T A O P A T T A
The Acts of Peter
and the Twelve Apostles
Non-Christian Ascetic Allegory and Hellenic Parody ?
The embodied (Soul) who has controlled his nature
having renounced all actions by the mind
dwells at ease in the City of Nine Gates,
neither working nor causing work to be done.
--- Bhagvad Gita 5:13
A Collection of Academic Comments
Wilson and Parrott (Translators)
The following is taken from:
The Nag Hammadi Library in English
By James McConkey Robinson, and consists of the
introduction written to the work by its two translators:
"In spite of its present title, the Acts of Peter
and the Twelve Apostles is not just another one of the
apocryphal acrs of the apostles. The work of the apostles
is not the center of the narrative, but rather the work
of Lithagoel, who is actually Christ; only at the end
of the narrative can the tru apostolic activity begin.
The identification of Lithargoel, "the god of the glistening
stone", the god of the pearl, with Christ need not be too
surprising. Elsewhere in ancient texts Jesus is called
a pearl, and in fact the present narrative concerning
Lithargoel-Christ could conceivably have developed on the
basis of a passage like Revelation 2:17.
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles opens with Peter
and the apostles, after the crucifixion, setting off on a
journey. They locate a ship and sail away, finally arriving
at a city named Habitation. There Peter meets a pearl-
merchant, named Lithargoel, who invites the poor to come to
his city and obtain a pearl. Peter and his friends
successfully endure the difficult journey to the city of
Lithargoel [ED: 'Nine Gates], for they do as Lithargoel has
recommended: they renounce food and possessions, and hence
the robbers and beasts along the way do not bother them.
Finally Lithargoel disguises himself as a physician, then
reveals himself as Jesus Christ, and commissions the apostles
to go forth and minister to the sick and the poor.
In general TAOPATTA seems quite consistent with the developing
orthodoxy of the church of the second century, when this
tractate may have been composed. The emphasis on apostolic
poverty and the polemic against the rich are even rooted in
the New Testament. Though the tractate does not seem to
proclaim distinctively Gnostic ideas, it is clear that Gnostic
interpretters would have no trouble relating to such themes as
the stranger, the journey, the hidden pearl, and the expensive
garment of the world."
Martin Krause (1972)
Hans-Martin Schenke (1973,1989)
Compares TAOPATTA to Lucian's True Story.
According to Schenke, the figure (Lithargoel) may have existed
as a Jewish Angel, "something similar to a Jewish Asclepius".
Douglas M Parrott (1979)
From The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 5, pp. 264:
"This tractate is the first in the miscellaneous collection of Sahidic
Coptic tractates comprising Nag Hammadi Codex VI. For all its brevity (12 pages)
it is a remarkably complex document. The first half consists mainly of an account,
with heavy allegorical overtones, about a pearl merchant who attracts the poor but
is shunned by the rich, and who turns out not to have the pearl he is hawking;
it is available only to those willing to journey to his city. The pearl merchant's
name is Lithargoel, which means, according to the text, a lightweight, glistening
stone (5.16-18) (Wilson and Parrott 215 n.). The account takes place in on island
city identified simply as "Habitation" (the Coptic for which may be a translation
of the Greek word meaning "inhabited world").
Parrott's opinion on its dating (p. 265):
The earliest portion of the tractate - the allegory - probably should be dated
not later than the middle of the 2d century, because of the affinity with
Herm. Sim., which is dated in the mid-century or before. The tractate as a whole,
then, may have been put together in its present form toward the end of the 2nd
century, or early in the 3rd."
Stephen J Patterson (1991)
Andrea L Molinari (1995 Review)
F. Lapham (2003)
From An Introduction to the New Testament Apocrypha p.150:
"The short Coptic tractate contained in Codex VI of the
Nag Hammadi library under the title TAOPATTA is, in some ways,
the most enigmatic of all the recently discovered documents.
It is, in fact, the only extant copy of a work that hardly fits
into the Actus genre. Unlike the majority of the documents with
which it was found, it does not readily allow a Gnostic interpretation;
and, while it is clearly allegorical, it appears to represent a
composite work whose explication has not yet found agreement.
It would appear that the narrative begins with an account
of how the Apostles, anxious to commence their appointed
ministry, set out together on a missionary voyage to an
István Czachesz (2002)
Dissertations of the University of Groningen
- Theology and Religious Studies
Apostolic commission narratives in the canonical
and apocryphal Acts of the Apostles
---- Czachesz, István (2002)
Instead of reporting the teachings and miracles of an apostle,
the narrative concentrated on the commission of the twelve apostles.
The text resembles fairy tales and is filled with symbols.
The narration changes back and forth between the first and third persons,
the first person narrator being identified as Peter.
P.156 - Journey to Nine Gates
p.158 - TAOPATTA and Pachomian Monasticism
Pachomius, the father of coenobite monasticism, organised communities
from c.323 to his death 346 CE in Upper Egypt. The monastic rules in their fullest
form are via the Latin translation of Jerome. These rules characterise
Pachomian monasticism of the fourth century.
Parallels are explored between the text of TAOPATTA
and these Rules of conduct.
"If we remain tranquil in our monasteries preserving
in prayer and psalms, and if we do not press upon the
people of the world, then God will rouse those very
people [...] and compel them [to] furnish our bodily
needs gladly" 
 Nilus of Ancyra, Ascetic Discourse 3.58 (Caner)
"To the internal evidence of the text, we add the widespread view
that the Nah Hammadi codices themselves were manufacturued and
used in a Pachomian monastry. 
 Wisse, "Gnosticism and Early Monasticism in Egypt"
SUMMARY of POINTS:
1) The narrative of TAOPATTA can be understood as an allegorical
tale about the monks' renunciation of the world.
2) The text handles some typical administrative issues of cenobite
monasticism in a similar way as the Rules of Pachomius.
3) TAOPATTA address the sociological conflicts of monasticism
that also influence the hagiographic literature
4) The central character of the book might have been inspired by
the figure of Pachomius that was surrounded by legendary tradition
soon after his death (346 CE).
5) Use of the text in the Pachomian monasteries fits into the larger
theory of the production and use of the NH codices in that milieu.
Several features of TAOPATTA make it plausible that the final
redaction of the book took place in Upper Egypt in a Pachomian
monastery between 347 and 367. 
Relation to Other Apostolic Acts
Acts of Philip in Asia Minor
The parallels between the two books ... can be explained
with the help of a third text, which perhaps was identical
with one of the sources of TAOPATTA. 
 Molinari identifies three sources:
1) story of the pearl merchant
2) the resurrection appearance
3) the author's theology.
"In TAOPATTA Jesus appears as a physician in the figure of Lithargoel.
In TAOP (The Acts of Philip) all three motifs occur abundantly.
Philip prays "Physician of our inner man, ...."
See also ... The healing of Charitane, the daughter of Nicoclides
"Another feature that connects TAPATTA with the Acts of John
(as well as with the Acts of Thomas) is the presence of polymorphy.
Here plymorphy is presented as metamorphosis, the subsequent
appearance of Jesus in various forms. The subsequent appearances
are related to different stages of the disciples' journey, and
the disciples do not recognise Jesus until they arrive at their
destination. The spiritual journey described in the text leads
to the true vision of Jesus.
1. TAOPATTA written in a Pachomian monastery between 347 and 376 CE.
2. Most of the symbolic motifs are rooted in that monastic milieu.
3. One of its sources had contacts with The Acts of Philip
4. Both incorporate motif of John as mediator betwen Jesus and disciples.
5. The plot of TAOPATTA is quite different from that of other apostolic acts
6. Instead it contains one long commission narrative, describing a journey
through the stages of contemplative ascetic life.
7. It is not a biography, rather a biographical program,
an abstract model for imitation.
8. It does not seem to be an introduction to a longer text,
but rather a self contained allegorical tale
about divine call to an ascetic and spiritual life.
Other Relevant Articles and References Index
Sources, Redaction and Tendenz in the "Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles" (NH VI, 1)
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (NHC 6.1):
Allegory, Ascent, and Ministry in the Wake of the Decian Persecution
by Andrea Lorenzo Molinari
Author(s) of Review: Harold W. Attridge
The Journal of Religion, Vol. 81, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 638-640
Simon Peter's "Confession" and the Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles
Jesse Sell, Novum Testamentum, Vol. 21, Fasc. 4 (Oct., 1979), pp. 344-356
This article consists of 13 page(s).
Described as a Dénouement:
In literature, a dénouement consists of a series of events
that follow a dramatic or narrative's climax, thus serving
as the conclusion of the story. Conflicts are resolved,
creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis,
or release of tension and anxiety, for the reader.
Etymologically, the French word dénouement is derived
from the Old French word denoer, "to untie", from nodus,
Latin for "knot." Simply put, a dénouement is the unraveling
or untying of the complexities of a plot.
Stephen J. Patterson, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 45, No. 1 (Mar., 1991), pp. 1-17
This article consists of 17 page(s).
"Second or third century date in Syria seems likely."
Petrine Controversies in Early Christianity:
Attitudes towards Peter in Christian Writings of the First Two Centuries
by Terence V. Smith
Review thereof - Author(s) of Review: Paul J. Achtemeier
Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 107, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 337-339
This article consists of 3 page(s).
The Nag Hammadi Library after Fifty Years:
Proceedings of the 1995 Society of Biblical Literature Commemoration
by John D. Turner, Anne MacGuire
Review thereof: The Nag Hammadi Library after Fifty Years
Author(s) of Review: Kurt Rudolph, Donald Dale Walker
The Journal of Religion, Vol. 79, No. 3 (Jul., 1999), pp. 452-457
This article consists of 6 page(s).
The Nag Hammadi Library and the Heresiologists
Frederik Wisse, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Sep., 1971), pp. 205-223
This article consists of 19 page(s).
"The Teachings of Silvanus" from the Library of Nag Hammadi (Cg VII: 84, 15-118, 7)
Malcolm L. Peel, Jan Zandee, Novum Testamentum, Vol. 14, Fasc. 4 (Oct., 1972), pp. 294-311
This article consists of 18 page(s).
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