This Rock, the Conversation Continued

Q. It would seem that of first importance in this discussion is the proof of the primacy that the Catholic Church claims. Was Peter really made the rock on which the church would stand and did this establish an Apostolic legacy that the Catholic Church claims as its authoritative support. What about Peter ? And how has this played out in the church history?

I noticed in your quoting of the scripture from Matthew 16:18 where Jesus says,

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”

that where I have the word Peter you have the word Rock,

“And I tell you that you are Rock, and on this rock I will build my church.”

but in the Greek the first word is Petros and the second word is Petra. Petros is the word used elsewhere that is translated Peter and Petra is used elsewhere as rock (see Lk 8:6 for instance). I don’t believe your translation is correct and in fact my translation is the one I found in my official Catholic Bible issued by The Catholic Press, Inc. Copyright 1957.

A. Yes you are right that is the traditional translation but the Greek word for Peter is the word for rock. Using Peter obscures what it actually was that Jesus said. At this time there was not a name, Peter. These days we are used to it as a name and don’t get the significance of Jesus naming him Rock.

And I do have a post on this:

Petros/Petra vs. Rocky/ Rockelle

Q. Isn’t the problem, with the Catholic argument that Peter is the Rock of Matthew 16, that the Greek word used by Jesus for the Rock foundation of His Church is petra but the name He uses for Peter is Petros? Doesn’t Petra, meaning a BIG rock refer to Peter’s confession whereas, petros, Jesus’ name for Simon, means small stone.

A. This is a valiant attempt by non-Catholic apologists to explain away Biblical evidence that Jesus founded His Church on Peter. However, it simply is not convincing when one looks at the facts.
First, most scholars believe that Jesus spoke Aramaic. In Aramaic there is only ONE word for rock. Kepha. So what Jesus actually said would have been:

You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church.

Jesus was not making any distinctions, after all, between Simon Kepha/Rock and the Kepha/Rock that Christ would build His Church upon. But obviously Peter comes from the Greek word petros. So, of course, one would tend to wonder about the strength of this argument since we now call Simon–Peter and not Kepha/Cephas. The explanation is simple. There actually are several places in the New Testament where the Aramaic IS used for Simon.

John 1:42
And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas, which, when translated, is Peter.”

This is very early on.

1 Corinthians 1:12
What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas “; still another, “I follow Christ.”

1 Corinthians 3:22
whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,
1 Corinthians 9:5
Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

So Simon was at this time called Cephas in Aramaic. Simon’s new name has come down to us as Peter because the Greek translation of the New Testament is the stronger traditional translation used by the Church when translating into Latin and English, and other vernacular languages. Petros/Petra is the Greek from which Peter is derived. There was a time when these two Greek words did denote different types of rocks but by the first century AD they were synonyms.

Second-When the translation of the original Aramaic ( You are Kepha and on this kepha…) was made into Greek, the word Kepha which denoted Peter’s new name, became petros because petra has a feminine ending and petros has the masculine ending. It would not be fitting to call the Prince of the Apostles by a girl’s name like Rockelle. In English we use the name Peter which is a Greek name but if we were to make a strict translation into English it would be Rock or Rocky. A man’s name.

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2 Responses to This Rock, the Conversation Continued

  1. Totally agree with your main conclusions here, that Cephas (Aramaic rock) was what Peter was generally called, and when this was translated from Aramaic into Greek, it was impossible to use petra twice, because it would give Peter a feminine name so petros had to be used the second time. But Aramaic was the source language.

  2. Corey Harned says:

    You have explained this truth beautifully. I belong to an apostolate called Kepha. Please check it out at http://www.kepharocks.org we also have a new blog at

    http://kepharocks.blogspot.com/2009/10/what-is-father-to-do-with-his-boys.html

    God bless and remember that God prefers knee mail

    Pax Christi
    Corey

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