giant-jesusRick Brannan has blogged, for this Easter, on how the story of the resurrection of Jesus gets changed in two ‘apocryphal gospels’: The Gospel of Peter and The Acts of Pilate/Gospel of Nocodemus.

Rick notes that The Gospel of Peter narrates Jesus coming out of the tomb with two gigantic angels and a giant cross:

The detail in §10 about the two giant men (angels, their heads “reached to heaven”) and the even more giant cross that overshadowed them is certainly not witnessed in the canonical accounts.

In fact, the stature of the cross is not mentioned in the Gospel of Peter. There is a giant cross, however, in Acts of Andrew 54. But in the Gospel of Peter, it is Jesus who stretches gigantically from earth to the highest heaven, so also becomes a giant. Sure, these details don’t occur in the canonical Gospels.  In fact, the four canonical Gospels are substantially silent on how the resurrection of Jesus took place, skipping largely from burial to empty tomb and post-resurrection appearances, with only indirect indications of what happens during his resurrection.

Yet, as I have argued, the details of the resurrection in the Gospel of Peter are derived from a canonical account: LXX Psalm 18.

Deane Galbraith. “Whence the Giant Jesus and his Talking Cross? The Resurrection in Gospel of Peter 10.39–42 as Prophetic Fulfilment of LXX Psalm 18.” New Testament Studies 63, no 3 (July 2017): 473-491.

Abstract

The curious resurrection account in the Gospel of Peter (10.39–42) is not simply the author’s creative innovation, but is based on a Christocentric interpretation of LXX Ps 18.1–7. The Gospel of Peter’s unusual description of Jesus’ exit from the tomb, whereupon he expands gigantically so that his head enters heaven (GPet 10.39–40), derives from an early Christian interpretation of LXX Ps 18.5c–7. The following conversation between God and the glorified cosmic cross (GPet 10.41–2) derives from a Christocentric interpretation of LXX Ps 18.2. In addition, the cross’s verbal affirmation that it had preached to the dead (GPet 10.42) follows from a literalising yet Christocentric reading of LXX Ps 18.2b.

 

So I wouldn’t quite say that the Gospel of Peter “fabricated some details in their telling and retelling” of the resurrection story. The Gospel of Peter just got these details from its messianic interpretation of the Old Testament, rather than the canonical Gospels, by treating LXX Psalm 18 as a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection.