Not Jesus, but Peter and the cross..

by Sharpie 4 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Sharpie

    I looked around and seen numerous stake vs cross debates. But the one thing that bugs me that historians say that Peter was killed as well on a cross, but upside down because he didn't want to resemble the death of Christ.

    Wouldn't the cross be the standard tool of death at that time if Peter was also killed that way?

    Does the WTBS say anything about Peter being killed or crusified?

  • PSacramento

    The notion of Peter being crucified upside down was from Origen:

    Origen (in Eusebius, Church History II.1)—that he suffered crucifixion. Origen says: "Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer"

    From the Evidence for Christianity website:

    The tradition that Peter was executed began with the reference to the form of his death in John chapter 21, in which Jesus told Peter, "I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow older, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where dou don't want to go." John reported, (probably after Peter died) "He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God." So the idea that Peter was crucified (stretch out your hands) came from John, but this does not include the location or the physical position of his crucifixion.

    Eusebius (AD 325) claimed in his Ecclesiastical History that all the apostles were martyred except for John . The evidence for some of these is very spotty, but the number, variety and quality of testimony to the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in Rome is sufficient that I think we can reasonably say that most likely this is how they died.

    The early church fathers are unanimous in claiming that Peter died in Rome, by crucifixion, during the persecution of Nero in AD 64. As for crucifixion upside down, that is also testified to, but the evidence is weaker for this particular form of crucifixion. The apocryphal Acts of Peter is the earliest reference to crucifixion of Peter upside down. The earliest reference to the martyrdom of Peter comes from the letter of Clement of Rome (about AD 90). He said, in his Letter to the Corinthians, "Let us take the noble examples of our own generation. Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most just pillars of the Church were persecuted, and came even unto death… Peter, through unjust envy, endured not one or two but many labours, and at last, having delivered his testimony, departed unto the place of glory due to him." Not much there as to the means or location of his death, but that it was an execution is clearly implied. Ignatius, in his Letter to the Romans about AD 110 claimed that Peter was bishop of Rome. Irenaeus of Lyon, about AD 180, agrees that Peter served in Rome. Tertullian, about AD 195 declared "But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too. What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John (the Baptist, ie. by being beheaded). Dionysius of Corinth, also about AD 200 "You (Pope Soter) have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time" When Eusebius reported the crucifixion of Peter and the beheading of Paul in Ecclestiacial History, he was simply passing along a tradition which has been the unanimous opinion of the church for two hundred years.

    Tradition has that Peter's body is contained in a crypt below St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. This is actually not all that far-fetched a claim. In fact, when the sarcophygous claimed to contain his body was studied in the 1960's (Margherita Guarducci, 1963-1968) the evidence supported that it was of a man about 60 years old who died in the first century AD. I certainly would not base my faith on this being his body, and besides, it is not clear the significance to a Christian to have the actual remains of Peter.

    In conclusion, we can reasonably conclude that Peter was in fact crucified in Rome. As for his crucifixion upside down, this is much more weakly attested to in only one ancient source which is probably much less reliable that Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius and many others.

    John Oakes

  • snowbird

    I don't recall the WT ever mentioning the manner of any of the Apostles' death.

    Wouldn't want the flock to get curious and start researching for themselves, would they?

    Tee hee hee.


  • Wokl

    Unexpectedly they would and even have already done it.

    However we have at least this piece from the WT itself:

    *** w71 12/15 p. 768 Questions From Readers ***
    Questions From Readers
    ? John 21:18, 19 says concerning the apostle Peter: “‘When you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk about where you wanted. But when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and another man will gird you and bear you where you do not wish.’ This [Jesus] said to signify by what sort of death [Peter] would glorify God.” Do these words specifically refer to a death by crucifixion or impalement?—U.S.A.
    The ancient religious historian Eusebius reports that Peter “was crucified with his head downward, having requested of himself to suffer in this way.” However, Jesus’ prophecy regarding Peter’s death was not that specific. Acknowledges A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture: “As the extension of hands is set before girding and being led away, it is difficult to discern how it must be conceived. If the order is part of the prophecy, we must suppose the prisoner lashed to the patibulum before being girded and led out to execution.”
    So, were it not for the tradition recorded by Eusebius, Jesus’ statement in itself would not point to a death by crucifixion or impalement. Viewing the words of John 21:18, 19 apart from tradition, we would come to the following conclusion: In his younger years Peter was able to gird himself at will for whatever duty he wanted to perform. He had the liberty to go where he wanted to go. But in later life this would change. He would have to stretch out his hands, perhaps in submission to someone else. Another man would take control of him, girding Peter (either binding him or preparing him for what was to come) and bearing him to a place where he did not want to go, evidently the place of execution. Thus Jesus’ prophecy regarding Peter indeed indicated that the apostle would die a martyr’s death; but the manner of this death is not necessarily implied.

  • snowbird

    Thanks, Wokl .

    1971 was before my time.


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