Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Non-canonical Gospels

There's always talks about what Gospel actually has "real" data in terms of the historical Jesus, more accurate historically, etc. etc. And one document outside of the canon is the Gospel of Peter, which I just read today from the NT Apocrypha (it's not that long, so if you're interested go here to get the Greek text). In this document, there is an interesting little section:

9.34. Early in the morning, when the sabbath dawned, there came a crowd from Jerusalem and the country round about to see the sepulchre that had been sealed. 35 Now in the night in which the Lord's day dawned, when the soldiers, two by two in every watch, were keeping guard, there rang out a loud voice in heaven, 36 and they saw the heavens opened and two men come down from there in a great brightness and draw nigh to the sepulchre. 37 That stone which had been laid against the entrance to the sepulchre started of itself to roll and gave way to the side, and the sepulchre was opened, and both the young men entered in.
10.38 When now those soldiers saw this, they awakened the centurion and the elders - for they also were there to assist at the watch. 39 And whilst they were relating what they had seen, they saw again three men come out from the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other, and a cross following them, 40 and the heads of the two reaching ot heaven, but that of him who was led of them by the hand overpassing the heavens. 41 And they heard a voice out of the heavens crying, 'Hast thou preached to them that sleep?', 42 and from the cross there was heard the answer, 'Yea'.

I've heard this passage being referred to from time to time to show the fantastic nature of these "later" Gospels, in particular with respect to a talking cross. I was just reminded by Brian LePort that one scholar, Mark Goodacre recently blogged about this. His suggestion is "that we conjecturally emend the text from σταυρον to σταυρωθεντα, from "cross" to "crucified", so that it is no longer a wooden cross that comes bouncing out of the tomb but rather Jesus, the "crucified one" himself." I haven't personally looked at the Greek text yet, but this is an interesting post that has generated some discussion, so go and read the Gospel of Peter if you're interested and join in the discussion at the NT Blog.


Anonymous said...

It has been a while since I read GoPet but I wonder is the gospel itself fantastical overall? If so, the talking cross would be fitting. If not, it would be odd for a talking cross to appear out of nowhere.

This by no means would settle the question, but it would be worth considering.

Mike S. said...

Brian: That is a good point. Though there are some similarities with the canonical Gospels in terms of fantastical events with earthquake, darkness, young man in the tomb, etc., this talking cross incident seems like the outlier.