Book Notice: Martin Hengel, Saint Peter

Martin Hengel
Saint Peter: The Undestimated Apostle
Trans. Thomas H. Trapp
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010.
Available at Amazon.com

This book, I believe to be Martin Hengel’s last volume before his death (at least in English), is divided into two parts. (1) Peter the Rock, Paul, and the Gospel Tradition; and (2) The Family of Peter and Other Apostolic Families. The end of part 1 includes ten theses about Peter:

1. In Matthean tradition, Peter is the “authoritative, unique person in the circle of the Twelve”.
2. Peter’s nickname Kepha goes back to Jesus himself and means “rock” or “rock fragments”.
3. The petros/petra play on words was used by Hellenist in Jerusalem.
4. In hindsight, Peter is the rock, not simply in light of the function that he has in the early community, but with respect to his entire call, ministry, and martyrdom.
5.  Peter played a decisive role in the Jerusalem phase of the new messianic movement, but later took on an increasing role with Jews outside of Eretz Israel.
6. Peter supported the Gentile mission, but later in Antioch, due to pressure faced by Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, Peter deferred to James’ judgment that Jewish Christians should separate from common meals.
7. Peter became increasingly active in missionary work to Jews and Gentiles.
8.  Peter was an “empowered guarantor of traditions about Jesus” and was a key source of Mark’s Gospel.
9. Though Peter was not a trained scribe, he was still a theologically power thinker, proclaimer, and organizer. “The Christological-soteriological bases of the Christian kerygma, which developed astoundingly quickly right after Easter, as well as the early Christian ethos, could not have come into existence without Peter’s considerable influence”.
10. “Both Peter and Paul were premier – in fact, unique – early Christian teachers; we thank both of them for the decisive content of their apostolic witness, which Paul conveys by means of his letters and which Peter provides for us through the Synoptic Gospels, especially Mark and Matthew.”

A good read on Peter. Though I’d also recommend Markus Bockmuehl’s The Remembered Peter in Ancient Reception and Modern Debate.

Watch out for this volume in honor of Martin Hengel: Michael Bird and Jason Maston (eds.), Earliest Christian History: History, Literature, and Theology. Essays from the Tyndale Fellowship in Honor of Martin Hengel. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming 2012.


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