THOU ART PETER
to bind and to loose, which means (in the Rabbinical language of the time) the power to reach decisions in the sphere of teaching, permit- ting one view or forbidding another, and the right in the sphere of morals to impose or remove the ban. He proclaims this two-fold authority in God's name, and may therefore be assured of divine co- operation. But that Kingdom of Heaven of which he is the steward possessing the keys is Jesus' community the ecclesia, the Kingdom of Heaven, the newly created order of the Christ. Peter is the cosmic rock which stands athwart the tension of Heaven and Hell. Placed in the drama of a two-fold cosmic contradiction, open to in- fluences from above and below, he is called upon to preserve the order that reigns above against the powers of darkness.
Jesus died. In the eyes of the Jews and the Romans His death was the most ignominious of ends. He hanged Himself from the Cross as a kind of ghastly jest at His own expense. To the faithful, however, this was not the last view they were given of the Lord. They beheld Him again as the Risen One and Peter was the first of the disciples to whom He appeared transfigured. This occurrence cannot be expounded rationalistically. Therefore nothing is easier than to doubt it and to toss aside the narrative of the Gospels. But immediately there arises the question: what can have brought it about ' that in the same city of Jerusalem where this grave which was giving scandal existed a grave everyone could see for himself the fol- lowers of Jesus, an inconsequential minority sandwiched in between the scornful folk and the bitter ruling caste, should have managed to become a first community possessing inflexible faith, and able to main- tain itself so well as to spread its inner strength like fire over the world of Jews, Greeks and Romans? Some have listed a hundred causes in order to dispel the one incredible cause. There are so many of them that the insufficiency of all is proved. When there is question of the Resurrection, the faith of the non-believer and the faith of - the believer will always stand opposed. All we know is the message of the New Testament that the primitive community believed in the Resur- rection of Christ because of the testimony of those who had seen Him after His death. And the chief among them was Peter.
This first witness is entrusted with the leadership of the Messianic congregation which arises in Jerusalem. Its beginnings constitute a