The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (NHC 6.1): Allegory, ascent and ministry in the wake of the decian persecution

Andrea Lorenzo Molinari, Marquette University


The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, discovered along with 46 other tracts at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945, is still very much in its infancy of scholarly analysis. Until now the approach to this text has been primarily that of introductions to the text. Most of these introductions and several of the other studies have focused upon dividing and describing the text in light of its most obvious problem--the problem of peculiar voice shifts. The narrative voice of the text begins in the first person plural, then shifts to the first person singular. After a peculiar shift to the third person, the text successively shifts back to the first person plural then to the first person singular finally ending in the third person. The first to discuss this problem was Martin Krause, whose foundational 1972 article was the impetus for such scholars as Douglas M. Parrott, Hans-Martin Schenke and Stephen J. Patterson. These scholars presented differing solutions to the questions of form and source posed by these voice changes. The approaches used by these writers demonstrated that the narrative voice changes and textual aporias should be taken seriously as possible indicators of textual seams and as evidence of a redactional hand at work. Unfortunately, because of the danger that voice shifts and aporias can be given too much weight, there is a need to reevaluate these voice shifts in light of both the author's use of literary technique and the overall movement of the text. Some scholars such as Antoinne Guillamont, Carl A. Keller and F. Salvoni have tried to interpret the allegorical referents of the text. While most commentators have acknowledged the allegorical character of the text, these scholars have actually attempted to identify the symbolism. However, these attempts have been only superficial and the results gleaned from source and genre criticism have not been married to an allegorical interpretation of the text and its meaning for its audience. This dissertation will attempt to accomplish this task and explore what clues the text as a whole reveals about the community that produced it.

Recommended Citation

Molinari, Andrea Lorenzo, "The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (NHC 6.1): Allegory, ascent and ministry in the wake of the decian persecution" (1996). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9719094.