Over the past week, we have heard a great deal about Jesus’s Resurrection, open tombs, and Jerusalem gardens, and the same topics will dominate the lectionary readings and sermons for next Sunday. Here is another view of the story. I want to suggest that we actually possess an alternative version of the very earliest story of a Resurrection appearance, and we don’t have to go some fringe source or “Gnostic Gospel” to find it. It’s hidden in plain sight. And you already know the story very well indeed.Maybe. I'm skeptical.
- Paul's account (1 Corinthians 15:5) says that Jesus appeared first to Cephas (Peter) and then to the Twelve. All versions of the walking-on-water story (Mark 6:47-51, Matthew 14:22-33, John 6:16-21) have him appearing to the disciples, with Peter presumably among them. Only Matthew singles him out. This does not sound like the appearance to Peter alone implied by Paul.
- If the walking-on-water episode was originally the resurrection appearance to Peter, why does Matthew alone mention him? Why did Mark and John ignore Peter, the star of the story?
- Elsewhere Matthew increases Peter's role in a story (Mark 8:27-30 // Matthew 16:13-22). It seems more plausible to me that he is doing that again in the walking-on-water story, rather than Mark and John having a diluted version of the story that dropped both the resurrection element and the centrality of Peter.
- The miscellaneous parallels to resurrection stories are mostly thematic rather than verbal. And note that in Mark's story of the calming of the Sea of Galilee (4:35-41), he says to the disciples, "Why are you afraid? Do you have no faith?" (v.40). These are not sentiments limited to the resurrection narratives, unless you want to argue that this story too is a misplaced resurrection narrative.
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