What is the “Apocalypse of Peter”?

The Apocalypse of Peter (or Revelation of Peter) is an early Christian text of the 2nd century and an example of apocalyptic literature with Hellenistic and Greek Mythology overtones. The Apocalypse of Peter does not exist in an entire manuscript and the author is unknown. The Apocalypse of Peter should not be confused with the Gnostic Gospel of Peter which is a completely different work.

The Greek manuscript of the Apocalypse of Peter was unknown until it was discovered during excavations directed by Sylvain Grébaut during the 1886–87 season in a desert necropolis at Akhmim in Upper Egypt. The fragment consisted of parchment leaves of the Greek version that had been carefully deposited in the grave of a Christian monk of the 8th or 9th century. The manuscript is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Ethiopic version was discovered in 1910.

The Apocalypse of Peter is framed as a discourse of the Risen Christ to his faithful, offering a vision first of heaven, and then of hell, granted to Peter. In the Greek version, the disciples ask Jesus to show them believers who have passed from this world into righteousness. Christ shows them a wonderful vision of the redeemed, but He also shows them a terrible and frightening picture of the condemned.

The Apocalypse of Peter was not accepted by early Christians into the cannon of the Bible. Both versions of the text include imagery drawn from Greek mythology and it contradicts Biblical principles. For these reasons, the Apocalypse of Peter was not included in the Bible. Like the many other ancient documents that became part of the Old and New Testament Apocrypha, the Apocalypse of Peter should not be used as a reliable source of doctrine.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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