Friday, February 22, 2008

Bockmuehl on Paul and Peter

In chapter four of Seeing the Word, Bockmuehl looks at Peter and Paul in terms of reception and history. In Patristic literature and in art up to the medieval period, Peter and Paul are depicted in unity and greeted together. In fact, in early martyrologies their deaths are often remembered together (e.g. 1 Clement 5; Ignatius Rom. 4.3; Irenaeus Haer. 3.1.1). However, historical studies since F.B. Baur have maintained that Peter and Paul largely went their separate ways and were in competition with each other until "early catholocisim" got the parties back together (though note that early on some sober voices like B. Weiss and T. Zahn heavily cautioned against Baur's take on this). Bockmuehl draws on a wonderful insight of Eduard Lohse that much of the characterizations of Peter vs. Paul seem to assume that Protestantism is a branch of Paulinism and catholicism is a branch of Petrinism. In my book, SROG, I find compare Crosan/Reed with Heyden to much the same effect. Bockmuehl notes that, historically, Peter and Paul probably had a lot more in common than what Baur, Goulder et. al. recognize. 1 Corinthians 1-4 rhetorically culminates in the theme that Paul, Apollos, and Peter are united as servants of Christ. Gal. 2.11-14 implies that Peter is lapsing in his practice on common ground shared in Christian doctrine. Petrine and Pauline perspectives can be found in both Mark and 2 Peter. In hs view, "Scripture's canonical whole bears powerful testimony to the political sophistication of the apostolic tradition that refuses ti dissovle that volatile tension between Paul and Peter by choosing between them. A sympathetic but ideologically critical reading may well ask usefully probabing questions of any attempt to take the icon, or biblical texts that it represents, merely as convenient extensions of a fiction of uncluded ecclesial harmony culminating in the observer's own community" (p. 133). According to Bockmuehl, "What chiefly divides the two apostles at Antioch is neither a matter of basic gospel doctrine nor straightforwardly of halakah, but rather the theologically and halakically articulated arbitration between different but equally passionate ecclesial loyalties to the gospel of Jesus Christ" (p. 135 - this is good stuff). In the end, Bockmuehl sees no reason why a sympathetic historical criticism could not give qualified endorsement to the patristic view.

I love that picture above and hope to put it on the cover of a book one day!

1 comment:

Richard Fellows said...


I have been thinking similar thoughts. Clement mentions Peter and Paul consecutively and with approval. Also, John-Mark and Silas/Silvanus seem to have been friends of both Peter and Paul, so it is unlikely that Peter and Paul belonged to different camps. Furthermore, as I have mentioned before, Paul mentions Peter with approval by calling him the Rock (PETROS) in connection with his apostolic role (Gal 2:7-8).

It seems that Richard I. Pervo makes the common mistake of thinking that Peter and Paul had very different views, if I have correctly understood his answer to your 7th question.

I continue to appreciate the posts on this blog.