The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Does "Apocalypse of Peter" show UR in the Early Church?

Definitely yes, but I do not know the date of the universalist verses. For example, I do not know enough to verify if those verses go back to the second century AD.

Also, the Greek version of the Apocalypse of Peter does not contain the ending vision of universal salvation while that is found in the longer Ethiopian version of the Apocalypse of Peter. This might suggests that the universalist vision was added in a secondary version of that apocalypse.

Well, the Ethiopic version likely goes back to the late 2nd century but perhaps doubtful that it goes back to the early second century.

Yes, it could be better, but still it’s good to have some more prove of UR in the first 500 years :sunglasses:

I know this is an old thread, but I have Bart D. Ehrman book on the Lost Scriptures. I had picked up and read it over 10 years ago. I recently dusted it off and read it again. In the version he translated, there was no final restoration. In fact, God refuses their repentance in an almost horrific way.

However, after reading this version, a few thoughts came to mind:

  1. In his translation the word ‘chastised’ is used once and applied to the wicked. The initial thought one has when they read chastisement is punishment with a purpose. However, just a few words further in the translation, we find the first use of ‘eternal punishment’ followed by a very liberal use of those words. I am curious what word was translated as chastised and what word is being translated as eternal and punishment.

  2. Peter basically tells God ‘Better for them not to have been born’ and God replies ‘why do you say that?’ and then God convinces Peter of how evil these people are and this his ways are just. It is very similar to modern hellfire fundamentalism.

What I also find interesting, according to Bart is that many in the early Church believed this was inspired. Yet, as far as I am aware there are three versions that exist of this, and they differ heavily.

(All data here per Dr. Ramelli from her Tome. Some of the analysis is mine not hers.)

In the widest available rescension of ApocPeter, one of the Ethiopian versions, Christ promises after He grants “to those who belong to me, the elect and the justified” the “bath and the salvation from which they have implored me” (in the Acherusian valley aka the Elysian fields – whether this is the site of the granting or where the implorment happened is unclear), and after He goes to rejoice together with them, “I shall have the people * enter my eternal kingdom, and I shall do for them what I and my heavenly Father had promised them.”

The reference to the Elysian Fields is very interesting, as that’s a Greek concept of post-mortem paradise (one of the more common expressions for such a relatively rare idea in Greek religious thought), and ApocPeter tends to have a rather Jewish tone. The passage might mean the author expects Christians to be in the Elysian Fields as a culturally useful analog to the paradise side of sheol in contemporary Judaism (before the resurrection), but that wouldn’t explain the bath and salvation promised by Jesus to them since presumably Christians would have already been bathed by Christ.

Consequently, there’s a reasonable argument that the author is talking about righteous non-Christians in the Elysian Fields being baptized by Christ and brought into fellowship post-mortem at the final judgment, as they have prayed for.

That wouldn’t mean the subsequent mention of “the peoples”, i.e. the nations or people-groups or tribes, are necessarily a further class not to be found yet among the elect and justified – the author might just be restating the idea again. But the phrase “the peoples” does tend to refer in Judeo-Christian thought to those currently outside the group of Israel/church, so a distinction might be implied. It’s also possible that the paragraph is talking about Christians praying to God/Jesus to save righteous pagans and beyond that even the peoples generally.

The Rainer Greek fragment from the 3rd century is more explicit, corresponding to chapter 14 of the Ethiopian text – the Akhmîm fragment completely lacks this section: “I shall grant to my summoned and elect all those whom they ask me to remove from punishment {parêsomai hon ean aitêsontai me ek tês kolaseôs}. And I shall grant them a beautiful baptism in salvation {en sôtêria} in the Acherusian Lake which is said to be in the Elysian valley, a sharing of justification {meros dikaiosunês} with my saints. And I and my elect will go and rejoice together with the Patriarch in my eternal kingdom, and with them I shall keep my promises, made by me and by my Father who is in heaven.”

Although this is the earlier text, it’s hard to say whether the Ethiopian text made the original material more neutrally obscure or whether this represents an early expansion/clarification of material preserved more accurately in the later Ethiopian rescension. Notably this version clarifies that Christian saints are asking for punished pagans (not righteous pagans already living in paradise) to be saved and baptized (in a cultural fashion they’d appreciate, via the Elysian Fields). But it even this version isn’t explicit about universal salvation per se, since there might be a limit to “all those whom they ask me to remove from kolasis”.

Even in the later Ethiopian rescension (where the term being translated as “eternal punishment” by Buchholz in his critical sourcework is itself translating “eonian” {aiônios}, which the Greek Fathers were even less likely to treat as meaning eternal than the NT authors), Jesus still announces the eventual salvation of the damned in chapter 14. Peter also pities the damned in chapters 3-4, and at 4:5 Jesus says that God has even more mercy than Peter and adds “there is nothing that perishes for God, nothing that is impossible for God” (perhaps an echo of the exchange “then who can be saved?” “With mankind it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” – itself echoed in a Petrine epistle!)

In the Ethiopic rescension of chapter 14 (found in the Ethiopic editions of the Pseudo-Clementines, specifically The Second Coming of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead), Jesus and Peter discuss the final salvation of sinners after a period of torments. Jesus obesrves (140ra) that sinners will not repent if the threat of eternal damnation is removed. But God and Christ will have compassion for all their creatures (140rb) and Jesus will destroy the devil and punish sinners (140vb-141vb). But he adds to Peter, “You will have no more mercy on sinners than I do, for I was crucified because of them, in order to obtain mercy for them from my Father.” The Lord will therefore give each of them “life, glory, and kingdom without end”, since Jesus will interceded for them. But this outcome must not be made known, to avoid an upsurge in sin (141vb-142vb). Peter reports this dialogue of his to Clement (of Rome, 2nd or 3rd Roman pope), recommending secrecy in turn, since the doctrine might foment sin in immature people.

In the next Pseudo-Clementine tract, On the Judgment of Sinners, Peter reports to Clement being taught by Christ that “The Lord has not created Adam for the sake of punishment and correction, but for happiness and joy. Since Adam transgressed God’s commandment, death follows his life like darkness does light…] The Lord said to Adam, ‘You are dust’…] Now, after resurrecting him, will God destroy Adam again with death and hell? After punishing him in a way that is proportional to his crime, will the Lord destroy him again? Reflect and understand t hat God will not have Adam die again. And this discourse must remain a mystery for every human being, just as the proceeding one.”

In the mid-5th century (mid 400s) the ecclesiastic historian Sozomen attests (HE 7.9) that in his day some Palestinian churches still read ApocPeter once a year every year on Good Friday, which suggests a connection to the descent to hades.

ApocPeter also says babies who die are reared by angels in the other world.

In relation to this, Dr. R reports the 2nd or 3rd century Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah, which some scholars regard as incorporating parts of ApocPeter, the righteous contemplate sinners, including those who sinned against the righteous, and shall pray for their deliverance, while sinners contemplate where the righteous are and will take part in grace as the righteous are granted what they have often prayed for.

The Coptic and Ethiopian versions of the Epistula Apostolorum (based apparently on a Syrian original from the early 100s), which like many such texts purports to report the post-resurrection teaching of Jesus to the apostles, the apostles are concerned about the fate of sinners after death (notably a concern rather lacking in the NT canon!) and Jesus says that they’re doing what is right, because the righteous pray for dead sinners to be saved from punishment, and that He shall listen to and grant such prayers.

Dr. R goes on to talk about the Sibylline Oracles 2:330-338, which is verbally very similar to ApocPete’s longer description of God saving dead sinners from the unquenchable flame into the Acherusian Lake of the Elysian fields, as a gift to the pious who pray for them. (Clement and Origen both regarded ApocPete as inspired, along with the two earliest canons, and both had high regard for the oracles, Clement going so far to cite Paul from an apocryphal Acts of Paul as supposedly recommending the oracles in evangelism.) A late Latin version of the Apocalypse of Paul, from the early 500s, includes verbal echoes of sinners being saved post-mortem and being baptised in the Acherasan Lake, though the scope is not explicitly total. (The Greek original has been lost.) Dr. R seems to say (via a footnote) that the original Greek version of The Life of Adam and Eve had Adam being washed post-mortem in the Acherusian Lake.

From two of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (known and respected by Origen though not deemed canonical), Test.Zebulon 9:18 and Test.Levi 18, Dr. R find evidence of a belief that the Lord will rise with mercy and healing and shall liberate everyone from enslavement to Beliar (Satan), and that all will reject evil after Christ has healed them spiritually. (Possibly not including the deceiving spirits who will be downtrodden.)

Dr. R also talks about the early 2nd century Odes of Solomon and Gospel of Nicodemus here (this being her section on early post-apostolic apocryphal texts before or parallel with the earliest surviving Fathers, where those were respected by some or many patristics), where Jesus saves all sinners from hell at his descent after death.

The Acts of Thomas, from shortly before or after 200, repeatedly testifies to such themes as the universal offer of salvation and Christ’s salvation of all from hell (also the apparent annihilation of Satan much as Irenaeus seems to have taught). It quotes Bardaisan, notably, the famous (in his day) Syrian Christian philosopher, possibly an immediate teacher of Clement, and Christian universalist. (Dr. R wrote a whole study on Bardaisan as the earliest known fully universalistic Church Father who can be demonstrated as such.)

Dr. R writes at great length about the non-Coptic Acts of Philip, which may be (or reflect) the origin of several Gnostic texts though the text itself is orthodox – one interesting detail is that Philip’s sister Mariamme is regarded not only as an apostle but a better one than Philip! (The shorter and later Coptic version replaces her with Peter. This is likely the source of, or parallel to, the Gnostic Gospel of Philip about which fragments several people made hay about some years ago, trying to suggest the Mary was Magdalene, competed with a jealous Peter, and had a sexual relationship with Jesus though this is not at all in the GosPhilip text and wouldn’t fit Gnostic theology anyway.) More interesting for our purposes is its portrait of Philip and Bartholomew having a lot of trouble accepting that Jesus will save all sinners from sin eventually, begrudgingly admitting it (while sending the high priest Ananias slowly sinking into an abyss for daring to debate with him at the invitation of Athenian philosophers) and slowly coming to terms with it. Jesus has trouble over the years transforming the murderous and vengeful heart of Philip (and Bart), and even as the martyrdom of Philip and Mariamme approaches she has the heart of charity to evil {andreia} while he still doesn’t. Philip weeps as the day approaches, fearing he will be unable to give up retaliation as Jesus demands. Even so, their martyrdom will be aimed at “the redemption of the whole world”. Even demons repent (their evil nature having been dried out) and Philip is amazed to see them converting to serve the Good! This doesn’t stop Philip from vindicatively casting pagans who are rude to him into hell, but he again grudgingly admits that Christ will still save them which Christ goes on to illustrate in front of Philip. Finally Christ gets a bit fed up with Philip and judges that after death Philip himself must be kept in the eons {aiônes} for forty days before entering Paradise, as punishment for being so unwilling to accept the utter scope and victory of Christ’s salvation of sinners! Philip acknowledges his sin and praises God who saves the whole world.

Frankly, that text sounds as epic as hell (so to speak). :mrgreen: :laughing: What struck me when reading Dr. Ramelli’s account of it was how in tone it comports with the attitudes of the apostles from the Gospels and how they are constantly being rebuked by Christ for those attitudes, even having difficulty accepting the full scope of their evangelical mission in Acts (for which reason Saul the Pharisee is called as an agent and example).*

Here is a link to a shorter work that Father Kimel provides on his blog below reviewing Rameli’s book, that also covers the Apocalypse of Peter a little:

scribd.com/doc/217697319/Ill … -Salvation

And the blog post is below:

afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/05/21 … /#comments

Good links, thanks! The article is pretty close to the text of that section of the chapter I was reading (as might be expected).

As I read more of these works I find myself doubting in the complete innerancy of the scriptures. Inspired? Yes, but not innerant. Additionally, it hard to find fault with the other non-cabonical books. Most of them line up the concepts of the canon. There is, no doubt, many reasons why certain books were rejected in the canon. However, there was no official canon for the first several hundred years. This makes me wonder why we worship the letter and not Christ and why we feel the Bible is necessary to be a Christian.

Good point Gabe. It is worth noting that the bible was only available for a thousand years to the clergy and then not generally. Hence the brew ha ha when Gotenberg started printing bibles. Suddenly everyone (well, the well to do actually) could get their hands on one. No wonder King James watched his production of the AV like a hawk. 1. Protecting his own position (didn’t help his son much!) and 2. Wanting to prevent a meltdown in his own 16th cent society. kind of like the internet today and our own little forum. it seems scripture sola was in part a response to the way Christendom had wandered off the rail lines and needed major correction. Today we have this notion of inerrancy which has raised its head over the past decades. I’m not sure how I feel about a group of men deciding which bits were in and which out, given their political and cultural situation at the time. My understanding of these things is limited but I do find terms like ‘infallible in its original manuscripts’ a bit of a faith leap since we don’t have access to the documents any more. Clearly the promise of Jesus in regards to all truth has a bearing but given the way our current Bibles carry some spin from the past where is the line to be drawn? In the end there is a case for personal knowing which comes from the Holy Spirit. In general I tend to rely on the Scriptures as a reliable and fantastic guide in the daily cut and thrust of life and not withstanding my comments above use it as my base line. Cheers Chris :unamused:

You know without “the Bible” we wouldn’t know anything at all about Jesus Christ, right? – except for what some people very much later handed down as tradition. I don’t think you’d regard that as an improvement. :confused:

While there wasn’t an official NT canon until the early 300s, that was partly due to church leaders being hampered by Imperial policies from communicating with each other as much as they wanted; they still tried to find and promote the most accurate information possible about what Jesus and the first apostles actually taught and did, which meant trying to find the earliest texts with the most influential usage in the church.

And those texts routinely position themselves, and reference, the Jewish scriptural canon – though mostly not what we now call the intertestamental works (which is why different Christian groups do or don’t accept those as canon, e.g. the Maccabee histories.) So if we didn’t have those parts of “the Bible” we’d be missing out on a lot of the previous story, and on a lot of the referential meanings.

Philosophically, I can decide trinitarian theism is true, and consequentially also expect something like Christianity to happen someday, without necessarily needing “the Bible”. But I can’t consciously be a Christian per se without sufficiently accurate information about Jesus of Nazareth acting as the Jewish Messiah.

Granted, Jesus (per those same texts) doesn’t always care much about whether someone is professing to follow Him as God’s anointed king or not – the sheep in the Matt 25 judgment were serving Him without realizing they were doing anything like that at all, for example. But the only reason we can be (reasonably) sure Jesus doesn’t always care much about whether someone is culturally a Christian or not, is because we have sufficiently reliable texts reporting that in various ways He doesn’t always care much about that sort of thing. (And sometimes does, in other circumstances.)

That’s why, as interesting and nifty (in some ways) as Acts of Philip is, and as much as it may distantly echo real issues and problems affecting the real Philip, I can’t really include it in my religious beliefs about what happened historically with the first generation of Jesus-followers, and I can’t accept its teaching on anything like the same level.

Of course. I am more talking about the worship of the letter, as MacDonald puts it. I have an issue with ‘heresy’ hunters in general. It seems somewhere around the second century it became a full time job to destroy other Christians who differ in opinion. It is the same spirit that does this today. Instead of finding any unity, they divide over trivial issues. Of course that it and of itself is arbitrary, as both parties would have to define what a ‘trivial’ issue is and it only takes one party to disagree and split off.

The issue is largely one of logic with me. For example, is the Bible what it is because God blessed it? Or is it the way it is because it was held by the majority view? In other words, history is written by the victors. If God blessed it, which is certainly possible, then one can argue the Quran had God’s hand on it… Perhaps any ancient document that survived had God’s hand on it? It seems that argument is weak to use because it can be applied towards other religions.

There is nothing wrong with believing it (I believe God had His hand in it) but can it be justified as something other than “I just believe it, even though there is evidence against it and the same evidence for it, is the same evidence that can be applied to other religions”?

Okay, but MacD stressed that Christians need to know what Jesus said and did (in order to obey Him for example), so he would have “felt” (as you put it) that “the Bible is necessary to be a Christian” per se – under the circumstances we’ve had for the past umpteen centuries, not absolutely necessary in all regards.

False dichotomy. The majority used certain texts for good reasons, because they could be traced in spread and antiquity of usage back to authorities in a position to know the original facts.

Let’s take the Arians as an example of another false dichotomy. Despite the victory of Athanasius and his party at the Nicean Council, the Arian party actually “won” for most of the 4th century: they had the support of Imperial authority and they had the support of military authority. (Which is why for example Athanasius kept being banished from his bishopric in Alexandria during his tenure there.) They didn’t win permanently but they were winning long enough that if they had wanted to make permanent changes to the canon they could have done so easily, even if the orthodox party had to reverse those changes later. But the textual evidence in dispute was agreed by all sides to be the best and most accurate available, basically the only surviving texts with a shared level of authority (compared to say the 1st Epistle of Clement which had antiquity and personal authority on par with anything that stayed in the canon but which didn’t have quite the spread of usage, and wasn’t first or second generation material exactly. Second-and-a-half, on the edge, and in some canon lists as a result, but still.)

Yet again, consider the Syriac communions, some Alexandrian and some Antiochian but both eventually parting ways with central orthodoxy (though all three sides were trinitarians who also acknowledged the two natures of Christ and shared a reverence for pre-Nicean Fathers). They could have chucked the canon of central orthodoxy if they thought the central majority was simply pushing a majority-victory. The Eastern Syriac communities did leave out the texts with the dodgiest provenance compared to the others (the ones at the end of our modern Biblical order); the Western Syriac did not. Neither side replaced or added what they thought were better texts; and the side which dropped a few dropped them simply from slightly stricter applications of the same criteria on which the others had been included.

Now, I don’t have to talk about being “blessed by God” in the slightest to go over all that; I would be just as able to observe what happened and why if I was an atheist! Similarly, on the grounds of internal and external criteria, comparing the NT texts with other surviving texts, I’d be able to tell (with a lot of study admittedly) that the NT texts were genuinely better evidence of early Christian belief than non-NT texts (aside from a few outliers like 1st Clement perhaps, which might be close to par but not better.)

The NT epistles themselves (and Acts in its own way) indicate there were slightly and significantly different ideas floating around at the time of their composition, about Jesus and what should be believed and practiced for following Jesus. If those ideas had survived in primitive texts would we have equally par but different kinds of evidence to work with and to choose between for what Jesus and his-or-His authorized followers taught? Maybe! – but maybe not either. The majority community may not always be right, but they also don’t always have evil or false reasons for being the majority either – and both the majority and minority communities tried, in their own ways, to trace back to the same shared pool of post-Jesus authorities, so in that sense there was no minority belief at all: at most someone might put Philip or Mary over against Peter, but it was still the same original pool to work from and to make claims about. That being the case, it should have been (and apparently was) relatively easy to figure out sooner or later whether claims actually did go back to the original founders. Which, not incidentally, is exactly why the non-canonical texts tended to talk about secret instruction that Jesus had really revealed to the most elite followers, not to be shared with everyone but passed along in secret.

(This, also not incidentally, is a temptation we as Christian universalists should be trying to avoid, making out that our doctrine is some secret for special elite Christians. A temptation the earliest Christian universalists had a lot of problems with, sometimes for practical reasons, but still it taints our own history in ways we’ll never be able to totally rid ourselves now until the Judgment when all such conflicts are finally cleared away.)

I admire your tenacity, but unfortunately, I am not swayed. In order [for me] to remain intellectually honest, I must maintain that people [doubters] have very good reasons to doubt the Bible’s authenticity. I don’t have the time (desire, really) to go into detail, but to provide yet another small example: The ‘criteria’ that was used to determine canon is in and of itself arbitrary. Did God come up with the rules for something to be canon? No, of course not. I can, without a doubt, respect anyone who doubts. There are so many reasons why a person has an intellectual right to doubt and while Christian’s believe they can defend it adequately, there are still holes involved. Of course, without holes, faith isn’t required. The credibility of the Bible is NOT blind faith, but it is faith.

This isn’t really about the Bible NOT being inspired, it is more about other texts being inspired that I am attempting to commit. Truth is truth whether it comes to Balaam’s Donkey or Jesus himself! Additionally, the Lord Jesus is said to be our teacher… I guess there is no need of the spirit if you have the Bible. :slight_smile:

What is interesting is all the different denominations as a result of the lay people being able to read and use the ‘Bible’ as their authority. Though, quite honestly, because of translation bias, I am not really sure the translation was the best decision. In some ways, it could be viewed as giving nuclear weapon schematics to a bridge engineer. While skilled himself, is way out of his league and training.

I see almost two patterns here the emerge from history

Pre Canon Era

The epistles, letters definitely existed, but were more diverse from region to region. This means, that some were use books that would not become canon, others would use only a few books and yet others would have most of the canon. It surely would have been a diverse range of people, not to mention many of the so called ‘heretical’ writings.

Post Canon

Only few had the ability to read and understand and as time went on, even fewer. Only the church was allowed to interpret scriptures. While there did exist Anabaptists and others groups, apparently, they were the minority.

Post Canon Translation for Lay People

Now everyone was an expert on the Bible. Many new denominations spring up and claim the Bible as their authority. There is now MORE diversity than ever and it seems one cannot do an internet search without someone be accused of heresy by someone else. I get a kick out of these ‘heresy hunters’. I frequently sense a judgmental, self-righteous spirit behind many of these ‘accusers’… Only in America does every Christian think their theology is 100% correct and everyone else’s is wrong.

That said, my only point here is that the Bible did seem to divide even more… That doesn’t mean the evils of the catholic church should be ignored. Though one has to wonder how valid something is when it becomes political…

I wasn’t trying to sway you about that, so no problem.

:unamused: Faith is supposed to be about trust, and about being trustworthy one’s self, which people can and (where applicable) should do without needing holes in what they’re trusting about. Faith and faithfulness doesn’t end with a person’s cognitive assurance about something, though naturally they can help where holes in the assurance remain. (The ultimate example in trinitarian theism would be the Persons of God Who continue agreeing forever to be faithful to one another. They don’t need holes in their omniscience to do that, and their faith in one another is absolutely required for the existence of anything at all including themselves.)

Misplaced faith can be a real problem, whether willfully so or accidentally due to a misreading of the evidence (exacerbated by any holes). But even where no holes (or no significant holes) are seen, faith is still required. The most perfectly correct orthodox thinker in the world can also be utterly faithless if he never puts his belief into action toward fair-togetherness between persons (a point Jesus harshly criticizes some people on in GosMatt and RevJohn for example); or worse than utterly faithless, an outright heretic sinner if he misuses what he believes to be true.

I’m not obliquely criticizing you on that, btw! What I’m actually saying, is that my own various levels of assurance don’t negate my responsibility for faith somehow by proportion to my assurance. If anything it’s the other way around: I’m more obligated to be faithful in proportion to my assurances about what I believe to be true! A person with less assurance has proportionately less obligation to be faithful (in regard to what he’s lacking assurance about anyway).

Which, not incidentally, is perfectly consonant with respecting people’s intellectual right to doubt in proportion to real or honestly perceived holes. I don’t expect my most-beloved, who doesn’t see enough to be a Christian, to be even slightly faithful about being ‘Christian’ in any this-worldly sense. I do expect her to be faithful about being just about fair-togetherness between persons (and so a sheep not a baby goat), because she routinely shows she knows enough to know she ought be faithful about that. Nor can I recall my expectations in that being ever disappointed (or not in any significant way). :sunglasses: If she was a moral imbecile (which may afflict someone for various reasons), or was highly confused over whether she can see any morality to do, my expectations of her faithfulness (in that regard) would be proportionately lower. But whatever all of two cents she could muster along that line would still be praiseworthy faith to Him Who Is Essentially Faithfulness, possibly moreso by proportion than whatever I might be partially contributing from my riches (or what I regard as my riches anyway).

If by “arbitrary” you mean (its popular modern definition of) without good reason, I disagree, although you’re welcome to try providing better criteria if you want.

If by “arbitrary” you mean people did their best to reason out and arbitrate between claims of authenticity according to reasonable criteria, then I agree but don’t understand your complaint. Historians routinely have to make the best use they can out of what they have.

I’m perfectly glad to receive truth wherever I can find it, even in fiction; but there needs to be some significant kind of bedrock of historical fact where religious claims involve historical actions. Nor am I against the idea of some historically accurate reports of what various real people taught and did (in relation to being our religious authorities) being found in texts outside the accepted canon. But in order to be on the same level of source material as the canon, such texts would have to match up similarly to the canon texts credentials for authenticity in various ways. Which they don’t. Which is why they aren’t canon. (Which is why I don’t blame Eastern Syriac Christians for dropping a few texts with spottier attestation than the others. To whatever extent I thought various NT texts were spurious, I’d also proportionately treat them as having less referential connection to the original Christian authorities and thus having proportionately less relevance to the “deposit of the faith” from which we should be trying to work. Meaning I wouldn’t cite them as testimony for proper religious belief; I’d drop them from the canon, too.)

Now, you may not agree about the different levels of authenticity involved; but if you insist on doubters being respected where they see holes, you should at least be prepared to equally respect (in principle if you can’t manage to do so in practice) why it’s important to work with the most accurate material available about “Christ” in order to be an overt “Christian” per se, and so to respect why people who do evaluate those texts as being more accurate than you do would by proportion insist on the importance of those texts for that purpose (being an overt “Christian” per se).

(Also, even if you disagree with the results of the evaluations, you ought to at least be willing to acknowledge that some people have more detailed and nuanced evaluations of the authentic accuracy of the texts than “I just feel that way because faith!” or “My preacher or the Pope or that council said so.” Though I don’t disparage appeals to authority where one is not in position to check things oneself, which is the position most people are in about most topics myself included: my specialist knowledge on some topics doesn’t make me more, or less, important than people who are simply trusting other people they think they have good reason to trust.)

The Egyptian version might have been changed by Gnostics (it wa sin the Nag Hamadi collection if I recall) GNostics are sometimes cited as supporting Unvierslaism, but Augustine I consider proof plenty them were all for Eternal Damnation.

The Apocalypse of Peter is horrifying. I hope that’s not the kind of punishment God inflicts on people postmortem… Anyone here know the reasons it didn’t make it into the NT?

:open_mouth:

I need to read that.

I have seen people write that several times, but I have yet to read an ancient Gnostic text that is universalistic. :slight_smile: