'The Nazaraeans are Jews who know Christ as a righteous man,
and use the Gospel called "according to Peter".'
(Theodoret; of heretical Fables, ii. 2)
Some argue that this statement was incorrect and that Theodoret had confused the Gospel of Peter with the Gospel according to the Hebrews.
From-The Apocryphal New Testament
M.R. James-Translation and Notes
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
The early testimonies about this book have been set forth already. The present fragment was discovered in 1884 in a tomb at Akhmimin Egypt. The manuscript in which it is a little book containing a portion of the Book of Enoch in Greek, this fragment on the Passion and another, a description of Heaven and Hell, which is either (as I now think) a second fragment of the Gospel, or a piece of the Apocalypse of Peter. It will be given later under that head.
We have seen that the Gospel of Peter is quoted by writers of the latter end of the second century. It has been contended that Justin Martyr also used it soon after the middle of that century, but the evidence is not demonstrative. I believe it is not safe to date the book much earlier than A. D. 150.
It uses all four canonical Gospels, and is the earliest uncanonical account of the Passion that exists. It is not wholly orthodox: for it throws doubt on the reality of the Lord's sufferings, and by consequence upon the reality of his human body. In other words it is, as Serapion of Antioch indicated, of a Docetic character.
Another characteristic of it is its extremely anti-Jewish attitude. Blame is thrown on the Jews wherever possible, and Pilate is white-washed .
In this case I give, in Roman and Arabic figures respectively, a double division into sections and verses. The first is that of Armitage Robinson, the second that of Harnack.
I. 1 But of the Jews no man washed his hands, neither did Herod nor any one of his judges: and whereas they would not 2 wash, Pilate rose up. And then Herod the king commanded that the Lord should be taken into their hands, saying unto them: All that I commanded you to do unto him, do ye
II. 3 Now there stood there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord, and he, knowing that they were about to crucify him, came unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus for burial. And Pilate sending unto Herod, begged his body. 5 And Herod said: Brother Pilate, even if none had begged for him, we should have buried him, since also the Sabbath dawneth; for it is written in the law that the sun should not set upon one that hath been slain (murdered).
III. 6 And he delivered him unto the people before the first day of (or on the day before the) unleavened bread, even their feast. And they having taken the Lord pushed him as they ran, and said: Let us hale the Son of God, now that 7 we have gotten authority over him. And they put on him a purple robe, and made him sit upon the seat of judgement, 8 saying: Give righteous judgement, thou King of Israel. And one of them brought a crown of thorns and set it upon the 9 Lord's head; and others stood and did spit in his eyes, and others buffeted his cheeks; and others did prick him with a reed, and some of them scourged him, saying With this honour let us honour (or at this price let us value) the son of God.
IV. 10 And they brought two malefactors, and crucified the 11 Lord between them. But he kept silence, as one feeling no pain. And when they set the cross upright, they wrote 12 thereon: This is the King of Israel. And they laid his garments before him, and divided them among themselves and 13 cast the lot upon them. But one of those malefactors reproached them, saying: We have thus suffered for the evils which we have done; but this man which hath become the 14 saviour of men, wherein hath he injured you? And they were wroth with him, and commanded that his legs should not be broken, that so he might die in torment.
V. 15 Now it was noonday, and darkness prevailed over all Judaea: and they were troubled and in an agony lest the sun should have set, for that he yet lived: for it is written for them that the sun should not set upon him that hath been 16 slain (murdered). And one of them said: Give ye him to drink gall with vinegar: and they mingled it and gave him 17 to drink: and they fulfilled all things and accomplished 18 their sins upon their own heads. And many went about with 19 lamps, supposing that it was night: and some fell. And the Lord cried out aloud saying: My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he had so said, he was taken up.
20 And in the same hour was the veil of the temple of Jerusalem rent in two.
VI. 21 And then they plucked the nails from the hands of the Lord and laid him upon the earth: and the whole earth was shaken, and there came a great fear on all.
22 Then the sun shone forth, and it was found to be the ninth 23 hour. And the Jews rejoiced, and gave his body unto Joseph to bury it, because he had beheld all the good things which 24 he did. And he took the Lord and washed him and wrapped him in linen and brought him unto his own sepulchre, which is called the Garden of Joseph.
VII. 25 Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, when they perceived how great evil they had done themselves, began to lament and to say: Woe unto our sins: the judgement and the end of Jerusalem is drawn nigh.
26 But I with my fellows was in grief, and we were wounded in our minds and would have hid ourselves; for we were sought after by them as malefactors, and as thinking to set 27 the temple on fire. And beside all these things we were fasting, and we sat mourning and weeping night and day until the Sabbath.
VIII. 28 But the scribes and Pharisees and elders gathered one with another, for they had heard that all the people were murmuring and beating their breasts, saying: If these very great signs have come to pass at his death, behold how 29 righteous he was. And the elders were afraid and came unto 30 Pilate, entreating him and saying: Give us soldiers that we (or they) may watch his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and steal him away and the people suppose 31 that he is risen from the dead, and do us hurt. And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to watch the sepulchre; and the elders and scribes came with them unto 32 the tomb, and when they had rolled a great stone to keep out (al. together with) the centurion and the soldiers, then all 33 that were there together set it upon the door of the tomb; and plastered thereon seven seals; and they pitched a tent there and kept watch.
IX. 34 And early in the morning as the Sabbath dawned, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region roundabout to see the sepulchre that had been sealed.
35 Now in the night whereon the Lord's day dawned, as the soldiers were keeping guard two by two in every watch, 36 there came a great sound in the heaven, and they saw the heavens opened and two men descend thence, shining with (lit. having) a great light, and drawing near unto the sepulchre. 37 And that stone which had been set on the door rolled away of itself and went back to the side, and the sepulchre was
X. 38 opened and both of the young men entered in. When therefore those soldiers saw that, they waked up the centurion and the elders (for they also were there keeping 39 watch); and while they were yet telling them the things which they had seen, they saw again three men come out of the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other (lit. the 40 one), and a cross following, after them. And of the two they saw that their heads reached unto heaven, but of him that 41 was led by them that it overpassed the heavens. And they 42 heard a voice out of the heavens saying: Hast thou (or Thou hast) preached unto them that sleep? And an answer was heard from the cross, saying: Yea.
XI. 43 Those men therefore took counsel one with another to go and report these things unto Pilate. And while they yet thought thereabout, again the heavens were opened and a 45 man descended and entered into the tomb. And they that were with the centurion (or the centurion and they that were with him) when they saw that, hasted to go by night unto Pilate and left the sepulchre whereon they were keeping watch, and told all that they had seen, and were in great agony, saying: Of a truth he was the son of God.
46 Pilate answered and said: I am clear from the blood of 47 the son of God, but thus it seemed good unto you. Then all they came and besought him and exhorted him to charge the centurion and the soldiers to tell nothing of that they had 48 seen: For, said they, it is expedient for us to incur the greatest sin before God, rather than to (and not to) fall into 49 the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned. Pilate therefore charged the centurion and the soldiers that they should say nothing.
XII. 50 Now early on the Lord's day Mary Magdalene, a disciple (fem.) of the Lord-which, being afraid because of the Jews, for they were inflamed with anger, had not performed at the sepulchre of the Lord those things which women are accustomed to do unto them that die and are 51 beloved of them-took with her the women her friends and 52 came unto the tomb where he was laid. And they feared lest the Jews should see them, and said: Even if we were not able to weep and lament him on that day whereon he was 53 crucified, yet let us now do so at his tomb. But who will roll away for us the stone also that is set upon the door of the tomb, that we may enter in and sit beside him and perform 54 that which is due? for the stone was great, and we fear lest any man see us. And if we cannot do so, yet let us cast down at the door these things which we bring for a memorial of him, and we will weep and lament until we come unto our house.
XIII. 55 And they went and found the sepulchre open : and they drew near and looked in there, and saw there a young man sitting in the midst of the sepulchre, of a fair countenance and clad in very bright raiment, which said unto them: 56 Wherefore are ye come? whom seek ye? not him that was crucified? He is risen and is departed; but if ye believe it not, look in and see the place where he lay, that he is not here: for he is risen and is departed thither whence he was sent. 57 Then the women were affrighted and fled.
XV. 58 Now it was the last day of unleavened bread, and many were coming forth of the city and returning unto their 59 own homes because the feast was at an end. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, were weeping and were in sorrow, and each one being grieved for that which had befallen 60 departed unto his own house. But I, Simon Peter, and Andrew my brother, took our nets and went unto the sea: and there was with us Levi the son of Alphaeus, whom the Lord (For Fragment II see Apocalypse of Peter.)
1 . . . των δε Ιουδαιων ουδεις ενιψατο τας χειρας, ουδε Ηρωδης ουδε τις των κριτων αυτου. και μη βουληθεντων νιψασθαι ανεστη Πειλατος, 2 και τοτε κελευει Ηρωδης ο βασιλευς παραλημφθηναι τον κυριον, ειπων αυτοις οτι, Οσα εκελευσα υμιν ποιησαι αυτω, ποιησατε.
3 εισηκει δε εκει ιωσηφ ο φιλος Πειλατου και του κυριου, και ειδως οτι σταυρισκειν αυτον μελλουσιν ηλθεν προς τον Πειλατον και ητησε το σωμα του κυριου προς ταφην. 4 και ο Πειλατος πεμψας προς Ηρωδην ητησεν αυτου το σωμα. 5 και ο Ηρωδης εφη, αδελφε Πειλατε, ει και μη τις αυτον ητηκει, ημεις αυτον εθαπτομεν, επει και σαββατον επιφωσκει. γεγραπται γαρ εν τω νομω ηλιον μη δυναι επι πεφονευμενω. και παρεδωκεν αυτον τω λαω προ μιας των αζυμων, της εορτης αυτων.
6 οι δε λαβοντες τον κυριον ωθουν αυτον τρεχοντες και ελεγον, Συρωμεν τον υιον του θεου εxουσιαν αυτου εσχηκοτες. 7 και πορφυραν αυτον περιεβαλον και εκαθισαν αυτον επι καθεδραν κρισεως λεγοντες, Δικαιως κρινε, βασιλευ του ισραηλ. 8 και τις αυτων ενεγκων στεφανον ακανθινον εθηκεν επι της κεφαλης του κυριου, 9 και ετεροι εστωτες ενεπτυον αυτου ταις οψεσι, και αλλοι τας σιαγονας αυτου εραπισαν, ετεροι καλαμω ενυσσον αυτον και τινες αυτον εμαστιζον λεγοντες, Ταυτη τη τιμη τιμησωμεν τον υιον του θεου.
10 Και ηνεγκον δυο κακουργους και εσταυρωσαν ανα μεσον αυτων τον κυριον αυτος δε εσιωπα ως μηδενα πονον εχων. 11 και οτε ωρθωσαν τον σταυρον επεγραψαν οτι ουτος εστιν ο βασιλευς του ισραηλ. 12 και τεθεικοτες τα ενδυματα εμπροσθεν αυτου διεμερισαντο, και λαχμον εβαλον επ αυτοις. 13 εις δε τις των κακουργων εκεινων ωνειδισεν αυτους λεγων, Ημεις δια τα κακα α εποιησαμεν ουτω πεπονθαμεν, ουτος δε σωτηρ γενομενος των ανθρωπων τι ηδικησεν υμας; 14 και αγανακτησαντες επ αυτω εκελευσαν ινα μη σκελοκοπηθη, οπως βασανιζομενος αποθανοι.
15 Ην δε μεσημβρια, και σκοτος κατεσχε πασαν την Ιουδαιαν. και εθορυβουντο, και ηγωνιων μηποτε ο ηλιος εδυ επειδη ετι εζη, γεγραπται αυτοις ηλιον μη δυναι επι πεφονευμενω. 16 και τις αυτων ειπεν, Ποτισατε αυτον χολην μετα οxους. και κερασαντες εποτισαν. 17 και επληρωσαν παντα, και ετελειωσαν κατα της κεφαλης αυτων τα αμαρτηματα. 18 περιηρχοντο δε πολλοι μετα λυχνων νομιζοντες οτι νυx εστιν επεσαν τε (MS: επεσαντο). 19 και ο κυριος ανεβοησε λεγων, Η δυναμις μου, η δυναμις, κατελειψας με, και ειπων ανεληφθη. 20 και αυτης ωρας διεραγη το καταπετασμα του ναου της ιερουσαλημ εις δυο.
21 Και τοτε απεσπασαν τους ηλους απο των χειρων του κυριου και εθηκαν αυτον επι της γης. και η γη πασα εσεισθη και φοβος μεγας εγενετο. 22 τοτε ηλιος ελαμψε και ευρεθη ωρα ενατη. 23 εχαρησαν δε οι Ιουδαιοι και δεδωκασι τω ιωσηφ το σωμα αυτου ινα αυτο θαψη, επειδη θεασαμενος ην οσα αγαθα εποιησεν. 24 λαβων δε τον κυριον ελουσε και ειλησε σινδονι και εισηγαγεν εις ιδιον ταφον καλουμενον Κηπον ιωσηφ.
25 Tοτε οι Ιουδαιοι και οι πρεσβυτεροι και οι ιερεις, γνοντες οιον κακον εαυτοις εποιησαν ηρxαντο κοπτεσθαι και λεγειν, Ουαι ταις αμαρτιαις ημων, ηγγισεν η κρισις και το τελος ιερουσαλημ. 26 εγω δε μετα των εταιρων μου ελυπουμην, και τετρωμενοι κατα διανοιαν εκρυβομεθα. εζητουμεθα γαρ υπ αυτων ως κακουργοι και ως τον ναον θελοντες εμπρησαι. 27 επι δε τουτοις πασιν ενηστευομεν, και εκαθεζομεθα πενθουντες και κλαιοντες νυκτος και ημερας εως του σαββατου.
28 Συναχθεντες δε οι γραμματεις και φαρισαιοι και πρεσβυτεροι προς αλληλους, ακουσαντες οτι ο λαος απας γογγυζει και κοπτεται τα στηθη λεγοντες οτι ει τω θανατω αυτου ταυτα τα μεγιστα σημεια γεγονεν, ιδετε οτι ποσον δικαιος εστιν, 29 εφοβηθησαν οι πρεσβυτεροι και ηλθον προς Πειλατον δεομενοι αυτου και λεγοντες, 30 Παραδος ημιν στρατιωτας ινα φυλαxωμεν το μνημα αυτου επι τρεις ημερας, μηποτε ελθοντες οι μαθηται αυτου κλεψωσιν αυτον και υπολαβη ο λαος οτι εκ νεκρων ανεστη, και ποιησωσιν ημιν κακα. 31 ο δε Πειλατος παραδεδωκεν αυτοις Πετρωνιον τον κεντυριωνα μετα στρατιωτων φυλασσειν τον ταφον. και συν αυτοις ηλθον πρεσβυτεροι και γραμματεις επι το μνημα, 32 και κυλισαντες λιθον μεγαν μετα του κεντυριωνος και των στρατιωτων ομου παντες οι οντες εκει εθηκαν επι τη θυρα του μνηματος, 33 και επεχρισαν επτα σφραγιδας, και σκηνην εκει πηxαντες εφυλαxαν.
34 πρωιας δε επιφωσκοντος του σαββατου ηλθεν οχλος απο ιερουσαλημ και της περιχωρου ινα ιδωσι το μνημειον εσφραγισμενον. 35 τη δε νυκτι η επεφωσκεν η κυριακη, φυλασσοντων των στρατιωτων ανα δυο δυο κατα φρουραν, μεγαλη φωνη εγενετο εν τω ουρανω, 36 και ειδον ανοιχθεντας τους ουρανους και δυο ανδρας κατελθοντας εκειθε πολυ φεγγος εχοντας και εγγισαντας τω ταφω. 37 ο δε λιθος εκεινος ο βεβλημενος επι τη θυρα αφ εαυτου κυλισθεις επεχωρησε παρα μερος, και ο ταφος ηνοιγη και αμφοτεροι οι νεανισκοι εισηλθον.
38 ιδοντες ουν οι στρατιωται εκεινοι εxυπνισαν τον κεντυριωνα και τους πρεσβυτερους, παρησαν γαρ και αυτοι φυλασσοντες, 39 και εxηγουμενων αυτων α ειδον παλιν ορωσιν εxελθοντας απο του ταφου τρεις ανδρας, και τους δυο τον ενα υπορθουντας και σταυρον ακολουθουντα αυτοις, 40 και των μεν δυο την κεφαλην χωρουσαν μεχρι του ουρανου, του δε χειραγωγουμενου υπ' αυτων υπερβαινουσαν τους ουρανους. 41 και φωνης ηκουον εκ των ουρανων λεγουσης, εκηρυxας τοις κοιμωμενοις; 42 και υπακοη ηκουετο απο του σταυρου το ναι (MS: τιναι ?, = οτι ναι ορ τι ναι ? check image) .
43 Συνεσκεπτοντο ουν αλληλοις εκεινοι απελθειν και ενφανισαι ταυτα τω Πειλατω. 44 και ετι διανοουμενων αυτων φαινονται παλιν ανοιχθεντες οι ουρανοι και ανθρωπος τις κατελθων και εισελθων εις το μνημα. 45 ταυτα ιδοντες οι περι τον κεντυριωνα νυκτος εσπευσαν προς Πειλατον, αφεντες τον ταφον ον εφυλασσον, και εxηγησαντο παντα απερ ειδον, αγωνιωντες μεγαλως και λεγοντες, Aληθως υιος ην θεου. 46 αποκριθεις ο Πειλατος εφη, Eγω καθαρευω του αιματος του υιου του θεου, υμιν δε τουτο εδοxεν. 47 ειτα προσελθοντες παντες εδεοντο αυτου και παρεκαλουν κελευσαι τω κεντυριωνι και τοις στρατιωταις μηδεν ειπειν α ειδον. 48 συμφερει γαρ, φασιν, ημιν οφλησαι μεγιστην αμαρτιαν εμπροσθεν του θεου και μη εμπεσειν εις χειρας του λαου των Ιουδαιων και λιθασθηναι. 49 εκελευσεν ουν ο Πειλατος τω κεντυριωνι και τοις στρατιωταις μηδεν ειπειν.
50 Oρθρου δε της κυριακης Mαριαμ η Mαγδαληνη, μαθητρια του κυριου, φοβουμενη δια τους Ιουδαιους, επειδη εφλεγοντο υπο της οργης, ουκ εποιησεν επι τω μνηματι του κυριου α ειωθεσαν ποιειν αι γυναικες επι τοις αποθνησκουσι και τοις αγαπωμενοις αυταις. 51 λαβουσα μεθ εαυτης τας φιλας ηλθε επι το μνημειον οπου ην τεθεις. 52 και εφοβουντο μη ιδωσιν αυτας οι Ιουδαιοι και ελεγον, Eι και μη εν εκεινη τη ημερα η εσταυρωθη εδυνηθημεν κλαυσαι και κοψασθαι, και νυν επι του μνηματος αυτου ποιησωμεν ταυτα. 53 τις δε αποκυλισει ημιν και τον λιθον τον τεθεντα επι της θυρας του μνημειου, ινα εισελθουσαι παρακαθεσθωμεν αυτω και ποιησωμεν τα οφειλομενα; 54 μεγας γαρ ην ο λιθος, και φοβουμεθα μη τις ημας ιδη. και ει μη δυναμεθα, καν επι της θυρας βαλωμεν α φερομεν εις μνημοσυνην αυτου, κλαυσομεν και κοψομεθα εως ελθωμεν εις τον οικον ημων.
55 Και απελθουσαι ευρον τον ταφον ηνεωγμενον και προσελθουσαι παρεκυψαν εκει, και ορωσιν εκει τινα νεανισκον καθεζομενον μεσω του ταφου ωραιον και περιβεβλημενον στολην λαμπροτατην, οστις εφη αυταις, 56 Tι ηλθατε; τινα ζητειτε; μη τον σταυρωθεντα εκεινον; ανεστη και απηλθεν, ει δε μη πιστευετε, παρακυψατε και ιδετε τον τοπον ενθα εκειτο, οτι ουκ εστιν, ανεστη γαρ και απηλθεν εκει οθεν απεσταλη. 57 τοτε αι γυναικες φοβηθεισαι εφυγον.
58 ην δε τελευταια ημερα των αζυμων, και πολλοι τινες εxηρχοντο υποστρεφοντες εις τους οικους αυτων της εορτης παυσαμενης. 59 Ημεις δε οι δωδεκα μαθηται του κυριου εκλαιομεν και ελυπουμεθα, και εκαστος λυπουμενος δια το συμβαν απηλλαγη εις τον οικον αυτου. 60 εγω δε Σιμων Πετρος και Aνδρεας ο αδελφος μου λαβοντες ημων τα λινα απηλθαμεν εις την θαλασσαν, και ην συν ημιν Λευεις του Aλφαιου, ον Κυριος . . .
ευαγγελιον κατα Πετρον
It seems unlikely.
However the confusion could have been created by the relationship between the Gospel according to the Hebrews and a lost document called "The Doctrine of Peter" as I relate in my commentary to Luke at http://www.lulu.com/nazarene
24:36-43 Touch me and know, because a spirit has not flesh and bones –
A similar resurrection appearance occurred in the Goodnews according to the Hebrews.
As the fourth century “Church Father” Jerome writes:
Also the Gospel called according to the Hebrews,
recently translated by me into Greek and Latin,…
Of the Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp. In it he also inserts
a testimony about the person of Messiah, from the Gospel
which was recently translated by me; his words are:
But I both saw him in the flesh after the resurrection,
and believe that he is in the flesh:
and when he came to Peter, and those who were with Peter,
he said to them, “Lo, feel me and see that I am not a
bodiless spirit”. And forthwith they touched him and believed.
(Jerome; Of Illustrious Men 2, 16
and Comm. on Isa. Preface to Book 18)
(We will examine this quote in more detail shortly)
One Messianic author takes this story (as it appears in Luke) as an indication that people at this time had a hard time accepting the resurrection of the dead. In fact only the 11 (or 10, since T’oma was not present according to John 20:19-20). In fact Yeshua’s Talmudim were mostly from the Johnian Essene background (see comments to Jn. 1:28-51) and perhaps from the Hillelian Pharisaic background. In both cases Essenes (4Q521) and Pharisees (m.San. 10) both believed in the resurrection. While Sadducees rejected the resurrection of the dead, none of Yeshua’s talmidim seem to have had a Sadducean background. Although Luke, Yochanan (in John 20:19-20) and the author of the Goodnews according to the Hebrews (Matthew?) may have included the story, in part, as a response to Sadducees, this would not explain why Yeshua made these statements and did these things.
Others have taken this material as establishing a principle that spirits cannot have bodies of flesh. The Book of Enoch, however, understands the events of Gen. 6:1f as describing a group of fallen angels as having taken flesh and copulating with human women (see comments to 2Kefa 2:4 & Jude 1:6). Moreover the Apocryphal Book of Tobit relates the rape of a woman by a demon (Tobit 3:8). While these accounts are apocryphal (though Enoch was accepted by Y’hudah (comments to Jude 1:14-15)) they make it clear that that it was not a first century concept that spirits could not take on flesh. As a result it seems unlikely that Yeshua did these things to prove that he was not a spirit. His actions would not have proven that he was not a spirit, since spirits were believed to have the ability to assume fleshly form. Instead Yeshua was attempting to prove that he was not a “bodiless spirit”, that his resurrected nature was not that of a spirit only but was a resurrected body of flesh and bone.
Yeshua was here attempting to stress his real existence in the flesh and his human nature. Yeshua was attempting to clear up any future misconceptions about the nature of his being. Yeshua wanted to stress that the resurrected Messiah was inclusive of the human nature of Yeshua. The Messiah had two k’numeh (natures; see comments to Jn. 5:26) a divine k’numa (the Son of Yah) and a human k’numa (the Son of Man). These two k’numeh were/are echad (one; united) in the one parsopa (person) of Messiah.
Even as early as the first century there were many misunderstandings of the nature of Messiah. The Ebionites, for example, believed that the Messiah was a spirit which entered into Yeshua at his immersion (see comments to Mt. 3:16-17). The Cerentheans (a Gnostic group which split from the Ebionites) also believed this and also maintained that this spirit did not die with Yeshua but departed before his death. Monophysites believed that Messiah had only one nature, a divine nature. They believed that Messiah was fully Elohim and nothing but Elohim. An extreme form of the Monophysite position was Docetism which was popular among many Gnostics. Docetists believed that Messiah's divinity was irreconcilable with his actually having been physically born in the flesh. They maintained that his life here was just an illusion (a belief still held by many Scientologists). Docetists believed that Messiah only seemed to be born in the flesh. They believed that he only seemed to live and dwell among us and he only seemed to suffer and die.
The early second century “Church Father” Ignatius in his letter to the Smynaeans, quotes this story from the Goodnews according to the Hebrews (he never names his source, but Jerome does) while rebutting the false doctrine of Docetism:
He was also truly crucified… And he suffered truly
as he also truly raised up himself: And not, as some
unbelievers say, that he only seemed to suffer,
they themselves only seeming to be [believers]….
But I know that even after his resurrection he
was in the flesh; and I believed that he is still so.
And when he came to those who were with Peter,
he said to them, “Take, handle me, and see that I
am not a bodiless demon.” And straightway they
felt and believed; being convinced both by his flesh
For this cause they despised death, and were found
to be above it. But after his resurrection he did
eat and drink with them, as he was flesh; although
as to his Spirit he was united to the Father.
(Smyraneans 3:1-2 (1:9-12 in some editions))
You might recall that Jerome (above) had wrongly placed the quotation in Ignatious’s letter to Polycarp, but it actually appears in his letter to the Smyraneans. According to Eusebious’s Ecclesiastical History 3:36, it also appeared in a lost book known as the Doctrine of Peter.