Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - Part 16

Click here for the (continually updated) series outline.

Chapter 7 (final post).

The characterization of Peter in Mark

Again building on Wiarda’s work, Bauckham develops his argument further in relation to the characterisation of Peter in Mark. While careful to admit the exaggerations of some of those involved and social-scientific study of the NT, particularly as it relates to the ancient Mediterranean ‘group-orientated’ personality, Bauckham can nevertheless affirm that this coheres with his own emphasis on the tension between Peter’s individuality and typicality in Mark. This means that an appreciation of the importance of Peter in the Gospel can only be undertaken when due consideration is given to the different (auto)biographical strategies of the ancient authors. When this is recognised it can be asserted, given that characterisation was achieved through the relaying of the words and actions of a person (not psychological introspection), that Peter is the mostly fully characterised character in Mark’s Gospel apart from Jesus.

However, the characterisation of Peter in Mark is not static, Peter changes as he experiences various crises and events. The argument that the polemic apparently against Peter in the Gospel should be taken as evidence Peter himself couldn’t have had a hand in the Gospel is arguably soundly refuted by Bauckham, and the reader or hearer is encouraged to ‘sympathize and identify’ with Peter, ‘further promoting that focalization or seeing from Peter’s perspective’.

Much of the data relevant to Bauckham’s arguments are collected in large tables at the end of chapters. The full weight of his arguments cannot be appreciated without consulting them. Nevertheless, clarity is not sacrificed in the process, and in this chapter Bauckham unravels important exegetical arguments in favour of an appreciation of Peter as the Markan Gospel’s main eyewitness such that while the Gospel of Mark is no ‘mere transcript of Peter’s teaching’, ‘Mark has deliberately designed the Gospel in such a way that it incorporates and conveys this Petrine perspective’.


This important chapter has built an impressive case in favour of Bauckham’s overall thesis., while at the same time making original and creative contributions to Markan scholarship.

So end the more extensive chapter summaries of Bauckham’s work. In the following I will attempt to keep it to one post per chapter.

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