The Gospel of Peter and the Talking Cross

The resurrection account from the pseudapigraphal “Gospel of Peter” (so-called) translated by Raymond Brown:

[35] But in the night in which the Lord’s day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; [36] and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher. [37] But that stone which had been thrust against the door, having rolled by itself, went a distance off the side; and the sepulcher opened, and both the young men entered. [38] And so those soldiers, having seen, awakened the centurion and the elders (for they too were present, safeguarding). [39] And while they were relating what they had seen, again they see three males who have come out from they sepulcher, with the two supporting the other one, and a cross following them, [40] and the head of the two reaching unto heaven, but that of the one being led out by a hand by them going beyond the heavens. [41] And they were hearing a voice from the heavens saying, ‘Have you made proclamation to the fallen-asleep?’ [42] And an obeisance was heard from the cross, ‘Yes.’

This account seems Docetic as the body of Christ seems to be extremely large. The talking cross is an odd addition. John Dominic Crossan suggests that the cross is the cruciform procession of the faithful following Christ to heaven. N.T. Wright disagrees. Whatever it is, I imagine that it is depicting something allegorical. Another problem with this Gospel account is that the resurrection and the ascension seem to be a single event.

Serapion, Bishop of Antioch from 190–203, wrote a polemic against the Gospel of Peter on grounds of docetism. We don’t have it, but Eusebius attests to its existence.

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