Some of the New Testament narrative may have a basis in historical reality. But much is the product of mistakes, misunderstanding, borrowing, invention and editing by Christian scribes. How does this leave today’s comfortable presumptions?
It is quite feasible that there was a rebel leader Jesus who had a close companion, Simon. But this person was not also called Peter. There was probably no one at the time with such a nickname, as it is rendered either in Greek or Aramaic.
James, the Jewish figure who called Saul to account, was not the brother of the rebel Jesus. Saul himself was too late on the scene to have dealings with either Jesus or his commander Simon, the latter reportedly forced into exile.
At Antioch, there were abrasive exchanges between Saul and someone of importance, called Cephas. Analysts have long puzzled over who this person might have been.
So, just who was Cephas?
The author has investigated the evidence and come up with what is, on the balance of probability, a resolution to this vexed question.