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NAG HAMMADI CODICES- Apycalypsis of Peter- by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

Patrus, Peter

Peter,
St. John-Paul at the
tomb of St. Peter I

NAG HAMMADI CODICES-

APOCALYPSE OF PETER (VII,3)

by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

Introduced by

James Brashler

Translated by

James Brashler and Roger A. Bullard

The Apocalypse of Peter is a pseudonymous Christian Gnostic writing that contains an account of a revelation seen by the apostle Peter and interpreted by Jesus the Savior. The persecution of Jesus is used as a model for understanding early Christian history in which a faithful gnostic remnant is oppressed by those “who name themselves bishop and also deacons.”

This document belongs to the literary genre of the apocalypse. It is organized around three vision reports attributed to Peter. The visions are explained by the Savior, who functions as the interpreting angel commonly found in apocalyptic literature. In a series of prophecies that actually reflect past events, the early Christian church is portrayed as divided into various factions which oppose the gnostic community. The world is a hostile environment for the immortal souls (the Gnostics), who outwardly resemble the mortal souls (non-Gnostics) but inwardly differ from them by virtue of their immortal essence. Having been given knowledge of their heavenly origin, the Gnostics long for the return of the heavenly Son of Man, who will come as the eschatological judge to condemn the oppressors and vindicate the Gnostics.

The apocalyptic form of this tractate has been employed to present a gnostic understanding of Christian tradition about Jesus. The traditional material is skillfully interpreted in accordance with gnostic theology. The first visionary scene, depicting the hostile priests and people about to kill Jesus (72, 4–9) is interpreted in terms of at least six groups characterized as “blind ones who have no guide.” Many of these groups appear to be from the orthodox church, but some of them may be better understood as rival gnostic sects. The second scene (81, 3–14) describes Peter’s vision of the crucifixion of Jesus. The accompanying interpretation by Jesus makes a distinction between the external physical form and the living Jesus; the latter stands nearby laughing at his ignorant persecutors. The third visionary scene (82, 4–16) corresponds to the resurrection of Jesus in orthodox tradition, but it is interpreted in gnostic terms as a reunification of the spiritual body of Jesus with the intellectual light of the heavenly pleroma.

The Apocalypse of Peter is significant in several respects. It contains important source material for a gnostic Christology that understands Jesus as a docetic redeemer. The view of the Gnostic community, including its relationship to Peter as its originator, is another key theme of this document. Of considerable interest are the identity of the gnostic group to which the writing is addressed, and the stage of the controversy, between emerging orthodoxy and heresy, presupposed by the tractate. It would appear that the Apocalypse of Peter was written in the third century, when this distinction between orthodoxy and heresy was rather clearly drawn.

APOCALYPSE OF PETER

VII 70, 13–84, 14

Apocalypse of Peter |

As the Savior was sitting in 15 the temple in the three hundredth (year) of | the covenant and the agreement of | the tenth pillar, and | being satisfied with the number | of the living, incorruptible Majesty, 20 he said to me, “Peter, | blessed are those | above belonging to the Father | who revealed life | to those who are from the life, through 25 me, since I reminded (them), | they who are built | on what is strong, | that they may hear my word | and distinguish words 30 of unrighteousness and | transgression of law | from righteousness, as 71 being from the height of | every word of this pleroma | of truth, having | been enlightened in good pleasure by 5 him whom the principalities sought. | But they did not find | him, nor was he mentioned | among any generation of | the prophets. He has 10 now appeared among these, | in him who appeared, | who is the Son of Man | who is exalted above the heavens in | a fear of men of like essence. 15 But you yourself, Peter, | become perfect | in accordance with your name with myself, | the one who chose you, because | from you I have established a base 20 for the remnant whom I have | summoned to knowledge. | Therefore be strong until the | imitation of righteousness – | of him who had summoned you, 25 having summoned you | to know him in a way which is | worth doing because of the rejection | which happened to him, and the sinews | of his hands and his feet, 30 and the crowning | by those of the middle region, | and the body of | his radiance which they bring | in hope of 72 service because of a reward | of honor – as he was about to reprove | you three times | in this night.”

And as he was saying 5 these things, I saw the priests | and the people running up | to us with stones, as if they | would kill us; and I was afraid | that we were going to die.’

And 10 he said to me, “Peter, I have told | you many times that | they are blind ones who have | no guide. If you want | to know their blindness, 15 put your hands upon (your) eyes – | your robe – and say | what you see.” |

But when I had done it, I did not see | anything. I said, “No one sees (this way).” 20

Again he told me, | “Do it again.”

And there came | in me fear with | joy, for I saw a | new light greater than the 25 light of day. Then | it came down upon the Savior. | And I told him about those things | which I saw.

And | he said to me again, “Lift up 30 your hands and | listen to what 73 the priests and the people are saying.”

And | I listened to the priests as they sat | with the scribes. The multitudes were | shouting with their voice.

When he 5 heard these things from me | he said to me, “Prick up your ears | and listen | to the things they are saying.” |

And I listened again. “As you sit 10 they are praising you.”

And | when I said these things, the Savior said, | “I have told you that these (people) | are blind and | deaf. Now then, listen to 15 the things which they are telling you | in a mystery, and | guard them. Do not tell them to the | sons of this age. | For they shall blaspheme 20 you in these ages since they | are ignorant of you, | but they will praise you in knowledge. |

“For many | will accept our teaching in the beginning. 25 And they will turn | from them again by the will | of the Father of their error, | because they have done what he wanted. | And he will reveal them 30 in his judgment, i.e. | the servants of the Word. | But those who became 74 mingled with these shall become | their prisoners, | since they are without perception. | And the guileless, good, 5 pure one they push | to the worker of death, | and to the kingdom of | those who praise Christ | in a restoration. 10 And they praise the men | of the propagation of falsehood, | those who will come after you. | And they will cleave to the name | of a dead man, thinking 15 that they will become pure. But | they will become greatly defiled and they will | fall into a name of error, | and into the hand of an | evil, cunning man and a 20 manifold dogma, and they will be | ruled | heretically.

“For some | of them will | blaspheme the truth and 25 proclaim evil teaching. And | they will say evil things | against each other. Some | will be named: | (those) who stand in (the) strength 30 of the archons, of a man | and a naked woman | who is manifold | and subject to much | suffering. And 75 those who say these things will | ask about dreams. And if they | say that a dream | came from a demon 5 worthy of their error, then | they shall be given perdition instead | of incorruption.

“For evil | cannot produce | good fruit (cf. Lk 6:43). For 10 the place from which each of them is | produces that which is like itself; | for not every soul is | of the truth, nor | of immortality. 15 For every soul of these ages | has death assigned to it | in our view, because | it is always a slave, | since it is created for its desires 20 and their eternal | destruction, in which | they are and | from which they are. | They (the souls) love the creatures 25 of the matter which came forth | with them.

“But | the immortal souls are not like these, | O Peter. But indeed, as long as | the hour is not yet come, (the immortal soul) 30 shall | resemble a mortal one. | But it shall not reveal | its nature, that it | alone is the 76 immortal one, and thinks about | immortality, having faith, | and desiring to renounce | these things.

“For people do not gather 5 figs from thorns or from | thorn trees, if they | are wise, nor grapes | from thistles (cf. Lk 6:44). | For on the one hand, that which is 10 always becoming is in that | from which it is, being | from what is not good, which | becomes destruction for it (the soul) and | death. But that (immortal soul) which comes to be 15 in the Eternal One is in the One of | the life and the immortality of | the life which they resemble. |

“Therefore all that which exists | not will dissolve into what 20 exists not. | For deaf and | blind ones join only with | their own kind. |

“But others shall change 25 from evil words | and misleading | mysteries. Some | who do not understand mystery | speak of things which 30 they do not understand, | but they will boast | that the mystery | of the truth is theirs | alone. And 35 in haughtiness 77 they shall grasp at pride | to envy the | immortal soul which has become a pledge. | For every authority, rule, 5 and power of the aeons | wishes to be with | these in the creation of | the world, in order that those who | are not, having been forgotten 10 by those that are, | may praise them, | though they have not been saved, nor have they | been brought to the Way by them, | always wishing 15 that they may become | imperishable ones. | For if the immortal soul | receives power in an | intellectual spirit –. But immediately 20 they join with one | of those who misled them. |

“But many others, | who oppose the | truth and are the messengers 25 of error, will | set up their error and | their law against | these pure thoughts of mine, | as looking out 30 from one (perspective), thinking | that good and evil | are from one (source). | They do business in 78 my word. And they will propagate | harsh fate. | The race of immortal | souls will go in it 5 in vain | until my Parousia. | For they shall come out of them – | and my forgiveness of | their transgressions 10 into which they fell through | their adversaries, | whose ransom I got | from the slavery in which | they were, to give them 15 freedom that they may create | an imitation remnant | in the name of a dead man, | who is Hermas, of the | first-born of unrighteousness, 20 in order that the light which exists | may not be believed | by the little ones. | But those of this sort are the workers | who will be cast into the outer darkness, 25 away from the sons | of light. For neither will they | enter, | nor do they permit | those who are going up to 30 their approval for | their release.

“And still others | of them who suffer think | that they will perfect 79 the wisdom of the brotherhood | which really exists, which is the | spiritual fellowship with those | united in communion, 5 through which | the wedding of | incorruptibility shall be revealed. | The kindred race | of the sisterhood will appear 10 as an imitation. | These are the ones who oppress | their brothers, saying | to them, ‘Through this | our God has pity, 15 since salvation comes | to us through this,’ not knowing | the punishment of those who | are made glad by those who | have done this thing to the little ones whom 20 they saw, (and) whom they took | prisoner. |

“And there shall be others | of those who are outside our | number who name themselves 25 bishop and also | deacons, as if they have received | their authority from God. | They bend themselves under the | judgment of the leaders. 30 Those people are | dry canals.” |

But I said, “I am afraid because | of what you have told me, that 80 indeed little (ones) are, in our view, the | counterfeit ones, | indeed, that there are multitudes that will mislead | other multitudes of living ones, 5 and destroy them among | themselves. And when they speak your name | they will be believed.” |

The Savior said, “For a time | determined for them in 10 proportion to their error they will | rule over the little ones. And | after the completion of | the error, the | never-aging one of the immortal understanding 15 shall become young, and they (the little ones) shall rule over | those who are their rulers. | The root of their error | he shall pluck out, and he shall | put it to shame so that it shall be manifest 20 in all the impudence which it | has assumed to itself. And | such ones shall become | unchangeable, O Peter.

“Come, | therefore, let us go on with the completion 25 of the will of the | incorruptible Father. | For behold, those who will | bring them judgment are coming, and they | will put them to shame. But me 30 they cannot touch. | And you, O Peter, shall | stand in their midst. Do not be | afraid because of your cowardice. 81 Their minds shall be closed, | for the invisible one | has opposed them.”

When | he had said those things, I saw him 5 seemingly being seized | by them. And | I said, “What do I see, | O Lord, that it is you yourself | whom they take, and that you are 10 grasping me? Or who is this one, | glad and laughing on the tree? | And is it another one | whose feet and | hands they are striking?” 15

The Savior said to me, “He whom you saw | on the three, glad | and laughing, this is the | living Jesus. But this one | into whose hands and 20 feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, | which is the substitute | being put to shame, the one | who came into being in his likeness. | But look at him and me.” 25

But I, when I had looked, said, | ‘Lord, no one is looking at | you. Let us flee this | place.”

But he said to me, | “I have told you, 30 ‘Leave the blind alone!’ | And you, see how | they do not know what they are saying. 82 For the son of | their glory instead of my servant | they have put to shame.” |

And I saw someone about to approach 5 us resembling him, even him | who was laughing on the tree. | And he was <filled> with a | Holy Spirit, and he is the | Savior. And there was a great, 10 ineffable light around them, | and the multitude | of ineffable and | invisible angels | blessing them. 15 And when I looked at him, | the one who gives praise was revealed. |

And he said to me, | “Be strong, for you are the one to whom | these mysteries have been given, 20 to know them through revelation, | that he whom they crucified is | the first-born, and the home | of demons, and the stony vessel (?) | in which they dwell, of Elohim, 25 of the cross | which is under the Law. | But he who stands near him | is the living Savior, the first | in him, whom they seized 30 and released, | who stands joyfully | looking at those who did him | violence, while they are divided among themselves. 83 Therefore he laughs | at their lack of perception, | knowing that they are born blind. | So then 5 the one susceptible to suffering shall come, since the body | is the substitute. But what they | released was my incorporeal | body. But I am the intellectual | Spirit filled with 10 radiant light. He | whom you saw coming to | me is our intellectual | Pleroma, which unites | the perfect light with 15 my Holy Spirit.

“These things, then, | which you saw you shall present | to those of another race | who are not of this age. | For there will be no honor 20 in any man | who is not immortal, | but only (in) those who were chosen | from an immortal substance, | which has shown 25 that it is able to contain him | who gives his abundance. Therefore | I said, ‘Every one | who has, it will be given to him, and | he will have plenty’ (Mt 25:29). 30 But he who does not have, that is, | the man of this place, who is | completely dead, who | is removed from the planting | of the creation of what is begotten, 84 whom, if one | of the immortal essence appears, | they think that | they possess him – 5 it will be taken from him and | be added to the one who is. You, | therefore, be courageous and do not | fear at all. For I shall be | with you in order that none 10 of your enemies may prevail over you. | Peace be to you. Be strong!” |

When he (Jesus) had said these things, he (Peter) came | to himself. |

Apocalypse of Peter

| Small strokes above the line indicate line divisions. Every fifth line a small number is inserted in place of a stroke; the frequency of these numbers, however, may vary in tractates which are quite fragmentary. A new page is indicated with a number in bold type. When the beginning of a new line or page coincides with the opening of a paragraph, the line divider or number is placed at the end of the previous paragraph.

( Parentheses indicate material supplied by the editor or translator. Although this material may not directly reflect the text being translated, it provides useful information for the reader.

< Pointed brackets indicate a correction of a scribal omission or error. The translator has either inserted letters unintentionally omitted by the scribe, or replaced letters erroneously inserted with what the scribe presumably intended to write.

Robinson, James McConkey ; Smith, Richard ; Coptic Gnostic Library Project: The Nag Hammadi Library in English. 4th rev. ed. Leiden; New York : E.J. Brill, 1996, S. 372

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