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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.

The Preaching of Peter (Kerygma Petrou)

This treatise, of which only a few fragments in patristic sources remain, was probably written in the first half of the second century. It was known to Clement of Alexandria. Its contents were intended to emphasize the superiority of Christian monotheism. The main references are Stromateis 1. 29. 182; 6. 5. 39–41, 43; 6. 6. 48; 6. 15. 128. Other possible allusions to this work are Origen, Princ. 1, prol. 8; Gregory of Nazianzus, epp. 16, 20; John of Damascus, Parall. A 12. James argues for an Egyptian provenance.

The genre is less likely to be a ‘gospel’ and should perhaps be classified as part of an apocryphal acts, although the Kerygma Petrou is unlikely to have formed part of the original Acts of Peter.

The extracts are set out in:

  • E. von Dobschütz, Das Kerygma Petri kritisch untersucht (Leipzig, 1893) (=TU, 11.1). Preuschen, 52–4.

  • Klostermann, Apocrypha, i. (3)13–16.

[Cf. A. Hilgenfeld, ‘Das Kerygma Petrou (kai Paulou)’, ZWT 36 (1893), 518–41; and id., Novum Testamentum extra Canonem Receptum, iv (Leipzig, 1866; 21884), 52–67 (for introductory notes on the fragments).]

Modern Translations


  • James, 16–19.

  • Hennecke3, ii. 94–102.

  • Hennecke5, ii. 34–41.


  • Migne, Dictionnaire, ii, cols. 691–2.

  • Éac, 5–22.


  • Hennecke1, 168–72 (E. Hennecke); cf. Handbuch, 239–47.

  • Hennecke3, ii. 58–63 (W. Schneemelcher).

  • Hennecke5, ii. 34–41 (W. Schneemelcher).


  • Erbetta, ii. 237–9.


J. N. Reagan, The Preaching of Peter: The Beginnings of Christian Apologetic (Chicago, 1923).

Patristic Citations

Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 1. 29. 182 (Stählin, GCS 52 (15), pp. 111–12):

And in the Preaching of Peter you may find the Lord called ‘Law and W ord’.

Cf. Strom. 2. 15. 68 (Stählin, p. 149) and Ecl. Proph. 58 (Stählin, GCS 172, p. 137).

Ibid. 6. 5. 39–41 (Stählin, pp. 451–2):

B ut that the most notable of the Greeks do not know God by direct knowledge but indirectly, Peter says in his Preaching, ‘Know then that there is one God who made the beginning of all things and has power over their end’, and ‘The invisible who sees all things, uncontainable, who contains all, who needs nothing, of whom all things stand in need and for whose sake they exist, incomprehensible, perpetual, incorruptible, uncreated, who made all things by the word of his power . . . that is, the Son.’ Then he goes on, ‘This God you must worship, not after the manner of the Greeks . . . showing that we and the notable Greeks worship the same God, though not according to perfect knowledge for they had not learned the tradition of the Son’. ‘Do not’, he says, ‘worship’—he does not say ‘the God whom the Greeks worship’, but ‘not in the manner of the Greeks’: he would change the method of worship of God, not proclaim another God. What, then, is meant by ‘not in the manner of the Greeks’? Peter himself will explain, for he continues, ‘Carried away by ignorance and not knowing God as we do, according to the perfect knowledge, but shaping those things over which he gave them power for their use, wood and stones, brass and iron, gold and silver, forgetting their material and proper use, they set up things subservient to their existence and worship them; and what things God has given them for food, the fowls of the air and the creatures that swim in the sea and creep on the earth, wild beasts and four‐footed cattle of the field, weasels too and mice, cats and dogs and apes; even their own foodstuffs do they sacrifice to animals that can be consumed and, offering dead things to the dead as if they were gods, they show ingratitude to God since by these practices they deny that he exists . . . ’ He continues again in this fashion, ‘Neither worship him as the Jews do for they, who suppose that they alone know God, do not know him, serving angels and archangels, the month and the moon: and if no moon be seen, they do not celebrate what is called the first sabbath, nor keep the new moon, nor the days of unleavened bread, nor the feast of tabernacles, nor the great day (of atonement).’

Then he adds the finale of what is required: ‘So then learn in a holy and righteous manner that which we deliver to you, observe, worshipping God through Christ in a new way. For we have found in the Scriptures, how the Lord said, “Behold, I make with you a new covenant, not as the covenant with your fathers in mount Horeb.” He has made a new one with us: for the ways of the Greeks and Jews are old, but we are Christians who worship him in a new way as a third generation.’

Cf. ibid. 6. 7. 57 (Stählin, p. 460): For there is indeed one God, who made the beginning of all things: meaning his first begotten Son; thus Peter writes, understanding correctly the words: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Ibid. 6. 5. 43 (Stählin, p. 453) (= Agraphon 10, below):

Therefore Peter says that the Lord said to the apostles, ‘If then any of I srael will repent and believe in God through my name, his sins shall be forgiven him: and after twelve years go out into the world, lest any say, “We did not hear”.’

Ibid. 6. 6. 48 (Stählin, p. 456) (= Agraphon 9, below):

For example, in the Preaching of Peter the Lord says, ‘I chose you twelve, j udging you to be disciples worthy of me, whom the Lord willed, and thinking you faithful apostles I sent you into the world to preach the gospel to men throughout the world, that they should know that there is one God; to declare by faith in me [the Christ] what shall be, so that those who have heard and believed may be saved, and that those who have not believed may hear and bear witness, not having any defence so as to say, “We did not hear”.’ . . .

And to all reasonable souls it has been said above: Whatever things any of you did in ignorance, not knowing God clearly, all his sins shall be forgiven him, if he comes to God and repents.

Ibid. 6. 15. 128 (Stählin, p. 496):

Peter in the Preaching, speaking of the apostles, says, ‘But, having opened t he books of the prophets which we had, we found, sometimes expressed by parables, sometimes by riddles, and sometimes directly and in so many words the name Jesus Christ, both his coming and his death and the cross and all the other torments which the Jews inflicted on him, and his resurrection and assumption into the heavens before Jerusalem was founded, all these things that had been written, what he must suffer and what shall be after him. When, therefore, we gained knowledge of these things, we believed in God through that which had been written of him.’

And a little after he adds that the prophecies came by divine providence, in these terms, ‘For we know that God commanded them, and without the Scripture we say nothing.’

John of Damascus, Parall. A 12 (Migne, PG 95, col. 1158; cf. Holl, TU 20.2, p. 234, nos. 502 and 503):

(Of Peter): Wretched that I am, I remembered not that God sees the mind a nd observes the voice of the soul. Allying myself with sin, I said to myself, ‘God is merciful, and will bear with me; and because I was not immediately smitten, I ceased not, but rather despised pardon, and exhausted the long‐suffering of God.’

(From the Teaching of Peter): Rich is the man who has mercy on many, and, imitating God, gives what he has. For God has given all things to all his creation. Understand then, you rich, that you ought to minister, for you have received more than you yourselves need. Learn that others lack the things you have in superfluity. Be ashamed to keep things that belong to others. Imitate the fairness of God, and no man will be poor.

Origen, on John (Preuschen, pp. 435–6):

I t is too much to set forth now the quotations of Heracleon taken from the book entitled The Preaching of Peter and dwell on them, inquiring about the book whether it is genuine or spurious or compounded of both elements: so we willingly postpone that, and only note that according to him (Heracleon) Peter taught that we must not worship as do the Greeks, receiving the things of matter, and serving stocks and stones: nor worship God as do the Jews, since they, who suppose that they alone know God, are ignorant of him, and serve angels and the month and the moon.

Id., de Principiis 1, prol. 8 (ed. P. Koetschau, GCS 22 (Leipzig, 1913), pp. 14–15):

B ut if any would produce to us from that book which is called The Doctrine of Peter, the passage where the Saviour is represented as saying to the disciples, ‘I am not a bodiless demon’, he must be answered in the first place that that book is not reckoned among the books of the church; and then it must be shown that the writing is neither by Peter nor by any one else who was inspired by the spirit of God.

Cf. Gospel according to the Hebrews, Jerome de Vir. Ill. 16 above, p. 10.

Gregory of Nazianzus, epp. 16 and 20 (PG 37, cols. 49–50 and 53–6):

‘A soul in trouble is near to God’, as Peter says somewhere—a marvellous utterance. 24 Final words only in ep. 20; cf. also ep. 17 (PG 37, cols. 51–2).


24 Final words only in ep. 20; cf. also ep. 17 (PG 37, cols. 51–2).










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