Saint Peter: A Biography

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Fisherman, missionary, healer, sinner, confessor, martyr, and ultimately saint, Peter has come down to us through the centuries as an astonishingly complex and multifaceted man. Despite his unique role - as the most important apostle and the head of the early Church - Peter has remained a shadowy and elusive figure. Now, in this luminous and insightful biography, rich in ambiance and detail, Michael Grant re-creates the life of one of Christianity's central icons. Grant narrates and interprets Peter's life by ...
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Overview

Fisherman, missionary, healer, sinner, confessor, martyr, and ultimately saint, Peter has come down to us through the centuries as an astonishingly complex and multifaceted man. Despite his unique role - as the most important apostle and the head of the early Church - Peter has remained a shadowy and elusive figure. Now, in this luminous and insightful biography, rich in ambiance and detail, Michael Grant re-creates the life of one of Christianity's central icons. Grant narrates and interprets Peter's life by drawing on the most recent advances in archaeology and anthropology as well as his extensive knowledge of literature, philosophy, and religion. Peter emerges as a strong and passionate leader whose complex relations with other early Christians, particularly Paul, mirrored the ferment of his times. Grant probes the traditions connecting Peter to the church at Rome, and examines the legends surrounding his martyrdom. More than just a biography, Saint Peter explores the problems and triumphs of classical scholarship and its research methods, illuminating our continuing relationship with the past. Perhaps most important, Grant provides a human dimension to the life of Peter and to our understanding of the ancient world.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a concise, sober, readable assessment of as much of the historical Peter as can be sifted from the New Testament sources. While Grant amply illustrates how deeply problematic the sources are as history, he nevertheless argues convincingly that they show that Peter's passionate faith in Jesus and his ability to hold together the disconsolate band of followers after the Crucifixion make him a truly significant historical personality. In addition to summarizing the problems for the historian in locating facts, Grant offers useful thumbnail sketches of what is known of the historical Paul and James and their testy relationships with Peter. The book, which is mercifully free of overelaborate theses, is further buttressed by 17 illustrations, two maps and extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter and at the back. There are also a table of dates, an index, a list of sources and notes. History Book Club main selection; BOMC, QPBC alternate selections. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Grant (humanity, Edinburgh Univ.) has collected what little is known about the biblical figure of Peter and shapes it into a lively, informative book. Some may object to his refusal to treat the miraculous as historical, but his insistence on historical objectivity is one of the book's many strengths. Pulling Peter out from the shadow of the apostle Paul, Grant provides a good, clear review of the available sources and a detailed historical background, making it all easy to follow. He highlights Peter's pivotal role in resuscitating Jesus' small band of followers after the crucifixion and suggests that his biblical subordination to Paul was born of the latter's jealousy. Against this, the author also reasons that James was more prominent than Peter among Jewish Christians and that Peter was more likely a missionary to Rome than the leader of that city's church. Grant wisely avoids assessing tradition's claim on Peter as the first pope, and while he admits that his book reports little not written elsewhere, his skill is in bringing so much previous scholarship together in one relatively brief volume. For subject collections.-W. Alan Froggatt, Bridgewater, Ct.
Steve Schroeder
Grant's biography of St. Peter is an interesting case study in the historical reconstruction of a character about whom there is almost no historical evidence. This life of Peter is written by a process of negation that is instructive as both a historical and a literary technique. Grant brackets legendary and mythical material, including accounts of miracles. He highlights narrative techniques available to communities with a stake in remembering Peter and, against the background of those techniques, fills in accounts of Jesus, Paul, James, and others with whom Peter was associated in his lifetime. In the midst of the bracketing, the highlighting, and the filling in, Peter emerges more as an absence than a presence. Particularly in cases where historical evidence has been suppressed for personal or political reasons, this process of negation is a creative way to encounter characters who would otherwise remain hopelessly obscure. Since that description fits virtually every life worthy of historical investigation, Grant's study is a valuable contribution to the art of biography as much as to the memory of Peter.
From Barnes & Noble
Drawing on the latest advances in archaeology and anthropology, as well as on his own extensive knowledge of the ancient world, classical historian Michael Grant narrates and interprets the life of Peter, one of the great icons of Christianity. Heroic, elusive, and enigmatic, this fisherman-turned-saint has remained more a figure of legend than of history, despite his "visibility" as Jesus's favored apostle and the first Pope of the early Church. In what The Spectator has called "...a coolly dispassionate attempt to disentangle the Peter of history from the Peter of faith and iconography," Grant examines tradition, legend, and apocrypha and probes the problems of classical scholarship and its research methods. The result is an impeccable and elegantly written biography that sheds as much light upon our relationship to the past as it does upon the complex face of Simon-Peter. black-and-white illustrations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760708392
  • Publisher: Sterling Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/15/1998
  • Pages: 212

Meet the Author

Michael Grant
Michael Grant

Michael Grant is the cocreator and cowriter of the bestselling middle-grade science fiction series Animorphs and Everworld. He lives in California with his wife, Katherine Applegate, and their two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2001

    Review of Michael Grant's Saint Peter

    Mr. Grant has done something that is very difficult ... to write a biography of someone from the ancient world. Not only are the primary sources 'biased', i.e., Gospel accounts, but there is scarcity of historical accounts for the individuals treated. 'Biased' accounts do not necessarily mean inaccurate accounts. No one in St. Peter's day sat down to write a biography/history of great religious leaders of the day. This does not mean that Christianity was an overlooked movement, the Neronian persecutions certainly belied this, but the material or inclination was not there ... most of the historical writing of the ancient world centered around the 'heroes' and larger than life figures of history. This biography of Saint Peter is best I have read (indeed there have few published) and I would certainly add it to my growing library of religious literature.

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