The Development of the Canon of the New Testament

Home | Authorities | Writings | Table | Lists | Places | Heresies | Miscellaneous | for more Information

Apocryphal New Testament Writings

Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Truth
Gospel of the Twelve
Gospel of Peter
Gospel of Basilides
Gospel of the Egyptians
Gospel of the Hebrews
Gospel of Matthias
Traditions of Matthias
Preaching of Peter
Acts of Andrew
Acts of Paul
Acts of John
Epistle to the Laodiceans
I Clement
Epistle of Barnabas
Shepherd of Hermas
Apocalypse of Peter

Gospel of Peter (Syria, 100-130 CE)

Down to 1886 scholars were aware of a Gospel of Peter, but not so much as a single quotation from it was known. Origen casually refers to it in his Commentary on Matthew (10.17) when discussing the brethren of Jesus, and Eusebius records the negative opinion expressed by Bishop Serapion of Antioch after he had read a copy of this apocryphal gospel:

... most of it is indeed in accordance with the true teaching of the Savior, but some things are additions to that teaching, which items also we place below for your benefit.

Unfortunately, Eusebius, to whom we are indebted for a copy of this part of Serapion's letter, did not quote the specific points which the bishop found objectionable; he apparently brought it into connection with 'Docetists'. In another place, Eusebius classifies the Gospel of Peter as one of the heretical writings.

In the winter of 1886-7 a large fragment of the Greek text of the Gospel of Peter was discovered in a tomb of a monk at Akhmîm in Upper Egypt. It is a manuscript from the 8th century - an online text is available. A smaller 2nd-3rd century fragment was discovered later at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.

The text, which is translated in [Schneemelcher] v. 1 pp. 223-226, tells of the passion, death, and burial of Jesus, and embellishes the account of his resurrection with details concerning the miracles that followed. The responsibility for Christ's death is laid exclusively on the Jews, and Pilate is exonerated. Here and there we find traces of the Docetic heresy, and perhaps this is the reason why Jesus' cry of dereliction on the cross is given in the form 'My Power, my Power, why have you forsaken me?'.

Written probably in Syria between 100-130 CE the Gospel of Peter shows acquaintance with all 4 canonical Gospels but seems, in general, to have taken only limited notice of them. According to the investigation made by [Denker] pp. 58-77, it appears that almost every sentence of the passion narrative was composed on the basis of Scriptural references in the Old Testament, particularly in Isaiah and the Psalms. He argues that the work is a product of Jewish Christianity written sometime between the two Jewish uprisings. For differing opinions see [Schneemelcher] v. 1 pp. 217-222.

Pages created by Glenn Davis, 1997-2010.
For additions, corrections, and comments send e-mail to