Review: Peter in Early Christianity

26029085Peter in Early Christianity edited by Helen K. Bond and Larry W. Hurtado is a compilation of the nineteen essays presented at a 2013 conference organized by the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh. The contributors to this volume include internationally recognized scholars of early Christian history, such as Jonathan W. Lo, John R. Markley, Margaret H. Williams, Paul A. Hartog, Willaim Rutherford, and much more.

Larry Hurtado opens the volume with an excellent essay surveying Petrine scholarship within Protestant Christianity. Hurtado’s focus is on the works of three influential scholars from the mid-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: Oscar Cullmann, Martin Hengel, and Markus Bockmuehl. It is here that Hurtado exposes the reader to the apostle Peter as a topic of serious historical and scholarly consideration within the Protestant tradition—a consideration that is more concerned with historical knowledge than ecclesiastical polemics.

The essays that follow are loosely organized in chronological order and divided into three major sections. The first five essays in the volume seek to contribute to a historical portrait of Peter. Margaret H. Williams essay on the various names associated with Peter was among the best in this initial section. Williams analyzes Jewish onomastic practices and connects such practice to the different names given to Peter in the gospels. Timothy Barnes also has a compelling essay on Peter’s death and the tradition of Peter being crucified. Barnes makes a compelling case from John 21:18-19 that Peter was burned alive, not crucified.

The next five essays are focused on Peter in the New Testament. While all five of the essays are extremely crucial to the overall scope Petrine studies, Jason Sturdevant’s contribution on the character of Peter in the Fourth Gospel was among the best. The final group of essays is the most thought-provoking in the entire book and is certain to encourage additional research. These essays are collectively aimed at examining Peter in the early Christian tradition. Lastly, the volume concludes with a noteworthy essay by Markus Bockmuehl in which he examines Peter within the works of the Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Peter in Early Christianity edited by Helen K. Bond and Larry W. Hurtado is an outstanding collection of essays, that, in many ways, tread on unchartered territory within Petrine studies. This is a book that will broaden your horizon and encourage your understanding of one of the most influential figures of early Christianity. The scope of essays included are comprehensive and detailed, and the organization is appropriately presented. If you are interested in the person and influence of Peter within the early Christian movement, Peter in Early Christianity is a one stop volume that will point you in several right directions. It comes highly recommended!


I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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