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The Gospel of Peter

Notes on the Gospel of Peter

This Gospel was referred to by the early church fathers, and was quoted by the Bishop of Antioch in c.190, by Origen the historian of the early church c.250, and by Eusebius c.300. In the work "Religious Histories" (Theodoret, c.450) we are told that this was used by the Nazorenes (descendants of the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem, led by descendants of the brothers of Jesus, living in Trans-Jordan after the Jewish Revolt of 66 ad.) New Testament scholars have long known that this work once existed, and that it appears to have been influential in the early church.

This translation was made from the text of a fragmentary papyrus codex unearthed by the French Archaeological Mission in 1886 in the ancient city of Panopolis (modern Akhmim) in Northern Egypt. This codex was found in a grave of unknown antiquity, in which a monk had been interred. This narrative agrees in substance with the Canonical gospels, although it differs in some important details, and fills in some gaps in the Synoptic narrative. It also offers a few observations which lend a sense of imtimacy.

According to Justin Martyr, this document was highly favored by many communities in the second century. It has been concluded by a few notable New Testament scholars that this was held in higher and more universal esteem that Mark and John, though this is of course debatable. How it was "lost" and why it was never included in the Canon remains a mystery, but this fragment is now available for the consideration of studious Christians today.

Notes on this particular translation

I believe I have made every effort to both render an honest translation of the document and avoid infringement on the copyright held by Alpha House on the Archbishop Wake's 1926 translation, included in "The Lost Books of the Bible". My method was to first render a translation section by section and then compare with the 1926 translation to be sure I avoided copying their translation. This is not a word-for-word translation, but rather a communication of the idiom and idea of the original language. This is not a paraphrase, but it is a loose and (I think) highly readable trans- lation which (I hope) preserves the gist of the material and will convey the same to the modern student. This was word-processed on WordPerfect 5.1 and exported as an ascii file, so you may encounter anomalies depending on the program with which you read it. I retain no copyright on this translation, so as far as I know, you may use it as you wish, although I make no warranty whatsoever for any purpose.

The Gospel according to Peter

...however, among the Jews present, not one of them washed his hands, and neither did Herod, nor any of his judges. When they had thus refused to wash their hands, Pilate got up to leave. Then King Herod ordered that the Lord be taken away, saying "Do to him as I have commanded that you do". Standing by, Joseph, who was a friend of Pilate and of the Lord, (since he knew that they were about to crucify Him), went up to Pilate and asked that he might be given the body of the Lord, for burrying. Pilate then sent to Herod asking for His body. Herod said, "Brother Pilate, even if no one had asked for his body, we intended to bury him, since the Sabbath is close, because it is written in the Law that the sun not be allowed to set upon a man that has been deprived of his life".

He [Herod or Pilate?] displayed Him before the people on the day before the first day of their feast of unleavened bread. They took the Lord and shoved him along as they ran saying "Let's drag away this 'son of god', since we have him in our power". They dressed him in purple and set him on the seat of the Judges, saying "Judge righteously King of Israel", and one of them brought a crown made of thorns and placed it upon the Lord's head. Some stood by and spat in His eyes and others struck his face. Some stabbed at Him with a reed and some whipped him saying "This is how we do homage to this 'son of god'".

Along with him, there were brought out two evildoers [malefactors] and they crucified the Lord between them. But he was quiet as though unmoved [not hurt]. When they had lifted up His cross, they wrote this title, "Behold the King of Israel". Having removed His garments, they placed them before Him and they parted them among themselves by throwing lots for them. One of the evildoers reprimanded the guards, saying "We have suffered in this way for doing wrong, but this man, who is become mankind's Saviour, what [wrong] has he done to you to deserve this treatment?" They were enraged at him, and commanded that he remain on his cross [his legs not be broken] until he die in torment.

At noontime darkness fell apon all of Judea, and everyone was upset and confused, fearing that the sun had set while He was still alive, for it is writen for them that the sun not be allowed to set apon him that has been deprived of his life. One of them said "Give him sour wine with vinegar to drink". They made this mixture, and gave it to Him to drink; in this manner they fulfilled all of the things which had been foretold, and finished the work of sin against themselves [their heads]. Many walked about their way using lamps, since they thought that it was nighttime, and so they stumbled. The Lord cried out, "My power, my power, you have left me" and when he had finished saying this he was taken up [i.e. gave up his spirit]. At that very moment the veil of the temple of Jerusalem was torn in two.

They removed the nails from the Lord's hands and took Him down, and the whole earth trembled, and everyone was frightened. Then the sun came back out again, and it was seen again at the ninth hour. The Jews were happy, and gave His body to Joseph for burrying, because he had seen the good deeds which He had done. He took the Lord and washed Him and rolled Him up in a lenghth of linen cloth, and brought Him to his own tomb, which was called Joseph's Garden.

At that time, the Jews and their elders and priests became conscious of the evil they had brought apon themselves, and they began to mourn saying "Woe to us for this sin; judgement is coming soon, and Jerusalem is doomed". We were grieved, and since we were deeply upset and afraid, we hid, for we thought we were being sought out by them as evildoers [malefactors], with the accusation that we intended to set fire to the Temple.

Because of all these things we fasted and sat lamenting and weeping night and day until the Sabbath. When the scribes and Pharisees and elders were gathered together, they were told that everyone was whispering and beating their breasts saying "He must have been righteous, since all these awful things happened as he was dying". The elders were afraid, so they went to Pilate, asking and begging him, "Send guards with us, that His tomb may be guarded for three days, to prevent his disciples from stealing His body, to make the people believe that he has been raised from the dead, for they would harm us all". Pilate Petronius the centurion, with a squad of soldiers, along with them to guard the tomb. Together, they [the elders and scribes] went to the tomb, and, with the soldiers assistance, they rolled a very large stone to the entrance of the tomb and placed it there. Then they sealed the tomb with seven seals, and they set up an encampment there, to stand guard.

Early in the morning on the sabbath day, many came out from Jerusalem and the surrounding area to see this tomb which was sealed. And in the night before the Lord's day, as the soldiers were on guard by two's per watch, a loud voice came from the heavens, and they saw the heavens parting, and two shining men came down and went towards the tomb. The stone which had been placed at the entrance rolled out of the way all by itself, and made an opening for the young men, who then entered. When those soldiers saw this, they aroused the centurion and the elders, for they were there keeping guard as well. While they related the things they had seen, they [all] saw three men coming out of the tomb, two of them supporting one, and a cross following [behind] them. The first two were as tall as the heavens, but the one who was led by them was taller than the heavens. They heard a voice from the heavens saying "You have preached to those who are sleeping?". And this response was heard from the cross, "Yes" [indeed].

Together, they pondered whether or not they should go and describe these events to Pilate. While they were still considering this, the heavens parted and a certain man came down and entered into the tomb. When the centurion and his companions saw this, they went quickly through the night to Pilate, leaving the tomb [unguarded] which they were watching over, and they related to him all these events which they had observed. They were very upset, and said "Truly He was the Son of God". Pilate answered them and said, "I am totally clean from the blood of this son of god; you were the ones who meant for this to happen." Then they came close to him asking and begging him to instruct the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing at all about the events which they had seen. They said "It would be better for us, even though we may be culpable of the greatest offence against God, not to be taken by the Jewish people and be stoned". Therefore, Pilate instructed the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.

As the Lord's day dawned, Mary Magdalene, a disciple of the Lord, was in great fear of the Jews because they were afire with anger, thus she had not done the womanly things for the Lord's tomb which women do for their loved ones. So, she took her friends with her, and they went to the tomb where He was laid. They were afraid that they would be seen by the Jews, and so they said, "Although when he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now let us us attend to his needs at his tomb. But who will roll away the stone that was placed at the entrance of the tomb to allow us to enter, and sit with him, and see to his needs?" The the stone was very large, and they were afraid of being seen. "And if we can't [gain entrance], let's leave the things we are bringing in memory of Him by the entrance, then we will weep and mourn along our way, back to our homes". Then they went and found that the tomb had been opened; as they approached, they looked in and saw a radiant man wearing an intensely bright robe, sitting in the middle of the tomb. He said to them, "What have you come here for? Who are you looking for? The one who was crucified? He has risen, and gone. If you don't believe me, look in here and examine the place where was laid, and see that he is no longer here, since he is risen and gone back to the place from which he was sent". Then the women were afraid, and they ran away.

On the last of the days of the Unleavened Bread, many people were leaving and returning home, since the feast was ended. But we, the Lord's twelve followers, were weeping and mourning. Then each one of us left to go to his own home, since we were grief stricken about the things which had happened. But I, Simon Peter, along with my brother Andrew, took our nets and went down to the sea. Levi, the son of Alphaeus, went along with us; the one whom the Lord...

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