A Fourth Century Parody
The "Non-Canonical" "Acts of Peter and Andrew"
The Parody that is known as the "The Acts of Peter and Andrew"
Acts of Peter and Andrew
From "The Apocryphal New Testament"
M.R. James-Translation and Notes
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924
1 When Andrew left the city of the man-eaters,
a cloud of light took him up
and carried him to the mountain
where Peter and Matthias and
Alexander and Rufus were sitting.
And Peter said: "Have you prospered?"
"Yes," he said, "but they did me much hurt."
"Come then", said Peter,
"and rest a while
from your labours."
Being carried by a cloud of light is an unlikely event.
Peter and Matthias are familiars of the NT.
But who is Andrew, who is Alexander and who is Rufus?
Alexander was a great Greek military commander.
Andrew complains of his treatment.
Peter cousels rest.
2 And Jesus appeared in the form of a little child
and greeted them, and told them to go to the city
of the barbarians, and promised to be with them,
and left them.
How did they recognise Jesus as a little child?
The little child "told them to go" on a journey.
The child promised to be with them but left them.
I wonder why the author mentions this?
But how did they know? Could they count?
How many of them were there?
Were there four or five?
3 So the four set out.
And when they were near the city
Andrew asked Peter:
"Do many troubles await us here?"
'I do not know, but here
is an old man sowing.
Let us ask him for bread;
if he gives it us,
we shall know that
we are not to be troubled
but if he says, I have none,
troubles await us."
Peter has no idea as to whether troubles await.
However he has a plan by which a sign will be given.
It will all depend on the answer to a question.
He will ask an old man sowing whether he has bread.
Dependent upon the answer, troubles will exist.
This is much like flipping a coin.
They greeted him and asked accordingly.
"If you will look after
my plough and oxen
I will fetch you bread ..."
"Are they your oxen?"
"No, I have hired them."
And he went off.
The old man is ploughing a field.
He is using a hired plough and hired oxen.
When asked if he has bread, the old man says
that if the apostles will look after the plough and oxen
then he will fetch bread.
So we have a very helpful old ploughman.
He has hired plough and oxen, probably by the day.
He stops his work, which is costing him money,
in order to fetch bread for five strangers when asked.
This is an unlikely event.
4 Peter took off his cloak and garment and said:
"It is no time for us to be idle, especially
as the old man is working for us;" and he took
the plough and began to sow. Andrew protested
and took it from him and sowed, and blessed
the seed as he sowed. And Rufus and Alexander
and Matthias, going on the right, said;
Let the sweet dew and the fair wind
come and rest on this field. And the seed sprang
up and the corn ripened.
This is some sort of fertility rite.
It was probably reserved for a female deity.
At any rate, another unlikely event.
5 When the farmer returned with the bread
and saw the ripe corn he worshipped them as gods.
But they told him who they were,
and Peter gave him the Commandments . . . .
He said: "I will leave all and follow you."
"Not so, but go to the city, return your oxen
to the owner, and tell your wife and children
and prepare us a lodging"
The farmer worships the apostles because of the rips corn.
Somehow these workers had grown the corn out of season.
He is instructed to prepare lodgings.
The apostles require a roof for the night.
They are not independent travelling ascetics.
6 He took a sheaf, hung it on his staff, and went off.
The people asked where he got the corn,
for it was the time of sowing, but he hastened home.
Who was this - the old man or Peter?
He takes the fruit of his "magic" into the city.
When asked to explain the ripe corn, what did he do?
Did he explain what happened to the city?
No. He hastened back to the country lodgings.
He could not explain what had happened.
7 The chief men of the city heard of it
and sent for him and made him tell his story.
Well, how did a person produce ripe corn in spring?
It would have been big news in the city.
8 And the devil entered them and they said:
Alas! these are of the twelve Galilaeans
who go about separating men from their wives;
What are we to do?
The Twelve Galilaeans is reminiscent of Emperor Julian.
He did not ever call "christians" as such.
Invariably throught his arraignment c.362 he uses another term.
He calls them Galilaeans.
The Galilaeans were war-like Hebrew rebels who refused Roman rule.
All the Roman Empire literature up until Eusebius uses this meaning.
It is Eusebius who introduces the tribe of "Christian Galilaeans".
These are distinguished by being followers of Jesus.
The more well known Galilaeans were the followers of Judas, the rebel
The superstition is that the apostles separate men from their wives.
We are not advised the details of this superstition.
We are supposed to think that it relates to "the path of god".
The author paints the christians as magicians.
They work their miracles in remote locations.
They do not explain their miracles to the city folk.
The elders of the city are fearful of these wierd men.
They have heard strange stories about them and their god.
They wonder what they can do.
9 One of them said: I can keep them out of the city?
'How?' 'They hate all women, and specially unchaste ones:
let us put a naked wanton in the gate,
and they will see her and flee.'
So they did.
The author reveals another of the traits of the christians.
They are reputed to hate all women, especially wanton women.
The author presents christians as psychologically unbalanced men.
The reader (in the fourth century of course) understands the picture.
The reader (in the 21st century) also understands the picture.
The plan is to embarrass the christians into fleeing the city.
A wantom woman is placed at the city gate.
What would the christians do?
A climax of the battle is being raised.
A huge challenge is thrown at the apostles.
How would they overcome it?
10 The apostles perceived the snare by the spirit,
and Andrew said: Bid me, and I will chastise her.
Peter said: Do as you will. Andrew prayed,
and Michael was sent to catch her up by the hair
and suspend her till they had passed.
The apostles are linked to spirits in touch with wanton women.
The apostles have impressive detection mechanisms.
But they should not be allowed to fool the reader.
There is nothing ascetic in these food and lodging people.
So they devise a battle plan against a single woman.
They discuss and approve of physical battle against a defenceless woman.
Andrew conceives of the battle plan, Peter approves it.
Andrew prays to his god for assistance in this battle.
Andrew's god sends an aggressive angel called Michael.
Mike is a hero angel.
Mike suspends her by the hair while the apostles pass by.
What a bunch of aggressive psychotic unbalanced men!
But were the battle plans of six unbalanced aggressive christian men
against the poor alone and defenceless woman at the gate successful?
11 And she cried out,
cursing the men of the city
and praying for pardon.
The innocent woman prays for pardon from her aggressors.
Why were they attacking her?
Because their religion comanded it?
The author parodies the New Testament "Love and Peace".
The Apostles of Jesus are a bunch of aggressive idiots.
They have far more power than sense.
They are unworldly and immature.
12 And many believed at her word and worshipped the apostles,
and they did many cures, and all praised God.
On account of the aggression which produced the woman's cries
many believed and worshipped the apostles.
The apostle's god was a god of unbalanced psychotic aggression.
People were very fearful of their display of idiotic power.
Through their fear they were coerced into worship.
The aggression spread. God was praised.
13 There was a rich man named Onesiphorus who said:
If I believe, shall I be able to do wonders?
Yes, if you forsake your wife and all your possessions.
He was angry and put his garment
about Andrew's neck and began to
beat him, saying:
"You are a wizard, why should I do so?"
The rich man Onesiphorus want more power.
He is interested in the apostles power, nothing else.
He is used to power and can also dish out aggression.
He doesn't like the bit about leaving his wife.
He starts to choke Andrew with his own clothes.
He accuses Andrew of being a wizard or magician.
He asks why he must leave his wife.
14 Peter saw it and
told him to leave off.
"I see you are wiser than he.
What do you say? "
"I tell you this:
it is easier for a camel
to go through a needle's eye
than for a rich man
to enter the kingdom of God."
Onesiphorus was yet more angry
and took his garment off Andrew's neck
and cast it on Peter's
and haled him along, saying:
"You are worse than the other.
If you show me this sign,
I and the whole city will believe
but if not you shall be punished."
Peter catches the reference to "WIZARD"
Only then does he try and intervene in Andrew's choking.
The rich and powerful man asks Peter his opinion.
Peter rattles off the one about the rich man
and the camel and the eye of the needle.
The rich and powerful man stops choking Andrew.
The rich and powerful man starts choking Peter.
Onesiphorus demands Peter to show him this sign.
Or he will be punished.
15 Peter was troubled
and stood and prayed:
"Lord, help us at this hour,
for thou hast entrapped us
by thy words."
Peter become afraid of receiving punishment.
He is perfectly happy to condone punishment of an innocent woman.
But he is exceeding afraid of receiving punishment.
He prays to his god for help.
He accuses his god of entrapping him
with the words (of the New Testament).
He is lost and afraid.
He is an empty and unbalanced individual.
Will Peter's saviour god save Peter?
16 The Saviour appeared
in the form of a boy of twelve years,
wearing a linen garment
'smooth within and without',
"Fear not: let the needle
and the camel be brought."
There was a huckster in the town
who had been converted by Philip;
and he heard of it,
and looked for a needle
with a large eye,
but Peter said:
"Nothing is impossible with God
rather bring a needle with a small eye."
Peter's god appears as an immature youth.
Peter's god tells Peter to "fear not".
Peter fears are allated by an immature youth.
Philip has converted a huckster in the town.
The huckster hears of the test, and want in on the action.
Peter goes the action alone.
17 When it was brought,
Peter saw a camel coming
and stuck the needle in the ground
"In the name of
Jesus Christ crucified
under Pontius Pilate
I command thee, camel,
to go through
the eye of the needle."
The eye opened like a gate
and the camel passed through;
and yet again, at Peter's bidding.
Peter sticks the needle in the ground.
Peter commands the camel in the name of Jesus Christ.
Peter qualifies Jesus Christ as the one crucified under Pontius Pilate.
Why is Pontius Pilate mentioned by the parodist?
Just to make sure we know which Jesus Christ perhaps.
Obviously the author has Peter using Pontius Pilate
as a bit of historical reference for the name Jesus.
Peter then commands the camel through the eye of the needle.
18 Onesiphorus said:
"You are a great sorcerer:
but I shall not believe
unless I may send
for a needle and a camel."
And he said secretly to a servant:
"Bring a camel and a needle,
and find a defiled woman
and some swine's flesh
and bring them too."
And Peter heard it in the spirit and said:
"O slow to believe,
bring your camel and woman
and needle and flesh."
Onesiphorus hales Peter as a great magician and sorcerer.
But he want a re-run with his own camel and needle.
He wants to incorporate a wanton woman and pork.
He attempts to rig the deck against the apostles.
Peter became aware of deceit though his deceiptful spirit.
He says he is ready to proceed in the face of this.
19 When they were brought
Peter stuck the needle
in the ground, with the flesh,
the woman was on the camel.
He commanded it as before,
and the camel went through,
and back again.
Peter commands the camel again.
In the name of Jesus and Pontius Pilate.
Peter then commands the camel again
through the eye of the needle
20 Onesiphorus cried out, convinced and said:
"Listen. I have lands and vinevards
and 27 litrae of gold
and 50 of silver,
and many slaves:
I will give my goods to the poor
and free my slaves if I may do
a wonders like you."
Peter said: "If you believe, you shall."
Onesiphorus is impressed by the magic.
He is rich and powerful and want this magic.
He asks Peter if he can do these wonders.
Peter replies that he can, if he believes ...
21 Yet he was afraid he might not be able,
because he was not baptized, but a voice came:
"Let him do what he will."
So Onesiphorus stood before the needle and camel
and commanded it to go through and it went as far
as the neck and stopped. And he asked why.
'Because you are not yet baptized.'
He was content, and the apostles went
to his house, and 1,000 souls
were baptized that night.
We discover a small technical hitch.
Onesiphorus is not baptised. The camel gets stuck.
The camel is commanded in the name of Jesus and Pilate.
But only as far as the camel's neck and no further.
Onesiphorus buys the story of lack of baptism.
One thousand souls are converted to christianity by magicianship.
But what about the innocent woman at the gate?
Was that aggressive christian angel Mike still tormenting her?
All this time?
22 Next day the woman that was hung in the air said:
"Alas that I am not worthy
to believe like the rest!
I will give all my goods
to the poor and my house
for a monastery of virgins."
Peter heard it
and went out to her
and at his word
she was let down unhurt,
and gave him for the poor
4 litrae of gold and much raiment
and her house for a
monastery of virgins.
Notably Peter does not consider the plight of the woman.
His consideration is triggered by financial greed.
--- As soon as he hears the woman has money, house and goods.
Only then does he worry about the woman held by her hair
at the city gates by the aggressive christian angel Mike.
Who are this bunch of sick christian men?
Why are they driven by the need for material possessions?
Why do they have no regard for innocent and helpless women?
Why did they treat the woman at the gates this way?
Why did they forget he torment (at their hands)?
Why did they forget, until money was mentioned?
23 And the apostles
consecrated a church
and ordained clergy
and committed the people
The apostles and their aggressive angel: magicians.
Inept, superstitious, fearful, unbalanced, aggressive, psychotic.
Commanding magical acts in the name of Jesus and Pontius Pilate.
Attuned to the acquisition of money and possessions
by the aggressive unthinking coersion of innocent women.
A new christian church is consecrated to the narrative.
And so the new christian god attracts converts
by the acts of aggression and magic of the apostles.