb: "Who will roll away for us even the stone placed against the door of the tomb" (GPet 12: 53) versus, "Who will roll away for us the stone from the door of the tomb?" (Mk 16: 3)
        • The women's remark about the stone closing the tomb: "For the stone was great" (GPet 12:54) vs. "For it was very (sphodra) great" (Mk 16:4)
        • The (heavenly) being at the empty tomb is called neaniskos (young man)
        • To describe the women at the tomb, the verbs phobeisthai (to be afraid) and pheugein (to flee) are used, although not in the same order (GPet 14:60 || Mk 16:8)
        • Only in GPet 14:60 and Mk 2:14 do we hear about Levi of Alpheus

        These few similar points are insufficient to assert any dependence of the one on the other. For they are limited to the scene of the empty tomb, and even there the internal sequence and word order diverge. Moreover, out of the 200 words of this scene in GPet, there are barely 30 words that are also found in Mark, and this without taking into account the tense of the verbs and the declension of the words. Even then, 14 of these 30 words could come from Matthew, and 17 could come from Luke. As for the words shared only by GPet and Mark, they could just as easily come from non-canonical accounts circulating at the time.

      4. Items peculiar to GPet and Matt.
        • the washing of hands in relation to Jesus' innocence (GPet 1:1; Matt 27:24)
        • Gall as part of the wine drink given to Jesus (GPet 5:16; Matt 27:34)
        • Anaboan (GPet 5:19; Matt 27:46: "to scream out") for Jesus' last words
        • A shaking of the earth in relation to Jesus' death (GPet 6:21; Matt 27:51)
        • The sepulcher/tomb in which Jesus is buried is Joseph's own (GPet 6:24; Matt 27:60)
        • "Gathering together" of Jewish authorities including Pharisees (GPet 8:28; Matt 27:62)
        • Request by Jewish authorities to Pilate to protect the grave "lest, having come, his/the disciples steal him"; Pilate's granting soldiers (GPet 8:30-31; Matt 27:64-65)
        • The use of taphos ("sepulcher"), particularly in that story
        • The sealing of the stone that closed the door of the tomb (GPet 8:33; Matt 27:66)
        • The appearance from heaven of "males" or an angel involved with the rolling away of the stone from the door of the tomb
        • Dealing with the "fallen-asleep" after Jesus' death (GPet 10:41; Matt 27:52)18
        • The fright of the guard; consultation with the Jewish authorities; agreement that the guards would keep silence or lie
        • Pilate's statement that he was clean/innocent of Jesus' blood (GPet 11:46; Matt 27:24)

        On the other hand, there are many items from Matthew that are absent from the Gospel of Peter: the dream of Pilate's wife, "his blood on us and on our children," the rocks that split, the tombs that open, several sleeping saints rising and becoming visible to the people of Jerusalem, the appearances of Jesus to the women at the tomb. When these elements are added to those in list (b), which are largely composed of items from Matthew, it becomes difficult to see any dependence between the two gospels.

      5. Items peculiar to GPet and Luke:
        • Herod had a role in the trial of Jesus
        • Friendly relations between Herod and Pilate (GPet 2:5; Luke 23:12)
        • Jesus given over to Jews after trial; Roman soldiers mentioned only later
        • Co-crucified are "wrongdoers"; one is favorable to Jesus
        • Jesus' death related to approaching end of Jerusalem (GPet 7:25; Luke 23:28-31)
        • Jewish people lament, beating themselves/breasts (GPet 7:25; 8:28; Luke 23:27,48)
        • Jesus recognized as "just" (dikaios: GPet 8:28; Luke 23:47)
        • "Dawning" of the Sabbath (GPet 9:34; Luke 23:54)
        • Many/crowds returned to homes (hypostrephein: GPet 14:58; Luke 23:48)

        Against these similarities, we must immediately mention major differences in GPet: the trial before Herod is greater than before Pilate, the good wrongdoer speaks to the Jews and not to his fellow criminal. Moreover, several items in Luke are absent from GPet: Jesus addresses the daughters of Jerusalem, the three words of Jesus on the cross, the eclipse of the sun, the women preparing spices and myrrh, the Sabbath rest, the rhetorical question of the angelic men at the tomb and the reminder of what Jesus said in Galilee, all the post-resurrection appearances. It is clear that there is no dependence between the two gospels.

      6. Items peculiar to GPet and John:
        • It is the day before the 1st day of Unleavened Bread/Passover
        • Their feast; a feast of the Jews
        • The issue of not breaking Jesus' bones (somewhat unclear in GPet 4:14)
        • The Jews carry lamps/lanterns (GPet 5:18; John 18:3)
        • Nails in the hands (GPet 6:21; John 20:25; only implicit in Luke 24:39)
        • Sepulcher/tomb in garden
        • Jews speak to Pilate of Jesus as Son of God (GPet 11:45; John 19:7)
        • Women or disciples are afraid of the Jews after Jesus' death
        • Women or disciples bend down to look in sepulcher/tomb
        • Simon Peter and others at the sea (site of an appearance)

        Note that only some of the individual items are similar, for the literary structure of John (the chiasm construction, and the pattern of the coming and going between the inside and the outside of the Praetorium) is totally absent from GPet. Despite the evocation of the title on the cross, the sharing of the garments and the vinegary wine, one would look in vain in GPet for the dramatization of these items in small episodes that one finds in John. If we add to these considerations the scenes in John that are absent from GPet (the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple at the cross, the spear that pierces the side of Jesus and from which blood and water come out, Nicodemus and the hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes), it becomes impossible for there to be any dependence between the two gospels.

      7. Items peculiar to GPet, not found in any canonical Gospel:
        • Herod as the principal judge whom Pilate must ask for the body
        • Specific Law passage cited about sun not setting on one put to death
        • Jews, not Romans, carried out all the crucifixion acts from thorny crown and scourging to deposition from cross
        • When crucified, the Lord was silent as having no pain
        • The darkness at midday caused many to need lamps, thinking it was night, and to fall 1 Peter and companions in hiding, sought as wrongdoers who would set fire to the Temple
        • Petronius the centurion who safeguarded the sepulcher; seven wax seals
        • The stone rolling by itself; the extravagant height of the heavenly men; depiction of the Lord's resurrection; his having preached to the fallen-asleep; the talking cross
        • Admission of sin by Jewish authorities; their fear of being stoned by Jewish people
        • Women who came to tomb feared lest the Jews should see them
        • On final day of the Unleavened Bread they returned to their homes
        • Presence of Andrew and Levi of Alphaeus at the sea

    3. Overal Proposal about Composition Based on Sequence and Contents

      Did the author of the Gospel of Peter rely on the canonical gospels or on an independent tradition? Biblical scholars are divided on the answer to this question, with the majority opting for a reliance on the canonical accounts. In addition, one has theorized that all of these canonical accounts are based on an early form of the gospel of Peter, called the "gospel of the cross. This theory must be rejected for the following reasons:

      1. If the four canonical gospels really did use this "gospel of the cross" as their primary source, why did none of them borrow the vocabulary and word order of the GPet, except sometimes for two or three words?

      2. If the evangelists in the canonical accounts really did copy items from GPet, why did they neglect those items in its list (g) that contain the most "eye-catching" elements, especially when they are contiguous with what they are copying? For example, if Mark copied the word "centurion" from the GPet, why did he not also copy his name: Petronius? If Matthew copied the item of the sealing of the tomb, why did he not also copy the fact that there were seven seals?

      3. If Matthew, Luke, and John are really dependent on this "gospel of the cross," how can we explain the fact that when they present material not found in Mark, they never contradict Mark? The example of the Q Document, the common source of Luke and Matthew, is revealing: when these two evangelists draw a sequence from it, the agreement of the items is impressive. Why should this not be the case with GPet, if it were really the source of the canonical gospels?

      If we must reject the theory of the dependence of the canonical gospels on the gospel of Peter, should we then affirm the opposite, i.e., the Gospel of Peter depends on the four canonical gospels, or at least on three of them? But then how can we explain the great difference in vocabulary and sequence of scenes, the absence of many items found in the canonical gospels, as well as the items proper to the gospel of Peter? For example, why did it omit characters like Barabbas or Simon of Cyrene or the women at the crucifixion or the tomb, as well as the scenes of Jesus' appearance at the tomb or in Jerusalem? How can we explain all the changes in certain scenes, such as the fact that it is now Mary Magdalene who is the disciple of the Lord (GPet 12:50) and not Joseph of Arimathea (Jn 19:38); or again, according to Jn 19:33 the Romans did not break the bones of Jesus because he was already dead, but according to GPet 4:14 it is the Jews who order that the bones of the crucified Jesus not be broken, so that he would suffer longer. When an author takes a gospel as a basis, the vocabulary and sequence of the source used can be recognized in the final product, as we have a clear example in Tatian's Diatessaron, which sought to combine the four gospels into a continuous narrative; this is not the case with the gospel of Peter.

      What does this mean? It is unlikely that the author of the gospel of Peter had the actual text of the gospels in front of him, although he seems to have been familiar with the gospel according to Matthew, a gospel that he would have heard proclaimed several times at the Sunday gathering and which strongly structured his thinking. As for Luke and John, he may have had an echo of their gospel through certain people, perhaps itinerant preachers, who would have rephrased the most striking accounts, which would have allowed him to know elements of their content, but without grasping their structure. The oral background of the gospel of Peter would explain the fact that a third of its content is in direct discourse. It must be remembered that before the year 150, very few churches had copies of the gospels for public reading, and a written copy of any gospel was available to very few individuals. Thus, in the mind of the author of the gospel of Peter, the memory of the gospel accounts would have been mixed with popular fables about incidents during the passion, of the same type as those found in Matthew (e.g., the dream of Pilate's wife, the suicide of Judas). All this would have entered into the composition of his gospel, which was not intended to be read in a liturgical setting, but simply to help people form a picture of Jesus' career. A typical example of this approach is the Protoevangelium of James (2nd c.), which imaginatively reformulates the infancy narrative of Jesus by combining elements from Matthew and Luke with popular imaginative developments.

  3. Aspects of the Theology of GPet

    Unfortunately, we have only a small section of this apocryphal gospel, which seems to have contained even an infancy narrative where, if Origen is to be believed (In Matt. 10.17), he reports that Joseph, Mary's husband, had several children from a previous marriage. And so we have little material to form an idea of the author's theology.

    1. Ancient Debate about the Docetism of GPet

      This ancient debate comes to us from Serapion, bishop of Antioch around the year 190, who is known to us from Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History (6.12. 2-6), and who is said to have taken place in the small town of Rhossus on the Mediterranean coast (today Arsuz in Turkey, 30 miles northeast of Antioch), because some people were doing a Docetist reading of the gospel of Peter, especially some ambiguous passages; but on the whole, Serapion judged the gospel orthodox. In fact, some passages that could be read with a Docetist bias can also be interpreted in a non-Docetist way. For example, the phrase "My power, O power, you have forsaken me" does not necessarily mean that the divinity left Jesus' body before his death, for Jesus' dead body still has the capacity to cause an earthquake, and this being coming out of the tomb is supernatural, and he preached between his death and resurrection to those who had fallen asleep.

    2. Discernable Theological Features of GPet

      1. This gospel expresses a high Christology. It is no longer about Jesus, but about the Lord and the Son of God. One of the co-crucified recognizes in him the "Savior of men". The divine power dwells in his person so much that when his dead body touches the ground, the whole earth shakes (6:21).

      2. There is a strong anti-Jewish animus, especially towards the religious authorities. Six times the author uses the hostile expression "the Jews" which is also found in the gospel of John. Herod and the Jews are the ones who condemn Jesus, mock him, spit on him and slap him. They add their sins to their heads, and even after seeing the risen Jesus and knowing that he is the Son of God, they persuade Pilate to keep silent, at the cost of committing "the greatest sin in the sight of God" (GPet 11: 48).

      3. There is a knowledge of the Scriptures, mostly implicit. The most explicit citation (GPet 2:5; 5:15) is in fact a paraphrase of Deut 21:23 ("Let not his [the hanged man's] body remain there all night; bury him the same day") with the phraseology of Deut 24:15 ("let not the sun set on his wages"). GPet 5:16 ("Give him to drink gall with vinegary wine") is an implicit and not quite accurate citation of Ps 69:22 ("And they gave me gall for food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink"). The description of the darkness in GPet 5:15 ("it was midday, and darkness held fast... anxious lest the sun had set") is different from what is found in the synoptics and echoes Am 8:9 ("The sun shall set at noon, and on the earth light shall be replaced by darkness"). The reference to the sharing of garments is far from the phraseology of GPet 22:19, sharing only the verbs diamerizein (to share) and ballein (to draw) with the Septuagint text; the same is true of GPet 5:19 ("My power, O power, you have forsaken me") in relation to Ps 22:2. All of this indicates that the author was not so much reading the Old Testament as hearing about it, or that he was aware of certain references to the Greek version that were probably part of his religious background.

      4. The gospel of Peter shows confusion about the Jewish feasts. He refers to "the first day of their feast of Unleavened Bread" (GPet 2:5c), thus designating a feast of the Jewish people that he no longer considers his own as a Christian. This first day should logically be the Sabbath of 2:5, which is the next day. Yet, at the death of Jesus, the author writes that the Lord's disciples fasted and sat "weeping night and day until the Sabbath" (GPet 7:27), whereas there are only a few hours between Jesus' death and the beginning of the Sabbath. Moreover, the author does not seem to be sensitive to the rules surrounding the observance of the Sabbath, since from the beginning of the Sabbath on Friday night to Saturday morning the scribes, Pharisees and elders go to a tent to guard the tomb until Sunday, and on Saturday morning crowds of Jews come from Jerusalem and the surrounding area to see the sealed tomb of Jesus. Finally, the combination of 12:50 - 13:57 and 14:58 gives the impression that Sunday, the Lord's Day, is the last day of the feast of unleavened bread, whereas the preceding Saturday was presented as the first day of this feast, which gives us a feast of two days, whereas according to Lev 23:6 it is a feast of seven days.

      5. The gospel of Peter testifies to the presence of certain cultic practices of Christians, such as the "Lord's Day" on Sunday (9:35; 12:5), the fasting on the preceding Saturday, corresponding to the Sabbath day, the period between the death of Jesus and his resurrection.

    3. When and Where was GPet Composed

      1. Date of composition

        The narrative around Bishop Serapion of Antioch tells us that the story was in circulation before the year 200. Comparisons with other passion narratives such as the Epistle of Barnabas or the Ascension of Isaiah, or witnessed by Justin, confirm that the gospel of Peter was composed before the year 150.

        On the other hand, errors about the political situation in Palestine at the time of Jesus (Herod would have been the supreme ruler in Jerusalem with Pilate under his command) make it impossible for a Jew to have composed it before the year 100 in Palestine. This is confirmed by the fact that the author has a vague knowledge of the synoptic gospels, the composition of which was not completed until around 100 AD.

        Moreover, the period from 100 to 150 AD is well suited to the theological features we have discerned in this apocryphal writing. For example, it shares with the Gospel of James (ca. 150) the tendency to visibly dramatize the divinity of Jesus (the birth of Jesus in one, the resurrection of Jesus in the other). His reference to Jesus as "the Lord" brings him closer to the Didache (8:2; 9:5; 11:2; 12:1; etc. ), as does the calling of Sunday "the Lord's Day" (Didache 14, 1; see also Ignatius of Antioch), or the mention of the fasting period attached to the day of Jesus' death (Didache, 8, 1). Finally, its anti-Jewish atmosphere reflects the atmosphere of the first half of the 2nd c. found also in the Epistle to Barnabas and in Meliton of Sardis.

      2. Place of composition

        Many clues point to Syria. We mentioned earlier in speaking of Bishop Serapion that this apocryphal gospel was known in Rhossus and Antioch, and it was during a visit to Antioch that Origen became acquainted with this gospel. The Didascalia Apostolorum was written by a Syrian bishop around the year 200-225, and this writing shows a knowledge of the gospel of Peter. To these clues we can add the parallels with the Didache and the Gospel of James, whose composition is also located in Syria, as well as with the high Christology of Ignatius of Antioch. Then there is the fact that the author of the Gospel of Peter is most familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, a Gospel most likely composed in Antioch in the opinion of many biblical scholars. Finally, there is the attribution of this apocryphal writing to the apostle Peter, who was a prominent figure in Antioch: Galatians 2:11-14 refers to Peter's presence in Antioch during the conflict with Paul, and Peter seems to have left his mark on the whole church there, since Matthew 16:18 makes him the founding rock of Christ's church.

        The question can then be asked: from what milieu does this author come? Even if he quotes Scripture directly or indirectly, we cannot assume that he is a Jewish Christian. For from the beginning works using Scripture were very often addressed to Gentiles, as we see with the epistle to the Galatians, so that by the beginning of the second century reference to Scripture had become the lingua franca among Christians. The Epistle of Barnabas is a fine example of this, for replete with scriptural citations, it is probably written by a Gentile addressing Gentile Christians in the Syro-Palestine region. Moreover, the confusion that has been pointed out about the Jewish feasts in the gospel of Peter points to an author who is foreign to the Jewish world. We are probably at a time when there was no longer any difference between Christians of Gentile or Jewish origin, so that the term "Jew" was used to designate a non-Christian.

        The spirit found in the gospel of Peter is not far from that found in the popular material used by Matthew in the passion narrative (Judas' suicide, the silver coins contaminated with innocent blood, the dream of Pilate's wife, the washing of Pilate's hands, all the phenomena that accompany Jesus' death, and the fear of the guards at the tomb) as well as in his infancy narrative (the Magi, Herod's slaughter of the innocents). Thus, the gospel according to Peter would reflect a popular Christianity, a Christianity of the ordinary people, not the one that could be found in Antioch, where public reading and preaching could exert a certain control, but the one that could be found in the small towns of Syria, such as Rhossos. It is not, however, heterodox, but incorporates several imaginative elements that go beyond the canonical gospels and the writings of bishops like Ignatius. Thus, over the centuries, the ordinary Christian's perception of Jesus has been differentiated from what was proclaimed from the pulpit and based on Scripture. Elements of popular piety and imagination have tended to fill in the picture of Jesus with colors that cannot be intellectually justified from the written gospels, but in their own way they provided an extraordinary enrichment. That said, such writings are not intended to become an official proclamation, and it is the role of a canon of Scripture, i.e., the collection of books considered by the church to express the norm, to question them.

Map of Ancient Egypt

Map of Ancient Egypt

Manuscript - Gospel of Peter

First page of the manuscript on the Gospel of Peter