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The Suffering of one who is a Stranger to Suffering: the Crucifixion of Jesus in the Letter of Peter to Philip

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Chapter Summary

One of the stereotypes which tended to characterize the pre-Nag Hammadi views of the so-called Christian Gnosticism was that the crucifixion of Jesus played a minimal role in the formation of its thinking. The stereotypical understanding of the Christian "Gnostic" interpretation of the crucifixion, as advanced in the two models introduced above, was shaken by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library. This chapter concentrates on an example of a "Gnostic" Nag Hammadi writing which contains references to Jesus' suffering and crucifixion but which does not lend itself very well to a docetic interpretation. The text is the Letter to Peter to Philip, the second tractate of the eighth codex of the Nag Hammadi Library. The tractate begins with a letter of Peter addressing Philip and asking him to join the other disciples in order that they might plan how to proclaim the Gospel.

Keywords: Christian Gnosticism; Gospel; Jesus; Nag Hammadi Library; Peter; Philip



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