A Revision of the Origin and Role of the Supporting Angels in the Gospel of Peter (10:39b)1

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Pablo M. Edo1
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  • 1 Facultad de Teología, Universidad de Navarra, E-31009 Pamplona,
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One of the striking features of the Gospel of Peter is the presence in the Resurrection account of two heavenly beings who emerge from Jesus’ tomb, supporting between them a third character. Previous attempts to explain the origin of this scene have been quite varied: inspiration in biblical sources, the author’s own creativity, a pre-canonical synoptic-type source, etc. After a literary analysis of the passage, the paper reviews the closest potential canonical and extracanonical parallels for this scene, especially in Intertestamental Literature. Analysis of these examples helps to clarify the origin and specific role of the supporting characters.



One of the striking features of the Gospel of Peter is the presence in the Resurrection account of two heavenly beings who emerge from Jesus’ tomb, supporting between them a third character. Previous attempts to explain the origin of this scene have been quite varied: inspiration in biblical sources, the author’s own creativity, a pre-canonical synoptic-type source, etc. After a literary analysis of the passage, the paper reviews the closest potential canonical and extracanonical parallels for this scene, especially in Intertestamental Literature. Analysis of these examples helps to clarify the origin and specific role of the supporting characters.

1 Introduction: Interest of the Unparalleled Elements in the Gospel of Peter

One of the subjects that has attracted great attention in the Gospel of Peter (henceforth gp) is its relationship with the canonical gospels. It is well known that this relationship is peculiar.2 In fact, gp has many elements in common with each one of the canonical accounts of the Passion, and even with all four taken together, but its wording does not overlap with any of them for more than three words at a time.3 This has led some authors to analyse gp in terms of dependence on or independence from the canonical gospels.4 According to this terminology, most authors support the view that this text is dependent.5 As Crossan acknowledged some years ago,6 there has been criticism not only of the notion of gp’s total independence but also of proposals like his own, which argue for the presence of a certain amount of independent material in gp which might contain ancient traditions concerning Jesus.7 What would seem to be at stake for these scholars is the nature of the dependence. Some authors believe that this is a form of literary dependency, in the sense that gp is a reworking of the canonical gospels that the author wrote with the books open in front of him.8 Other authors defend the idea that gp made heavy use of canonical oral tradition: gp might be a free combination of memories and traditions from the canonical gospels which the author had often heard.9 In R.E. Brown’s opinion, gp is a kind of Diatessaron composed from memory, without historical rigour—a popular, dramatic resource that could be used to represent the scene of the Passion.10

When we approach gp, we must always keep its unique elements in the foreground, because if we can find out the origin of these elements, we might come closer to understanding the origin of the work itself. In this context, Foster’s words are of interest: ‘The Gospel of Peter appears to be posterior to the canonical gospels where there are parallel passages. In those cases where there is unparalleled material, there is little reason to suppose that this is due to anything other than the author’s own creativity’.11 Is all the unparalleled material in gp merely the fruit of the author’s creativity? It is erroneous to suggest that gp contains material that predates the canonical gospels? I would like to revisit this issue by focusing on the account of the resurrection in which Jesus comes out of the tomb, since this contains the greatest number of elements that would seem to be unique to gp. For reasons of space, and because of the literary features of the passage that forms the subject, I shall focus here on gp 10:39b, that is, the picture of the two characters accompanying a third. Although this image has already received a fair amount of attention, here I shall offer the reader a more detailed study of it, endeavouring to shed some new light on the origin of this motif, the role these supporting characters play, and the way that the picture of gp 10:39b should be read.

2 Three Men Emerge from the Tomb of Jesus

The account of the resurrection in the GP is to be found in the section 9:35-11:49, which starts with ‘the night in which the Lord’s Day dawned’ and finishes with Pilate ordering the centurion to say nothing about what the witnesses had seen. gp 10:39-42 refers strictly to the exit from the tomb. Here I transcribe the Akhmîm Greek text with the English translation from Foster’s edition:12

39. καὶ ἐξηγουµένων αὐτῶν ἃ εἶδον πάλιν ὅρασιν ἐξελθόντος ἀπὸ τοῦ τάφου τρεῖς ἄνδρες καὶ τοὺς δύο τὸν ἕνα ὑπορθοῦντας καὶ σταυρὸν ἀκολοθοῦντα αὐτοῖς.

40. καὶ τῶν µὲν δύο τὴν κεφαλὴν χωροῦσαν µέχρι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, τοῦ δὲ χειραγωγουµένου ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ὑπερβαίνουσαν τοὺς οὐρανούς.

41. καὶ φωνῆ[ς] ἤκουον ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν λεγούσης• ἐκήρυξας τοῖς κοιµωµένοις;

42. καὶ ὑπακοὴ ἠκούετο ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ [ὅ]τι ναί.

39. While they were reporting what they had seen, again they saw coming out from the tomb three men, and the two were supporting the one, and a cross following them.

40. And the heads of the two reached as far as heaven, but that of the one being led by them surpassed the heavens.

41. And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, ‘Have you preached to those who sleep?’

42. And a response was heard from the cross, ‘Yes.’

This story about the exit from the tomb is not easy to interpret, partly because it is not entirely concrete. It could be said that the whole of this resurrection narrative is characterized by its vagueness. For example, gp 9:35 tells that a heavenly voice is heard and, oddly enough, does not say anything in particular. Nor does it tell us what happens to the three characters after the dialogue in verses 41-42. Verse 43 narrates the reaction of those present and verse 44 reports that ‘the heavens were seen opening and a certain man descended and entered the tomb’, which would suggest that the three figures previously mentioned had already disappeared. But this is left for the reader to deduce. On the other hand, to whom is the voice from the heavens in verse 41 speaking? To the central character, or to the cross? Where is the cross when the voice is heard answering the heavenly voice in verse 42? Thus, it seems that the writer is rather inexpertly weaving together various elements that make up his magnificent description of the events. For this reason, I believe that the “pieces” of the jigsaw should best be studied separately.

Let us focus our attention on gp 10:39b. Verse 39 is usually divided into three parts, where the second, 10:39b, corresponds to ἐξελθόντος13 ἀπὸ τοῦ τάφου τρεῖς ἄνδρες καὶ τοὺς δύο τὸν ἕνα ὑπορθοῦντας. The vagueness mentioned above is also present in verse 10:39b. The text calls these three figures ἄνδρες (men), without saying who they are. The reader can identify the central character with Jesus, because he was put in the tomb before (see gp 6:24), and the other two beings with the pair of young men having much brightness who descended from heaven and went into the tomb in 9:36-37. For this reason, these two figures can be identified as heavenly beings or even angels.14 On the other hand, the way that the three come forth from the tomb is unclear. It is left to the reader to imagine whether they come out walking, or perhaps floating. This latter idea might be supposed at least in the case of the cross that follows them (10:39c). It might also be supposed that they come out of the tomb with an upwards movement in order to go back into heaven. The description of the heads reaching heaven or surpassing the heavens in 10:40 might incline us in favour of such a reading.

The action of the two figures towards the third is also described with a certain degree of ambiguity. Verse 10:39b uses a peculiar form in Greek, ὑπορθοῦντας, which can be translated as supporting.15 But verse 10:40 refers to the central figure as the one which was χειραγωγουµένου, led by the hand or, in a more general sense, guided or led by the other two.16 These words thus offer several possible meanings. If we translate the form χειραγωγουµένου literally, the text means that these two figures are supporting the third and leading him by the hand. But if we translate χειραγωγουµένου in the more general sense, the text says that the two figures are supporting and guiding/leading the third. These nuances mean that it is possible to visualize the scene in various ways: perhaps the two figures are holding up the one in the middle, holding him by the hands or arms; or perhaps they are supporting him by holding his shoulders or carrying him under the armpits. We might even imagine that the two figures are carrying the third on their back. These different possibilities seem interesting, because as we shall see, there are other texts and representations which might fit with this broad range of possibilities. In any case the representation of gp remains enigmatic and two main questions emerge: 1) What is the origin of this picture? Has the author simply imagined it or did he borrow some elements from elsewhere? 2) What is exactly the role of the two characters? To answer these questions, we can draw on many potential canonical and extra-canonical parallels as I shall describe below.

3 Potential Canonical Parallels

Since the hypothesis that gp depends on the canonical gospels is the most widely accepted one, we should first look there for some parallels for the supporting characters of gp 10:39b. In this case, the writer could have combined some elements from the known canonical texts.

a) Narrative Texts

As far as the heavenly beings of gp 10:39b are concerned, one natural source would be the resurrection accounts, in which heavenly beings are present around the opened tomb (Mt 28:3, Mk 16:5, Lk 24:4) or inside the tomb (Jn 20:12). In Matthew an earthquake happens when an angel descends from heaven, moves the stone aside and sits down on it. This angel, whose appearance frightens the soldiers, tells the women about the resurrection. Matthew blends the soldiers’ perspective with that of the women. By contrast, Mark omits the soldiers and the earthquake. His account focuses on the perspective of the women and says that when they arrived, the stone had already been rolled aside and they saw a young man dressed in a white robe and sitting on the right. He told them about the resurrection. Luke follows the structure and perspective of Mark, but instead of an angel or a young man sitting down, two men in brilliant clothes appear, both of whom announce the resurrection to the terrified women. In John, the perspective centres on Mary Magdalen, even though she speaks in the first person plural when she tells Peter and the other disciples what she has seen. Then Mary Magdalen notices that the stone has been rolled to one side and sees two angels sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet of where Jesus’ body had lain, and finally she sees Jesus.

If we accept the hypothesis that the author of gp simply based his story on the canonical accounts of the resurrection, then he must have combined different elements, such as the descent of a celestial being (Mt), the stone which was rolled aside (Mt, Mk, Lk, Jn), the presence of two heavenly beings (Lk, Jn) and Jesus himself (Jn).17 In whatever case, gp follows the outline of Matthew he first tells the story from the soldiers’ perspective (9:35-10:42) and then from that of the women. However, gp does not combine these perspectives as Matthew does. In fact, the arrival of the women is described some time later (gp 12:50-54) in a way that is similar to what we find in Mark, but adding that Mary Magdalen leads the group of friends (gp 12:50-51), a point which is only reflected in John. On the other hand, gp 9:35-10:42 seems to have considerably extended Matthew’s narrative from the soldiers’ perspective.18 Where in Matthew the soldiers are alarmed by the earthquake, the descent of the angel and his sitting on the stone, in gp, the soldiers actually witness the resurrection of Jesus, preceded by a great voice from the heavens (v. 35); they see the skies opening and two men descend “having much brightness” (v. 36); the stone rolls away of its own accord, and the witnesses see how the two radiant men enter the tomb (v. 37).

If it is true that the writer of gp only used the canonical accounts of the resurrection to write about this scene, then in gp 10:39b he must have freely included the angels who witness the resurrection in Luke or John, but made them come out of the tomb in a different role: that of accompanying the resurrected Jesus. This would explain how, when everything is finished in the gp account, the heavens open and a certain man descends and goes into the tomb (v. 44). This is the figure who has the role of telling the women about the resurrection in gp 12.

Another possible source of influence for gp would be the Lucan accounts of the Ascension (Lk 24:5119 and Acts 1:9-11). Acts 1:9-11 adds the presence of the two men in white (or brilliant) robes, who appear after Jesus’ ascent into heaven. This picture has a connection with Lk 24:4 and the two men in dazzling clothes near the tomb of Jesus, and in some way it ties the passage to the Lucan scene of the transfiguration (for this account, see the next paragraph). Again, if gp used Lk 24:51 or Acts 1:9-11 for his resurrection account, then he must have freely included the angels who announce the second coming of Christ to the disciples after the ascension, but crediting them with another role: they are now at hand to help him out of the tomb.

If we accept the possibility that gp was inspired by other canonical texts, then another source could be the synoptic accounts of the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36), in so far as they present two men on both sides of a glorious Jesus. In this sense, the most interesting account seems to be that of Luke: only this gospel talks about two men, in general, and after he specifies that they are Moses and Elijah; besides, only Luke says that these two men appear in glory and mentions that, when the disciples were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. This picture presents some resemblances to gp 10:39b. Furthermore, some elements in the synoptic accounts of the Transfiguration match with the general account of gp 10:39-42, such as, for example, the divine voice,20 the conversation of Jesus with Moses and Elijah about his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem (again, only in Luke), and the mention of the resurrection from the dead at the end of the accounts.21 One point that clearly cannot be squared between the Transfiguration accounts and gp is precisely the condition of silence: the three synoptic gospels mention the exclusive revelation to particular witnesses (Mt 17:9, Mk 9:9, Lk 9:36). But the transcendent event in gp is clearly public, with a large number of witnesses who want to tell and report what they have seen (see gp 10:38 and 11:43).

In the accounts of Jesus’ Baptism (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22) several elements occur which appear to overlap with the story in gp: the opening of the skies (although in Lk it is the sky, in the singular), the motif of the descent from above, and the revelation of a heavenly voice. gp 9:36 states that the soldiers see the heavens open. However, in the Baptism narratives it is not entirely clear whether the witnesses actually see the heavens open. Mk 1:10 seems to rule out this possibility, and Mt 3:16 and Lk 3:21 do not assert this in positive terms as gp does. Finally, with slight variations, in the canonical stories of the Baptism, the voice refers to the Son, as ‘the Beloved one’ (Lk 3:22). But as has been seen above, gp does not tell us what the heavenly voice said. In any case, the element of the two supporting angels of gp 10:39b has no clear parallel in these texts.

b) Christological Texts

gp 10:38-42 might be a narrative development of pre-existing doctrinal notions which the author knew, and the supporting angels of 10:39b could be a piece of this narrative.

For example, the author of gp might have taken into account various canonical texts which emphasize Christ’s superiority over the angels. For instance, Hebrews 1:4 says that he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. The angels’ action in 10:39b and the comparison of the heads found in 10:40 therefore seem to indicate a doctrinal background similar to what we find in Hebrews 1. In other words, this is not something new that first appears in gp but rather the development of a specific Christological point.

However, another source for gp would be those texts that refer to the victorious Son of Man as the one who will judge all peoples with his angels (Mt 16:27; Mk 8:38; Lk 9:26), or as a celestial character surrounded by angels (Jn 1:51; cf. Gen 28:12). gp’s author could have been inspired by the teachings on the Son of Man when he presents his coming out of the tomb with the angels paying court to him as they will do at his second coming.

gp could be also a particular development of the doctrine of the descent-ascent that we find in the nt (for example in Rm 10:6-7, Jn 3:13, 13:1-3, 20:17),22 and which is linked sometimes with the preaching of Jesus to the dead and the further triumph of Christ over the angels, as occurs in 1Pe 3:18-22,23 a passage linked with a Petrine tradition, as gp also hypothetically is. In 1Pe 3:19 it is said that Jesus went to preach to the spirits in prison after his death and is now in heaven at God’s right hand with the angels, authorities and virtues (ἀγγέλων καὶ ἐξουσιῶν καὶ δυνάµεων) in submission to him (1Pe 3:22). So understood, the central character in gp would be the one who has descended first to hell (see gp 10:41-42) and from there comes up victorious to heaven. That would also be in agreement with the exaltation of Christ found in Eph 4:9, which talks about his ascension to heaven after he has descended into the lower parts of the earth.24

Finally, the text of Col 2:15 presents some similarities with the scene in gp when it says that Christ made a public spectacle (ἐν παρρησίᾳ) of the despoiled powers and authorities (τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας). gp could be a narrative development of this doctrine. The passage in Col 2:15 is frequently translated by supposing a triumphal ascent of Jesus with angels at his service; apparently an image not far from that of gp 10:39b. In this sense, Col 2:15 would partly explain the presence of heavenly beings in gp to stress the victory of Jesus.25

It would be a lengthy task to enumerate and discuss all the potential canonical parallels for gp 10:39b. In this section, I have presented those parallels that would seem to be the most relevant.26 After examining the potential extracanonical parallels, I shall discuss all the parallels together in section 5.

4 Potential Extracanonical Parallels

Outside the canonical texts we can find a considerable number of potential parallels for the pair of supporting angels in gp 10:39b precisely in works dating from the 1st and 2nd century, the period when gp is generally thought to have been composed.

a) The Ascension of Isaiah 3:16-17

One of these parallels, and probably the most relevant, is the well-known passage of the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 3:13-4:22, dated circa the beginning of the second century ce.27 The fragment describes, as a prophetic vision, the sequence of events of the life of Jesus, including his resurrection and ascension. The text contains some elements in common with gp such as the guard in front of the tomb, and in particular AsIs 3:16-17 where we read: ‘And that the angel of the Holy Spirit, and Michael, the prince of the holy angels, would on the third day open the tomb. And the Beloved himself, sitting upon their shoulders, would come forth and send out his twelve disciples’.28

The fragment of AsIs is more sober and much clearer than that of gp. It is simpler, because AsIs 3:16-17 omits other characteristic elements of gp 10:39-42, such as the cross following the characters, the gigantic size of the figures and the dialogue between the mysterious voices. AsIs 3:16-17 is also clearer because it states explicitly that the figures are angels, and even gives the name Michael to one, while the other is called the angel of the Holy Spirit, and might be identified as Gabriel.29 On the other hand, these two angels literally bear the third figure, described as “the Beloved”, on their shoulders. Perhaps this is what gp means by the unusual phrase ὑπορθοῦντας with the participle χειραγωγουµένου in 10:40. In whatever case, gp and AsIs overlap in describing the resurrection through an image of three figures emerging from the tomb, two of whom assist the third. Thus, it is interesting to ask what the origin of these texts might be. Did one influence the other, or did they have some common source?

Knibb dates AsIs 3:13-4:22 to around the end of the first century.30 On the one hand, he takes this date because 4Baruch (Paraleipomena of Jeremiah), which has been dated to the beginning of the second century, might contain a ‘loose quotation’ from AsIs 3:17.31 On the other, Knibb’s choice of date is also motivated by the fact that the description in AsIs 3:17 is similar to that found in gp, which is generally dated to the mid-second century ce.32 These resemblances enable him to make an argument for the dating of AsIs, but he does not tackle the issue of whether this text influenced gp or whether both shared some common source. As we know, this is precisely the view taken by some authors, who put forward the hypothesis of a pre-canonical source.33 What seems to be certain is that around the first and second centuries ce we can find many parallels for the image described in gp 10:39b.

b) Other Parallels

When Vaganay focused on the case of gp 10:39b, he offered an option that he himself took no further: the possible influence of the motif of psychopompoi or guiding angels.34 Later, some authors like Norelli and Nicklas made reference to this motif to account for the presence of the angels in both AsIs and gp, providing some parallels.35 The issue is worthy of more detailed analysis, since the number of parallels that come to light is quite considerable, and this would help to explain both the origin of the figures in gp 10:39b and the role that they play.

The motif of the accompanying characters was well known in the first and second centuries ce. In pagan literature, Hermes and Charon frequently played the escorting role of a ψυχαγωγός or ψυχοπωµπός to accompany people into the other world.36 But the motif also appears frequently in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and in Early Christianity. Nonetheless, it is possible to distinguish between two different contexts: on the one hand, that of leading the souls of the dead, and on the other, that of ecstatic visions of heaven or descriptions of how important characters are taken up to heaven.37

The motif of the psychopompoi linked with the first context, that is, with the departure of souls to heaven or hell, was well known in Early Christianity. In fact, it appears as early as the parable of the Rich Man (Lk 16:19-31), when the soul of Lazarus is taken up to the bosom of Abraham by psychopompoi angels (Lk 16:22).38 The fact that this motif is mentioned in the parable, without further explanation, as is the case with the phrase “in the bosom of Abraham”, suggests that these were commonplace for first century listeners. In point of fact, these psychopompoi angels also appear in other works of the same period. For example, in the Akhmimic fragment of the Apocalypse of Zephaniah 4:6 (ca. 1st cent. ce),39 Zephaniah sees many angels with strange faces whose role is that of leading the souls of the dead to a place of torment.40 The long recension of the Testament of Abraham (ca. 1st cent. ce)41 also tells us how the souls are borne by angels, for example, in 11:5: ‘and they saw many souls being driven by angels and being led through the broad gate, and they saw a few other souls and they were being brought by angels through the narrow gate.’42

Sometimes even the names of the most important angels appear, to give greater magnificence to the scene. Thus Michael is the psychopompos par excellence for taking the souls of the just up to heaven. For example, in the Greek version of the Life of Adam and Eve 37:6, (ca. 1st cent. ce)43 and usually known as the Apocalypse of Moses, Michael is ordered by God to take the soul of Adam to paradise.44 And in 4Baruch (The Paraleipomena of Jeremiah) 9:3-6 (2nd cent. ce),45 the prophet says before his death: ‘Holy, holy, holy, incense of the living trees, true light that enlightens me until I am taken up to you; for your mercy I plead, for the sweet voice of the two seraphim I plead, for another fragrant odor of incense. And may Michael, the archangel of righteousness who opens the gates for the righteous, be (the object of) my attention until he leads the righteous in.’46

Another case which requires special attention is the updated version of the biblical story of the witch of Endor (1Sam 28:14) in Pseudo-Philo 64:6 (ca. 1st cent. ce).47 In this work, the witch is named Sedecla, and tells Saul what the dead Samuel is like. Pseudo-Philo adds a pair of guiding angels that do not appear in the biblical text: ‘he is clothed in a white robe with a mantle placed over it, and two angels are leading him (duo angeli ducentes eum).’48 When Josephus (Antiqui., VI, 14:2, dated between 79 al 94 ce) writes a new version of the same passage, he does not mention angels.

Other parallel passages related to the context of gp 10:39b can be found in apocalyptic works dated circa the first or second century ce which describe the presence of the angels who guide not dead but living people. The part that the heavenly beings appear to play in this second type of narrative is not exactly the same as that of the psychopompoi. Rather than conveying the psyche, the soul, they accompany the person on what was known as a translatio to other places or heavenly tours. For example, in the Apocalypse of Abraham 15:2-5 (1st or 2nd cent. ce)49 the patriarch says: ‘an angel took me by the right hand, and he set me on the right wing of the pinion . . . and he took me up . . . And we ascended as if (carried) by many winds to the heaven that is fixed on the expanses.’50 In the Slavonic 3Baruch 2:1 (ca. 2nd cent. ce),51 Baruch says: ‘and the angel of hosts took me and carried me where the firmament of heaven is’ and a heavenly journey through the seven heavens starts and Baruch sees many mysteries.52 Another interesting case, because of its early date, (ca. first century ce),53 is 1 Enoch 71:3: ‘And the angel Michael, one of the archangels (Lit. ‘head [chief] angels’), seizing me by my right hand and lifting me up, let me into all the secrets. . . .’54 The parallel we find in the Shepherd of Hermas Vis. I, 4,3 (early second century ce)55 is particularly striking because it tells us precisely of two men who appear and take away the old lady who represents the Church, who had appeared to Hermas: ‘While (she) spoke to me, two men appeared, lifted her by the arms (δύο τινὲς ἄνδρες ἐφάνησαν καὶ ἦραν αὐτὴν τῶν ἀγκώνων), and they went to where the throne was, towards the east’. The motif of a pair of celestial beings frequently appears in the Slavonic Apocalypse of Enoch or 2 Enoch.56 Note that according to 2 Enoch 1:4 these two characters who will lead Enoch during his ascensions are ‘two huge men’, as in gp 10:40. Normally in such cases the celestial beings appear as God’s mediators: it is God who wants to lift the person up, and God to whom this action is attributed in the last instance. So, for example, in the Apocalypse of Abraham, the character talks with the Eternal One in these terms: ‘Since you have brought me up on to your height, therefore, inform me, your beloved . . .’ (28:2).57 In the Testament of Abraham mentioned above, which is a prolongation of the account of the Theophany at Mamre (Gn 18:1-8), God sends Michael to announce to the patriarch that he will die, and to take up his soul to heaven.58 But Abraham asks God to see the inhabited world before dying, and God grants his wish.

5 Interpretation of gp 10:39b

After considering the main potential parallels, we should attempt to answer the question set at the beginning of this paper: What is the origin and role of the two celestial beings who descend from heaven, enter the tomb and come out supporting and leading Jesus?

a) Origin of the “Supporting Angels” Motif

Examination of the potential canonical paralells does not permit us to rule out the hypothesis that the resurrection narrative in gp is mainly based on these, since gp includes many narrative elements that are present in the resurrection accounts. On the other hand, the presence of some unparalleled elements in gp’s account of the resurrection could be narrative developments of Christological texts to be found in the nt. But this possibility is difficult to demonstrate and verify. However, it seems more likely that a full explanation for the image presented in gp 10:39b is to be found in the inter-testamental literature of an apocalyptic nature,59 where closer parallels for the supporting angels appear in works dating from the first and second centuries ce, when gp is generally thought to have been written.60 The fact that gp was found with other apocalyptic texts (the Apocalypse of Peter and 1 Enoch) provides partial support for this hypothesis. Thus given that the motif of heavenly beings who attend and lead human beings or the souls of the dead appears relatively frequently in apocalyptic works that could be regarded as more or less contemporary to gp, the writer could have been influenced by this literary environment when he included a pair of angels in his resurrection narrative. The influence of this motif was to continue in Christianity,61 and it would also later take on a life of its own in Rabbinical literature.62

Hypothetically, an intra-Jewish origin for the motif could come from Enoch, the patriarch who disappeared because God took him (cf. Gn 5:24). In various places in the Bible this is interpreted as meaning that Enoch was ‘taken up’ from the earth.63 In the case of Elijah we are told that he was taken up in a whirlwind, on a chariot of fire (2Kg 2:10-11; 1Ma 2:58), while in the case of Ezekiel (cfr. Ez 3:14-15) the hand of the Lord held up the prophet.

b) The Role of the Supporting Angels

Regarding the specific function of the supporting angels in gp, several options appear. If we consider only the canonical parallels in Luke and John, where two celestial beings appear at or even inside the tomb to bear witness to the resurrection, we can see that gp might have incorporated this canonical pair of heavenly beings, changing their function to reassert the tradition of the empty sepulchre and thereby add more weight to refuting the conspiracy theory that the body was stolen, which gp alludes to in 8:30. In this sense, the tomb was empty on Sunday morning because Jesus came out of it, and the body was not taken by the disciples, but rather by heavenly beings, amid other extraordinary phenomena such as the stone which had rolled aside of its own accord, the heavens that opened, the heavenly voice, and so on.

The story in gp could therefore be apologetic in nature, as many authors have maintained. In Henderson’s words, what gp offers ‘is a rewriting of the resurrection account, a revision that is largely inspired by the desire to develop a stronger proof of the event. Several of the objections that were being made against the nt gospels are rendered ineffective by the new story in gp. It offers more persuasive proof that Jesus truly was raised from the dead.’64 The motivation is therefore similar to that which seems to have led to the apocryphal rewriting of other gospel stories. For example, in the Protogospel of St James (see chapters XVIII-XX), the miracle of not moving creatures, the luminous cloud at the entrance to the cave, Salome’s hand which burned when she had proof of Mary’s virginity, the appearance of the angel of the Lord and the healing of Salome, and the voice which ordered her not to tell others what she had seen, might all have been incorporated to defend the doctrine of the virgin birth. In this context, the extraordinary phenomena in gp’s resurrection story could have had a persuasive function similar to that of this apocryphal gospel of the infancy of Jesus.

On the other hand, we should ask whether the resurrected Jesus needs the help of heavenly beings because he has not recovered the dynamis which left him on the cross (gp 5:19).65 This brings us back to the long debate on docetism in gp since the time of Swete.66 But if the extra-biblical parallels are taken into account, it is possible to offer a different explanation for the role of the supporting angels.

In fact, as we have seen, the heavenly beings that accompany important figures in these works are there to fulfil God’s will as mediators. It would therefore seem to be valid to assume that something similar can be supposed in the case of gp.67 In gp 9:36 the two celestial beings descend from the open sky after a voice is heard. Thanks to the context of gp 9:36-10:42, it is uncontroversial to assume that this divine voice is giving orders which the heavenly beings are obeying. We could therefore agree with Foster in understanding the role of the supporting angels in gp 10:39b as ‘a servile act, whereby the heavenly beings lead the risen Lord to the new realm in which he is to be installed.’68

In the Jewish apocalypse, when such a divine act affects living people, these are always the most illustrious and famous figures such as Enoch, Abraham or Moses. These works often emphasize God’s predilection for such men, who are just in His eyes. This is the reason why celestial beings are sent to take up the character to the highest heaven and receive exclusive revelations and honours.69 By contrast, gp indicates at various points that Jesus is not only a righteous man, like Enoch, Abraham or Moses, but that he is ‘the Lord’ (gp 1:2, etc.), the ‘saviour of men’ (gp 4:13); and above all ‘the Son of God’ (gp 11:45-46). These titles are even used by his enemies. The supporting angels in gp 10:39b thus represent God’s predilection for Jesus, whom he wishes to exalt before his enemies.70 In a more general sense, just as during the passion gp tells us the greatest signs to show ‘how Just he was’ (gp 8:28), the resurrection narrative contains other extraordinary signs that confirm this, among which we find the divine mandate to take Jesus up.

Many authors have tried to define the scene in gp 9:36-10:42. For example, Vaganay called it a ‘résurrection triomphale’,71 considering that it was a popular adaptation of Luke’s ascension narrative.72 Daniélou understood it as an ascension.73 According to Crossan, it is an ‘escorted Resurrection-ascension.’74 For authors like Koester or Norelli the resurrection scene in gp is an epiphany.75 If gp took the element of the supporting angels from contemporary apocalyptic literature, the image in gp 10:39b should at least be read as an apocalyptic translatio of Jesus.

6 Conclusion

Elliott’s statement that gp is ‘a typical unsophisticated and uncritical product of the second-century syncretism’76 is still valid. In his apologetic attempt to fill the information gap concerning the resurrection in the canonical gospel, and to present this event in a portentous way, the writer of gp recreates a scene in which he rather inexpertly mixes or superposes elements from canonical tradition with inter-testamental elements, particularly those of an apocalyptic nature. An example of this is gp 10:39b, in which can be perceived the influence of the motif of the guiding angels for living people, which was in vogue in the second century ce. gp 10:39b therefore presents what we can call an apocalyptic translatio where the heavenly beings represent the divine predilection for Jesus.

1 I began to work on this paper during the year I spent at the University of Oxford, as visiting scholar, from June 2011 to July 2012. I wish to thank especially Prof. Christopher Tuckett and the Faculty of Theology for giving me the opportunity to attend the nt Seminars and read a first version of this paper in one of the sessions. I am very grateful to all the participants for their suggestions and criticisms. I would also like to thank the anonymous referee for his accurate and detailed corrections.

2 See for example R.E. Brown, ‘The Gospel of Peter and Canonical Gospel Priority,’ NST 33 (1987) 321-342. A brief summary in J. Verheyden, ‘Some reflexions on Determining the Purpose of the ‘Gospel of Peter’,’ in T.J. Kraus and T. Nicklas (eds.), Das Evangelium nach Petrus: Text, Kontexte, Intertexte (Berlin: de Gruyter 2007) 287. For a detailed study of this question cf. P. Foster, The Gospel of Peter. Introduction, Critical Edition and Commentary (London: Brill 2010) 119-147.

3 Cf. R.E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah: From Gethsemane to the Grave (2 vols., New York: Doubleday 1994) 2, 1321-1336.

4 See J.D. Crossan, ‘The Gospel of Peter and the Canonical Gospels,’ in Kraus and Nicklas (eds.), Das Evangelium nach Petrus, 117-134.

5 See, for example, studies by E. Neirynck, ‘The Apocryphal Gospels and the Gospel of Mark,’ in J.M. Sevrin (ed.), The New Testament in Early Christianity (Peeters: Leuven University 1989) 123-75, especially 140-57 and 171-75; J.B. Green, ‘The Gospel of Peter: Source for a Pre-Canonical Passion Narrative?,’ ZNW 78 (1987) 293-301; E. Wright, ‘Four Other Gospels [by J.D. Crossan]: Review Article,’ Themelios 12 (1987) 56-60, especially 58-60.

6 Crossan, ‘The Gospel of Peter and the Canonical Gospels,’ 134.

7 Mainly criticized by Brown, ‘The Gospel of Peter and Canonical Gospel Priority,’ 321–343; The Death of the Messiah 2, 1317–1349.

8 A. Kirk, ‘Examining Priorities: Another Look at the Gospel of Peter’s Relationship to the New Testament Gospels,’ ntS 40 (1994) 572–595: ‘Its narrative is by and large based upon the narratives preserved in the four gospels’ (594). About the literary dependence phenomenon see Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 115-119 and C.M. Tuckett, Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies in Q (Edinburgh: T&Tclark 1996) 16-39.

9 For example, S.E. Schaeffer, The “Gospel of Peter”, the Canonical Gospels, and Oral Tradition (Union Theological Seminary [nyc] Ph.D. Dissertation; umi Dissertation Service 1991); M.K. Stillman, ‘The Gospel of Peter: A Case for Oral-Only Dependency?,’ ETL 73 (1997) 114-120: ‘The author of the gp heard canonical texts recounted aloud but did not have them available in written format’ (120).

10 Brown, The Death of the Messiah 2, 1334, note 28.

11 Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 146. For more bibliography about the relationship of gp with the canonical accounts see also 119f. and the Introduction (1-172).

12 Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 202f.

13 ‘The form ἐξελθόντος contained in the manuscript appears to be erroneously written in place of ἐξελθόντας’, Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 409. See also, T.J. Kraus and T. Nicklas, Das Petrusevangelium und die Petrusapokalypse: Die griechischen Fragmente mit deutscher und englischer Übersetzung (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2004) 42.

14 See T. Nicklas, ‘Angels in Early Christian Narratives on the Resurrection of Jesus Canonical and Apocryphal texts,’ in F.V. Reiterer, T. Nicklas, K, Schöpflin (eds.), Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings. Origins, Development and Reception (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter 2007) 293-311, mainly 305-308.

15 The Greek verb ὑπορθόω, though uncommon, might not be ‘très rare’ as Vaganay claims. See Vaganay, L’Évangile de Pierre, 297; LSJ, s.v. ‘ὑπορθόω’ and Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 417. The Symmachus version of the Psalms has few examples of this term, meaning to support (Ps 36(37):31; 39(40):3; 43(44):19; 72(73):2).

16 LSJ, s.v. ‘χειραγωγέω’. About the mistaken form χειρατοτουµένου which appears in the Akhmimic fragment see Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 410.

17 Concerning heavenly beings in John see J. Draper, in his article ‘What did Isaiah see? Angelic theophany in the tomb in John 20:11-18,’ Neotestamentica 36 (2002): 63-76.

18 See for example M. Mara, Évangile de Pierre. Introduction, texte critique, traduction, commentaire et index (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf 2006; Reprint of 1973 ed. with additions and corrections) 180 and Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 416.

19 Which, according to Vaganay, the popular imagination of gp’s author could have used to recreate the scene with two characters. In his words: ‘Cette peinture du Christ ressuscité porte plutôt la marque de l’imagination populaire interprétant à sa manière le ἀνεφέρετο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν (ferebatur in coelum) de Lc., XXIV, 51),’ L’Évangile de Pierre, 298.

20 Which is the only element to be considered in the case of 2Pe 1:16-18 account of the Transfiguration.

21 Mt 17:6, Mk 9:6 and Lk 9:34 talk about the witnesses’ fear. This detail appears in gp 13:57 with reference to the women; in the case of the soldiers, gp 11:45 tells us that they were greatly distressed.

22 For the ascent-descent motif in the nt see, for example, A. Acerbi, L’Ascensione di Isaia. Cristologia e profetismo in Siria nei primi decenni del II secolo (Milano: Vita e Pensiero 1989) 60.

23 For the interpretation of this text see, for example, P.J. Achtemeier, A Commentary on First Peter (Minneapolis: Fortress Press 1996) 239-274.

24 For other examples of the preaching to the dead in Early Christian writings, see Mara, Il Vangelo di Pietro. Introduzione, versione, commento (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane Bologna 2002) 103, note 200.

25 And even the presence of the cross (gp 10:39c) if we translate the last ἐν αὐτῷ of Col 2:15 as ‘the cross’, (niv, 1984). The problem is that the expression ἐν αὐτῷ of Col 2:15 appears another seven times in the Letter to the Colossians (eight in P46), and always with a reference to Christ. In any case, the presence of the talking cross in gp 10:39c and 41-42 surpasses the subject of this paper.

26 On methodological issues, the case of the parable of the wealthy Epulon (Lk 16:19-31) is found in section 2b.

27 See H.F.D. Sparks, The Apocryphal Old Testament (from now on, AOT) (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1984) 780-781 and M.A. Knibb, ‘Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah,’ in J.H. Charlesworth (ed.), The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 2: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works (from now on, OTP) (2 vols., New York: Doubleday 1985) 145 and J. Knight, Disciples of the Beloved One. The Christology, Social Setting and Theological Context of the Ascension of Isaiah (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1996) 33. Until the last decades of the 20th century, most researchers accepted that chapters 1-5 of the Ascension of Isaiah included a previous piece of Jewish writing narrating the martyrdom of the prophet Isaiah. The passage 3:13-4:22, which is sometimes called the Testament of Hezekiah, was considered to be a Christian addition to this Jewish work. Since the 1980s, however, the hypothesis of a Jewish Urtext on the Martyrdom of Isaiah has come under fire, particularly in the critiques by M. Pesce. For more on this issue, see: M. Pesce (ed.), Isaia, il Diletto e la chiesa. Visione ed esegesi profetica cristiano-primitiva nell’Ascensione di Isaia. Atti del Convegno di Roma, 9-10 aprile 1981 (Brescia: trsr 20 1983) 13-69 and mainly M. Pesce, Il “Martirio de Isaia” non esiste: L’Ascensione di Isaia e le tradizione guidaiche sull’uccisione del profeta (Bologna: Centro Stampa Baiesi 1984).

28 OTP 2, 160 or AOT, 790. For a critical edition of the text with all its versions, see P. Bettiolo and E. Norelli (eds.), Ascensio Isaiae, Corpus Christianorum, Series Apocryphorum 7 and 8 (Turnhout: Brepols 1995).

29 See for example R.H. Charles, The Ethiopic version of the Ascension of Isaiah with Greek and Latin fragments (London: Adam and Charles Black 1900) 93, note 17. J. Daniélou, Théologie du judéo-christianisme. I. Histoire des doctrines chrétiennes avant Nicée (Tournai: Desclée & Cie 1958) 177f., claims that the angel of the Holy Spirit is a transposition of the Jewish image of Gabriel. But E. Norelli, ‘La resurrezione di Gesù nell’ Ascensione di Isaia,’ in CrSt 1 (1980) 315-366, 322-323 does not accept this identification and thinks that it is the Holy Spirit. See also Acerbi, L’Ascensione di Isaia, 122 and 212, note 6.

30 See M.A. Knibb, ‘The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah,’ in OTP 2, 143-150, 149.

31 Knibb observes the prophecy in AsIs 3:17: ‘And the Beloved himself, sitting upon their shoulders, would come forth and send out his twelve disciples’, pointing out that it appears as a ‘loose quotation’ in 4Baruch 9:20: ‘For he will come! And he will go out and choose for himself twelve apostles, that they may preach among the nations’ (OTP 2, 424). Knibb mentions 4Baruch 9:18, but I consider that he refers rather to v. 20, which is what seems to be a loose quotation of AsIs 3:17. Compare also 4Baruch 9:21 and AsIs 3:17-18.

32 OTP 2, 149.

33 See H. Grass, Ostergeschehen und Osterberichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1956) 23-27; R.J. Bauckham, ‘The Worship of Jesus in Apocalyptic Christianity,’ ntS 27 (1980-81) 332-341; Norelli, ‘La resurrezione di Gesù nell’ Ascensione di Isaia,’ 325-331 and 364f; Knight, Disciples of the Beloved One, 288-289; Crossan, ‘The Gospel of Peter and the Canonical Gospels,’ 117–134; Dewey, ‘Time to Murder and Create,’ 119. Some authors (for example, N. Walter, ‘Eine vormatthäise Schilderung der Auferstehung Jesu,’ in ntS 19 (1972/73) 415-429 or Crossan, The Cross that Spoke, 344), include the case of the Codex Bobbiensis, a Latin version of the Bible (normally identified as k), in their discussion; however, this is a very late parallel (4th/5th cent.). The manuscript is much damaged in many places, but in Mk 16:4 the scribe wrote a partially legible verse that describes the moment of the resurrection: ‘Subito autem ad horam tertiam tenebrae diei factae sunt per totum orbem terrae et descenderunt de coelis angeli et surgent (sic) in claritate vivi Dei simul ascenderunt cum eo et continuo lux facta est’. For a critical edition of the text, see C. Cipolla, Il codice evangelico k della Biblioteca universitaria nazionale di Torino, riprod. in facs. per cura della Regia accademia delle scienze di Torino (Torino: 1913). P.W. Hoogterp, Étude sur le Latin du Codex Bobbiensis (k) des Évangiles (Wageningen: H. Veenman & Zonen, Proefschrift/Groningen 1930). On the corrections, perhaps by Saint Columbanus himself, see F.C. Burkitt, ‘Further Notes on Codex k,’ JTS 5 (1900) 101. For a description of the Codex, see D.C. Parker, Manuscripts, Texts, Theology. Collected Papers 1977-2007 (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter 2009) 25-32.

34 Vaganay, L’Évangile de Pierre, 298.

35 E. Norelli, ‘La resurrezione di Gesù nell’Ascensione de Isaia,’ 341 and Nicklas, ‘Angels in Early Christian Narratives,’ 305.

36 For many Greek examples see O. Lehtipuu, The Afterlife Imagery in Luke´s Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Leiden/Boston: Brill 2007) 198-200. See also A. Grabar, Christian Iconography. A Study of Its Origins (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul 1969) 35, for some examples of Apotheosis, which are close in time to gp, like the Apotheosis of Antoninus and Faustina.

37 In these works ascension combines in a complex way with the genre of visions and heavenly journeys, linked with the later literature of the Merkavah and Jacob’s Ladder. See for example M. Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (New York: Oxford University Press 1993) and L. Carlsson, Round Trips to Heaven: Otherworldly Travellers in Early Judaism and Christianity (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International 2004); K. Herrmann, s.v. ‘Angels,’ in RPP 1, 228.

38 J.A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke (X-XXIV): Introduction, Translation and Notes (New York/London: Doubleday 1985) 1126, proposed the division: Lk 16:19-26 and 16:27-31. The ascension of the soul is in the first part.

39 OTP 1, 5oo-501.

40 OTP 1, 511.

41 OTP 1, 874-875.

42 OTP 1, 889.

43 OTP 2, 252.

44 ‘“Take him up into Paradise . . .” And the archangel Michael took Adam and brought him away and left him, just as God told him’, OTP 2, 291.

45 OTP 2, 414.

46 OTP 2, 424.

47 OTP 2, 299.

48 OTP 2, 377. See also H. Jacobson, A Commentary of Pseudo-Philo’s “Liber antiquitatum biblicarum”, with Latin Text and English Translation (2 vols., Leiden: Brill 1996) 2, 1208.

49 OTP 1, 683 and 686-688.

50 OTP 1, 696.

51 OTP 1, 653-656.

52 OTP 1, 664.

53 See OTP 1, 7 which dates this text even earlier: 1st cent. bc.

54 OTP 1, 49.

55 For the discussion of the date of Hermas see, for example, F. Szulc, Le fils de Dieu pour les Judéo-Chrétiens dans ‘Le Pasteur’ d’Hermas (Paris: Editions du Cerf 2011) 73-90.

56 See for example, 2 Enoch 3:1-2; 7:1; 10:1 (OTP 1, 111, 113, 119).

57 OTP 1, 696 and 703.

58 See OTP 1, 883. Among the miracles of Testament of Abraham, the cypress which speaks and praises God in 3:1-4 draws our attention because of the connection with gp 10:42.

59 See J. Daniélou, Théologie du judéo-christianisme I, 32; D.F. Wright, ‘Apologetic and Apocalyptic: The Miraculous in the Gospel of Peter,’ in Id., The Miracles of Jesus (gp6; Sheffield: ed Wenham & C. Blomberg 1986) 412 and P.H. Head, ‘On the Christology of the Gospel of Peter,’ in VC 46 (1992) 209-224, 218.

60 For this question see Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 169-170.

61 For example, in the Visio Pauli, 14 (ca. 4th cent.) the guardian angel and the spirit of vivification lead the soul to heaven (Elliott, 624); and the Arab life of Saint Joseph 22 (5th cent.) has Michael and Gabriel as psychopompoi (csco 412). The motif appears frequently in the earliest representations of Jesus’ ascension that we know. The most ancient case could be the Ascension of Jesus in the wooden Doors of Saint Sabina (4th/5th cent.) where two angels are taking up Jesus by the hands. In the same Doors of Saint Sabina appears the scene of Elijah ascension upon a chariot, but helped also by an angel.

62 L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, (2 vols., Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America 2003) 1, 57, note 20, points out the Rabbinical belief that every person has two guardian angels. In the work Masseket Azilut 21, Jaoel takes to the highest heaven. In the book The Ten Generations, two men summoned Moses, took him on their wings and placed him on the clouds in order to ascend (Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 1, 124f.); but in his translatio he is in the care of the angel ‘Anpiel’ (129). In the legend of Moses in Egypt (Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 1, 503), it is Metatron-Enoch who takes Moses with a throng of angels and the body of Moses is transformed so that he can go up. There, he sees angels of giant proportions. In the Legend of Adam (Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 1, 55) they even take the soul of the newborn child to his mother’s lap, and lead the soul to various places. Other works: Berakot 60b (top); Shabbat 119b; Ta’Anit 11a; Tan. Wa-Yeze 3. See also J. Schwartz, Gabriel’s Palace: Jewish Mystical Tales (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1993).

63 Cfr. Sir 44:16 (LXX: ἀνελήµφθη; VUL: assumptum esset) and Hb 11:5 (µετετέθη).

64 T. Henderson, The Gospel of Peter and Early Christian Apologetics: Rewriting the Story of Jesus’ Death, Burial and Resurrection (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2011) 188.

65 Nicklas, ‘Angels in Early Christian Narratives,’ 307.

66 H.B. Swete, The Akhmîm Fragment of the Apocryphal Gospel of St Peter (London/New York: McMillan 1893) xxxviii. On the history of this debate, see Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 157-165.

67 As Nicklas (‘Angels in Early Christian Narratives,’ 309) states, ‘the act of the angels, who descend from heaven and take Jesus from his grave, can be interpreted as a representation of God’s acting upon the crucified Jesus’.

68 Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 421.

69 By way of example, we could think of the Akhmimic fragment of the Apocalypse of Zephaniah 4:10: ‘the Lord Almighty sent me to you because you are pure before him’ (OTP 1, 511) or Testament of Abraham 9:8: ‘when the Most High heard these things, he again commanded the Commander-in-chief Michael and said to him, “. . . Go down and take the righteous Abraham on a chariot of cherubim and lift him into the air of heaven”’ (OTP 1, 887); or 3Baruch 1:4: ‘he sent me before your face so that I could show you all the mysteries of God. For both your tears and your voice entered the ears of the Almighty God’ (OTP 1, 662). The Letter to the Hebrews 11:5 indicates precisely this in the case of Enoch: ‘before he was taken, he was attested as having pleased God’.

70 It is interesting to note that AsIs 3:16-17 calls this figure the Loved One.

71 Vaganay, Évangile de Pierre, 297.

72 Idem, 298.

73 J. Daniélou, Théologie du judéo-christianisme I, 274 and 290.

74 Crossan, The Cross that Spoke, 337.

75 Koester offers this definition for the passage: ‘A resurrection narrative that has all the proper features of a miraculous epiphany story,’ H. Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (London/Philadelphia: scm/tpi 1990) 128. See also E. Norelli, ‘Situation des Apocryphes Pètriniens,’ in Apocrypha 2 (1991) 31-83, 62, note 105.

76 J.K. Elliott (ed.), The Apocryphal Jesus. Legends of the Early Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2008) 67.

  • 2

    See for example R.E. Brown, ‘The Gospel of Peter and Canonical Gospel Priority,’ NST 33 (1987) 321-342. A brief summary in J. Verheyden, ‘Some reflexions on Determining the Purpose of the ‘Gospel of Peter’,’ in T.J. Kraus and T. Nicklas (eds.), Das Evangelium nach Petrus: Text, Kontexte, Intertexte (Berlin: de Gruyter 2007) 287. For a detailed study of this question cf. P. Foster, The Gospel of Peter. Introduction, Critical Edition and Commentary (London: Brill 2010) 119-147.

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  • 6

    Crossan, ‘The Gospel of Peter and the Canonical Gospels,’ 134.

  • 7

    Mainly criticized by Brown, ‘The Gospel of Peter and Canonical Gospel Priority,’ 321–343; The Death of the Messiah 2, 1317–1349.

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  • 8

    A. Kirk, ‘Examining Priorities: Another Look at the Gospel of Peter’s Relationship to the New Testament Gospels,’ ntS 40 (1994) 572–595: ‘Its narrative is by and large based upon the narratives preserved in the four gospels’ (594). About the literary dependence phenomenon see Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 115-119 and C.M. Tuckett, Q and the History of Early Christianity: Studies in Q (Edinburgh: T&Tclark 1996) 16-39.

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  • 11

    Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 146. For more bibliography about the relationship of gp with the canonical accounts see also 119f. and the Introduction (1-172).

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  • 30

    See M.A. Knibb, ‘The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah,’ in OTP 2, 143-150, 149.

  • 34

    Vaganay, L’Évangile de Pierre, 298.

  • 35

    E. Norelli, ‘La resurrezione di Gesù nell’Ascensione de Isaia,’ 341 and Nicklas, ‘Angels in Early Christian Narratives,’ 305.

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  • 56

    See for example, 2 Enoch 3:1-2; 7:1; 10:1 (OTP 1, 111, 113, 119).

  • 60

    For this question see Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 169-170.

  • 65

    Nicklas, ‘Angels in Early Christian Narratives,’ 307.

  • 68

    Foster, The Gospel of Peter, 421.

  • 71

    Vaganay, Évangile de Pierre, 297.

  • 74

    Crossan, The Cross that Spoke, 337.

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