“Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene, the Followers of Jesus in History and Legend.”
In “Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene, the Followers of Jesus in History and Legend.” Bart D. Ehrman features three most influential people who have significantly contributed in the development of Christian history. Bart portrays Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene as prominent figures after Jesus. This book portrays the history and the myths in the three characters featured. I realize that the author has discussed ways in which the three characters have been featured in the New Testament, the apocryphal, Gnostic and the history. I also realize that Peter experiences many hardships that contribute in fulfilling the significant responsibilities of the leading disciples. This includes the head of Jerusalem Church and the Gentiles Converter. On the other hand, Paul only possesses only seven out of t he thirteen epistles ascribed too him. These are Romans, Galatians, I Thessalonians, Philemon, Philippians, II Corinthians and I.
I realize that Peter and Paul frequently feature in the New Testament while Mary Magdalene features only once. She is featured before Jesus’ crucifixion. However, she plays a vital role. This is because she is the first person to spread the news about the resurrection of Jesus. I agree with the author on the idea that Mary Magdalene can be referred to as the person who contributed to the beginning of Christianity. This is because; a study of all the gospels does not reveal any evidence of having an intimate relationship with Jesus. Simon peter was the head of the disciples and acted as the right hand of Jesus. Paul, on the other hand, was the best missionary and theologian in the Christian churches after the death of Jesus. Mary Magdalene was one of the closest followers of Jesus among the women (Bart, 3).
I find peter to be a strong believer of Jesus. He is the only disciple that was able to perform miracles after the death of Jesus. Peter was a great believer and due to this, he could perform healing prayers for the sick. He even performed miracles like raising the dead back to life. I think that peter inspires many people to believe in God. His miracle performance contributed in turning pagans and other non-believes to God. In trying to persuade the pagans, he raises a boy from the dead. He does this in the presence of many witnesses who are non-believers. In addition, he raises Tabitha from the dead. This act takes place in the town of Joppa located in the eastern coast of Mediterranean. From all these miracles, I find peter to be a determined person. He could go to considerable lengths just to convince people to be believers of Jesus.
In Rome, he was determined to convince people that the God he worshipped was a deserving God. Even when he was asked to prove this, he was not afraid of failing to convince the people. He performed the miracles and always succeeded due to his belief in God. In Rome, he makes an already smoked Tuna fish swim in water. Most of the people that witnessed the miracles performed by Peter followed him and became believers of God. From the scriptures, I realize that Peter’s belief grew so strong that he did not need to touch people in order to heal them. He was able to heal people just by passing near them on a sunny day. During the sunny days, his shadow cured the sick. In addition, I find Peter to be the only person who could speak his mind amongst all the disciples. He was also the one who was constantly admonished for thinking wrong things. He is also portrayed as a stubborn character, in addition to being a strong believer of Christ. Therefore, from Peter I learn that God does exist and that everything is possible when a person believes in God since his belief enabled him to perform miracles (Markham, 210).
I realize that Simon Peter has been constantly featured in the early human surviving. Today, the surviving facts can be related to Peter’s situation. I find his unpredictable, impulsive and hesitant character to be a significant contribution to his survival. Most of God’s followers have different characters. I realize that most people including me, just as Peter have always been reluctant to turn to God and believe in Him. They have always been hesitant to give their lives to God. Most people today can relate to Peter. Just like Peter, they are kind and eager to please. However, when it comes to hard times, they become unreliable. Peter was willing to die for Jesus, but when the time came for him to perform the act, he denied Jesus not just one time but three times. Therefore, due to this act, I agree with the author on his idea that Peter had a willing spirit but a weak flesh. This character is evident in most of the Christians around the world today.
Among the followers of Jesus, I mostly identify with Peter. Peter had a stubborn character. He had his own view concerning Jesus. He believed that Jesus was the messiah. He did not agree with Mark on the idea that Jesus was a suffering messiah, not a glorious and powerful one. Therefore, when Jesus tells the disciples about the suffering he is going to go through, Peter disagrees with Jesus on this since according to Him; Jesus is the messiah and therefore, should not suffer and die. However, Jesus notices that Peter does not understand him. Therefore, I can relate to Peter because just like him, I find it hard at times to understand the bible. I always have my own opinion whether wrong or right and interpretation of the bible. In addition, I also voice my opinions on the bible scriptures and ask questions. However, this does not affect my belief in God, but it strengthens my belief just like Peter (Osborne, Mullholland, & Phillip, 33).
In all the Gospels that feature Peter, Peter’s unreliable character is portrayed when he denies Jesus. This is ironic since he swore to remain loyal to Jesus even if it could cause his death. He ascertained that he is willing to be imprisoned and killed for Jesus’ sake. Even when Jesus foretells Peter’s denial, Peter disapproves of this idea. This incident makes me realize my relation to Peter. Just like Peter, I am afraid of the thought of death. Despite being a strong Christian, I will also shy from the idea of facing death due to knowing Christ. When Peter was asked if he knew Jesus, he denied knowing him in his presence. After this, he felt guilty for doing this and left with bitter tears cursing his inability to stay firm like a rock. Therefore, just like Peter, most Christians are likely to react like him in such situations including me. Most of the Christians words do not comply with their actions just like Peter who swore not to deny Jesus but acted otherwise.
Like Peter, I realize that I find it difficult to remain faithful and ensure satisfaction of my religious commitments. It is always easy to want to be faithful. However, it is hard to maintain the faithfulness and ensure the attainment of the goal. Example, it is always easy to decide to fast but hard to ensure its completion due to the temptation that is caused by hunger. It is also easy to make a promise to God but hard to ensure fulfillment of the promise. It is also easy to remain religious when everything seems to be going well but hard when things get rough. I realize that just like me, Peter portrayed the same characters. When with Jesus, he was quick to defend him and always at his side. He always cursed the thought of ever betraying or denying him. Even when he was told by Jesus himself that he was going to deny him, he did not agree with the idea. Instead, he promised that he would never do such an evil act. However, at the end he did not fulfill the promise of never denying him (Kraus & Tobias, 67).
In spreading the word of God, Peter was always successful. He always ensured to be truthful in passing God’s message. His belief made him sure of the message he passed. In addition to making people believe the good news, he also had strong belief in it. He was confident during his events with the non-believers and always ensured to satisfy their thoughts and questions. Due to all this, I feel he greatly succeeded in his work of establishing the Christian church to a common group of believers after the death of Jesus. For this reason, he is referred to as the rock. From this, I feel I can relate to Peter. This is because, as a Christian, I always ensure to share true information concerning the word of God. I always support my information with proof. I practice honesty in the sharing of the information and ensure other people do so too. This always ensures success in making people understand God’s word.
Peter always accompanied his preaching with evidence. He gave evidence of being familiar with Jesus Christ. He always showed the people that he has been filled with the Holy Spirit. This enabled people to believe him. They believed that he had been sent by God. In order to prove to the people that the message he spread about Christ was true, he performed miracles. Peter brought the dead to life. This is evident from the scripture when he brought the only son of a certain woman from the dead in front of many people. He also brought a Christian woman from the dead after being called by the disciples to perform the miracle. In addition to this, he also made a smoked fish swim in water. This made many witnesses to these miracles follow him and to believe in God. I realize my relation with Peter after reading about all these activities. Just like Peter, I prefer proving the message I share about God. However in this case, I will not perform miracles like Peter but then, I will refer the news I share to the bible.
I realize that, despite the fact that Peter was ignorant, he was able to spread the word of God with success. God always instructs the ignorant and the unlearned to spread the news about him to the wise. However, Peter’s ignorance did not hinder the sharing of the message. Despite the ignorance, he was able to spread the good news successful. Peter was a confident person. He did not use his ignorance as an excuse of not spreading the word of God. The Jews went to schools to obtain knowledge about Christ. In addition, they were taught to speak in tongues and about the Holy Spirit. However, Peter was better than the Jews who went to school and succeeded in getting many Christ followers than them. His determination made him achieve this. I am also a confident person just as Peter. I realize that I am a determined Christian who has great belief in Christ. I therefore ensure to make people believe in him and worship him just as Peter (Bart, 12).
Every disciple of Jesus has always portrayed different characters. These characters relate to different Christians today. However, most people relate to Peter. Peter’s inconsistent, unreliable and determined character is evident in many Christians. However, in my opinion, it is human nature for Christians to break their promises with God due to their characters. Most Christians are always quick to show their belief in God through their words but not through their actions. Despite the fact that Peter performed miracles and convinced the people to turn to God, he also had the great weaknesses that most Christians have today. From all this, I also learn that the bible not only spreads the word of God but also portrays the strengths and weaknesses in the characters of the disciple.
Ehrman, Bart D. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Print.
Kraus, Thomas J, and Tobias Nicklas. New Testament Manuscripts: Their Texts and Their World. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Print.
Markham, Ian. “Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: the Followers of Jesus in History and Legend” Reviews in Religion & Theology. 14.2 (2007): 209-211. Print.
Osborne, Grant R, M R. Mullholland, and Philip W. Comfort. James, one & 2 Peter, Jude. Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011. Print.
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