The common supposition that the Fourth Gospel presents a rivalry between Peter and the Beloved Disciple, in which Peter is subordinated to the hero of the Johannine Community, is here subjected to fresh scrutiny. After establishing working hypotheses regarding the Johannine Community and the function of representative figures in the Fourth Gospel, the author first examines the function of Peter independently of the Beloved Disciple. Here, he is the exemplary leader of 'the Twelve'. In those passages where the two characters are juxtaposed, it is evident that the Beloved Disciple is not inordinately exalted above Peter, who in fact enjoys a comparable status. Peter and the Beloved Disciple have complementary roles to play in relation to Jesus and his unfolding 'hour'. John 20 shows the Beloved Disciple as the example of a true believing disciple of Jesus, while concerned to give appropriate respect and support to the 'Apostolic' stream of traditions associated with Peter. The Gospel appendix, ch. 21, is concerned to hold together both sorts of traditions and allegiances.
Finally, the author shows how the Gospel as a whole works coherently to encourage a wider view of Christian 'intercommunity' unity after the death of the Beloved Disciple.