Mon 12 Sep 2005
Other posts in the New Testament Apocrypha series.
Troels has an interesting post on the archeology of Syrian Antioch (Antakya) and provides a couple of photos, including a mosaic of Soteria (Salvation), as well as links to his photo gallery on Stoa. He promises more to come on this important city, which was also an important centre of early Christianity.
Among the New Testament Apocrypha associated with, or in use around, Antioch is the so-called Gospel of Peter, which Serapion, bishop of Antioch (from 199 CE), at first thought harmless before giving it a more thorough read (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History book 6, chapter 12). He found that it played down the humanity of Jesus in what he considered a docetic manner: Christ only “seemed” (from dokeo) to be human. This is perhaps, though not certainly, the same Gospel of Peter — with the walking, talking cross and reference to a descent into hell (see History of Satan sub-category)– to be found in collections of NT Apocrypha (online here). There is a forthcoming article by Paul Foster (Edinburgh U.), to appear in New Testament Studies, that challenges the basis of the identification of Serapion’s Gospel of Peter with the partial Gospel we now have (I won’t go into details since it is not yet published–he was nice enough to provide me with an earlier version).
Of course, we also have the writings of another, earlier, bishop of Antioch. Ignatius of Antioch wrote a series of letters to the congregations in Asia Minor as he made his way as a prisoner to Rome. He, too, criticizes other followers of Jesus who, in his view, downplayed the humanity of Jesus. You can read his letters online here.