The name of two entirely different apocryphal apocalypses assigned to the Apostle Peter.
The Greek Apocalypse of Peter contains one of the earliest Christian descriptions of the afterlife. It begins with Jesus' prediction of the destruction of the present age by fire. It describes in detail the postmortem destiny of humanity: the paradise of Heaven and the torments of Hell. It seems designed to rule the behavior of people with promises of reward and threats of punishment.The blessed are promised compensation for their deprivations in this life. The Apocalypse gives greatest attention to the vividly described torments of the damned in hell, in which punishments fit their crimes. Sinners particularly singled out include: children who dishonored their parents, disobedient slaves, sorcerers, sexually immoral people, blasphemers, murderers, those who charge excessive interest, those who procured abortions, etc. In contrast to the canonical Book of Revelation, which concerns the struggle and triumph of Jesus, this Apocalypse concentrates on the glory or infamy of the afterlife for human saints or sinners. The Apocalypse of Peter influenced Dante's Inferno and through it subsequent Christian images of the afterlife.
The Coptic Apocalypse of Peter is a revelation discourse granted Peter by the risen Savior in the Temple area in Jerusalem. The book predicts the fragmentation of Christianity and opposition to the faithful Gnostic community by their opponents--so-called orthodox bishops and deacons. Peter has a vision in which he witnesses the crucifixion of a laughing Jesus--laughing because it is only an illusion. The spiritual Jesus does not die. The Apocalypse rejects orthodox views of the value of martyrdom.
Greek Apocalypse: New Testament Apocrypha
Coptic Apocalypse: within the Gnostic library from Nag Hammadi
Written under the pseudonym of the Apostle Peter
Generally considered the oldest of the apocryphal apocalypses
Perhaps as early as 100, but certainly no later than 200
Among the latest of the Nag Hammadi documents
3rd century, perhaps in Alexandria
Composed originally in Greek (fragmentarily preserved)
Survives in an Ethiopic translation
Coptic Apocalypse: Coptic
Notes prepared by Kelly Herron (Senior Communications Major)
for the Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University
Copyright 2000 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology
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