Until now. Peter belongs on the bookshelf of every serious Christian. Michael Pakaluk, Ph. He earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees at Harvard University and studied as a Marshall Scholar at the University of Edinburgh. An expert in ancient philosophy, he has published widely on Aristotelian ethics and the philosophy of friendship, as well as groundbreaking work in the ethics of accounting.
2. The Gospel According to Peter (2 Peter 1:1-4)
I recommend it for anyone interested in mulling over the Gospel, especially those who are open to taking it seriously as though true. This must surely be the definitive version of a great book—a book of astonishing literary power. Highly recommended. And he has fitted in at once into the old surroundings.
The second century was a book-making age ; but the books were very often not original. As Spurgeon used to say of many modern books, They stir up our pure minds by way of remembrance.
Background Information about the Gospel of Peter
Books were made out of books. The literary imagination played around the old facts or the old records. The Teaching of the Apostles used an earlier, perhaps a Jewish, manual : the Apology of Aristides was indebted to a book still unrecovered, the Preaching of Peter. Each of these in turn was embodied in later works : the Teaching was used and used up, as we are told, in the Shepherd of Hermas, besides the more obvious places where we trace it : the Apology of Aristides lies embedded in a religious novel.
Similarly, there can be no manner of doubt as to whence our new Gospel derived the main bulk of its facts and of its language. Indeed it is surprising that it should have so many points of contact as we have already noted with the surrounding literature.
The second point to which I would call attention is a very different one. We are sometimes told that certain of the Books of the New Testament are Tendenz-schriften : that is to say, they are composed with the aim of setting forth at any cost the peculiar view of some special school of Christian thought. Well, here we have a good example of a Tendency- Writing. It is worth careful study from this point of view. Old statements are suppressed, or wilfully perverted and displaced : new statements are intro duced which bear their condemnation on their faces.
Here is History as it should be : Lines left out of the old familiar records.
Thirdly, I must try to say a word about the date of our new Book. The points in which our writer seems to coin cide with Tatian, together with the use of the Four Gospels side by side, suggesting that the work is based upon a previous Harmony, might make us hesitate to place it earlier than c. But on the other hand its seeming coincidence with the Leucian Acts, which deserves a full investigation, tends to push it back before For the whole style of the narrative is much less complex, and indeed suggests at once a very early date. In all the instances of similarity with other books we cannot prove as yet that our author has borrowed, save from the Four Gospels.
In every other case he may have used some source used also by the other writers and now entirely lost : nay, in some cases he may be the original authority him self. The main views here expounded may be traced back even to Cerinthus the opponent of S. John : and we know that S.
Ignatius strenuously combated Docetic teachers. So that we need not be surprised if further evidence shall tend to place this Gospel nearer to the beginning than to the middle of the second century. Lastly, the unmistakeable acquaintance of the author with our Four Evangelists deserves a special comment 1. To him they all stand on an equal footing. He lends no support to the attempt which has been made to place a gulf of separation between the Fourth Gospel and the rest, as regards the period or area of their acceptance as Canonical.
Nor again does he countenance the theory of the continued circulation in the second cen tury of an Urevangelium, or such a prae-canonical Gospel as we feel must lie behind our Synoptists.
A Summary of the Evidence for a Second Century Date of the Gospel of Peter
He uses our Greek Gospels ; there is no proof though the possibility of course is always open that he knew of any Gospel record other than these. And so the new facts are just what they should be, if the Church s universal tradition as to the supreme and unique position of the Four Canonical Gospels is still to be sustained by historical criticism. The words of Irenaeus in. Since therefore those who contradict us lend us their testimony and use our Gospels, the claim which we have made on their behalf is thereby confirmed and verified. Thus the use made of the distinctive parts of each Gospel may be seen at a glance.
It seems as though we had at last a parallel to the extraordinary interpolation at Me. Bobbiensis k , an Old Latin MS. This passage clearly cannot belong to its present context : but it closely corresponds with the Ascension of the Divine Christ from the Cross ; even to the mention of the reappearance of the sun.
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The hour may have been changed, so as to be less inconsistent when the passage had got into its new context. The notes of time are as follows : i. The Body must not remain unburied after sunset on this day. The darkness covers Judaea. The light returns. I tyuepas ews rov rafipdrov. The Disciples fast and mourn. The Jews propose to watch the Tomb. The multitude come to see the Tomb.
The Voice and the Vision. They hasten to tell Pilate.
Mary Magdalen comes to the Tomb with the other women. Many return to their homes. The Disciples go to the sea. We may perhaps arrange them in order thus : Abib Period of unleavened bread begins. Sheaf waved , 6 1 6.
Who Was Peter and Why Was He So Important?
First day of the week. Second ,, ,, 1 8. Third Fourth ,, ,, Fifth Sabbath  In 13 the Disciples are still weeping and mourning : so that we may explain 4 perhaps as meaning all the days until the second sabbath. In fact a w-shaped j3 may have fallen out after rou: so that we might possibly restore rov 3 aapfiarov. But this is not necessary, as the first sabbath had begun at the time referred to. It is remarkable then that the Disciples remain a week in hiding at Jerusalem, and then leave it for Galilee without having seen the Lord at all. The first of these statements may be suggested by Jn.
Matthew and S. Mark, is in direct contrast with Lc.
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I have already suggested pp. In these the same stress is laid on the corruption of the body of Lazarus ; and Philip appears together with Herod as plotting against the Lord, as in Anaph. Moreover these fragments seem to be connected in method with others which correspond to the Historia Josephi, in which we find the one statement which Origen preserves to us from this Gospel see above p. OF the two fragments of early Christian literature which have just been called out of Egypt, the extract from the Gospel of Peter is no doubt the more immediately interest ing : and, in the excitement caused by that, the Apocalyptic fragment, which follows it in the Gizeh MS.
And yet, had this latter stood by itself, its discovery would have caused a very considerable stir in the theological world. No one in terested in the history of the Canon of the New Testament could have failed to be excited when nearly half of the text of the Revelation of Peter was laid before him. For this book was one of which we heard much and saw very little. It always seemed strange that we were constantly encountering its name in early documents, and yet, when we came to inquire about its character and contents, there were exactly six passages which gave us any idea on the subject, while the total amount of the text which they preserved may have been eight lines.
Curiously enough, moreover, modern writers on the subject had hardly ventured more than the most general conjectures on these fragments, and had not succeeded in drawing from them by any means all the information which, scanty as they were, they could be made to afford.
Who Was Peter and Why Was He So Important? - Bible Study
For myself, they had always possessed a curious interest, as being the remains of a book once highly prized in several important Christian communities, and, more than that, as being the relics of the earliest Christian Apocalypse, save one, that was ever written: and, in the year , I had taken some pains in collecting and commenting on these poor relics, and, in particular, in attempting to reconstruct by their aid the probable contents of the book, and to estimate its influence on later works of the same class.
In the course of these investigations it became clear that the book must have contained at least two ele ments, one a prophetical or predictive section, relating to the end of the world, the other, a narrative of visions; and more particularly, a vision of the torments of the wicked, in which various classes of sinners were represented as punished in a manner suitable to their offences.
It became clear, moreover, that certain books showed more or less clear traces of obligation to this old Apocalypse : in particular, this was true of the second book of the Sibylline oracles, the Apocalypse of Paul, and the later Apocalypse of Esdras. And, what was interesting from the literary point of view, we could trace the influence of the Apocalypse of Paul upon almost all the mediaeval visions, even in the Divina Commedia of Dante.
So that through the medium of the Pauline vision, the Apocalypse of Peter had had a share in moulding the greatest poem of the middle ages. In my recent edition of the Testament of Abraham 1 I took occasion to set forth the main lines of this view : but it was not possible there nor will it be, I fear, on the present occasion to set forth, with all the necessary detail, the steps which led me to the conclusions which I have just stated. But perhaps I have said enough to 1 Texts and Studies, ii. It is time, however, to leave generalities and to approach details. I propose to divide this paper into three heads a practice for which I fancy there are precedents.