Frank G(ill) Slaughter Mary Dolan - Essay

Mary Dolan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Most of us know, or think we know, the political conditions in Palestine in Peter's time. They have been described to us often enogh; but here they stalk us. Here, we learn to dread the very word Messiah, which has raised so many bloody and disastrous insurrections. Wherever we follow Jesus, every ear is cocked and waiting for that word. Let it sound, and zealots will rush to arms. Spies will pounce; legions will strike. Simple people will run headlong after the glories of a victory guaranteed by God. Even the Twelve are listening impatiently.

This is the way Dr. Slaughter builds [Upon This Rock,] his story of St. Peter's life. The familiar words and acts are as they always were, but the pressures of the time and circumstances crowd in upon them, turning and shaping them as they occur.

Peter, according to Dr. Slaughter, is neither a hothead nor a coward. Like all the Jews—like all men of the ancient world—he cannot keep his politics and his religion separate. (pp. 747-48)

The story, as Dr. Slaughter tells it, is fresh with the light and air and color of the out-of-doors. The style of writing, unfortunately, is pedestrian and undistinguished. But the approach and practicality of the novel are surprisingly effective. This is Peter as he may have been. At least it is Peter singled out and traced among the great events that usually overshadow him. He is the kind of man to whom authority can be entrusted. (p. 748)

Mary Dolan, in a review of "Upon this Rock," in America (reprinted with permission of America Press, Inc.; © 1963; all rights reserved), Vol. 109, No. 23, December 7, 1963, pp. 747-48.