The Portrayal Of Peter And Atonement Theology In The Gospel Of John -- By: Timothy Wiarda

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 21:4 (NA 2011)
Article: The Portrayal Of Peter And Atonement Theology In The Gospel Of John
Author: Timothy Wiarda


The Portrayal Of Peter And Atonement Theology In The Gospel Of John

Timothy Wiarda

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Three scenes in the Gospel of John, the foot-washing episode (13:2–11), the narrative of the denial prediction (13:33–38), and the account of Peter cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant (18:8–11), characterize Peter as one who resists the idea that Jesus should take up the role of good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. These scenes link with the Gospel’s ὑπέρ texts. Their consistent portrayal of Peter forms part of the Gospel’s presentation of the significance of Jesus’ death.

Key Words: atonement, characterization, death, Gospel of John, Johannine, Peter

Author’s note: An earlier version of this article was presented at the Tyndale Fellowship New Testament Study Group, Cambridge, July 2007.

Introduction

The Fourth Gospel’s presentation of Jesus’ death has continued to arouse interest and debate in recent years.1 At the same time, narrative methodologies have begun to exert increasing influence on the interpretation of John’s Gospel.2 This article seeks to bring these centers of interest together by looking closely at how the Gospel’s portrayal of Peter contributes

to its message about the meaning of Jesus’ death. It begins with a narrative analysis of three Johannine scenes involving Peter: the foot-washing episode (13:2–11), the narrative of the denial prediction (13:33–38), and the account of Peter’s cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant (18:8–11). I will try to show that these episodes are bound together by sharing a distinctive pattern of characterization in which Peter combines devotion to Jesus with resistance to the idea that Jesus should take up the role of good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. In a second part of the study, I wish to consider how this pattern functions rhetorically in relation to John’s theology of the cross.

Three Peter Episodes

The motif described above, in which Peter combines devotion to Jesus with resistance to Jesus’ self-giving on his behalf, dominates John’s narratives of the foot-washing, th...

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