No Bandits Crucified with Jesus in the Earliest Gospel, or, on Biased Ellipses; Gospel of Peter Final Footnote

Ellipses appear almost everywhere throughout the critical edition of the Gospel of Marcion. In the new annotated critical edition and translation I’m busily compiling, I’m deliberately leaving out the ellipses. More often then not, I’m utterly astonished at how well the narrative flows without them and the absolutely new insights opening up because of that simple editorial decision to read the words in the Gospel of Marcion as we have them, in the order we have them.

One of the most profound examples of this pertains to the bandits crucified with Jesus, whose story is narrated in different ways in all the gospels that later became part of the early-orthodox canon. I know just a little bit about these traditions, having written my 350 page UVA dissertation on these narratives and their reception in early Christianity, a dissertation later published by U Strasbourg and distributed by Brepols.

Anywho, Marcion’s detractors such as Epiphanius asserted that Luke 23.43 was not in his Gospel, and Luke 23.39-42 also lacks any attestation.

Turns out that GMarc 23.32 does mention “two evildoers” / κακοῦργοι δύο. But it never clarifies who these two persons were, or whether they were actually crucified with Jesus.

What it does say about them presents two mind-boggling options, and either one makes perfect sense if you think about them for just a minute.

Two Evildoers in GMarc 23.25-33

If we read the attested words of the Gospel of Marcion on their face and in their given order, they offer two astounding possible early minority reports.

1) The official in charge “released two evildoers”. The use of the nominative for the evildoers (κακοῦργοι) does not make sense grammatically, but then again, who says the earliest Gospels always have to follow proper Greek grammar?

2) The two officials in charge (i.e., Herod and Pilate) are the evildoers who crucify Jesus. In this case, there is no grammatical error at all. The plural nominative in Qn 23.32 represents the subject of the 3rd person plural verb in Qn 23.33 (“they crucified him”). The crucifixion narrative is a blatant critique of the hypocrisy of those in power. They execute the righteous slave Jesus, all the while they live wicked lives.

In either case, the earliest narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus (in Qn) maintains that his crucifixion was solitary.

My earlier post about giving out Digital Gospel Science (DGS) Teslas to any and all scholars comes back to mind. I’m discovering something completely new and ground-breaking about the very earliest Jesus Gospel traditions almost every 10-15 minutes I spend compiling additional evidence and proofs to support my five hypotheses for Qn.

I wish I could share all of this with other scholars as part of a big team, but the herd is still skittish and waiting for some kind of response, whether from Dr. Roth or someone else, I’m not sure.

Consensus starts with one person at a time having the courage to analyze the evidence with a fair and open mind, even if that’s done behind the scenes and not out in public.

However it begins to happen, let the consensus building begin. Come and share the wealth!!!

Final Footnote:

The ears of specialists on the Gospel of Peter (Evangelion Petrou) should be tickling right now, big time. duo kakourgoi was the main textual datum Paul Foster cited to claim that the Gospel of Peter was dependent on Luke (which Foster assumed was created in a single, major version).

As I staunchly maintained in my dissertation and in subsequent blog post responses to reviews, I found the Late Luke crucifixion bandit narrative dependent on the Gospel of Peter, not the other way around. The parallels of vocabulary and sequence are clear, yet the crucifixion of the bandits in Late Luke clearly expands and transforms the underlying narrative in Gospel of Peter, which noted how one of the evildoers criticized the evil authorities who were unjustly crucified Jesus.

Turns out that Foster was half-right. Gospel of Peter depends on Qn and/or Early Luke as the faithful, early transmitter of Qn. Late Luke in turn depended on Gospel of Peter.

Given this, it seems almost certain to me that Gospel of Peter was an early 2nd century composition, one that used Qn (directly or via Gospel of Marcion / Early Luke, 80s CE) but expanded it, until Late Luke (117-138 CE) borrowed the Gospel of Peter traditions as part of its retelling and transformation of the Markan/Matthean bandit narrative.

If I had to speculate on a date for the Gospel of Peter, I’d now say that the Jewish revolts of 117 CE deserve consideration as its historical setting and background.