Peter, St

views updated May 29 2018

Peter, St. In Christianity, foremost of the apostles. His name was Simon but according to the gospels Jesus called him from his work as fisherman and gave him the name ‘Cephas’, the Aramaic equivalent of Greek ‘Peter’ (petra, ‘rock’). According to early tradition Peter visited Rome where he was martyred (1 Clement 5, etc.); but the claim that he was its bishop is an anachronism. According to the 2nd-cent. Acts of Peter, the apostle, while fleeing from Nero's persecution, met Jesus on the road. Peter asked, ‘Domine, quo vadis?’ (‘Lord, where are you going?’). When Jesus answered ‘I am coming to be crucified again’, Peter turned back to the city to face his martyrdom. His tomb in St Peter's basilica may be authentic. Feast day, 29 June.

The two Letters of Peter are found among the Catholic Epistles of the New Testament. 2 Peter is a warning against false and corrupt teachers; 2. 1–3. 3 seems to be borrowed from Jude; features such as the treatment of Paul in 4. 15–16 suggest a date well after Peter's death.

Other 2nd-cent. books attributed to Peter include the Gospel of Peter (a docetic retelling of Jesus' death and resurrection based on the four New Testament gospels) and The Apocalypse of Peter (a description of heaven and hell put into the mouth of Christ after his resurrection).

Peter, Saint

views updated Jun 08 2018

Peter, Saint (d. c.64) Apostle of Jesus Christ. He was born Simon, son of Jonas. A fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, he and his brother Andrew were called by Jesus to be disciples. Jesus gave Simon the name Peter (John 1:42). Peter was one of Jesus' closest and most loyal associates. With James and John, he witnessed the Transfiguration. While Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, Peter denied knowing him three times, just as Jesus had predicted. After Jesus' ascension, Peter was the first publicly to preach Christianity in Jerusalem. He took Christianity to Samaria. Imprisoned by King Herod, he was allegedly rescued by an angel and returned to Jerusalem. In his final years, he seems to have left Jerusalem and undertaken a missionary journey. Roman Catholic theology accepts him as the first head of the Church and the first bishop of Rome, from whom the popes claim succession. His feast day is June 29.

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Saint Peter

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Saint Peter