Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NT Pod 56: The Walking, Talking Cross in the Gospel of Peter

NT Pod 56 discusses The Walking, Talking Cross in the Gospel of Peter. It is about thirteen minutes long.

NT Pod 56: The Walking, Talking Cross in the Gospel of Peter (mp3)
NT Pod 56: The Walking, Talking Cross in the Gospel of Peter (mp3) (Alternative location)

The episode is a sequel to NT Pod 55: The Gospel of Peter.

Feel free to leave your feedback below or on Twitter or on our Facebook page.

Thanks to Ram2000, Me and You, for the opening theme, released under a Creative Commons agreement.


  1. Great to have another episode. I really enjoy them. One question: is it not possible that the sentence μεγάλη φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ (GPet 9:35), commonly translated as "there was a great voice in the heaven", can also be read as "there was a great speech towards the heaven", signifying a ritual proceeding on Earth and addressing God, rather than the voice of God itself? In such a ritual/liturgical context we may be able to better explain the "walking, talking cross", e.g. as the cross carried in a procession, and a priest or a mime behind the cross in an antiphonal role. We still have the antiphon, double choirs etc. in the Good Friday rituals, and mimes portraying the deceased were a common funerary custom in antiquity. As for the cross "following", you could say the same thing of modern Christian rituals, e.g. "the church doors opne… here come the costaleros carrying the paso, and the cross is following them". That doesn't mean that the cross is actually walking behind the paso. Furthermore, this pericope is in the context of the resurrection, e.g. Christ's victory. We know that the earliest form of the Christian cross was the trópaion, the victory cross with the broadened ends of the cross beams, which are usually interpreted as reflecting Christ's resurrection. It would seem logical that after the resurrection they presented the original cross again as a sign of victory.

  2. Oh, I forgot to add this: http://divusjulius.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/caution_walkingcrosses.jpg


  3. Thanks, divusjulius. Will have to give that some more thought. Love the pic. -- may nick it for use on my blog in an update post.

  4. Be my guest. It would come full circle, because I nicked the cross in the image from one of your blog posts :) : http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/walking-talking-cross-or-walking.html

    On my first comment I have to add that I regard all things Christian from the perspective of Julius Caesar (because that's our theory). There we also had soldiers guarding the sanctuary, so the body would not be stolen, plus scribes and elders, the multitude from the city and the surrounding regions, ritual proceedings, a resurrection, a procession with the cross, a "talking cross" (with the mime), a presentation of a wax effigy on the cross, a great speech to heaven (Antony raising his hands, which would explain the ἐν as "toward", being based on a verb of motion), two persons descending with lights (torches), a great stone (monument) being removed etc.

    But if one is able to come to similar conclusions hermeneutically, without Roman sources, it would be a good thing as well.

    (We always wanted to write something about the "extended" Passion in GPet, but there is so much other work to do at the moment. And you need lots of time for apocryphal writings. Compared to the canonical gospels, most of them are further removed chronologically from the original events, with lots of sondergut, with the authors shifting things around, compounding stuff, and it's much easier to make mistakes.)

  5. There's one teaser, though, preliminary, on the strange remark in GPet that Christ's followers wished to set fire to the ναός, which (to my knowledge) is not found in any of the canonical gospels: http://divusjulius.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/gpetarsonistapostles/

  6. As a Catholic (of the Vatican II ilk), I am intrigued by some of the more "fantastic" traditions and Magisterial dogma which surrounds Mary. Specifically; the Immaculate Conception and the Church's teaching on Mary's parents being Anna and Joachim (see Catechism of the Catholic Church). I was wondering what your research has revealed on the development of this line of thinking since I have always been somewhat skeptical about Marian teachings within my own faith tradition. This may be due to the fact that I went to a Methodist seminary (Saint Paul School of Theology) and learned at the knee of the "venerable" ;) Warren Carter who has a great since of humor like you. Although, I have theological training, I got my undergraduate and yet another graduate degree at University of Kansas - so I will not hold it against you that you teach at Duke HaHa This Jayhawk, for one, really digs your podcasts and insightful comments. Pax

    Si tu quieras la paz, trabaja para justicia - Pope Paul VI

    Rick Folker, MASM

  7. Thanks, Rick, for your comments.

    Thanks too, divusjulius for unacknowledged comments above.

  8. Mark, I enjoyed hearing you outline your nomina sacra "conjecture", as you put it. It certainly would make the passage more understandable.
    I'm stuck on one point, though. In verse 39, the text seems to account for all three individuals with the phrase "with the two supporting the other one" before it adds "and a cross following them". If Jesus is the one doing the following, then who is "the other one" being supported?

    1. Thanks for your comments. The easiest way for me to reply to this is to quote from my paper (as yet unpublished):

      This minor adjustment transforms the narrative and produces instead something that makes sense and works coherently. The narrative appears to specify three characters rather than four, and the soldiers see “three men” emerging from the tomb rather then three plus a cross. The structure works like this:

      ὁρῶσιν ἐξελθόντας ἀπὸ τοῦ τάφου τρεῖς ἄνδρας,
      - καὶ τοὺς δύο τὸν ἕνα ὑπορθοῦντας,
      --- καὶ τὸν σταυρωθέντα ἀκολουθοῦντα αὐτοῖς
      - καὶ τῶν μὲν δύο τὴν κεφαλὴν χωροῦσαν μέχρι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ,
      --- τοῦ δὲ χειραγωγουμένου ὑπ' αὐτῶν ὑπερβαίνουσαν τοὺς οὐρανούς

      There are three men, twice separated into two parallel clauses, “and the two . . . and the crucified”, and then again, “and the two . . . and the one being led”. Usually speaking, “the cross” is read as an additional figure, not identified with “the one”, and this requires some sense to be made of ὑπορθοῦντας. It is usually translated as “supporting”, as if the two angelic figures are holding Jesus up. But ὑπορθόω, a rare word, probably means something like “raise up”, “lift up”; the text is saying that the two men, who have descended from heaven and entered the tomb, are lifting Jesus up from where he was lying, and they are leading him out, the crucified one following them. This scenario is clarified in the next line, where the men are leading him by the hand.