We are about to go into our winter break, but I will be teaching the following classes next semester. First, I will be teaching the unit Early New Testament Church, which is an introductory survey of the New Testament books from Acts to Revelation. I always teach this unit in the second semester and the unit Jesus and the Gospels in the first semester. Second, I will be teaching an exegetical unit on the epistle to the Hebrews. During the last time I did this unit three years ago, I wrote a number of blog posts on the authorship (external and internal evidence), date, audience, genre, and outline of the book. I also have my introductory post on Hebrews and have linked to a few Jewish scholars who have engaged the issue of supersessionistic interpretations of Hebrews. Finally, I am teaching a new graduate level on New Testament Christology. My initial lectures will focus on whether “monotheism” is an accurate term for Second Temple Jewish views in the Roman period before exploring the various intermediary agents (e.g., divine hypostases, principal angels, exalted humans) and the Christological beliefs and worship practices in the New Testament and their influence on subsequent Christological systems of thought during the Patristic period. I am always looking for input on expanding my bibliography on this subject.
My Review of Robert Gundry’s Second Edition of “Peter: False Disciple and Apostate according to Saint Matthew”
My review of Robert H. Gundry, Peter: False Disciple and Apostate according to Saint Matthew (2nd ed.; Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2018) has just been published for the Review of Biblical Literature. It is too bad that it is behind a paywall to access it. There was quite a lot of discussion about Gundry’s book when it was first published in 2015 and, in addition to the two RBL reviews commissioned for it, one can read various reviews online from Mark Sargent, J. Andrew Doole, Larry W. Hurtado, Philip J. Long, Michael Bird, John Court, Kevin B. Emmert, and so on. One can see Robert Gundry’s responses to these reviews here, here, and here. My review notes some of Gundry’s responses in his “Addendum: Responses to Reviews” (pp. 120-130). Some of the blog reviews that I have not linked to are more polemical due to the bloggers’ various stances of scriptural inerrancy, but I think Gundry’s arguments need to be evaluated on the basis of their exegetical merits and then one can work out how to deal with the theological issues over the diverse portraits of Peter in the canon. Gundry is a talented exegete and has advanced an impressive case for his thesis that Matthew portrays Peter as a damned apostate based on the Gospel writer’s editing of Mark’s Gospel and unique material, but I continue to find his case unconvincing.
I would grant, after reading this book, that there may be more continuity between the Gospels of Mark and Matthew in their portrayals of Peter as a fallible follower. But I am not persuaded by his argument that Matthew refused to issue an explicit condemnation of Peter due to Jesus’s command to not judge others and to let God sort out the wheat from the weeds in the kingdom (cf. Matt 13:24-30), even while choosing to retain the negative judgements about Judas from his Markan source (i.e. Mark 3:19/Matt 10:4; Mark 14:21/Matt 26:24). I consider some of his arguments for downplaying the positive assessments of Peter in Matthew’s Gospel (e.g., Matt 16:16-17), and exaggerating the negative features of Matthew’s characterization of Peter (e.g., Matthew 14:28-32), to be strained. Indeed, I found Gundry’s paralleling of Peter and Judas to be instructive and would reach a very different conclusion from it, in that it seems to me that Matthew may have subtly rehabilitated both individuals in depicting their genuine contrition after their failures (Matt 26:75; 27:3-5) and retaining the prophecy of all twelve sitting on twelve thrones in the new eschatological age (Matt 19:28; cf. Luke 22:30). It is not clear to me that Peter’s denials of Jesus “before all” (cf. Matt 10:33) is an irreversible act of apostasy and that the presence of “some who doubted” among the eleven (Matt 28:17) signals that there were false disciples among the eleven who were restored by the risen Jesus and commissioned for ministry. Finally, I find Gundry’s extrapolations that Matthew’s Gospel can be dated before Peter’s martyrdom and could be aligned with Paul’s critique of Peter in the controversy over table fellowship at Antioch (cf. Gal 2:11-14) to be problematic.
For more details, check out my review. I would still recommend this book as a brilliantly-argued case for a controversial thesis and an excellent example of redaction criticism.