Tuesday, April 25, 2006

St. Mark the Clerk for St. Peter

St. Mark's Day has me thinking about St. Peter again, something Lutherans are customarily loath to do. I think it's Clement of Alexandria, or perhaps Eusebius, or Papias, or a few of these, who made the claim that St. Mark was the writer for St. Peter. It's pretty much accepted, I believe. That makes the second Gospel in effect Peter's Gospel. But why, we must ask, did not Peter write it himself? Who knows, but maybe it's because the Apostolic Band deemed that he, as the primus inter pares, ought to have someone writing things down for him, that he may attend to the matters which pressed upon his greater episcopacy. On the other hand, he did write epistles on his own. But maybe the Gospel of Mark is nevertheless a bit of evidence of the Apostolic primacy of Peter.

Why, for that matter, did St. John wait when he got to the tomb, for Peter to go in first? Same thing.

I don't mean to take things too far, as Rome certainly has, but there is something to be said for this. There is plenty of evidence for this primacy thing. And I think we Lutherans are sometimes afraid of discussing it at all. Historians know it's true. What can we learn from it? I'll be away from my desk for a few days, so I'll open this up for discussion if anyone's interested, and then come back and see whether anyone is.


Lawrence said...

I did not know all of these details about Mark and Peter.

I do know that Jesus told Peter that he would be the rock on which the church was built.

Peter also generally represented the senior (informal if-you-will) leader of the disciples. I've always assumed that Peter was the oldest disciple. While Paul has never been associated directly within that first group of 12. But rather a follower of that first group of 12. (11 as the case may be).

I know that some believe Paul is the 'new' 12th disciple after Judas' betrayal. But I tend not to embrace this view.

It has always been my opinion that Paul (while a great teacher, writer, and even evangelist) never held a phisical leadership role over any specific group of Christians in the way Peter did.

I'm not sure that Paul was ever even considered a Pastor over a congregation. While Peter remained the senior group leader of the disciples and therefore the defacto physical leader of the early church. As such, it make sense that younger disciples would choose to assist Peter in his efforts.

Am I off base here?

Father Eckardt said...

I do not believe that the primacy of Peter among the other disciples had to do with his age. There is no indication I am aware of, either biblically or historically, that he was necessarily the oldest. His primacy was nevertheless acknowledged by Jesus Himself, particularly when Jesus said to him, "Satan has asked to sift you (plural) as wheat, but when thou (singular) art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

Lawrence said...

Hmm... so once Peter finally made up his mind he was the most stubborn about changing it? I wonder if Peter had any German blood in him...
Probably not.

I suspect Peter was one of those natural leader types that other people inherently trust and respect.

Peter said...

In fact, Andrew, first a disciple of John the Baptist, was probably older than Peter.