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93Peter in Matthew

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  • Mark Goodacre
    Feb 25, 2003
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      This is an email I sent to Synoptic-L and Larry Swain suggested that
      it might also be worth sharing it here. I would be very grateful if
      anyone has any thoughts about this. In particular, I'm interested to
      know if this has been discussed specifically by anyone before.
      Thanks, Mark.

      A thought occurred to me in some off-line correspondence with Eric
      Eve, something that is informed by earlier disussions I've had with
      Stephen Carlson -- but developing those conversations a little. Mary Ann
      Tolbert famously talks about the rocky ground (PETRWDES) in Mark's Parable
      of the Sower as predicting and illuminating Peter's behaviour in Mark's
      Gospel. Now, the material in Mark's Parable of the Sower here occurs
      almost verbatim also in Matthew:

      "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the one
      who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has
      no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction
      or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away"
      (Matt. 13.20-21; very close to Mark 4.16-17).

      It occurs to me that this description fits very closely with
      Matthew's depiction of Peter. In the Walking on the Water (Matt.
      14.22-33), Peter's immediate enthusiasm is clear -- he ventures forth on
      the water, is temporarily successful, but then literarally falls away
      (Matt. 14.30-31). Likewise in Matt. 16, he initially enthusiastically
      confesses Jesus as Messiah, is commended for it, but subsequently stumbles
      when talk of persecution arises, he is rebuked by Jesus as a SKANDALON
      (Matt. 16.21-23). And of course in the Passion, as in Mark, he initially
      hears the word with joy (Matt. 26.33-35) but subsequently indeed falls
      away by denying Jesus (Matt. 26.69-75).

      If anything, the pattern in Matthew of Peter fulfilling the behaviour of
      the "rocky ground" in the Sower is even stronger than in Mark, not least
      with redactional additions at key moments to illustrate the "receiving
      with joy" element, as well as underlining Mark's SKANDALON / SKANDALIZOMAI
      theme. I suspect that this is a good example of Matthew picking up on one
      of Mark's literary themes and underlining it, developing it, nuancing it
      -- as with his treatment of the John the Bapstist / Elijah theme (as I
      argued at last year's SBL). Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Has
      anyone commented on this before?


      Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@...
      Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
      University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 4381
      Birmingham B15 2TT UK

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