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The Gospel Of Peter

Alternate title: The Lost Gospel According To Peter

c. 70-150 C.E.

The only surviving portion of the Gospel of Peter is within a codex discovered in the grave of a monk at Akhmm, Egypt in 1884, though it has been argued that Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2949 may contain an earlier redaction. The codex contains a fragmentary passion and resurrection narrative with parallels to all four of the canonical gospels plus the theme of Christ preaching to the dead found in the first letter of Peter, and, while maintaining the essential framework found in the canon, offers significant differences in the smaller details, possibly representing an independent oral tradition.

The gospel was used by the church at Rhossus and often quoted by Christian writers during the latter part of the second century. Modern scholars initially had assumed that Peter was dependent upon the canonical gospels, but more recently the possibility has been examined that the passion narrative is in fact the earliest of the known accounts. The gospel contains none of the "special" Matthean or Lukan material that would be expected if those gospels had priority. In fact, Peter's source for the passion narrative may have been the same one used by both Mark and John.

The Gospel of Peter was eventually branded as heretical, if for no other reason, because it seemed to deny the suffering of Jesus. The particular passage (4:1) reads, "And they brought two criminals and crucified the Lord between them. But he himself remained silent, as if in no pain." However, this agrees with the expected silence of the "suffering servant" in Isaiah 53:7, and therefore is not a docetic statement.

In this and many other areas, Peter's gospel relies very heavily upon references to Jewish messianic prophecy; more so than even Matthew. The trend in later gospel writings (particularly John) was to ignore messianic expectations, giving further support to an early date of composition.