93Peter in Matthew
- Feb 25, 2003This 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.
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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