The Sword of St. Peter

Do you ever have a moment, reading, studying, where the sky seems to split?
Okay we all know that in Gethsemane, Peter  the fisherman drew a sword and   sliced off the ear of a centurion come to arrest  Jesus. And Jesus rebuked him and healed the centurion’s ear.
Why  did a fisherman have a sword?  What I’ve often read is that Peter  was an Essene, and members of that sect always carried swords. But then, Jesus did exhort his disciples, if they  had no swords, to sell their cloaks to buy one.  They say, Lord, here are two swords! and he says: that is enough.

I’m reading Bernard Cornwell’s novel ( thanks SOOO much @jzdro  for turning me on to him!) involving a quest to find this blade, fictitiously named La Malice.   Peter’s sword.

What IS that sword?

It had a part to play, like Judas did?  Someone had to betray, so the sacrifice could be consummated?  Someone had to show arms, so the surrender could be shown voluntary?

It is extraordinary that other relics of the passion and crucifixion: the seamless garment, the spear, the cup—are so famous, so often counterfeited (I mean, they can only have been one of each, right?)  but St Peter’s sword is relatively unimitated.   Yes, it is reputed to exist,  still: Poland has it.

That sword…it is just something to which I never gave a moment’s  thought before, despite the myriad, myriad times I have heard the story, the bright blade of which has now flashed through the dusty mental landscape of my  received knowledge.

Things like this turn me on.

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23 thoughts on “The Sword of St. Peter”

  1. I will give you the best answer:

    “We don’t know.”

    The Bible does not say anything about the sword; only that Peter drew it and whacked Malchus’s head with it.  Before anyone could act, Jesus rebuked Peter, performed a miraculous healing in front of both friendly and hostile witnesses, and then went along peaceably to the kangaroo court that awaited.

    The sword itself may have been preserved, or not.  Like anything remotely associated with Jesus, it would have been considered precious within just a few months, by the followers of ‘The Way’ of Jesus.

    But whether preserved or not, it was only ever an artifact.

    Some artifacts have been shown to be forgeries.  Some were quite ancient forgeries; over a thousand years old, but forgeries nevertheless.  A very small number of artifacts are in contention as genuine.   They are important for historical reasons, but are spiritually problematic.  It is already too tempting for people to venerate sacred relics of the saints; anything with provenance leading to Jesus would be likely to be treated as an idol by some.

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  2. The sword is Excalibur.

    If Peter did a Centurian’s ear clean sweep and Christ did a Ctrl-z undoing it…wouldn’t the Centurian and proximate witnesses (we have an account of the incident, right?) come to certain conclusions?  Worse still, Peter having witnessed the miracle would not longer require faith.

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  3. I thought of Excalibur, especially the inscription the blade bears: on one side: “Take Me Up”, and on the other:”Cast Me Away.”

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  4. Uncle Al:
    The sword is Excalibur.

    If Peter did a Centurian’s ear clean sweep and Christ did a Ctrl-z undoing it…wouldn’t the Centurian and proximate witnesses (we have an account of the incident, right?) come to certain conclusions?  Worse still, Peter having witnessed the miracle would not longer require faith.

    Did the Arthurian legend of Excalibur include a tale of Biblical provenance?  I do not recall that.

    Malchus, whose ear it was, was not a Centurian, but the servant of the high priest of the Jews.  It was Jewish soldiers who showed up at Gethsemane to arrest Jesus.  It was after the hearing before the Sanhedrin that they, with Jewish soldiers, took Jesus to Pilate and handed Him over to the Romans there.

    The miracle of restoring Malchus’s ear was only one of many miracles that Peter witnessed.   The fact that this one was done before hostile witnesses is significant.  The Jews did not say that ‘Jesus never did those miracles.’  What they said was ‘Jesus deserved to die because He was a sorcerer and a blasphemer.’  The charge of sorcery is evidence that the miracles were real events that really happened.  We have it from the hostile witnesses.

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  5. Hypatia:
    Why  did a fisherman have a sword?  What I’ve often read is that Peter  was an Essene, and members of that sect always carried swords. But then, Jesus did exhort his disciples, if they  had no swords, to sell their cloaks to buy one.  They say, Lord, here are two swords! and he says: that is enough.

    Why, indeed?

    I have read the theory that Peter and others of the Apostles were Essenes, but I am not persuaded to that view.  I do expect that they were probably sympathetic to Essene issues.   And, once taking up with Jesus, they became outsiders and so had additional reasons to be sympathetic with the Essenes.

    But why swords?  They were not traveling with enough money to make them a target, and they traveled in a group large enough to dissuade bandits.  Perhaps the swords were just for show, in case any bandit gangs were scouting for victims.  Or, perhaps banditry on the way between Jerusalem and Galilee had become worse at that time (it had been cleaned up before and during the years of Jesus’s youth).

    Or, did they expect trouble from the mob in Jerusalem?

    Anyhow, we see Jesus encouraging the Apostles to prepare to defend themselves and their dependents.  Let us all take heed.   Being exhorted to turn the other cheek before persecution is not the same as being defenseless to criminals.

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  6. Hypatia:
    I’m reading Bernard Cornwell’s novel ( thanks SOOO much @jzdro  for turning me on to him!) involving a quest to find this blade, fictitiously named La Malice.   Peter’s sword.

    Do you think Bernard Cornwell’s prose is comparable to T.H. White ?

    Wikipedia says that David Nash Ford reported that a Berkshire legend said that Peter’s sword was brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea and that centuries later the Abbot of Glastonbury gave it to Saint George.  All very farfetched.

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  7. Maybe the sword was just a really big knife? In Chinese, dao could mean knife or sword. Sometimes peasants would walk around with really big knives for protection but they couldn’t carry arming swords or spears because peasants couldn’t be trusted with weapons.

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  8. It is interesting of the three Abrahamic faiths Christianity has no general or head of government.

    Hyp, thanks for the interesting post.

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  9. MJBubba:

    Hypatia:
    I’m reading Bernard Cornwell’s novel ( thanks SOOO much @jzdro  for turning me on to him!) involving a quest to find this blade, fictitiously named La Malice.   Peter’s sword.

    Do you think Bernard Cornwell’s prose is comparable to T.H. White ?

    i remember loving TH White when I read that series years ago, but at this point I couldnt compare them.  Cornwell though is amazing: lotsa historical detail and somehow you really care about his characters, even though he doesn’t spend much time on their inner lives.

    Wikipedia says that David Nash Ford reported that a Berkshire legend said that Peter’s sword was brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea and that centuries later the Abbot of Glastonbury gave it to Saint George.  All very farfetched.

    I read that too; just perusing the article before I put this up, in case it might be that I’m  the only person who never gave this much thought.  The Wiki article is the only place I’ve ever encounteRed  the idea that J of A scarpered  to England with Peter’s sword as well as the cup and the spear .
    I’m likin’ it, though!  Especially when you add in the Excalibur connection ( Altho as far as I know Nunc is the only one who has ever said that,)    
    St. George is the patron saint not only of England but of many Eastern European countries.   There is a time for the sword, and a time to yield, as Jesus‘  words AND as Excalibur’s inscription (see comment 3) both indicate.  

    When you study legends and folklore, everything  has a backstory.  See The Golden Legend.  Peter’s blade has undoubtedly been postulated, by someone, to be “The” Sword, the archetype of all swords, the first one we encounter in the Bible: the sword with the flame that “turns all ways“, wielded by the Cherubim who guards Eden.  Seth will have wangled it from the guardian angel as an ambiguous act of mercy to mankind ( won’t be the only time he played the Prometheus rôle!) , and it became,  in turn,  every famous sword we know of: St George’s sword, Excalibur….are there others you would name?
    see?  It’s fun!  

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  10. Henry Castaigne:

    Hypatia:
    Things like this turn me on.

    Did you meat your husband/partner (I don’t know your marital deal) at a Renaissance fair? If so that is so totally hot.

    Oh dear Henry!  Was that intentional?  No we didn’t “meat” each other till after we’d been dating awhile.   But hot, yes…

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  11. 10 Cents:
    It is interesting of the three Abrahamic faiths Christianity has no general or head of government.

    Hyp, thanks for the interesting post.

    Thank YOU, Dear  Soxy!

    (But wait: did the Muzzies elect a Caliph again while I was asleep? 🤔) 

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  12. Henry Castaigne:
    Maybe the sword was just a really big knife? In Chinese, dao could mean knife or sword. Sometimes peasants would walk around with really big knives for protection but they couldn’t carry arming swords or spears because peasants couldn’t be trusted with weapons.

    I cant help it, this made me giggle; now I’m picturing St Peter in one of those hats bristling with feathered lures, whipping  out his trusty stinky gutting knife to detach the Watch’s  ear….thanks for this!

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  13. Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Why, really?  I mean, the title tells us a lot, like Killer Clowns….

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  14. Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Without giving away the whole script…

    In ancient times, during the crusades, a sword wielding woman was leading a band of knights. She was mortally wounded and an “angel” took off his halo and put it inside her so she recovered and started a convent of warrior nuns to combat evil, both worldly and demon like. This made the angel become human to die or so it was said. The halo would be passed to other nuns after a time embedded in their backs when a really bad wound killed them outright rather than mortally wounding them. This went on for a thousand years until the ten or so episodes started with several side plots and twists.  Eventually it also involves the Vatican, a new pope, a scientist and her son and of course demons.

    That’s about the first few episodes and all worth watching. I think another season is coming as it isn’t over yet.

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  15. Gerard:

    Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Without giving away the whole script…

    In ancient times, during the crusades, a sword wielding woman was leading a band of knights. She was mortally wounded and an “angel” took off his halo and put it inside her so she recovered and started a convent of warrior nuns to combat evil, both worldly and demon like. This made the angel become human to die or so it was said. The halo would be passed to other nuns after a time embedded in their backs when a really bad wound killed them outright rather than mortally wounding them. This went on for a thousand years until the ten or so episodes started with several side plots and twists.  Eventually it also involves the Vatican, a new pope, a scientist and her son and of course demons.

    That’s about the first few episodes and all worth watching. I think another season is coming as it isn’t over yet.

    I wonder if her Husband knows about this.

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  16. 10 Cents:

    Gerard:

    Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Without giving away the whole script…

    In ancient times, during the crusades, a sword wielding woman was leading a band of knights. She was mortally wounded and an “angel” took off his halo and put it inside her so she recovered and started a convent of warrior nuns to combat evil, both worldly and demon like. This made the angel become human to die or so it was said. The halo would be passed to other nuns after a time embedded in their backs when a really bad wound killed them outright rather than mortally wounding them. This went on for a thousand years until the ten or so episodes started with several side plots and twists.  Eventually it also involves the Vatican, a new pope, a scientist and her son and of course demons.

    That’s about the first few episodes and all worth watching. I think another season is coming as it isn’t over yet.

    I wonder if her Husband knows about this.

    Nuns don’t have “husbands”…

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  17. Gerard:

    10 Cents:

    Gerard:

    Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Without giving away the whole script…

    In ancient times, during the crusades, a sword wielding woman was leading a band of knights. She was mortally wounded and an “angel” took off his halo and put it inside her so she recovered and started a convent of warrior nuns to combat evil, both worldly and demon like. This made the angel become human to die or so it was said. The halo would be passed to other nuns after a time embedded in their backs when a really bad wound killed them outright rather than mortally wounding them. This went on for a thousand years until the ten or so episodes started with several side plots and twists.  Eventually it also involves the Vatican, a new pope, a scientist and her son and of course demons.

    That’s about the first few episodes and all worth watching. I think another season is coming as it isn’t over yet.

    I wonder if her Husband knows about this.

    Nuns don’t have “husbands”…

    Why do they wear rings?

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  18. 10 Cents:

    Gerard:

    10 Cents:

    Gerard:

    Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Without giving away the whole script…

    In ancient times, during the crusades, a sword wielding woman was leading a band of knights. She was mortally wounded and an “angel” took off his halo and put it inside her so she recovered and started a convent of warrior nuns to combat evil, both worldly and demon like. This made the angel become human to die or so it was said. The halo would be passed to other nuns after a time embedded in their backs when a really bad wound killed them outright rather than mortally wounding them. This went on for a thousand years until the ten or so episodes started with several side plots and twists.  Eventually it also involves the Vatican, a new pope, a scientist and her son and of course demons.

    That’s about the first few episodes and all worth watching. I think another season is coming as it isn’t over yet.

    I wonder if her Husband knows about this.

    Nuns don’t have “husbands”…

    Why do they wear rings?

    They have no earthly husband. Not all wear rings. Those that do, (as I have been told many many years ago), believe they were “married” to Christ.

    Soooooooo, as you may postulate, Christ, being God, knows about it for those that are “married” to him, but I strongly doubt any court of law will allow them to petition the courts for support or that they can file married on their income tax.

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  19. Gerard:

    10 Cents:

    Gerard:

    10 Cents:

    Gerard:

    Henry Castaigne:

    Gerard:
    Gerardsays: #14 2020-07-10 at 04:37 UTC  [Quote] For the “fun of it”, you should all watch “Warrior Nun” on Netflix.

    Please tell us why.

    Without giving away the whole script…

    In ancient times, during the crusades, a sword wielding woman was leading a band of knights. She was mortally wounded and an “angel” took off his halo and put it inside her so she recovered and started a convent of warrior nuns to combat evil, both worldly and demon like. This made the angel become human to die or so it was said. The halo would be passed to other nuns after a time embedded in their backs when a really bad wound killed them outright rather than mortally wounding them. This went on for a thousand years until the ten or so episodes started with several side plots and twists.  Eventually it also involves the Vatican, a new pope, a scientist and her son and of course demons.

    That’s about the first few episodes and all worth watching. I think another season is coming as it isn’t over yet.

    I wonder if her Husband knows about this.

    Nuns don’t have “husbands”…

    Why do they wear rings?

    They have no earthly husband. Not all wear rings. Those that do, (as I have been told many many years ago), believe they were “married” to Christ.

    Soooooooo, as you may postulate, Christ, being God, knows about it for those that are “married” to him, but I strongly doubt any court of law will allow them to petition the courts for support or that they can file married on their income tax.

    This is why the “H” was capitalized in my “Husband” comment.

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