Bauckham, Richard. “Chapter 7, The Petrine Perspective in the Gospel of Mark.” Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.” Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006, pp. 155-182.
Bauckham, recalling his earlier discussion of the inclusio suggesting that Peter was the main source for material, asks if the text has other features which may reveal a Petrine perspective (Bauckham 2006, 155). Bauckham notes that much current scholarship has disputed Paipas’ testimony and is therefore unwilling to grant that he may have reached any correct conclusions. Therefore, the case deserves careful and unbiased investigation (Bauckham 2006, 156). As a foundation for his analysis, Bauckham uses a 1925 article by Cuthbert Turner which observes a plural verb describing “movements of Jesus and his disciples, followed immediately by a singular verb or pronoun referring to Jesus alone” (Bauckham 2006, 156, see C.H. Turner, “Marcan Usage: Notes Critical and Exegetical, on the Second Gospel V. The Movements of Jesus and His Disciples and the Crowd” JTS 26 (1925) 225-40).
In effect, Mark frequently uses a plural verb indicating the motion of a group. He then follows it immediately with a statement about Jesus doing something. In the passages with Synoptic parallels, Matthew and Luke do this rarely. The passages further tend to have variant readings in which the plurals are “corrected” (Bauckham 2006, 157). Turner takes this as an indication that Mark’s Gospel has elements of narrative testimony of an eyewitness preacher, while Matthew and Luke are more similar to accounts written as history (Bauckham 2006, 158). Particularly, in Mark 1:29, the use of “they” in the clause “they left the synagogue” is clumsy in context. However, if the word “we” were substituted, it would no longer seem clumsy and would seem very much like a story told by Peter, one of the participants in the actions (Bauckham 2006, 159). In many of Mark’s passages which use this feature, soe disciples including Peter are named, otherwise the passages seem to refer to the Twelve, without providing names.
Bauckham also observes that this grammatical feature is used deliberately by Mark. The first and last occurrences refer to Jesus moving with the Twelve. The first is almost immediately after the double reference to Peter in chapter one, and it is then used shortly afterward in references to Peter. The last use is followed by multiple references to Peter (Bauckham 2006, 162). Bauckham considers this narrative device to deliberately focus attention on Peter (Bauckham 2006, 163).
Because Bauckham has concluded that Mark intentionally focuses attention on Peter, he seeks to understand Peter’s role in Mark’s Gospel. To do so, Bauckham analyzes a number of passages in which Peter speaks or acts apparently as a representative of the disciples who are present. It is evident, however, that Peter’s speeches and the responses recorded do ot always apply equally to the group of disciples as a whole. For instance, in Gethsemane, when Jesus awakens Peter, James, and John, Peter is first and Jesus’ words seem closely related to Peter’s zeal expressed earlier and to Jesus’ prediction that Peter would deny him (Bauckham 2006, 166). Bauckham concludes that Mark’s Gospel normally portrays Peter as the disciple who speaks out, hoping he is the spokesman for the disciples but sometimes going astray. He is presented as showing individuality from within the group in a way none of the other disciples do (Bauckham 2006, 168). His failures are noteworthy, going beyond those of the other disciples. Yet Bauckham points out his restoration is also pictured as complete, even being foreshadowed by the angel in mark 16:7 (Bauckham 2006, 170).
Some scholars have noted that Mark’s Gospel has very little material which gives biographical information about Peter. We find out mostly about what Jesus says or does rather than about Peter. Bauckham considers this to be an indication of Mark’s purpose, as well as a suggestion that Peter considered Jesus’ role, rather than his own, to be of importance (Bauckham 2006, 172). Yet Peter is not without characterization in Mark. Peter shows initiative, self-confidence, and appears as a well-meaning but impulsive individual (Bauckham 2006, 175). Rather than portraying Peter in a negative light, Mark makes him a sympathetic character. Bauckham finds that Mark wants us to feel sorry for Peter when things go badly (Bauckham 2006, 176).
Bauckham concludes that Mark focuses our attention on Jesus as the subject of the Gospel and on Peter as the most important eyewitness source. He primarily tells the story from Peter’s perspective (Bauckham 2006, 179).