Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle

Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle

Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle

Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle


"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my community."
-- Matthew 16:18, author's translation

Given that Peter fades from view halfway through the book of Acts and that he left no gospel account in his name, it is tempting for many biblical scholars to dismiss him as a vague figure in Christian history and downplay his influence in the early church.

Martin Hengel rejects this underestimation of the apostle and argues that Peter was in fact the Rock, central to the development of both the Jewish and the Gentile Christian communities. Hengel clearly shows how each of the four gospels specifically highlights Peter's foundational role. He considers what Peter's message must have been as an eyewitness of Christ, reflects on Peter's theology, and draws attention to Peter's work as an organizer and mission strategist. Hengel also examines the contributions of married apostles -- like Peter -- and their family communities to the rapid and enduring spread of the Christian message.


What a joy to have been able to translate this book about the apostle Peter for Professor Hengel! I am honored that Eerdmans Publishing Company asked me to do this project.

Professor Hengel is certainly a most respected scholar. He was a humble man as well. My wife, Kathy, and I were privileged to meet Professor and Mrs. Hengel at their home in Tübingen in the spring of 2007. They received us most graciously. I was stunned by the personal library that he had, with books filling almost every space, floor to ceiling, and then going around the corner into his personal study and beyond that into the anteroom, which was filled with virtually all the Greek and Latin works of the Loeb Classical Library. His wife shared with Kathy that he frequently worked late into the evening, even though he had recently celebrated his eightieth birthday. He was proud to tell me that this book was given as a gift to Pope Benedict xvi, who, like Hengel, had taught in Tübingen, when the pope paid an official visit to the country of his birth.

Professor Hengel was able to see this translation before it was edited. He and Prof. Christoph Schaefer, his assistant at the time, were both most helpful in answering all the questions that I posed about technical matters and how to render certain terms. We even discussed the best way to translate the title, and I of course followed his suggestion.

I also want to thank Craig Noll, who has been a wonderful, detailoriented editor for this volume. He has improved the flow of the translation throughout. We enjoyed detailed discussions about concepts behind words, and I am most appreciative.

I am grateful for the support given to me by Concordia University and by Emmaus Lutheran Church, both in St. Paul, Minnesota, the set-

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