THE LOST GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PETER
[In the valley of the Upper Nile, on the right bank of the river, is the mysterious
town of Akhmim.
It was called Panopolis in ancient times when it was the capital af the district. The
remnants of monasteries and the ruins of temples mark the intellectual life of a former
In 1816, the French Achseological Mission excavating in the grave of a monk, came upon
a parchment codex. Six years later a translation of this was published in the Memoirs of
the French Archaological Mission at Cairo. Scholars realized for the first time that a
striking discovery, possibly of overwhelming importance, had been made. A portion of The
Gospel According to Peter appeared to have been restored to the
Christian Community after having been lost for ages. But until now, this
document has never been made available to the general public.
Centuries rolled over that remote tomb at Akhmim, while nations rose and fell, wars
blasted civilization, science metamorphosed the world, Shakespeares and Miltons wrote
their names and passed on, the American nation was born and grew up
-all the while the ink on the parchment in that Egyptian tomb was scarcely changing -
and the beautiful words of this Scripture were preserving for us this version of the most
tragic and momentous event in history. That briefly is the romance of The Lost Gospel
According to Peter.
Such a gospel was referred to by Serapion, Bishop of Antioch, In 190 A.u.; Origen,
historian, in 253 A.D.; Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in 300 A.D.; Theodoret in 455
in his Religious History said that the Nazarenes used The Gospel According to
Peter; and Justin Martyr includes the Memoirs of Peter in his
"Apostolic Memoirs." Thus scholars have always recognized that such a document
existed long ago, although its whereabouts and fate were a mystery until the discovery at
While in general the story of the trial and crucifixion that is revealed here follows
that of the canonical gospels, in detail it is very different. This account is freer from
constraint; and with the events between the burial and resurrection of our Lord, it is
much more ample and detailed than anything in the canonical tradition.
There are indeed twenty-nine variations of fact between this Lost Gospel
According to Peter and the four canonical gospels. Some of the most
important that the reader will note are as follows:
1. Herod was the one who gave the order for the execution.
2. Joseph was a friend of Pilate.
3. In the darkness many went about with lamps and fell down. (That is a startling
glimpse of the confusion that seized the people.)
4. Our Lord's cry of "My power, my power."
5. The account of how the disciples had to hide because they were searched for as
malefactors anxious to burn the temple.
6. The name of the centurion who kept watch at the tomb was Petronius.
It is also interesting to note the prominence assigned to Mary Magdalene; and how this
account tends to lay more responsibility on Herod and the people, while relieving Pilate
somewhat of his share in the action that was taken. Also, the Resurrection and Ascension
are here recorded not as separate events but as occurring on the same day.
There will be a great divergence of opinion as to the place of this document and its
relation to the canonical scriptures. Its existence is here proclaimed, and beyond that
every reader may form his own estimate of its valne. The Rev. D. H. Stanton, D.D., in the
Journal of Theological Studies, commenting on Justin Martyr's ancient testimony,
and this present document says: "The conclusion with which we are confronted is that The
Gospel of Peter once held a place of honor, comparable to that assigned to the
Four Gospels, perhaps even higher than some of them, ...."]
BUT of the Jews none washed his hands, neither Herod nor any one of his judges. And
when they had refused to wash them, Pilate rose up. And then Herod the king commandeth
that the Lord be taken saying to them, What things soever I commanded you to do unto him,
2 And there was standing there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord; and,
knowing that they were
about to crucify him, he came to Pilate and asked the body of the Lord for burial. And
Pilate sent to Herod
and asked his body. And Herod said, Brother Pilate, even if no one has asked for him,
we purposed to bury him, especially as the sabbath draweth on: for it is written in the
law, that the sun set not upon one that hath been put to death.
3 And he delivered him to the people on the day before the unleavened bread, their
And they took the Lord and pushed him as they ran, and said, Let us drag away the Son
having obtained power over him. And they clothed him with purple, and set him on the
seat of judgment,
saying, Judge righteously, 0 king of Israel. And one of them brought a crown of thorns
and put it on the head of the Lord. And others stood and spat in his eyes, and others
smote his cheeks: others pricked him with a reed; and some scourged him, saying, With this
honor let us honor the Son of God.
4 And they brought two malefactors, and they crucified the Lord between them.
But he held his peace, as though having no pain. And when they had raised the cross,
they wrote the title: This is the king of Israel .
And having set his garments before him they parted them among them, and cast lots for
And one of those malefactors reproached them, saying, We for the evils that we have
done have suffered thus,
but this man, who hath become the Saviour of men, what wrong hath he done to you?
And they, being angered at him, commanded that his legs should not be broken,
that he might die in torment.
5 And it was noon, and darkness came over all Judaea:
and they were troubled and distressed, lest the sun had set, whilst he was yet alive:
[for] it is written for them, that the sun set not on him that hath been put to death.
And one of them said, Give him to drink gall with vinegar. And they mixed and gave him
to drink, and fulfilled all things, and accomplished their sins against their own head.
And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down.
And the Lord cried out, saying,
My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me.
And when he had said it he was taken up.
And in that hour the vail of the temple of Jerusalem was rent in twain.
6 And then they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord, and laid him upon the
earth, and the whole earth quaked, and great fear arose.
Then the sun shone, and it was found the ninth hour:
and the Jews rejoiced, and gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it,
since he had seen what good things he had done.
And he took the Lord, and washed him, and rolled him in a linen cloth, and brought him
to his own tomb,
which was called the Garden of Joseph.
7 Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what evil they had done to
themselves, began to lament and to say, Woe for our sins:
the judgment hath drawn nigh, and the end of Jerusalem.
And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves:
for we were being sought for by them as malefactors, and as wishing to set fire to the
And upon all these things we fasted and sat mourning and weeping night and day until
8 But the scribes and Pharisees and elders being gathered together one with another,
when they heard that all the people murmured and beat their breasts saying, If by his
death these most mighty signs have come to pass,
see how righteous he is, -the elders were afraid and came to Pilate beseeching him and
Give us soldiers, that we may guard his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples
come and steal him away,
and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead and do us evil.
And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb.
And with them came elders and scribes to the sepulchre, and having rolled a great stone
together with the centurion and the soldiers, they all together who were there set it at
the door of the sepulchre;
and they affixed seven seals, and they pitched a tent there and guarded it.
And early in the morning as the sabbath was drawing on, there came a multitude from
Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.
9 And in the night in which the Lord's day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard
two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens
opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb.
And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part;
and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.
10 When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders;
for they too were hard by keeping guard.
And as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth
from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them:
and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him who was lead by
them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast
preached to them that sleep.
And a response was heard from the cross, Yea.
11 They therefore considered one with another whether to go away and shew these things
And while they yet thought thereon, the heavens again are seen to open, and a certain
man to descend and enter into the sepulchre.
When the centurion and they that were with him saw these things, they hastened in the
night to Pilate, leaving the tomb which they were watching, and declared all things which
they had seen, being greatly distressed and saying, Truly he was the Son of God. Pilate
answered and said, I am pure from the blood of the Son of God:
but it was ye who determined this. Then they all drew near and besought him and
entreated him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing of the things which
they had seen:
For it is better, say they, for us to be guilty of the greatest sin before God,
and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned.
Pilate therefore commanded the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.
12 And at dawn upon the Lord's day Mary Magdalene, a disciple of the Lord, fearing
because of the Jews, since they were burning with wrath, had not done at the Lord's
sepulchre the things which women are wont to do for those that die and for those that are
beloved by them -- she took her friends with her and came to the sepulchre where he was
laid. And they feared lest the Jews should see them, and they said,
Although on that day on which he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now
let us do these things at his sepulchre.
But who shall roll away for us the stone that was laid at the door of the sepulchre,
that we may enter in and sit by him and do the things that are due?
For the stone was great, and we fear lest some one see us.
And if we cannot, yet if we but set at the door the things which we bring as a memorial
of him, we will weep and lament, until we come unto our home.
13 And, they went and found the tomb opened, and coming near they looked in there;
and they see there a certain young man sitting in the midst of the tomb, beautiful and
clothed in a robe exceeding bright; who said to them, Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye?
Him that was crucified?
He is risen and gone. But if ye believe not, look in and see the place where he lay,
that he is not [here] ;
for he is risen and gone thither, whence he was sent. Then the women feared and fled.
14 Now it was the last day of the unleavened bread, and many were going forth,
returning to their homes, as the feast was ended.
But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and were grieved:
and each one, being grieved for that which was come to pass, departed to his home.
But I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea;
and there was with us Levi the son of Alphaeus, whom the Lord . . . . . . . ...