Why is the Gospel of Peter usually thought to be later than the four
canonicals? Very few scholars believe otherwise and for good reason. I have set
out below the whole available text of this Gospel with some areas in
red, blue or
pink. If it a phrase is in red it is a section
where Peter includes a detail found only in Luke and if it is in blue it is a
detail only in Matthew. Finally, there is one phrase identical to part of Mark I
have put in pink.
What does this tell us? We appear to have the synoptic problem all over
again. If, like me, you believe that it is the sketchy Gospel of Mark that was
written earlier than the more detailed Matthew and Luke you might also think
that the even more detailed Peter is based on all of the synoptics plus some
more, even later, traditions. That best explains why Peter contains details from
all three synoptic Gospels and means that Peter must be written last of all.
Peter is shown to be late by some other points worth mentioning. Pilate is
here completely whitewashed and the Jews squarely blamed. This Gospel clearly
comes from a period when Christians no longer felt any affiliation to the Jews
but did not want Rome blamed for Jesus' death. Second, Jesus is always called
the LORD and seems to have no feeling of pain. This is not the very human Jesus
of the Gospels but one who did not even seem to suffer on the cross. Even the
Jews have cottoned on to the fact He is more than they thought.
The evidence of having details from all three synoptics in Peter and the
points mentioned above mean that Peter was certainly composed later than the
synoptic gospels by someone with access to all three. This means that 100AD is
the earliest possible date and anytime in the fifty years afterwards is more
I. But of the Jews no man washed his hands,
neither did Herod nor any one of his judges: and
whereas they would not wash, Pilate rose up. And then
Herod the king commanded that the Lord should be taken into their
hands, saying unto them: All that I commanded you to do unto him, do ye.
II. Now there stood there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord, and
he, knowing that they were about to crucify him, came unto Pilate and begged
the body of Jesus for burial. And Pilate sending unto Herod, begged his body.
And Herod said: Brother Pilate, even if none had begged for him, we should
have buried him, since also the Sabbath dawneth; for it is written in the law
that the sun should not set upon one that hath been slain (murdered).
III. And he delivered him unto the people before the first day of (or on
the day before the) unleavened bread, even their feast. And they having taken
the Lord pushed him as they ran, and said: Let us hale the Son of God, now
that we have gotten authority over him. And they put on him a purple robe, and
made him sit upon the seat of judgement, saying: Give righteous judgement,
thou King of Israel. And one of them brought a crown of thorns and set it upon
the Lord's head; and others stood and did spit in his eyes, and others
buffeted his cheeks; and others did prick him with a reed, and some of them
scourged him, saying With this honour let us honour (or at this price let us
value) the son of God.
IV. And they brought two malefactors, and crucified the Lord between them.
But he kept silence, as one feeling no pain. And when they set the cross
upright, they wrote thereon: This is the King of Israel. And they laid his
garments before him, and divided them among themselves and cast the lot upon
them. But one of those malefactors reproached them,
saying: We have thus suffered for the evils which we have done; but this man
which hath become the saviour of men, wherein hath he injured you? And
they were wroth with him, and commanded that his legs should not be broken,
that so he might die in torment.
V. Now it was noonday, and darkness prevailed over all Judaea: and they
were troubled and in an agony lest the sun should have set, for that he yet
lived: for it is written for them that the sun should not set upon him that
hath been slain (murdered). And one of them said: Give ye him to drink gall
with vinegar: and they mingled it and gave him to drink: and they fulfilled
all things and accomplished their sins upon their own heads. And many went
about with lamps, supposing that it was night: and some fell. And the Lord
cried out aloud saying: My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he
had so said, he was taken up. And in the same hour was the veil of the temple
of Jerusalem rent in two.
VI. And then they plucked the nails from the hands of the Lord and laid him
upon the earth: and the whole earth was shaken, and there came a great fear on
all. Then the sun shone forth, and it was found to be the ninth hour. And the
Jews rejoiced, and gave his body unto Joseph to bury it, because he had beheld
all the good things which he did. And he took the Lord and washed him and
wrapped him in linen and brought him unto his own sepulchre, which is called
the Garden of Joseph.
VII. Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, when they perceived how
great evil they had done themselves, began to lament and to say: Woe unto our
sins: the judgement and the end of Jerusalem is drawn nigh. But I with my
fellows was in grief, and we were wounded in our minds and would have hid
ourselves; for we were sought after by them as malefactors, and as thinking to
set the temple on fire. And beside all these things we were fasting, and we
sat mourning and weeping night and day until the Sabbath.
VIII. But the scribes and Pharisees and elders gathered one with another,
for they had heard that all the people were murmuring and beating their
breasts, saying: If these very great signs have come to pass at his death,
behold how righteous he was. And the elders were afraid and came unto Pilate,
entreating him and saying: Give us soldiers that we (or
they) may watch his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and
steal him away and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead, and do
us hurt. And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to
watch the sepulchre; and the elders and scribes came with them unto the tomb,
and when they had rolled a great stone to keep out (al. together with) the
centurion and the soldiers, then all that were there together set it upon the
door of the tomb; and plastered thereon seven seals; and they pitched a tent
there and kept watch.
IX. And early in the morning as the Sabbath dawned, there came a multitude
from Jerusalem and the region roundabout to see the sepulchre that had been
sealed. Now in the night whereon the Lord's day dawned, as the soldiers were
keeping guard two by two in every watch, there came a great sound in the
heaven, and they saw the heavens opened and two men descend thence, shining
with (lit. having) a great light, and drawing near unto the sepulchre. And
that stone which had been set on the door rolled away of itself and went back
to the side, and the sepulchre was...
X. ...opened and both of the young men entered in. When therefore those
soldiers saw that, they waked up the centurion and the elders (for they also
were there keeping watch); and while they were yet telling them the things
which they had seen, they saw again three men come out of the sepulchre, and
two of them sustaining the other (lit. the one), and a cross following, after
them. And of the two they saw that their heads reached unto heaven, but of him
that was led by them that it overpassed the heavens. And they 42 heard a voice
out of the heavens saying: Hast thou (or Thou hast) preached unto them that
sleep? And an answer was heard from the cross, saying: Yea.
XI. Those men therefore took counsel one with another to go and report
these things unto Pilate. And while they yet thought thereabout, again the
heavens were opened and a man descended and entered into the tomb. And they
that were with the centurion (or the centurion and they that were with him)
when they saw that, hasted to go by night unto Pilate and left the sepulchre
whereon they were keeping watch, and told all that they had seen, and were in
great agony, saying: Of a truth he was the son of God. Pilate answered and
said: I am clear from the blood of the son of God, but thus it seemed good
unto you. Then all they came and besought him and exhorted him to charge the
centurion and the soldiers to tell nothing of that they had seen: For, said
they, it is expedient for us to incur the greatest sin before God, rather than
to (and not to) fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be
stoned. Pilate therefore charged the centurion and the soldiers that they
should say nothing.
XII. Now early on the Lord's day Mary Magdalene, a disciple (fem.) of the
Lord-which, being afraid because of the Jews, for they were inflamed with
anger, had not performed at the sepulchre of the Lord those things which women
are accustomed to do unto them that die and are beloved of them-took with her
the women her friends and came unto the tomb where he was laid. And they
feared lest the Jews should see them, and said: Even if we were not able to
weep and lament him on that day whereon he was crucified, yet let us now do so
at his tomb. But who will roll away for us the stone
also that is set upon the door of the tomb, that we may enter in and
sit beside him and perform that which is due? for the stone was great, and we
fear lest any man see us. And if we cannot do so, yet let us cast down at the
door these things which we bring for a memorial of him, and we will weep and
lament until we come unto our house.
XIII. And they went and found the sepulchre open : and they drew near and
looked in there, and saw there a young man sitting in the midst of the
sepulchre, of a fair countenance and clad in very bright raiment, which said
unto them: Wherefore are ye come? whom seek ye? not him that was crucified? He
is risen and is departed; but if ye believe it not, look in and see the place
where he lay, that he is not here: for he is risen and is departed thither
whence he was sent. Then the women were affrighted and fled.
XV. Now it was the last day of unleavened bread, and many were coming forth
of the city and returning unto their own homes because the feast was at an
end. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, were weeping and were in
sorrow, and each one being grieved for that which had befallen departed unto
his own house. But I, Simon Peter, and Andrew my brother, took our nets and
went unto the sea: and there was with us Levi the son of Alphaeus, whom the