In the famous and much disputed passage in Matthew's gospel, Jesus says (to 'Simon whom he surnamed Peter'): 'You are Rock,...



In the famous and much disputed passage in Matthew's gospel, Jesus says (to 'Simon whom he surnamed Peter'): 'You are Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Church.'"" Dr. Pittenger, citing the Greek petra (cephas in Hebrew), manages one of his several philological revelations -- ""The point here is a pun."" Later on, however, in treating of Peter as Head of the Church (and simultaneously raising, if not quite resolving, the question of Papal authority and centrality -- this insofar as the Pope is conceived as 'successor to Peter'), he resurrects and importantly reconciles the theological controversy over those words: was Jesus addressing, as some Catholic dogma has claimed, Peter's faith? or rather, per Protestant emphasis, Peter's faith? The difference of opinion is chiefly responsible for a pragmatic divergence -- the one tendency to exaggerate claims for Peter, the other to overlook or diminish his import. Dr. Pittenger determines thai ""what a man is includes what he believes and thinks and does. . . . Peter's faith and Peter's faith are inseparable."" Although the book concerns itself frequently with advancing exegeses, it rarely indulges in 'scholasticism,' the orientation being essentially historical: that is, evidence for the significance (sometimes, as in Rome, for the very presence) of Peter -- repeat, of the historical Peter -- is largely the business at hand. And Dr. Pittenger, author of Lives of Jesus and Paul (1968) in this series, has the business very well in hand, attending to modern and ancient sources at once, and also to modern (archaeological) and ancient indicators of early Judeo-Christian culture. Peter vs. Paul, Pharisees vs. Sadducees, John the Baptizer (sic) vs. Jesus Lord and Christ. . . . Such appositions/comparisons are representative of the manifold angles from which Dr. Pittenger approaches his secular apologetic -- a short, serious, non-academic projection of subject and ramifications.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1971


Page Count: -

Publisher: Watts

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1971