Gnostic Writings:

The Acts of Peter 


The Acts of Peter are generally regarded as the first of the apocryphal Acts, though scholars have previously argued for priority of John's or occasionally Paul's Acts. Modern scholarship tends to agree that Paul uses Peter, while Peter and John share a common origin. Authorship has thus been credited to Leucius, the companion of John who is also credited with the Acts of John.

The surviving manuscripts are a long Latin text from Vercelli dating to the sixth century which comprises most of the Acts, and an earlier Greek text containing only the martyrdom, from which we derive the tradition that Peter was crucified upside-down. There are also secondary texts which contain parallel stories on the rather unpleasant theme of women welcoming paralysis rather than defiling their bodies with sexual relations. In a Coptic text included with the Nag Hammadi library, the female in question is Peter's daughter. Ironically, despite these encratite views of sex and marriage, much of the Acts of Peter are spent denouncing the gnostic teacher Simon Magus who undoubtedly shared the same views. The Acts of Peter were judged as heretical by Eusebius and the Gelasian Decree.

Peter performs many miracles in the Acts, from talking dogs and infants to the resurrection of both people and smoked fish. Rome is the primary setting, and possibly the place of authorship.

(courtesy of