Cephas, the later leader of Peter’s church, is not identical with Simon Peter. It was Cephas, not Peter,
who attended the Apostolic Council. Paul never met Peter personally; he only met Cephas. Paul differentiates in Gal. 1f precisely between the Jewish Apostle Peter and Cephas, one of the three pillars (Gal. 2:9) whom he personally met.
The deaths of James and Simon, continued (3): Did Peter survive? Did Luke have a motive for allowing Peter to survive
in his literary account? Yes: he needed Peter’s presence at the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem: Acts 15:1ff.
It is possible that the legend that Peter went to Rome and was martyred there may already have existed in Luke’s time.
The tradition that Luke found probably reported Peter’s death. After all, Luke only has very weak witnesses for his version that Peter was saved.
The doubt: Peter himself doubts; he believes he is seeing a vision rather than that he would actually be saved. The church community he approaches also doubts and initially refuses to open the door, because they think Peter is a ghost (his angel).
Luke’s only witness is Rhoda the slave. But women and slaves were bad witnesses in classical times, because it was assumed that they would always speak in favour of their husbands or masters. The fact that Luke quotes this witness shows how desperately weak his position is in this case.
According to the principle of Occam’s razor, Josephus’ version is the right one: Peter died with James and in the same way. This argument is also supported by the fact that Luke does not provide any more narratives about Peter after this event: the Peter tradition ends here.
And according to Paul in Gal. 2:9, it wasn’t Peter, but Cephas, Peter’s successor as leader of Peter’s church, who was present at the Apostolic Council.
Conclusion: Peter was crucified by the governor Tiberius Alexander in 46 AD alongside James.
The deaths of James and Simon, continued (2): the manner of execution. In my opinion, Josephus
had no reason to alter facts that were not particularly important to him.
Why does he call James and Simon sons of Judas? As already mentioned, Josephus considered the Christians to be part of the Jewish insurgent movement that began with Judas the Galilean and was to end in the Great Revolt against the Romans in 66 – 70 AD. Sons simply means followers, not biological sons.
The deaths of James and Simon, continued (1): the facts. Acts 11:28 and 12:1ff, as well as Ant. 20.5.2 describe a famine
followed by the executions of a James and a Simon, both identified as sons of Judas by Josephus, while in Acts 12:1ff Simon is given the Christian name Peter.
The difference: Josephus describes the crucifixion by the governor Tiberius Alexander in 46 AD while Luke reports the beheading by the Jewish king Agrippa I in 44 AD.
I consider that both accounts refer to the same event, with some differences. Aspects in favour of this view: the names of the executed /imprisoned men are identical; the situation is identical, with the preceding famine – we should envisage food riots and the execution of the leaders; the time is almost identical.
Simon Peter was crucified in 46 AD alongside James by governor Tiberius Alexander.
Acts 12:1ff reports that only James was executed and Peter survived. This contrasts with Josephus’ report in Ant. 20.5.2, according to which both James and Simon were executed:
… the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain… The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified.
This raises several questions. 1) Do these texts refer to the same event? 2) When and by whom was the sentence of death pronounced? 3) Did Peter survive? I assume that the simplest explanation is the correct one. The answers follow in the next theses.
Since the Christians interpreted the astrological Age of Pisces
as the heavenly sign of God’s kingdom, Christian disciples and missionaries were called fishermen.
Simon Peter also aspired to the title of Messiah as Jesus’ successor after his death.
Peter’s father was not called either John (John 1:42; 21:15ff) or Jonas (Matt. 16:17). In fact, Peter was converted by John’s disciples to faith in Jesus, and Jonas is the prophet Jonah in the eponymous prophetic writings in which the story of Jesus is presented in the Old Testament in the form of a prophetic account.
Peter is both a spiritual son of the church of John and of Jesus the Messiah: that is what the mentions of fatherhood mean. Family relationships such as brother, father and son are often used in the old texts to denote dependency or friendship: cf. also 1 Macc. 12:7.
The Gnostic, Simon Magus in Samaria, had his own followers and was converted to John’s branch of Christianity
by Philip, the Christian Baptist. He founded the third separate early Christian church; he is called Simon Peter in the Gospels.
Simon Magus/ Peter was active as a Gnostic preacher; then he recognised the great potential of invoking Jesus who was known throughout the country.
Simon Magus/ Peter brought new impetus to the quiet Christian Baptist movement by interpreting the anticipated Kingdom of God as the astronomic/astrological Age of Pisces that was then succeeding the Age of Aries.
The triumph of Peter’s church in early Christianity is reflected in the Christian festival of Pentecost that celebrates the help of God’s Spirit in overcoming linguistic and cultural barriers. This gives confirmation of Christian teaching about God’s kingdom: confirmation in visible form in the heavens that can be interpreted in astrological terms.
Original movements and Jesus Groups: the Samaritans, the baptism sect and the Gnostics around Simon Magus
had few solid structures and little in the way of binding dogmas. They were groups with many different views, and Messianic ideas were widespread at the time, so Jesus’ followers within these movements could form groups without leaving the movement.
What we seen in the Gospels are a range of interpretations of Jesus that can be attributed to the movements named and to which we can allocate disciples’ names. These names are James (Israelites), John (Baptists) and Simon Peter (Gnostics).
These men clearly led Jesus Groups that remained within their movements. We can see the conflicts among the Christian Jews that they were confronted with. The disputes always focused on the issue of how far a Jesus Group could or should distinguish itself within the parent movement.
The hero’s self-sacrifice and the Age of the Pisces: the Gnostics around Simon Magus interpreted
Jesus’ death on the cross as a parallel to the god Mithras’ self-sacrifice in the Mithras cult.
This was the origin of the cultic celebration of the Eucharist. Later, this took a form based on the Jewish Passover meal, but the basic idea, the self-sacrifice of the cult hero, originated in the Mithras cult.
The Gnostics also believed that they could perceive the divine answer to Jesus’ proclamation of God’s kingdom in the astrological Age of Pisces that was just beginning. They gave the name fishermen to those who proclaimed Jesus’ message. Jesus sacrificed himself as the ram (lamb) at the end of the former age, the Age of Aries.
According to astrological teaching about the ages of the world, Jesus’ death as the sacrificial lamb (ram) symbolises the end of the Age of Aries, The disciples taking the role of fisherman symbolises the beginning of the new astrological Age of Pisces.
Jesus, the Christians and Christian tradition are actually mentioned by Josephus in the following texts:
1. Ant. 18, 4, 1: the Samaritan Messiah
2. Ant. 18, 3, 4: the temptation of Paulina
3. Ant. 19, 1, 13: Theatre performance in Rome in the presence of the Jewish King Agrippa I on 24 January 41, the day the Emperor Caligula was murdered
3.1. Crucifixion of a prince (hgemwn/hegemon),
3.2. Pantomime: The fable depicting the incest between Myrrha and her father Cinyras
4. Ant. 20, 5, 2: The governor Tiberius Alexander orders the crucifixion of James and Simon, the sons of Judas the Galilean.
5. Ant. 18, 2, 3: the newly founded city of Tiberias is settled.
Text No. 1 relates to Jesus’ execution; Nos. 2 and 3.2 are polemics against the Christian tradition of the virgin birth; No. 3.1 is an early performance of Jesus’ crucifixion as a play; No. 4 is an alternative report to Acts 12:1ff; No. 5 shows the historical context of the parable of the wedding banquet: Matt. 22:1-14; Luke 14:15-24.