Hello, does the early belief in the Apocalypse of Peter by many Christians prove that Jesus was never crucified? Is it true that many of the earliest Church leaders believed neither in the crucifixion nor the ressurection (i.e. the Muslim belief)?
Gnosticism was prevalent in the early Church and did exist alongside “orthodox” Christological beliefs for some time. However Gnosticism was never considered mainstream.
Perhaps you’re confusing the Apocalypse of Peter with the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter. The two are different documents (obviously).
The Apocalypse of Peter that was once in wide circulation and accepted by many Christians was originally written in Greek and only survives now in the form of quotes by Early Church Fathers, a Greek manuscript found 1886-1997 in Akhmim, Egypt, and an Ethiopic version in 1910. There are no references to Jesus not being actually crucified; rather like the Apocalypse of John it is (at least in the fragment of the text that we have) composed of visions, and a description of Heaven and Hell.
While the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter (the surviving text, found in Nag Hammadi is in Coptic, so it is sometimes called the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter) is the one you’re obviously referring to, for it has the quote:
…**When he had said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said “What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?”
The Savior said to me, “He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me.” **
But I, when I had looked, said “Lord, no one is looking at you. Let us flee this place.”
But he said to me, “I have told you, ‘Leave the blind alone!’. And you, see how they do not know what they are saying. For the son of their glory instead of my servant, they have put to shame.”
And I saw someone about to approach us resembling him, even him who was laughing on the tree. And he was with a Holy Spirit, and he is the Savior. And there was a great, ineffable light around them, and the multitude of ineffable and invisible angels blessing them. And when I looked at him, the one who gives praise was revealed.
And he said to me, “Be strong, for you are the one to whom these mysteries have been given, to know them through revelation, that he whom they crucified is the first-born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel in which they dwell, of Elohim, of the cross, which is under the Law. But he who stands near him is the living Savior, the first in him, whom they seized and released, who stands joyfully looking at those who did him violence, while they are divided among themselves. Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind. So then the one susceptible to suffering shall come, since the body is the substitute. But what they released was my incorporeal body. But I am the intellectual Spirit filled with radiant light. He whom you saw coming to me is our intellectual Pleroma, which unites the perfect light with my Holy Spirit.”