Monday, December 10, 2007

Did Jesus Baptize Peter?

The words of St. Clement of Alexandria are preserved in the following passage (the original work which the author is quoting no longer exists):

Yes, truly, the apostles were baptised, as Clement the Stromatist relates in the fifth book of the Hypotyposes. For, in explaining the apostolic statement,"I thank God that I baptised none of you," he says, Christ is said to have baptised Peter alone, and Peter Andrew, and Andrew John, and they James and the rest.
John 3:22
After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.
Whereas John 4:2 says:
although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
Especially given 3:22, John 4:2 doesn't seem to completely disprove the possibility of Jesus baptizing Peter if it was indeed only Peter whom He baptized and for specific theological reasons. Yet this is the earliest mention I know of such a tradition (CofA) probably around 200 AD. So the tradition obviously extends well into the second century if not earlier. We have to ask ourselves why the tradition exists. Was it true or merely theologically charged legend invented by the early Church? If it is true then it would fit well theologically with Matthew 16:18 (let's not forget the first disciple was Andrew not Peter) but even if false it would reflect a theological motive in the very primitive Church to set Peter apart from the rest of the apostles in not merely an honorific way.

1 comment:

Rusty T said...

that's a very interesting quote from Clement. Thanks for the post.