Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter

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The Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter is a text found amongst the Nag Hammadi library, and part of the New Testament apocrypha. Like the vast majority of texts in the Nag Hammadi collection, it is heavily Gnostic.[1] It was probably written around 100-200 AD. Since the only known copy is written in Coptic, it is also known as the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter.[1]

The text begins with Jesus instructing Peter on the importance of true knowledge and the danger of ignorance, values strongly associated with Gnosticism. However, the most defining feature of the text is its extreme interpretation of the crucifixion. Peter witnesses the crucifixion with Jesus seemingly simultaneously alongside him, on the cross, and above the cross, laughing. When Peter turns to the Jesus next to him to ask for an explanation, he is told: "He whom you see above the cross, glad and laughing, is the living Jesus. But he into whose hands and feet they are driving the nails is his physical part, which is the substitute."[2] Like some of the rarer Gnostic writings, the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter doubts the established Crucifixion story which places Jesus on the cross.[1] The gospel is also notable for Jesus' statements that condemn church leaders, citing them as "dry canals" that lead Christians astray. The gospel ends with Peter "coming to his senses", suggesting the events depicted to have at least partially come from a dream. [2]


It is unclear whether this text advocates an adoptionist or docetist Christology, but based on its literary parallels with the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, it may well subscribe to the latter.


  1. ^ a b c Luttikhuizen, Gerard (2003). "The Suffering Jesus and The Invulnerable Christ in the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter". In Bremmer, Jan N.; Czachesz, István (eds.). The Apocalypse of Peter. Leuven: Peeters Publishers. pp. 187–200. ISBN 90-429-1375-4.
  2. ^ a b Ehrman, Bart D. (2008). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press. p. 218.

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