Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VIII/Apocrypha of the New Testament/Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul/Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul
Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
It came to pass, after Paul went out of the island Gaudomeleta, that he came to Italy; and it was heard of by the Jews who were in Rome, the elder of the cities, that Paul demanded to come to Cæsar. Having fallen, therefore, into great grief and much despondency, they said among themselves: It does not please him that he alone has afflicted all our brethren and parents in Judæa and Samaria, and in all Palestine; and he has not been pleased with these, but, behold, he comes here also, having through imposition asked Cæsar to destroy us.
Having therefore made an assembly against Paul, and having considered many proposals, it seemed good to them to go to Nero the emperor, to ask him not to allow Paul to come to Rome. Having therefore got in readiness not a few presents, and having carried them with them, with supplication they came before him, saying: We beseech thee, O good emperor, send orders into all the governments of your worship, to the effect that Paul is not to come near these parts; because this Paul, having afflicted all the nation of our fathers, has been seeking to come hither to destroy us also. And the affliction, O most worshipful emperor, which we have from Peter is enough for us.
And the Emperor Nero, having heard these things, answered them: It is according to your wish. And we write to all our governments that he shall not on any account come to anchor in the parts of Italy. And they also informed Simon the magian, having sent for him, that, as has been said, he should not come into the parts of Italy.
And while they were thus doing, some of those that had repented out of the nations, and that had been baptized at the preaching of Peter, sent elders to Paul with a letter to the following effect: Paul, dear servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, and brother of Peter, the first of the apostles, we have heard from the rabbis of the Jews that are in this Rome, the greatest of the cities, that they have asked Cæsar to send into all his governments, in order that, wherever thou mayst be found, thou mayst be put to death. But we have believed, and do believe, that as God does not separate the two great lights which He has made, so He is not to part you from each other, that is, neither Peter from Paul, nor Paul from Peter; but we positively believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, into whom we have been baptized, that we have become worthy also of your teaching.
And Paul, having received the two men sent with the letter on the twentieth of the month of May, became eager to go, and gave thanks to the Lord and Master Jesus Christ. And having sailed from Gaudomeleta, he did not now come through Africa to the parts of Italy, but ran to Sicily, until he came to the city of Syracuse with the two men who had been sent from Rome to him. And having sailed thence, he came to Rhegium of Calabria, and from Rhegium he crossed to Mesina, and there ordained a bishop, Bacchylus by name. And when he came out of Mesina he sailed to Didymus, and remained there one night. And having sailed thence, he came to Pontiole on the second day.
And Dioscorus the shipmaster, who brought him to Syracuse, sympathizing with Paul because he had delivered his son from death, having left his own ship in Syracuse, accompanied him to Pontiole. And some of Peter’s disciples having been found there, and having received Paul, exhorted him to stay with them. And he stayed a week, in hiding, because of the command of Cæsar. And all the toparchs were watching to seize and kill him. But Dioscorus the shipmaster, being himself also bald, wearing his shipmaster’s dress, and speaking boldly, on the first day went out into the city of Pontiole. Thinking therefore that he was Paul, they seized him, and beheaded him, and sent his head to Cæsar.
Cæsar therefore, having summoned the first men of the Jews, announced to them, saying: Rejoice with great joy, for Paul your enemy is dead. And he showed them the head. Having therefore made great rejoicing on that day, which was the fourteenth of the month of June, each of the Jews fully believed it.
And Paul, being in Pontiole, and having heard that Dioscorus had been beheaded, being grieved with great grief, gazing into the height of the heaven, said: O Lord Almighty in heaven, who hast appeared to me in every place whither I have gone on account of Thine only-begotten Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, punish this city, and bring out all who have believed in God and followed His word. He said to them therefore: Follow me: And going forth from Pontiole with those who had believed in the word of God, they came to a place called Baias; and looking up with their eyes, they all see that city called Pontiole sunk into the sea-shore about one fathom; and there it is until this day, for a remembrance, under the sea.
And having gone forth from Baias, they went to Gaitas, and there he taught the word of God. And he stayed there three days in the house of Erasmus, whom Peter sent from Rome to teach the Gospel of God. And having come forth from Gaitas, he came to the castle called Taracinas, and stayed there seven days in the house of Cæsarius the deacon, whom Peter had ordained by the laying on of hands. And sailing thence, he came by the river to a place called Tribus Tabernes.
And those who had been saved out of the city of Pontiole that had been swallowed up, reported to Cæsar in Rome that Pontiole had been swallowed up, with all its multitude. And the emperor, being in great grief on account of the city, having summoned the chief of the Jews, said to them: Behold, on account of what I heard from you, I have caused Paul to be beheaded, and on account of this the city has been swallowed up. And the chief of the Jews said to Cæsar: Most worshipful emperor, did we not say to thee that he troubled all the country of the East, and perverted our fathers? It is better therefore, most worshipful emperor, that one city be destroyed, and not the seat of thine empire; for this had Rome to suffer. And the emperor, having heard their words, was appeased.
And Paul stayed in Tribus Tabernes four days. And departing thence, he came to Appii Forum, which is called Vicusarape; and having slept there that night, he saw one sitting on a golden chair, and a multitude of blacks standing beside him, saying: I have to-day made a son murder his father. Another said: And I have made a house fall, and kill parents with children. And they reported to him many evil deeds—some of one kind, some of another. And another coming, reported to him: I have managed that the bishop Juvenalius, whom Peter ordained, should sleep with the abbess Juliana. And having heard all these things when sleeping in that Appii Forum, near Vicusarape, straightway and immediately he sent to Rome one of those who had followed him from Pontiole to the bishop Juvenalius, telling him this same thing which had just been done. And on the following day, Juvenalius, running, threw himself at the feet of Peter, weeping and lamenting, and saying what had just befallen; and he recounted to him the matter, and said: I believe that this is the light which thou wast awaiting. And Peter said to him: How is it possible that it is he when he is dead? And Juvenalius the bishop took to Peter him that had been sent by Paul, and he reported to him that he was alive, and on his way, and that he was at Appii Forum. And Peter thanked and glorified the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then having summoned his disciples that believed, he sent them to Paul as far as Tribus Tabernes. And the distance from Rome to Tribus Tabernes is thirty-eight miles. And Paul seeing them, having given thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, took courage; and departing thence, they slept in the city called Aricia.
And a report went about in the city of Rome that Paul the brother of Peter was coming. And those that believed in God rejoiced with great joy. And there was great consternation among the Jews; and having gone to Simon the magian, they entreated him, saying: Report to the emperor that Paul is not dead, but that he is alive, and has come. And Simon said to the Jews: What head is it, then, which came to Cæsar from Pontiole? Was it not bald also?
And Paul having come to Rome, great fear fell upon the Jews. They came together therefore to him, and exhorted him, saying: Vindicate the faith in which thou wast born; for it is not right that thou, being a Hebrew, and of the Hebrews, shouldst call thyself teacher of Gentiles, and vindicator of the uncircumcised; and, being thyself circumcised, that thou shouldst bring to nought the faith of the circumcision. And when thou seest Peter, contend against his teaching, because he has destroyed all the bulwarks of our law; for he has prevented the keeping of Sabbaths and new moons, and the holidays appointed by the law. And Paul, answering, said to them: That I am a true Jew, by this you can prove; because also you have been able to keep the Sabbath, and to observe the true circumcision; for assuredly on the day of the Sabbath God rested from all His works. We have fathers, and patriarchs, and the law. What, then, does Peter preach in the kingdom of the Gentiles? But if he shall wish to bring in any new teaching, without any tumult, and envy, and trouble, send him word, that we may see, and in your presence I shall convict him. But if his teaching be true, supported by the book and testimony of the Hebrews, it becomes all of us to submit to him.
Paul saying these and such like things, the Jews went and said to Peter: Paul of the Hebrews has come, and entreats thee to come to him, since those who have brought him say that he cannot meet whomsoever he may wish until he appear before Cæsar. And Peter having heard, rejoiced with great joy; and rising up, immediately went to him. And seeing each other, they wept for joy; and long embracing each other, they bedewed each other with tears.
And when Paul had related to Peter the substance of all his doings, and how, through the disasters of the ship, he had come, Peter also told him what he had suffered from Simon the magian, and all his plots. And having told these things, he went away towards evening.
And in the morning of the following day, at dawn, behold, Peter coming, finds a multitude of the Jews before Paul’s door. And there was a great uproar between the Christian Jews and the Gentiles. For, on the one hand, the Jews said: We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, the friends of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, with whom God spake, to whom He showed His own mysteries and His great wonders. But you of the Gentiles are no great thing in your lineage; if otherwise, you have become polluted and abominable by idols and graven images.
While the Jews were saying such things, and such-like, those of the Gentiles answered, saying: We, when we heard the truth, straightway followed it, having abandoned our errors. But you, both knowing the mighty deeds of your fathers, and seeing the signs of the prophets, and having received the law, and gone through the sea with dry feet, and seen your enemies sunk in its depths, and the pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day shining upon you, and manna having been given to you out of heaven, and water flowing to you out of a rock,—after all these things you fashioned to yourselves the idol of a calf, and worshipped the graven image. But we, having seen none of the signs, believe to be a Saviour the God whom you have forsaken in unbelief.
While they were contending in these and such-like words, the Apostle Paul said that they ought not to make such attacks upon each other, but that they should rather give heed to this, that God had fulfilled His promises which He swore to Abraham our father, that in his seed he should inherit all the nations. For there is no respect of persons with God. As many as have sinned in law shall be judged according to law, and as many as have sinned without law shall perish without law. But we, brethren, ought to thank God that, according to His mercy, He has chosen us to be a holy people to Himself: so that in this we ought to boast, whether Jews or Greeks; for you are all one in the belief of His name.
And Paul having thus spoken, both the Jews and they of the Gentiles were appeased. But the rulers of the Jews assailed Peter. And Peter, when they accused him of having renounced their synagogues, said: Hear, brethren, the holy Spirit about the patriarch David, promising, Of the fruit of thy womb shall He set upon thy throne. Him therefore to whom the Father said, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee, the chief priests through envy crucified; but that He might accomplish the salvation of the world, it was allowed that He should suffer all these things. Just as, therefore, from the side of Adam Eve was created, so also from the side of Christ was created the Church, which has no spot nor blemish. In Him, therefore, God has opened an entrance to all the sons of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in order that they may be in the faith of profession towards Him, and have life and salvation in His name. Turn, therefore, and enter into the joy of your father Abraham, because God hath fulfilled what He promised to him. Whence also the prophet says, The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec. For a priest He became upon the cross, when He offered the whole burnt-offering of His own body and blood as a sacrifice for all the world.
And Peter saying this and such-like, the most part of the people believed. And it happened also that Nero’s wife Libia, and the yoke-fellow of Agrippa the prefect, Agrippina by name, thus believed, so that also they went away from beside their own husbands. And on account of the teaching of Paul, many, despising military life, clung to God; so that even from the emperor’s bed-chamber some came to him, and having become Christians, were no longer willing to return to the army or the palace.
When, consequently, the people were making a seditious murmuring, Simon, moved with zeal, rouses himself, and began to say many evil things about Peter, saying that he was a wizard and a cheat. And they believed him, wondering at his miracles; for he made a brazen serpent move itself, and stone statues to laugh and move themselves, and himself to run and suddenly to be raised into the air. But as a set-off to these, Peter healed the sick by a word, by praying made the blind to see, put demons to flight by a command; sometimes he even raised the dead. And he said to the people that they should not only flee from Simon’s deceit, but also that they should expose him, that they might not seem to be slaves to the devil.
And thus it happened that all pious men abhorred Simon the magian, and proclaimed him impious. But those who adhered to Simon strongly affirmed Peter to be a magian, bearing false witness as many of them as were with Simon the magian; so that the matter came even to the ears of Nero the Cæsar, and he gave order to bring Simon the magian before him. And he, coming in, stood before him, and began suddenly to assume different forms, so that on a sudden he became a child, and after a little an old man, and at other times a young man; for he changed himself both in face and stature into different forms, and was in a frenzy, having the devil as his servant. And Nero beholding this, supposed him to be truly the son of God; but the Apostle Peter showed him to be both a liar and a wizard, base and impious and apostate, and in all things opposed to the truth of God, and that nothing yet remained except that his wickedness, being made apparent by the command of God, might be made manifest to them all.
Then Simon, having gone in to Nero, said: Hear, O good emperor: I am the son of God come down from heaven. Until now I have endured Peter only calling himself an apostle; but now he has doubled the evil: for Paul also himself teaches the same things, and having his mind turned against me, is said to preach along with him; in reference to whom, if thou shalt not contrive their destruction, it is very plain that thy kingdom cannot stand.
Then Nero, filled with concern, ordered to bring them speedily before him. And on the following day Simon the magian, and Peter and Paul the apostles of Christ, having come in to Nero, Simon said: These are the disciples of the Nazarene, and it is not at all well that they should be of the people of the Jews, Nero said: What is a Nazarene? Simon said: There is a city of Judah which has always been opposed to us, called Nazareth, and to it the teacher of these men belonged. Nero said: God commands us to love every man; why, then, dost thou persecute them? Simon said: This is a race of men who have turned aside all Judæa from believing in me. Nero said to Peter: Why are you thus unbelieving, according to your race? Then Peter said to Simon: Thou hast been able to impose upon all, but upon me never; and those who have been deceived, God has through me recalled from their error. And since thou hast learned by experience that thou canst not get the better of me, I wonder with what face thou boastest thyself before the emperor, and supposest that through thy magic art thou shalt overcome the disciples of Christ. Nero said: Who is Christ? Peter said: He is what this Simon the magian affirms himself to be; but this is a most wicked man, and his works are of the devil. But if thou wishest to know, O good emperor, the things that have been done in Judæa about Christ, take the writings of Pontius Pilate sent to Claudius, and thus thou wilt know all. And Nero ordered them to be brought, and to be read in their presence; and they were to the following effect:—
Pontius Pilate to Claudius, greeting. There has lately happened an event which I myself was concerned in. For the Jews through envy have inflicted on themselves, and those coming after them, dreadful judgments. Their fathers had promises that their God would send them his holy one from heaven, who according to reason should be called their king, and he had promised to send him to the earth by means of a virgin. He, then, when I was procurator, came into Judæa. And they saw him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing paralytics, expelling demons from men, raising the dead, subduing the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him Son of God. Then the chief priests, moved with envy against him, seized him, and delivered him to me; and telling one lie after another, they said that he was a wizard, and did contrary to their law. And I, having believed that these things were so, gave him up, after scourging him, to their will; and they crucified him, and after he was buried set guards over him. But he, while my soldiers were guarding him, rose on the third day. And to such a degree was the wickedness of the Jews inflamed against him, that they gave money to the soldiers, saying, Say his disciples have stolen his body. But they, having taken the money, were not able to keep silence as to what had happened; for they have testified that they have seen him (after he was) risen, and that they have received money from the Jews. These things, therefore, have I reported, that no one should falsely speak otherwise, and that thou shouldest not suppose that the falsehoods of the Jews are to be believed.
And the letter having been read, Nero said: Tell me, Peter, were all these things thus done by him? Peter said: They were, with your permission, O good emperor. For this Simon is full of lies and deceit, even if it should seem that he is what he is not—a god. And in Christ there is all excellent victory through God and through man, which that incomprehensible glory assumed which through man deigned to come to the assistance of men. But in this Simon there are two essences, of man and of devil, who through man endeavours to ensnare men.
Simon said: I wonder, O good emperor, that you reckon this man of any consequence—a man uneducated, a fisherman of the poorest, and endowed with power neither in word nor by rank. But, that I may not long endure him as an enemy, I shall forthwith order my angels to come and avenge me upon him. Peter said: I am not afraid of thy angels; but they shall be much more afraid of me in the power and trust of my Lord Jesus Christ, whom thou falsely declarest thyself to be.
Nero said: Art thou not afraid, Peter, of Simon, who confirms his godhead by deeds? Peter said: Godhead is in Him who searcheth the hidden things of the heart. Now then, tell me what I am thinking about, or what I am doing. I disclose to thy servants who are here what my thought is, before he tells lies about it, in order that he may not dare to lie as to what I am thinking about. Nero said: Come hither, and tell me what thou art thinking about. Peter said: Order a barley loaf to be brought, and to be given to me secretly. And when he ordered it to be brought, and secretly given to Peter, Peter said: Now tell us, Simon, what has been thought about, or what said, or what done.
Nero said: Do you mean me to believe that Simon does not know these things, who both raised a dead man, and presented himself on the third day after he had been beheaded, and who has done whatever he said he would do? Peter said: But he did not do it before me. Nero said: But he did all these before me. For assuredly he ordered angels to come to him, and they came. Peter said: If he has done what is very great, why does he not do what is very small? Let him tell what I had in my mind, and what I have done. Nero said: Between you, I do not know myself. Simon said: Let Peter say what I am thinking of, or what I am doing. Peter said: What Simon has in his mind I shall show that I know, by my doing what he is thinking about. Simon said: Know this, O emperor, that no one knows the thoughts of men, but God alone. Is not, therefore, Peter lying? Peter said: Do thou, then, who sayest that thou art the Son of God, tell what I have in my mind; disclose, if thou canst, what I have just done in secret. For Peter, having blessed the barley loaf which he had received, and hawing broken it with his right hand and his left, had heaped it up in his sleeves. Then Simon, enraged that he was not able to tell the secret of the apostle, cried out, saying: Let great dogs come forth, and eat him up before Cæsar. And suddenly there appeared great dogs, and rushed at Peter. But Peter, stretching forth his hands to pray, showed to the dogs the loaf which he had blessed; which the dogs seeing, no longer appeared. Then Peter said to Nero: Behold, I have shown thee that I knew what Simon was thinking of, not by words, but by deeds; for he, having promised that he would bring angels against me, has brought dogs, in order that he might show that he had not god-like but dog-like angels.
Then Nero said to Simon: What is it, Simon? I think we have got the worst of it. Simon said: This man, both in Judæa and in all Palestine and Cæsarea, has done the same to me; and from very often striving with me, he has learned that this is adverse to them. This, then, he has learned how to escape from me; for the thoughts of men no one knows but God alone. And Peter said to Simon: Certainly thou feignest thyself to be a god; why, then, dost thou not reveal the thoughts of every man?
Then Nero, turning to Paul, said: Why dost thou say nothing, Paul? Paul answered and said: Know this, O emperor, that if thou permittest this magician to do such things, it will bring an access of the greatest mischief to thy country, and will bring down thine empire from its position. Nero said to Simon: What sayest thou? Simon said: If I do not manifestly hold myself out to be a god, no one will bestow upon me due reverence. Nero said: And now, why dost thou delay, and not show thyself to be a god, in order that these men may be punished? Simon said: Give orders to build for me a lofty tower of wood, and I, going up upon it, will call my angels, and order them to take me, in the sight of all, to my father in heaven; and these men, not being able to do this, are put to shame as uneducated men. And Nero said to Peter: Hast thou heard, Peter, what has been said by Simon? From this will appear how much power either he or thy god has. Peter said: O most mighty emperor, if thou wert willing, thou mightst perceive that he is full of demons. Nero said: Why do you make to me roundabouts of circumlocutions? To-morrow will prove you.
Simon said: Dost thou believe, O good emperor, that I who was dead, and rose again, am a magician? For it had been brought about by his own cleverness that the unbelieving Simon had said to Nero: Order me to be beheaded in a dark place, and there to be left slain; and if I do not rise on the third day, know that I am a magician; but if I rise again, know that I am the Son of God.
And Nero having ordered this, in the dark, by his magic art he managed that a ram should be beheaded. And for so long did the ram appear to be Simon until he was beheaded. And when he had been beheaded in the dark, he that had beheaded him, taking the head, found it to be that of a ram; but he would not say anything to the emperor, lest he should scourge him, having ordered this to be done in secret. Thereafter, accordingly. Simon said that he had risen on the third day, because he took away the head of the ram and the limbs—but the blood had been there congealed—and on the third day he showed himself to Nero, and said: Cause to be wiped away my blood that has been poured out; for, behold, having been beheaded, as I promised, I have risen again on the third day.
And when Nero said, To-morrow will prove you, turning to Paul, he says: Thou Paul, why dost thou say nothing? Either who taught thee, or whom thou hast for a master, or how thou hast taught in the cities, or what things have happened through thy teaching? For I think that thou hast not any wisdom, and art not able to accomplish any work of power. Paul answered: Dost thou suppose that I ought to speak against a desperate man, a magician, who has given his soul up to death, whose destruction and perdition will come speedily? For he ought to speak who pretends to be what he is not, and deceives men by magic art. If thou consentest to hear his words, and to shield him, thou shalt destroy thy soul and thy kingdom, for he is a most base man. And as the Egyptians Jannes and Jambres led Pharaoh and his army astray until they were swallowed up in the sea, so also he, through the instruction of his father the devil, persuades men to do many evils to themselves, and thus deceives many of the innocent, to the peril of thy kingdom. But as for the word of the devil, which I see has been poured out through this man, with groanings of my heart I am dealing with the Holy Spirit, that it may be clearly shown what it is; for as far as he seems to raise himself towards heaven, so far will he be sunk down into the depth of Hades, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. But about the teaching of my Master, of which thou didst ask me, none attain it except the pure, who allow faith to come into their heart. For as many things as belong to peace and love, these have I taught. Round about from Jerusalem, and as far as Illyricum, I have fulfilled the word of peace. For I have taught that in honour they should prefer one another; I have taught those that are eminent and rich not to be lifted up, and hope in uncertainty of riches, but to place their hope in God; I have taught those in a middle station to be content with food and covering; I have taught the poor to rejoice in their own poverty; I have taught fathers to teach their children instruction in the fear of the Lord, children to obey their parents in wholesome admonition; I have taught wives to love their own husbands, and to fear them as masters, and husbands to observe fidelity to their wives; I have taught masters to treat their slaves with clemency, and slaves to serve their own masters faithfully; I have taught the churches of the believers to reverence one almighty, invisible, and incomprehensible God. And this teaching has been given me, not from men, nor through men, but through Jesus Christ, who spoke to me out of heaven, who also has sent me to preach, saying to me, Go forth, for I will be with thee; and all things, as many as thou shalt say or do, I shall make just.
Nero said: What sayest thou, Peter? He answered and said: All that Paul has said is true. For when he was a persecutor of the faith of Christ, a voice called him out of heaven, and taught him the truth; for he was not an adversary of our faith from hatred, but from ignorance. For there were before us false Christs, like Simon, false apostles, and false prophets, who, contrary to the sacred writings, set themselves to make void the truth; and against these it was necessary to have in readiness this man, who from his youth up set himself to no other thing than to search out the mysteries of the divine law, by which he might become a vindicator of truth and a persecutor of falsehood. Since, then, his persecution was not on account of hatred, but on account of the vindication of the law, the very truth out of heaven held intercourse with him, saying, I am the truth which you persecutest; cease persecuting me. When, therefore, he knew that this was so, leaving off that which he was vindicating, he began to vindicate this way of Christ which he was persecuting.
Simon said: O good emperor, take notice that these two have conspired against me; for I am the truth, and they purpose evil against me. Peter said: There is no truth in thee; but all thou sayest is false.
Nero said: Paul, what sayest thou? Paul said: Those things which thou hast heard from Peter, believe to have been spoken by me also; for we purpose the same thing, for we have the same Lord Jesus the Christ. Simon said: Dost thou expect me, O good emperor, to hold an argument with these men, who have come to an agreement against me? And having turned to the apostles of Christ, he said: Listen, Peter and Paul: if I can do nothing for you here, we are going to the place where I must judge you. Paul said: O good emperor, see what threats he holds out against us. Peter said: Why was it necessary to keep from laughing outright at a foolish man, made the sport of demons, so as to suppose that he cannot be made manifest?
Simon said: I spare you until I shall receive my power. Paul said: See if you will go out hence safe. Peter said: If thou do not see, Simon, the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, thou wilt not believe thyself not to be Christ. Simon said: Most sacred emperor, do not believe them, for they are circumcised knaves. Paul said: Before we knew the truth, we had the circumcision of the flesh; but when the truth appeared, in the circumcision of the heart we both are circumcised, and circumcise. Peter said: If circumcision be a disgrace, why hast thou been circumcised, Simon?
Nero said: Has, then, Simon also been circumcised? Peter said: For not otherwise could he have deceived souls, unless he feigned himself to be a Jew, and made a show of teaching the law of God. Nero said: Simon, thou, as I see, being carried away with envy, persecutest these men. For, as it seems, there is great hatred between thee and their Christ; and I am afraid that thou wilt be worsted by them, and involved in great evils. Simon said: Thou art led astray, O emperor. Nero said: How am I led astray? What I see in thee, I say. I see that thou art manifestly an enemy of Peter and Paul and their master.
Simon said: Christ was not Paul’s master. Paul said: Yes; through revelation He taught me also. But tell me what I asked thee—Why wast thou circumcised? Simon said: Why have you asked me this? Paul said: We have a reason for asking you this. Nero said: Why art thou afraid to answer them? Simon said: Listen, O emperor. At that time circumcision was enjoined by God when I received it. For this reason was I circumcised.
Paul said: Hearest thou, O good emperor, what has been said by Simon? If, therefore, circumcision be a good thing, why hast thou, Simon, given up those who have been circumcised, and forced them, after being condemned, to be put to death? Nero said: Neither about you do I perceive anything good. Peter and Paul said: Whether this thought about us be good or evil has no reference to the matter; but to us it was necessary that what our Master promised should come to pass. Nero said: If I should not be willing? Peter said: Not as thou willest, but as He promised to us.
Simon said: O good emperor, these men have reckoned upon thy clemency, and have bound thee. Nero said: But neither hast thou yet made me sure about thyself. Simon said: Since so many excellent deeds and signs have been shown to thee by me, I wonder how thou shouldst be in doubt. Nero said: I neither doubt nor favour any of you; but answer me rather what I ask.
Simon said: Henceforward I answer thee nothing. Nero said: Seeing that thou liest, therefore thou sayest this. But if even I can do nothing to thee, God, who can, will do it. Simon said: I no longer answer thee. Nero said: Nor do I consider thee to be anything: for, as I perceive, thou art a liar in everything. But why do I say so much? The three of you show that your reasoning is uncertain; and thus in all things you have made me doubt, so that I find that I can give credit to none of you.
Peter said: We preach one God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that has made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that therein is, who is the true King; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Nero said: What king is lord? Paul said: The Saviour of all the nations. Simon said: I am he whom you speak of. Peter and Paul said: May it never be well with thee, Simon, magician, and full of bitterness.
Simon said: Listen, O Cæsar Nero, that thou mayst know that these men are liars, and that I have been sent from the heavens: to-morrow I go up into the heavens, that I may make those who believe in me blessed, and show my wrath upon those who have denied me. Peter and Paul said: Us long ago God called to His own glory; but thou, called by the devil, hastenest to punishment. Simon said: Cæsar Nero, listen to me. Separate these madmen from thee, in order that when I go into heaven to my father, I may be very merciful to thee. Nero said: And whence shall we prove this, that thou goest away into heaven? Simon said: Order a lofty tower to be made of wood, and of great beams, that I may go up upon it, and that my angels may find me in the air; for they cannot come to me upon earth among the sinners. Nero said: I will see whether thou wilt fulfil what thou sayest.
Then Nero ordered a lofty tower to be made in the Campus Martius, and all the people and the dignities to be present at the spectacle. And on the following day, all the multitude having come together, Nero ordered Peter and Paul to be present, to whom also he said: Now the truth has to be made manifest. Peter and Paul said: We do not expose him, but our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom he has falsely declared himself to be.
And Paul, having turned to Peter, said: It is my part to bend the knee, and to pray to God; and thine to produce the effect, if thou shouldst see him attempting anything, because thou wast first taken in hand by the Lord. And Paul, bending his knees, prayed. And Peter, looking stedfastly upon Simon, said: Accomplish what thou hast begun; for both thy exposure and our call is at hand: for I see my Christ calling both me and Paul. Nero said: And where will you go to against my will? Peter said: Whithersoever our Lord has called us. Nero said: And who is your lord? Peter said: Jesus the Christ, whom I see calling us to Himself. Nero said: Do you also then intend to go away to heaven? Peter said: If it shall seem good to Him that calls us. Simon said: In order that thou mayst know, O emperor, that these are deceivers, as soon as ever I ascend into heaven, I will send my angels to thee, and will make thee come to me. Nero said: Do at once what thou sayest.
Then Simon went up upon the tower in the face of all, and, crowned with laurels, he stretched forth his hands, and began to fly. And when Nero saw him flying, he said to Peter: This Simon is true; but thou and Paul are deceivers. To whom Peter said: Immediately shalt thou know that we are true disciples of Christ; but that he is not Christ, but a magician, and a malefactor. Nero said: Do you still persist? Behold, you see him going up into heaven. Then Peter, looking stedfastly upon Paul, said: Paul, look up and see. And Paul, having looked up, full of tears, and seeing Simon flying, said: Peter, why art thou idle? finish what thou hast begun; for already our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us. And Nero hearing them, smiled a little, and said: These men see themselves worsted already, and are gone mad. Peter said: Now thou shalt know that we are not mad. Paul said to Peter: Do at once what thou doest.
And Peter, looking stedfastly against Simon, said: I adjure you, ye angels of Satan, who are carrying him into the air, to deceive the hearts of the unbelievers, by the God that created all things, and by Jesus Christ, whom on the third day He raised from the dead, no longer from this hour to keep him up, but to let him go. And immediately, being let go, he fell into a place called Sacra Via, that is, Holy Way, and was divided into four parts, having perished by an evil fate.
Then Nero ordered Peter and Paul to be put in irons, and the body of Simon to be carefully kept three days, thinking that he would rise on the third day. To whom Peter said: He will no longer rise, since he is truly dead, being condemned to everlasting punishment. And Nero said to him: Who commanded thee to do such a dreadful deed? Peter said: His reflections and blasphemy against my Lord Jesus Christ have brought him into this gulf of destruction. Nero said: I will destroy you by an evil taking off. Peter said: This is not in thy power, even if it should seem good to thee to destroy us; but it is necessary that what our Master promised to us should be fulfilled.
Then Nero, having summoned Agrippa the proprætor, said to him: It is necessary that men introducing mischievous religious observances should die. Wherefore I order them to take iron clubs, and to be killed in the sea-fight. Agrippa the proprætor said: Most sacred emperor, what thou hast ordered is not fitting for these men, since Paul seems innocent beside Peter. Nero said: By what fate, then, shall they die? Agrippa answered and said: As seems to me, it is just that Paul’s head should be cut off, and that Peter should be raised on a cross as the cause of the murder. Nero said: Thou hast most excellently judged.
Then both Peter and Paul were led away from the presence of Nero. And Paul was beheaded on the Ostesian road.
And Peter, having come to the cross, said: Since my Lord Jesus Christ, who came down from the heaven upon the earth, was raised upon the cross upright, and He has deigned to call to heaven me, who am of the earth, my cross ought to be fixed head down most, so as to direct my feet towards heaven; for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord. Then, having reversed the cross, they nailed his feet up.
And the multitude was assembled reviling Cæsar, and wishing to kill him. But Peter restrained them, saying: A few days ago, being exhorted by the brethren, I was going away; and my Lord Jesus Christ met me, and having adored Him, I said, Lord, whither art Thou going? And He said to me, I am going to Rome to be crucified. And I said to Him, Lord, wast Thou not crucified once for all? And the Lord answering, said, I saw thee fleeing from death, and I wish to be crucified instead of thee. And I said, Lord, I go; I fulfil Thy command. And He said to me, Fear not, for I am with thee. On this account, then, children, do not hinder my going; for already my feet are going on the road to heaven. Do not grieve, therefore, but rather rejoice with me, for to-day I receive the fruit of my labours. And thus speaking, he said: I thank Thee, good Shepherd, that the sheep which Thou hast entrusted to me, sympathize with me; I ask, then, that with me they may have a part in Thy kingdom. And having thus spoken, he gave up the ghost.
And immediately there appeared men glorious and strange in appearance; and they said: We are here, on account of the holy and chief apostles, from Jerusalem. And they, along with Marcellus, an illustrious man, who, having left Simon, had believed in Peter, took up his body secretly, and put it under the terebinth near the place for the exhibition of sea-fights in the place called the Vatican.
And the men who had said that they came from Jerusalem said to the people: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, because you have been deemed worthy to have great champions. And know that Nero himself, after these not many days, will be utterly destroyed, and his kingdom shall be given to another.
And after these things the people revolted against him; and when he knew of it, he fled into desert places, and through hunger and cold he gave up the ghost, and his body became food for the wild beasts.
And some devout men of the regions of the East wished to carry off the relics of the saints, and immediately there was a great earthquake in the city; and those that dwelt in the city having become aware of it, ran and seized the men, but they fled. But the Romans having taken them, put them in a place three miles from the city, and there they were guarded a year and seven months, until they had built the place in which they intended to put them. And after these things, all having assembled with glory and singing of praise, they put them in the place built for them.
And the consummation of the holy glorious Apostles Peter and Paul was on the 29th of the month of June—in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and strength.
- Lambecius proposes to read Gaudos and Melita. In the Latin version of the famous Greek scholar Lascaris, 1490, it is a Melita et Gaudisio insulis. [Comp. Acts xxvii. 16, xxviii. 1. The two names are apparently combined here.—R.]
- τρακταΐσαντες: from the Byzantine verb τρακταΐζειν = tractare. The various readings in the mss. are: Being very disorderly; having been much disturbed.
- Various reading: Let it be…and we will write, etc.
- The geographical names are given in the peculiar forms of the text. Occasionally the usual forms, such as Baiæ, occur.
- The distance was thirty-three miles. In the Antonine Itinerary, “To Aricia is sixteen miles, to Tres Tabernæ seventeen miles, to Appii Forum ten miles.”
- Or, do away with belief in circumcision.
- Lit., web or tissue.
- Gen. xii. 3, xvii. 5.
- Rom. ii. 11; Eph. vi. 9; Col. iii. 25; Jas. ii. 1.
- Rom. ii. 12.
- Ps. cxxxii. 11.
- Or, He allowed Himself to suffer all these things.
- Or, by Him.
- i.e., That all may profess their faith in Him. For similar expressions, see 2 Cor. ix. 13, Heb. x. 23.
- Ps. cx. 4; Heb. vii. 21.
- i.e., How do you happen, as a race, to be so unbelieving? The Latin translation has: against your race—κατὰ τοῦ γένους for κατὰ τὸ γένος.
- For another translation of this letter, see Latin Gospel of Nicodemus, chap. xiii. (xxix.) [This occurs on p. 454; there is another form on p. 459.—R.]
- Or, I saw.
- Or, to their council.
- i.e., human nature.
- Jer. xvii. 10; Rev. ii. 23.
- Lam. iii. 41; Mark xi. 25; 1 Tim. ii. 8.
- See the Clementines, Homilies II., III., VI., XVI., XX.
- Or, are proved to be.
- Or, the pure in heart admitting the faith.
- Rom. xv. 19.
- Rom. xii. 10.
- 1 Tim. vi. 17.
- Or, those who have a moderate quantity of food and covering to be content (1 Tim. vi. 8).
- Or, in the admonition of the Saviour (Eph. vi. 4.).
- Col. iii. 18–22.
- Gal. i. 1.
- Four of themss. and the Latin version here add: For assuredly I have for a long time past received letters from our bishops throughout all the world about the things done and said by him.
- i.e., mysteries.
- Or, to nothing.
- Luke i. 33.
- Or, chosen.
- The text has κινάρας, artichokes, for which I have read κορυνας, clubs. Sea-fights were a favourite spectacle of the Roman emperors (Suet., Nero, xii.; Claud., xxi.; Dom., iv.). The combatants were captives, or persons condemned to death (Dion Cass., lx. 33).
- For the episode of Perpetua, contained in three of the Greek mss., but not in the Latin versions, see the end of this book.
- i.e., head uppermost.
- One of the mss. here inserts: Do not be hard upon him, for he is the servant of this father Satan; but I must fulfil the command of my Lord.
- Some of themss. insert: Until I bring thee into my Father’s house.
- Several of themss. here add: I commend unto Thee the sheep whom Thou didst entrust unto me, that they may not feel that they are without me, having for a shepherd Thee, through whom I have been able to feed this flock.
- In three of the Greek mss., but not in the Latin versions, the story of Perpetua is here continued.
- Severalmss. here add: And the people of the Romans ran, and took them into the place called the Catacombs on the Appian Way, at the third milestone; and there the bodies of the saints were guarded a year and six months, until places were built for them in which they might be put. And the body of St. Peter was put into the Vatican, near the place for the sea-fights, and that of St. Paul into the Vostesian (or Ostesian) Way, two mile from the city; and in these places, through their prayers, many good deeds are wrought to the faithful in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.