Friday, October 28, 2011

Apocryphal Gospel of Peter and Jn 8:1-11

The following is an excerpt from the Article by Nazaroo on G-Peter


Gospel of Peter:
& John 8:1-11

The Gospel of Peter does not quote John 8:1-11. Yet it provides an interesting piece of circumstantial evidence which, while by no means 'proving' its existance and placement in the 2nd century, can only be interpreted as a mild positive inference.
The 'Gospel of Peter' (GPeter) is agreed by most scholars to be a 2nd century production, secondary to the canonical Gospels. Nonetheless its existance in some form by the mid 2nd century is confirmed by its mention by early Christian writers, and some smaller found fragments.
The next significant fact regarding GPeter is that whoever wrote it appears to be familiar with the (real) Gospel of John. Of particular note is the detail given regarding the taunting of the soldiers:

'And they threw a purple robe round Him and made Him sit upon the Judgement Seat, and said, "Judge justly, king of Israel!".
- Gospel of Peter 3:2 (v7)
This appears to be a plain reference to John 7:24,

"Judge not according to (mere) appearance, but judge righteous (true) judgement!"
- John 7:24
This particular way of expressing things only appears in John. The concept is more developed and simplified in Matthew for instance:

"Judge not, that you not be judged: for with the judgement that you judge, you shall be judged; and with the measure you mete out, it shall be measured back to you again."
- Matt. 7:1-2
GPeter 3:2 (v7) then, seems most closely related to John 7:24, and appears to have been inspired by that Gospel. While this does not 'prove' a dependancy upon John, the evidence is in favour of this view and has some substance.
But if we accept this plausible and reasonable premise, something else becomes immediately of import:

Why does GPeter emphasize this?
GPeter records the soldiers actually mocking Jesus as a judge, a back-reference to something in His earthly ministry that relates to this theme.
If the Gospel of John contained only the terse saying in Jn 7:24, but no actual 'trial-like' incident such as the one immediately following (John 8:1-11), then this would be non-sequitous, and almost inexplicable.

'What's the big deal?' the reader might ask, upon reading GPeter. What is GPeter trying to say?

But if we assume that the Gospel of John was in the basic form we have it now, complete with the incident of John 7:53-8:11 in its traditional place, at least by the middle of the 2nd century A.D., then immediately the story detail in GPeter becomes obvious.
The "Judeans" (scribes and Pharisees) are furiously mocking Jesus because He had in fact 'acted as a judge', making a ruling which humiliated and defeated His accusers before all of Israel. And now both the motivation and specific reference to this unique act of revenge recorded in GPeter becomes clear.
Whether or not John 7:53-8:11 is authentic or was found in every copy of John is not the main point. Its simply this: GPeter may have known of it and had apparently accepted the story as an authentic tradition about Jesus in the mid 2nd century A.D., and his knowledge of the passage appears to have come from John's gospel.
While this evidence is only circumstantial and indirect in nature, its preponderance is in favour of the existance of John 7:53-8:11 in John's gospel, however slim this preponderance may be.

Remarkable New Linguistic Evidence
Of special significance is the unexpected testimony regarding grammar and style that GPeter unconsciously provides. It was formerly argued (by Samuel Davidson in 1848 and others) that as a matter of style, John the Evangelist preferred words like "πρωιας" for "early morning" and that the presence of "Ορθρου" in the Pericope de Adultera (v. 8:2) was a "Lukanism" (it also appears in Acts), indicating that John 7:53-8:11 was by another hand.
Yet the 2nd century Greek author of Gospel of Peter clearly used both expressions, ("πρωιας" 9:1/ v34 & "Ορθρου" 12:1 / v50 ) and had no stylistic preference for one or the other. Whether or not GPeter varies his vocabulary for reasons of style or for precision of meaning hardly matters. The point is that a near-contemporary of John the Evangelist found no difficulty in using both expressions, just as they appear together in the Gospel of John.
If someone were to object that GPeter must have copied this conflated stylism from John, then obviously the author of GPeter inadvertantly testifies of the presence of the Pericope de Adultera in John's Gospel.

Eerie Parallels to Pericope De Adultera

The surviving passage from the Gospel of Peter provides even more eerie parallels to John 8:1-11:

In verse 1:1, GPeter refers to the "judges of Herod", an expression seemingly unheard of elsewhere. Why 'judges' rather than 'princes' or 'rulers', 'captains' etc.?
In 2:3 (v5) we find the unusual "For it is written in the Law..."...While the dialogue is suspiciously artificial, the expression is also similar to that of the Pharisees in John 8:5.
In 3:2 (7), 'they...made Him sit upon the judgement seat and said, "Judge justly, King of Israel!"' has already been mentioned. (John 8:2 etc.)
In 4:1 (10), "but He kept silent..." again stands out, as the phrases accumulate. (see John 8:6,8)
In 5:3 (17), "they ... brought their sins upon their own heads' is again remarkable, as the story builds.
In 5:6 (20), the mention of "the temple" is also striking. (John 8:2)
In 6:1 (21) we find Jesus' "hands" mentioned in close proximity to the phrase "on the ground", both rare expressions in themselves (e.g., John 8:6 etc.)
In 7:1 (25) we have repeated 'over-determination' in "Jews and elders and priests", and again in 8:1 (28) "scribes and Pharisees and elders". The inclusion of elders is unusual in passion accounts, and raises an eyebrow. 8:4 (31) also mentions "elders" (e.g. John 8:9)
8:1 (28) needs a second mention, for "all the people" (ho laos), and "He must have been innocent" (John 8:2, 7)
9:1 (34) is surely unique, mentioning "At dawn..." ('orthrou'), a phrase only appearing in John 8:2 and Luke 24:1. Later, GPeter also uses "early" ('proi') in 12:1 (50), just as John the Evangelist does (John 8:2, John 20:1)
7:1 (25) 'the elders and the priests, ...began to lament and say "Woe unto [us for] our sins! The judgement and the end of Jerusalem is near!"' The mention of the destruction of Jerusalem (c. 70 A.D.) makes the text relatively late, but the similarity to John 8:9 is striking, even if GPeter actually exaggerates and inserts anachronistically here.
8:6 (33) "they pitched a tent there" could ironically allude to the Feast of Booths, the occasion of John 8:1-11. It is an odd detail as well.
12:1 (50) "Early on the Lord's Day, Mary Magdala..." a woman with a dubious past takes the central stage for a moment. (see John 8:3)
12:5 (54) the "stone" and the verb "cast" are cleverly placed together, although the story hardly requires this embellishment. (compare John 8:7)
14:2 (59) is perhaps most remarkable of all, for each "went to his own home" (compare John 7:53!)

We honestly couldn't contrive more parallels if we deliberately set out to fabricate a passion account. Can so many coincidences really be accidental? No such similar parallel can be drawn from any other passion account. The best one can do is a few minor parallels here and there.
It seems from this evidence that something more than just "having the Gospel of John before him" was at work in the composition of this piece. Why so many seemingly superfluous insertions, all bearing a relation to John 8:1-11?