T A O P A T T AThe Acts of Peter
and the Twelve Apostles
Non-Christian Ascetic Allegory and Hellenic Parody ?
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
Background Information Notes
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia
Background Information Notes
The present index of this series of background notes looks like this:
Asclepia: Temples of Asclepius
Ancient Greco-Roman medicine borrowed a lot from the Egyptian medicine. Egyptian medical men were invited by Greeks to practice medicine in their countries and were highly respected.
Apollo was considered the earliest Greek God of medicine. Apollo was born in Delos and brought up in Delphi. Here, as the legend goes, the infant Apollo slew a python or a monster that had plagued the site. Following this, Delphi became a sacred place in Greece, where oracles occured. Apollo is regarded as having taught the art of healing to Achilles, Aesculapius (Asklepius) and Jason.
Asclepius was considered to be the son of Apollo and Coronis a mortal woman. Ancient written sources report (see below) that "he healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and... he brought back to life many who had died."
Mathematician and a physicist, Pythagoras also had a profound influence on medicine. According to him, diseases were due to disturbances of four humours: (1) Black bile was cold and dry. (2) Yellow bile was hot and dry, (3) Phlegm was cold and moist and (4) Blood was hot and moist. There is a similarity between Pythagoras’ concept of diseases and the Ayurvedic concept enunciated at least two centuries earlier.
Generally considered the “ Father of medicine “ An astute Greek physician who was born on the island of Cos, but probably practised on Rhodes. He was the first to maintain records of his patients complaints and his own observations. It was Hippocrates who enunciated the physician ‘s oath , now known as the “Hippocratic Oath”: “I swear by Apollo, the healer, invoking all the Gods and Goddesses to be my witnesses, that I will fulfil this Oath and this written convenant to the best of my ability and judgment. I will look upon him who shall have taught me this art even as one of my own parents. I will impart this art by precept, by lecture and by every mode of teaching. The regime I adopt shall be for the benefit of the patient according to my ability and judgement, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. In my attendance on the sick or even part therefrom, whatsoever things I see or hear, concerning the life of men, which ought not to be spoken abroad, I will keep silence thereon, counting such things to be as sacred secrets”. His aphorisms are also famous, some of which state : “Life is short and the art long; opportunity is fleeting, experience fallacious, judgement is difficult.” “In every disease, it is a good sign when the patient’s intellect is sound and he enjoys his food; the opposite is a bad sign.”
The Life tells us that Sophocles served as a priest to Asclepius, god of healing and medicine. In the center of Asclepius' temple lived a great serpent, an embodiment of the god himself. Once, during the relocation of the temple to Athens, the snake lived in Sophocles' house till his new quarters were ready.
Apollonius of Tyana lived in the first century, his precise date of birth unknown, varying ** between 4 BCE and 24 CE (the latter according to Maria Dzielska). His biographer Philostratus, writing c.218 CE provides a long account of the life, travels and sayings of Apollonius, including the acts of healing and raising the dead. A large inscription to Apollonius was discovered recently, and is now located in the Adana Museum. For further information related Apollonius of Tyana, please see this separate Resource Index.
Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World By John S. Kloppenborg, Stephen G. Wilson Aelius Aristides at the Asclepieion of Pergamum Archaeological data supplement the literary sources on the Asclepieion of Pergamum, including the most extensive one, Aelius Aristides' (117-180)' "Sacred Tales". Therapeutae Mention of "therapeutae" - "[temple] worshippers or servants" Aelius Aristides writes: "We Asclepius therapeutae must agree with the god that Pergamum is the best of his sanctuaries." --- Sacred Tales (39.5)
"Galen use of the designation "therapeutae" to secure from Marcus Aurelius exception from military service." In his writings - Galen wrote about 500 books - he often acknowledged his indebtedness to Hippocrates. Galen was the physician to the great philosopher-emperor, Marcus Aurelius
Most Professional and patient centred organisations and most medical Associations around the world including the World Health Organization) use the "correct" and traditional symbol of medicine, the staff of Asclepius with a single serpent encircling a staff, classically a rough-hewn knotty tree limb. Asclepius (an ancient greek physician deified as the god of medicine) is traditionally depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe that leaves his chest uncovered and holding a staff with his sacred single serpent coiled around it, (see the example above) symbolizing renewal of youth as the serpent casts off its skin. The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase of c. 2000 B.C. representing the healing god Ningishita, the prototype of the Greek Asklepios. The Caduceus of Hermes Not to be confused with the Caduceus of Mercury (Roman) and the Karykeion of Hermes (Greek) - many "medical" organisations use a symbol of a short rod entwined by two snakes and topped by a pair of wings, which is actually the caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes (Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. It is derived from the Greek karykeion = "herald's staff", itself based on the word "eruko" meaning restrain, control. The link between the caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) and medicine seems to have arisen by the seventh century A.D., when Hermes had come to be linked with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as "practitioners of the hermetic arts". There are clear occult associations with the caduceus. The caduceus was the magic staff of Hermes (Mercury), the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft, and so was a symbol of heralds and commerce, not medicine. The words caduity & caducous imply temporality, perishableness and senility, while the medical profession espouses renewal, vitality and health.
"Asclepius was the son of Apollo [a god] and Coronis he healed many sick whose lives had been despaired of, and... he brought back to life many who had died." [Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 184.108.40.206- 2] "I found [in writing this history] some who are reported to have been raised by him [Asclepius] , to wit, Capaneus and Lycurgus, as Stesichorus [645- 555 BC] says... Hippolytus, as the author of the Naupactica reports[6th century BC], Tyndareus, as Panyasis [c. 500 BC] says; Hymnaneus, as the Orphics report; and Glaucus...as Melasogoras [5th century BC] relates." Apollodorus, The Library, 3.1.3- 3] "When Hippolytus was killed,...Asclepius raised him from the dead." [Pausanias, Corinth, Description of Greece, 1.27.5] "Alcetas of Halieis. The blind man saw a dream [while sleeping in Asclepius' temple]. It seemed to him the god came up to him and with his fingers opened his eyes.... At daybreak he walked out sound." [Inscriptiones Graecae, 4.1.121 - 122, Stele 1.18] " Hermon of Thasus. His blindness was cured by Asclepius." [Inscriptiones Graecae, 4.1.121 - 122, Stele 2.22] To Valerius Aper, a blind soldier, the god revealed that he should go and take the blood of a white cock along with hone and compound and eye salve and for three days should apply it to his eyes. And he could see again and went and publicly offered thanks to the god." [Inscriptiones Graecae, 14.96 ] "A voiceless boy. He came as a supplicant to the Temple [of Asclepius]...the temple servant demanded the boys father...to bring...the thank offering for the cure. But the boy suddenly said, "I promise." His father was startled at this and asked him to repeat it. The boy repeated the words and after that became well." [Inscriptiones Graecae 4.1.121- 122; Stele 1.5] "Nicanor, a lame man. While he was sitting wide-awake [in Asclepius' temple], a boy snatched his crutch from him and ran away. but Nicanor got up, pursued him, and do became well." [Inscriptiones Graecae 4.1.121- 122; Stele 1.16]
Definitions: Parody, Satire, Allegory, Irony
SATIRE - the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, etc
in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
IRONY - a figure of speech or literary device in which
the literal meaning is the opposite of that intended,
especially in the (written) ancient Greek sense
when the phraseology understates the effect intended,
employed in ridicule, or merely playfully.
ALLEGORY - figurative treatment of one subject
under the guise of another; a presentation of an abstract
or spiritual meaning under concrete or material forms.
In brief, a symbolic narrative - a parable.
Aristotle cites Hegemon of Thasos (c.400 BCE) as one of the earlier known writers of parody. Parody of authoritarian literature has been seen as particularly powerful and successful in its effect.
The Capital Wages of a Political Parody
Muhhamad is known to have made exceptions to his pacificism
by authorised execution of at least 2 popular satirists
when he acquired military supremacy. Parody and satire
of an authoritarian leader were often viewed as crimes against the majesty
of that authoritarian leader.
Although the many references in Tacitus suggest an historical reality of the possibility of torture of the upper classes, the reality is not described until Ammianus Marcellinus' account of the lese-majesty trials (literally against the majesty of the christian emperor) of the mid-fourth century. When a person was accused of treason, that person was stripped of citizenship and then could be legally tortured as a non-citizen. See the Theodosian Code 9.5 dated to 314 CE [Clyde Pharr, p.230] for those readers interested in a dated legal reference more commensurate with Constantine. We should also be reminded that Ammianus' account of the rule of Constantine does not survive, nor does the account of any living historian from that era, except for the Christian Ecclesiastical "Historians", each of whom were merely continuators of Eusebius.
Nag Hammadi Codices: Archaeological significance
"if we could only recover letters that ordinary people wrote to each other without any thought of being literary, we should have the greatest possible help for the understanding of the language of the New Testament generally."This statement is said to have been prophetic, because shortly after it was made a number of "letters that ordinary people wrote" were discovered in ancient Egyptian rubbish-heaps, and these have indeed been a help for the understanding of the language of the New Testament. Over a century later, and we have online databases of papyri sourced from many locations, particularly Oxyrhynchus.
These archaeological developments were dramatically enhanced by two major discoveries during the twentieth century. The first is represented in what has been called The Dead Sea Scrolls, and the second is represented in what is known as The Nag Hammadi Codices. The Nag Hammadi haul consists of a stack of thirteen books, containing and binding a total of fifty-two separate texts. The subject matter of this article is the text The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles (abbreviated here to TAOPATTA).
TAOPATTA is the very first text in the sixth Nag Hammadi book, and the first of eight other texts. For further information concerning these other texts, including their English translations, see this separate index. The books were originally written in the Coptic language, a form of Egyptian Greek. It is conjectured by most commentators that the original works were translated from the Greek to the Coptic, in reasonable proximity to Nag Hammadi, where the books were found, after being preserved in a cave in an earthern jar for perhaps sixteen hundred years. One of the books, containing The Gospel of Thomas had its binding processed by carbon dating analysis, and returned the estimate of 348 CE (with an error of perhaps plus or minus 60 years).
Robin Lane Fox's Summary Assessment of the Nag Hammadi Archive
The following references appear in Robin Lane Fox's work entitled
Pagans and Christians:
Fox notes ... But "none of the "gnostic christians" wrote/read Coptic."
--- Anonymous "Nag Hammadi" scribe.