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.