The Peter Principle– Part Twenty Two

The Peter Principle– Part Twenty Two January 27, 2020

BEN: From a methodological point of view, I am wondering if Peter were here today and we asked him about Mark’s Gospel would he say ‘yes that’s my take on Jesus he is reporting here’ or would he say ‘texts like Mark 10.45 reflect Jesus’ own theology, not mine. I did not create this theology, I just passed it along.’ I suspect Mark would say the same thing— it was generated by Jesus, not Mark or Peter.

GENE: As we learned in Sunday School, the answer is always “Jesus!” Papias regards Mark as a fairly accurate translation of Peter’s preaching, his telling of the Jesus story. Peter offers testimony regarding Jesus’ words and deeds, interpreting them for his audience, and now, in turn, Mark offers up what Peter proclaimed regarding Jesus. So, yes, Mark 10.45 is Jesus’ understanding of the cross, but it’s Peter who picks this up and offers this interpretation of the cross of Christ to the church. We owe Peter a great debt of gratitude for being the spokesman for Jesus’ theology of the cross.

Did the gospel story originate only as a random collection of isolated pericopes or was there a coherent narrative? If the latter, then the first complete telling of that story comes from Peter, as translated and penned by Mark. Matthew and Luke used Mark as the foundation for their accounts, but in their literary imitatio they utilized a rather rough literary composition whose value was found in its source, the apostle Peter. Yet Saint Peter remains, as the late Martin Hengel said, The Underestimated Apostle. Let’s recognize once again his central role for our understanding of the gospel story and its meaning.


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