A little background information regarding my last blog post
First off, let me dispel the idea that I think the story of Jesus was masterminded by Simon Peter. This is not the case.
What appealed to me about "Simon's Story" was that it is a frame narrative about a frame narrative. It is a story about Simon, who made a story about a guy called Jesus, and in the story of Jesus ... is Simon. That appealed to me.
But, just like Simon's story, I want to emphasise my story's message. The message of Simon's story is, "Love your neighbour". In other words, treat other people with the respect and care and compassion that you would wish they treat you. The message of my story is, "The message of the story is more important than the story itself."
Having said that, my story does make reference to several interesting people:
Simon Peter and his brother Andrew probably did grow up on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Peter became the first bishop of Rome. He was crucified by Emperor Nero, who had blamed the great fire of Rome on the Christians. Peter chose to be crucified upside down.
Tradition holds that his brother Andrew founded the Holy See of Constantinople, although he was not their bishop, and that was also crucified, and is said to have chosen a different kind of cross (an x-shaped cross) in deference to Jesus.
Hillel the Elder would have been old, but he was a contemporary of Jesus, Peter and Andrew. He was born in Babylon, and he died in 10 A.D. Matthew 10:37-40 has Jesus saying, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." This is very similar to the statement of Hillel for which he was famous, and which is given in Simon's Story.
"The Law" refers to the Torah, which corresponds to the first five books of the Bible, and "the Prophets" refers to the Nevi'im, the books of the Bible pertaining to the prophets.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a Babylonian epic poem. It is about the friendship between King Gilgamesh and a man called Enkidu, and about Gilgamesh's grief after the death of Enkidu. It includes a character called Utnapishtim, who is immortal, and the sole survivor of the Great Flood. It was written centuries before the book of Genesis. The Encyclopedia Brittanica and Wikipedia articles highlight different and interesting aspects of Utnapishtim.
The virginity of Mary is an interesting one. The Christian tradition descends from a Greek translation of earlier documents, called the Septuagint. It was translated in Alexandria between the third and first centuries B.C. The Jewish tradition descends from the Masoretic Text, copies of earlier documents, between the seventh and tenth centuries A.D. But because they are copies, not translations, they are more accurate, and comparison with other documents bares this out. While the apostles had access the the Septuagint, Old Testament translations are based on the Masoretic Text. There is a nice summary at Yahoo Answers.
The virginity of Mary is based on the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:14, a prophesy given to King Ahaz in which a young woman gives birth to a son called Immanuel. The Hebrew word is "young woman", but the Septuagint translation is "virgin". You can find more information at the Wikipedia entry for Isaiah 7:14.
Also quite interesting is how reference to Peter's death in the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John was written by a community of Christians called the Johannine Community who traced their traditions to the Apostle John, and the text reached the version we know today in about 90 - 100 A.D.. Some historians assert that chapter 21, in which Jesus foretells Peter's death, was added later. You can find more information at the Wikipedia entry on the Gospel of John, and the entry on John 21.