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Old 05-22-2009, 04:38 PM
Linsinbigler's Avatar
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Default The Rock of the Church

In another thread, we see several claims on the “Rock of the Church.” This thread is about this particular point—I will be dealing with the other points one by one.

Claim by Tim Staples Article "You Can't Get Past this Rock" regarding the passage in Matthew 16:18–19: "And I tell you, you are Peter (Petros), and on this Rock (Petra) I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades (pylai Hadou) shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven":

There is good evidence that the Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic. Both Papias and Irenaeus told us that in the second century. More importantly, and more certainly, Jesus would have spoken his discourse of Matthew 16 in Aramaic, not Greek. Although Greek was the dominant language of the Roman Empire in the first century, most of the Jewish people Jesus spoke to were not fluent in it. They spoke Aramaic. There is also biblical evidence, in John 1:42, that Jesus used Aramaic in the naming of Peter: [Andrew] brought [Peter] to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter). The name Cephas is an anglicized form of the Aramaic name Kepha, which simply means "rock." There was no "small rock" to be found in Jesus’ original statement to Peter. Even well-respected Protestant scholars agree on this point. Baptist scholar D. A. Carson writes: The underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; at most probably kepha was used in both clauses ("you are kepha" and "on this kepha"), since the word was used both for a name and for a "rock." The Peshitta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with a dialect of Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 8, Zondervan, 368)

Fr.H: Tim Staple’s article is based on the information in the Wikipedia article on St. Peter. He either wrote part or most of the Wikipedia article, borrowed his information from there, or it is from a common source. It has many good points, but many things lacking. His giving of Carson’s reference of the Peshitta (a 5th century Syrian document, although a few will claim late 2nd /early 3rd century AD) is a poor one. The Jews of Palestine spoke Aramaic, not Syriac. Palestinian Aramaic and Syriac are different languages (for more on this see Semitic Languages (and the Phoenician language)). The Eastern family of languages related to Aramaic include Syriac as a dialect, and these people would not be able to communicate with those who spoke Western (Palestinian) Aramaic. Nonetheless, I will, for the sake of profitable discussion, “concede” a closer relationship. But that leaves us with the following:
1. The argument from Aramaic as to what “may have been written” in Aramaic is speculation since there is no extant text, and worse yet, causes you to miss the point as to why the Greek is what was used and as to why the Greek reads the way it does. In it, you must assume that Christ was actually speaking Aramaic and not Greek or Rabbinic Hebrew utilizing the name Pitros, which was also used in Hebrew/Aramaic overlap. That is a pretty big assumption, in that all three languages were spoken, even if Aramaic was the most common language. Although, there are many books and articles that show that Greek rivaled Aramaic at this time as the predominant language, as we know from the existence and use of the Septuagint at the time. Even if the book of Matthew, in addition to being written in Greek, was written in Aramaic, neither indicates that he was not speaking in Hebrew, nor in one or the other. We know that, if spoken Aramaic and Greek were known to all, that in terms of written language, Greek and Hebrew were predominant (the title on the cross was written in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, not Aramaic). But for the sake of profitable discussion let us lay aside all of these great assumptions that we must make and go right to the one that says that he was using Aramaic.
2. Let us examine and also the claim that, unlike the Greek, which distinguished between masculine petros and feminine petra, that the Peshitta makes no such distinction. Again, there are many arguments as to why the Peshitta sheds absolutely no light as to what an early 1st century Palastinian Aramaic text might have looked like. But for the sake of edification let us say that it does. We find that it indeed does use Kepha, but what we also find (which is not mentioned in Staples’ article) is that when translating the Greek of Matthew 16.18 back into the Syriac, “Peter” is indeed translated Kepha, as is “rock.” End of story? Not quite. Kepha is used for rock, but there we find that the feminine demonstrative pronoun “hada” is used right before it (translating “this”), resulting in "hada kepha" (this rock/stone). We know that even when words did not have masculine and feminine forms, that, indeed, they still were offset by feminine or masculine pronouns. Of course, we also find that, like the Greek, the same word, "Kepha" is used in reference to Christ in the Aramaic version of 1 Corinthians 10:4: And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (Kepha) that followed them: and that Rock (Kepha) was Christ. Also, the Peshitta Syriac New Testament always translates the Greek word “lithos” as kepha!!!! That means, that by appealing to the Peshitta for Matt. 16.18, you are thereby deconstructing your argument in the rest of the Bible for a distinction between “petra” and “lithos”!!! Furthermore, the Peshitta translates the word “petra” most often with the world shu’a, whereas the word lithos is always translated by kepha.
3. However, one of the magnificent things that we know about Palestinian Aramaic is that, unlike the Pishitta, it did have distinctive words corresponding to petra and petros. Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (JPA), as seen in the Sokoloff dictionary, renders the masculine KYF (the male name Kepha) as a masculine noun, and the feminine KYPH (KYPTH) as a feminine noun. Is not the actual Aramaic that they used in Palestine more likely to have been used? Furthermore, “shu’a” is the word that we find in other documents of Aramaic origin that translates petra or rock-mount. Thus the claim that “probably kepha was used in both clauses” is an unfounded and unsubstantiated claim.
4. However, instead of speculating what may or may not have been written in a hypothetical Aramaic version of Matthew that we don’t have, and then further speculating as to whether Christ was actually speaking in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, we should look at the text that has been passed down to us by the grace of God. Even if there was another version of Matthew, the Greek survived because it was more precise and because it referenced the OT in the Septuagint (the version of the OT in use at the time of Christ, that Christ and all the New Testament writers quote—word for word). As we see in the Septuagint, the word petra always means an immovable rock-mount protruding from the ground which defends against floods and invaders. As we see in the Greek, petros is a “son” born from the “mother” petra rock mount. Petra most often refers to large rock mounts or cliffs. Mount Itam, for example, is literally, in the Greek “tis petras Itam”Judges 15.8ff LXX.
We see a difference between petros and petra, for example, in the second book of Maccabees. In Chapter 14 we see that “petra” is a steep and immovable rock-mount (2 Maccabees 14.45). But chapters before, we see the word petros used to refer to something different, where the people take up petrous (plural of petros), along with clubs and “hand fulls” of dust in defense against the guard of Lysimachus (2 Macc. 4.41). Here we see that “peters” (petrous) are clearly moveable rocks that although somewhat sizeable are able to be held by hand but used as a weapon against an enemy. In other words, whereas it is clear that petros is a moveable hand-held rock in chapter 4, it is clear that in chapter 14 petra is a large immovable rock-mount, a “steep petra” (2 Macc. 14.45). We see in the writings of Plutarch that “petros” refers to a movable rock that is able to be picked up by people and either used as building stones or weapons (Aristedes 17.3), whereas “petra” refers to immovable rock structures such as a large cliff (Camillus 25.2—described as “huge”) or a rock-mound (Lucullus 24.7)
There is no problem with Christ in the Faith He has given to mankind being the Petra of the Church and Simon Peter being the Petros of the Church. However, to see the Petra as Peter, rather than the Faith of the logoi of Christ….that is another matter that I shall deal with shortly (to be continued).

Last edited by Linsinbigler : 05-22-2009 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 05-22-2009, 08:28 PM
RollingThunder
 
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

Χριστός Ανεστή!

Great! Looking forward to more!

Blessings,
Shannon
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:57 PM
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

Let me make a few respectful comments to this interesting topic. Please understand this in the spirit of dialogue. I shortened your post simply for space purposes.

Quote:
His giving of Carson’s reference of the Peshitta (a 5th century Syrian document, although a few will claim late 2nd /early 3rd century AD) is a poor one… Nonetheless, I will, for the sake of profitable discussion, “concede” a closer relationship.
It is fair to say that Carson is aware that The Peshita is a different language, a dialect of Aramaic, as your article testifies to. Carson tells us that Syriac is a cognate with a dialect of Aramaic. Tim brought Carson, a scholar of repute, simply to state that the Aramaic Kepha most likely is behind the Matt. 16 verse. Now, scholars have utilized The Peshita in their study of underlying languages behind the Greek text. Here a short article that briefly addresses that: Klotz. Thus, I can see where the connection might have been intended.

In Peshitta.org we also read: “During the Hellenistic period of the Seleucids, Aramaic ceased to be a uniform language, when various dialects began to form, … The language, henceforth, divided into an Eastern branch, with a number of dialects, and a Western branch with its dialects, but all of which retained a great similarity.

But there are other non-Catholic scholars who agree on the main point here.
Just a few of them here:

John Broadus, Commentary on the Gospel of Mathew: “ The Peshitta (Western Aramaic) renders, ‘Thou are kipho.’ The Eastern Aramaic, spoken in Palestine in the time of Christ, must necessarily have said in like manner, ‘Thou are kepha and on this kepha.” P. 355-3556.

John Peter Lange, Commentary on the Scriptures; The Gospel According to Matthew, vol. 8, p. 293: “The savior no doubt used in both clauses the Aramaic word kepha (hence the Greek Kephas applied to Simon, John 1:42; comp. 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; Gal. 2:9) which means rock …Hence the old syriac translation of the NT renders the passage in question: ‘Anath-her Kipha, v’all hode Kipha.” The Arabic translation has alsachra in both cases…”

William Hendricksen Reformed theologian and Professor of New Testament Literature at Calvin Seminary: New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Mathew, p. 647. ‘The meaning is, ‘You are Peter, that is Rock, and upon this rock, that is, on you, Peter, I will build my church.’ Our Lord, speaking Aramaic, probably said, ‘And I say to you, you are kepha,’ and on this kepha I will build my church.’ Jesus then is promising Peter that he is going to build his church on him! I accept this view.”

Veselin Kesish, Serbian Orthodox professor emeritus of New Testament at St. Vladimir’s Seminary: “’He conferred upon SimonBar –Jonah the title Peter, and promised that he would build his church upon him. “You are Peter (Petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build my church (mou ten ekklesian).’ These words are spoken in Aramaic, in which Cephas stands both for Petros and petra,” in John Meyendorff, ed., The Primacy of Peter, pp. 47-48.

The Primacy of Peter by Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff, p. 14:
‘The words of Jesus on the road to Phillipi ‘On this rock I will build my church’ – are bound to the confession of Peter. Peter was the first to confess this faith, and has thus become the ‘head of theologians’…; he has received the messianic title of Rock, a title which in biblical language belongs to the Messiah himself.”

The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, p. 90: ‘In Aramaic, ‘Peter’ and Rock are the same word; in Greek (here), they are cognate terms that were used interchangeably by this period. For the idea of a person as the foundation on which something is built, cf. Isaiah 51: 1-2; Ephesians 2:20 (the promise is made to Peter because Peter was the one who confessed Jesus, v. 16).

One Volume Commentary: ‘Thou art Peter’ – At his first calling, this new name was announced to him as an honour afterwards to be conferred on him (John 1:43 [sic]). Now he gets it [in Matt. 16] with an explanation of what it was meant to convey. ‘And upon this rock’ – As ‘Peter’ and ‘Rock’ are one word in the dialect familiarity spoken by our Lord – the Aramaic or Syro-Chaldean, which was the mother tongue of the country – this exalted play upon the word can be fully seen only in languages which have one word for both…’ pp. 47-48.

Quote:
The argument from Aramaic as to what “may have been written” in Aramaic is speculation since there is no extant text, and worse yet, causes you to miss the point as to why the Greek is what was used and as to why the Greek reads the way it does. In it, you must assume that Christ was actually speaking Aramaic and not Greek or Rabbinic Hebrew …Even if the book of Matthew, in addition to being written in Greek, was written in Aramaic, neither indicates that he was not speaking in Hebrew, nor in one or the other. We know that, if spoken Aramaic and Greek were known to all, that in terms of written language, Greek and Hebrew were predominant …
The issue is what was the most probable language spoken by the Lord. As you state, the most common language, the lingua franca, was Aramaic. As Jesus had prophesized that Simon shall be called Cephas in John 1:42 there is not a great leap that Jesus gave Peter in Matt. 16 the name in Aramaic he mentioned in John 1:42. As the article you cited on Peshita tells us, Aramaic was the most spread language and Hebrew was dying out:

“Aramaic spread with tremendous speed, and by the 6th century BC was being used as the administrative language and lingua franca of the entire Middle East, all the way from Afghanistan in the Persian Empire to Egypt. Many ancient Semitic languages, including Akkadian and Hebrew, died out and were supplanted by Aramaic. Only Greek rivaled Aramaic for dominance in the Middle East until the Arab conquest of the 7th century AD.”

2.
Quote:
Let us examine and also the claim that, unlike the Greek, which distinguished between masculine petros and feminine petra, that the Peshitta makes no such distinction…Kepha is used for rock, but there we find that the feminine demonstrative pronoun “hada” is used right before it (translating “this”), resulting in "hada kepha" (this rock/stone). We know that even when words did not have masculine and feminine forms, that, indeed, they still were offset by feminine or masculine pronouns. Of course, we also find that, like the Greek, the same word, "Kepha" is used in reference to Christ in the Aramaic version of 1 Corinthians 10:4: And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock (Kepha) that followed them: and that Rock (Kepha) was Christ. Also, the Peshitta Syriac New Testament always translates the Greek word “lithos” as kepha!!!! That means, that by appealing to the Peshitta for Matt. 16.18, you are thereby deconstructing your argument in the rest of the Bible for a distinction between “petra” and “lithos”!!! Furthermore, the Peshitta translates the word “petra” most often with the world shu’a, whereas the word lithos is always translated by kepha.
I respectfully disagree on some of this. First, I think that you are making too much of a citation Tim gave of Carson. Regardless of the issue of whether the Peshita gives light to the issue, Tim’s argument is not built on Carson’s comment on the Peshita; which if you are correct, sheds no light on the issue one way or the other. But what Catholics say is simply that the common word used for little pebble in Greek was lithos not petros. The Catholic argument does not depend in the absolute on an original Aramaic of any dialect, whether or not there was ever one. As both petros and petra were used interchangeably by this time and we see the usage of Petra elsewhere in Scripture not to signify a large rock but a smaller stone, the supposed distinction created by Jesus between petros and petra do not obtain. Coupled with the fact that Jesus indeed changed Simon’s name to Cephas and the lingua franca of the area was Aramaic we can make a good case that Kepha, kepha was used there; even as the Catholic argument does not depend on that being the case.

“Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been 'lithos' ('stone' of almost any size). Then there would have been no pun - and that is just the point! . . . R.T. France (Anglican); in Morris, Leon, General editor, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press / Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1985, vol. 1: Matthew, 254, 256).

Frank Gaebelin, The Expositors Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, p. 368: “Some who are unconvinced of the proposition that petros and petra mean the same thing should consider that there is another common Greek word that simply means “stone.” It is the word Lithos.”

3.
Quote:
However, one of the magnificent things that we know about Palestinian Aramaic is that, unlike the Pishitta, it did have distinctive words corresponding to petra and petros. Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (JPA), as seen in the Sokoloff dictionary, renders the masculine KYF (the male name Kepha) as a masculine noun, and the feminine KYPH (KYPTH) as a feminine noun. Is not the actual Aramaic that they used in Palestine more likely to have been used? Furthermore, “shu’a” is the word that we find in other documents of Aramaic origin that translates petra or rock-mount. Thus the claim that “probably kepha was used in both clauses” is an unfounded and unsubstantiated claim.
I disagree again. Jesus did not call Peter Shu’a but Cephas. If it is more likely that such Aramaic was to be used, why Jesus renamed Peter as Cephas instead of as Shua or Evna or any other word? Thus, it is most likely that in Matt. 16 that is the words used, as so many scholars tell us.

What seems unfounded is that Jesus, who changed Simon’s name to Kepha, would use Shu’a here. And there is no ancient Aramaic text translating the passage with that word. If that is the case, we cannot understand that after this episode we see Paul calling Peter Cephas; if the word to most likely be used was Shu'a why Jesus and Peter use Kepa.

And as petros and petra were used interchangeably, it makes sense that Jesus, who named Peter Kepha, would have said, “Kepha, kepha.” After all, in using “this” in Greek, Jesus was using a language that identifies petros with petra. Jesus says, “epi tautee tee petra." The definitive word tautee is the demonstrative adverb 'this.' The demonstrative in Greek is like in English, it goes back to define the closest referent. So, 'this rock' goes back to the closest image of rock. Which one is? Of course Peter, who is mentioned immediately before and whose name Petros means rock! John 1:42. Is like saying in English: I have a car and I also have a truck. And this one is blue. Which one is blue, the car or the truck? The truck of course.

Differences in the Aramaic developed over time. This time of Mathew 16 was the time of “Middle Aramaic” when distinctions were not as marked as in Late or Modern Aramaic. Thus, it is not farfetched that Kepha was used in both clauses as so many Protestant experts acknowledge.

Quote:
4. However, instead of speculating what may or may not have been written in a hypothetical Aramaic version of Matthew that we don’t have, and then further speculating as to whether Christ was actually speaking in Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, we should look at the text that has been passed down to us by the grace of God. Even if there was another version of Matthew, the Greek survived because it was more precise and because it referenced the OT in the Septuagint (the version of the OT in use at the time of Christ, that Christ and all the New Testament writers quote—word for word). As we see in the Septuagint, the word petra always means an immovable rock-mount protruding from the ground which defends against floods and invaders. As we see in the Greek, petros is a “son” born from the “mother” petra rock mount. Petra most often refers to large rock mounts or cliffs. Mount Itam, for example, is literally, in the Greek “tis petras Itam”Judges 15.8ff LXX.
We see a difference between petros and petra, for example, in the second book of Maccabees. In Chapter 14 we see that “petra” is a steep and immovable rock-mount (2 Maccabees 14.45). But chapters before, we see the word petros used to refer to something different, where the people take up petrous (plural of petros), along with clubs and “hand fulls” of dust in defense against the guard of Lysimachus (2 Macc. 4.41). Here we see that “peters” (petrous) are clearly moveable rocks that although somewhat sizeable are able to be held by hand but used as a weapon against an enemy. In other words, whereas it is clear that petros is a moveable hand-held rock in chapter 4, it is clear that in chapter 14 petra is a large immovable rock-mount, a “steep petra” (2 Macc. 14.45). We see in the writings of Plutarch that “petros” refers to a movable rock that is able to be picked up by people and either used as building stones or weapons (Aristedes 17.3), whereas “petra” refers to immovable rock structures such as a large cliff (Camillus 25.2—described as “huge”) or a rock-mound (Lucullus 24.7)
There is no problem with Christ in the Faith He has given to mankind being the Petra of the Church and Simon Peter being the Petros of the Church. However, to see the Petra as Peter, rather than the Faith of the logoi of Christ….that is another matter that I shall deal with shortly (to be continued).
It is not irrelevant to go to the Aramaic because Jesus renamed Peter using an Aramaic term! Most scholars tell us that both Greek words were used interchangeably and the NT uses petra at times to signify a small stone, not an immovable rock. The use of both in that text identifies them with each other rather than differentiating them.

Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament, p. 90: “In Aramaic, Peter and rock are the same word; in Greek they are cognate terms that were used interchangeably by this period…”

Gerhard Maier, The End of the Historical Critial Method, p. 58: “Nowadays a broad consensus has emerged which, in accordance with the words of the text, applies the promise to Peter as a person. On this point liberal (Holtzmann, Schweiger) and conservative (Cullmann, Flew) theologians agree, as well as representatives of Roman Catholic exegesis.”

There is no lexical distinction in the Greek of Matt. 16:18 between Petros and petra. Petra does not refer exclusively to a huge rock. It also can refer to a small rock or stone. For example, in Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:8, the Greek word lithos (a small stone) is coupled with Petra in the image of a man walking a path and stumbling on the road. The OT verse from which the image is taken is Isaiah 8:14: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” The image is of a man walking down a road and stumbling over a small rock. It is not the image of an immovable boulder appearing on the way.

Other Protestant scholars:

J. Knox Chamblin: By the words 'this rock' Jesus means not himself nor his teaching nor God the Father, nor Peter's confession, but Peter himself... The demonstrative this...more naturally refers to Peter than to the more remote confession. In Walter Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, p. 742.

Henry Alford, Anglican Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, "The name Peter... or Cephas, signifying rock, ...denotes the personal position of this Apostle in the building of the Church of Christ." The New Testament for English Readers, p. 119.

Gerhard Kittel's , Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. VI, pp. 98-99: "Petros himself is this petra, not just his faith or his confession... He takes the place of Abraham but he does so as the foundation of Israel kata pneuma, the community of the New Covenant which Christ builds on the rock Peter."

Craig Blomberg, Professor New Testament at Denver Seminary, Baptist: 'The expression 'this rock' almost certainly refers to Peter, following immediately after his name, just as the words following 'the Christ' in v. 16 applied to Jesus. The New American Commentary: Mathew, vol. 22, p. 251-252.

Beacon Bible Expositions, vol. 1, p. 125: "The foundation of the messianic community will be Peter, the rock, who is the recipient of the revelation and maker of the confession."

The New Interpreter's Bible vol. 8, p. 345. Eugene Boring, Disciples of Christ: "You are Rock and on this Rock I will build my Church. Peter is here pictured as the foundation of the Church."

Suzanne Dietrich, Presbyterian: "The play of words in verse 18 indicates the Aramaic origin of the passage. The new name contains a promiise. 'Simon' ...will by God's grace be the 'rock' on which God will build his Church.' The Layman's Bible Commentary, Matthew vol. 16, p. 93.

This is not an exhaustive list.
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:15 PM
CatholicCrusader
 
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

But still, the structure of the narrative simply does not allow for Peter NOT being the rock.

Look at the way Matthew 16:15-19 is structured. After Peter gives a confession about the identity of Jesus, the Lord does the same in return for Peter. Jesus does not say, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are an insignificant pebble and on this rock I will build my Church. . . . I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Jesus is giving Peter a three-fold blessing, including the gift of the keys to the kingdom, not undermining his authority. To say that Jesus is downplaying Peter flies in the face of the context. Jesus is installing Peter as a form of chief steward or prime minister under the King of Kings by giving him the keys to the kingdom. As can be seen in Isaiah 22:22, kings in the Old Testament appointed a chief steward to serve under them in a position of great authority to rule over the inhabitants of the kingdom. Jesus quotes almost verbatum from this passage in Isaiah, and so it is clear what he has in mind. He is raising Peter up as a father figure to the household of faith (Is. 22:21), to lead them and guide the flock (John 21:15-17). This authority of the prime minister under the king was passed on from one man to another down through the ages by the giving of the keys, which were worn on the shoulder as a sign of authority. Likewise, the authority of Peter has been passed down for 2000 years by means of the papacy.
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Old 05-24-2009, 04:15 PM
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicCrusader View Post
But still, the structure of the narrative simply does not allow for Peter NOT being the rock.

Look at the way Matthew 16:15-19 is structured. After Peter gives a confession about the identity of Jesus, the Lord does the same in return for Peter. Jesus does not say, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are an insignificant pebble and on this rock I will build my Church. . . . I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Jesus is giving Peter a three-fold blessing, including the gift of the keys to the kingdom, not undermining his authority. To say that Jesus is downplaying Peter flies in the face of the context. Jesus is installing Peter as a form of chief steward or prime minister under the King of Kings by giving him the keys to the kingdom. As can be seen in Isaiah 22:22, kings in the Old Testament appointed a chief steward to serve under them in a position of great authority to rule over the inhabitants of the kingdom. Jesus quotes almost verbatum from this passage in Isaiah, and so it is clear what he has in mind. He is raising Peter up as a father figure to the household of faith (Is. 22:21), to lead them and guide the flock (John 21:15-17). This authority of the prime minister under the king was passed on from one man to another down through the ages by the giving of the keys, which were worn on the shoulder as a sign of authority. Likewise, the authority of Peter has been passed down for 2000 years by means of the papacy.
Again, in all contexts of ancient writings, Petra is a large rock on which a fortress was built. Petros is a large boulder or rock that you roll down the petra to defeat the enemies, or sizeable rocks that you pick up to throw and defeat the enemy. A petros is "born" from the petra that it came from. That is what it is in every case of ancient writings. There is no one single case that you can quote me that petra and petros mean the same thing. They are different terms referring to two specifically related but distinct things. I never claimed Peter to be an "insignificant pebble"--I feel like you are imposing upon me an argument that I am not making. Others have made this argument--I did not. Again, I asked specifically that we focus on this part of the article because the "prime minister" part I will get to, which we do not necessarily disagree on. He is given a prominant role in the Church--there is no disagreement on that. Some of the disagreement lay in the fact that Peter's prominance is hinged on His relationship to Christ. He is the Petros born from the Petra. This is what makes Peter prominant--Peter, and all the Apostles, were the first to become "bone of His bones" and "flesh of his flesh" on that first Holy Thursday. But Peter was the first to be called Body (Petros) from His Body (Petra). To underappreciate this is a source of contention. St. Leo the Great called Peter the "rock" that was born from "that original Rock" (Christ) in His letter to the 4th Ecumenical Council. It seems as if the Church of Rome has lost this appreciation, and it is frustrating from the Orthodox side, who feels that not only is it arguing against "the East," but also against "the West" from the pre-schism Church of the first millenium. John Paul II appreciated this. He recognized the need for continuity with the full understanding of the pre-schism Church, which also required continuity with the early and new testament Church. He also expressly stated His reflection on the fact that Christ sent out the Apostles "two by two." It is unclear if Benedict appreciates it to the same degree but it is hopeful. Nonetheless, it is frustrating that in dialogue with Orthodoxy, some theologions from a Roman Catholic perspective are using "material" from arguments against Protestants in dialogue with Orthodox that do not apply. This is why I stated on the other thread that the development of doctrine may be an issue. From the "Orthodox side," any doctrinal clarifications that are in continuity with that which came before are legitimate. However, doctrine which expressly contradicts the unified teaching of both east and west in the Church of the pre-schism period is a problem. Again, if JPII can be taken at face-value, it is not a problem. If Benedict holds the same position as his predecessor, it is not a problem. But if some of the arguments of certain theologions are taken at face-value, there is a problem. Again, the other points I have not gotten to yet, so I will address them one at a time, but was hoping that we deal with each point one by one, instead of wiping out all the sandcastles with a single wave.
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Old 05-24-2009, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

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But what Catholics say is simply that the common word used for little pebble in Greek was lithos not petros. The Catholic argument does not depend in the absolute on an original Aramaic of any dialect, whether or not there was ever one.
1. Lithos is the word used for the large stone rolled in front and sealing Christ's tomb which the women were concerned that they could not move out from in front of the tomb (Mark 15.46--"kai prosekylisen lithon epi tin thyran tou mnimeiou"). Also, of course, the fact that Christ and the Apostles are called "lithos" laid as the foundation of a building indicate that "lithos" is no pebble. Neither "petra," "petros," nor "lithos" mean pebble. Peter is no pebble, the Apostles are not pebbles, Christ is no pebble.

2. I specifically said I was dealing with Tim Staples' arguments one by one as he made them in his argument. I was answering the claims he made from the Aramaic. I neither posted the article nor made the claims he made, but was simply answering what was posted and what was claimed.
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Old 05-24-2009, 05:18 PM
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

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1. Lithos is the word used for the large stone rolled in front and sealing Christ's tomb which the women were concerned that they could not move out from in front of the tomb (Mark 15.46--"kai prosekylisen lithon epi tin thyran tou mnimeiou"). Also, of course, the fact that Christ and the Apostles are called "lithos" laid as the foundation of a building indicate that "lithos" is no pebble. Neither "petra," "petros," nor "lithos" mean pebble. Peter is no pebble, the Apostles are not pebbles, Christ is no pebble.
I should have said stone not just a pebble. That was my mistake. But the point I was making is that nothing in the Aramaic affects the Catholic point on lithos in the Greek.

In fact, I posted two scholarly opinions of lithos as "stone":

“Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been 'lithos' ('stone' of almost any size). Then there would have been no pun - and that is just the point! . . . R.T. France (Anglican); in Morris, Leon, General editor, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press / Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1985, vol. 1: Matthew, 254, 256).

Frank Gaebelin, The Expositors Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, p. 368: “Some who are unconvinced of the proposition that petros and petra mean the same thing should consider that there is another common Greek word that simply means “stone.” It is the word Lithos.”

Quote:
2. I specifically said I was dealing with Tim Staples' arguments one by one as he made them in his argument. I was answering the claims he made from the Aramaic. I neither posted the article nor made the claims he made, but was simply answering what was posted and what was claimed.
I understand.

I gave an example of petra not meaning large rock. Here again:Petra does not refer exclusively to a huge rock. It also can refer to a small rock or stone. For example, in Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:8, the Greek word lithos (a stone) is coupled with Petra in the image of a man walking a path and stumbling on the road. The OT verse from which the image is taken is Isaiah 8:14: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” The image is of a man walking down a road and stumbling over a small rock. It is not the image of an immovable boulder appearing on the way.

In reading your reply to CC I can agree with your statement that Peter is rock in relationship with Christ the rock. Jesus remains the primary Rock of the Church and Peter is never seen appart from Christ. That has always been our point, Peter does not supplant Jesus as the primary foundation of the Church. Now, Peter here is singled out by Christ. There may lay our difference. I completely agree that Peter as rock is dependent and secondary to Christ the Rock.

I will be very interested in hearing where you think Benedict may not fully adhere to the position you assign to JPII.

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Old 05-24-2009, 05:48 PM
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

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I understand.

But I gave an example of petra not meaning large rock. Here again:Petra does not refer exclusively to a huge rock. It also can refer to a small rock or stone. For example, in Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:8, the Greek word lithos (a stone) is coupled with Petra in the image of a man walking a path and stumbling on the road. The OT verse from which the image is taken is Isaiah 8:14: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” The image is of a man walking down a road and stumbling over a small rock. It is not the image of an immovable boulder appearing on the way.

I also posted from varied experts on the meaning of both words during the time. They were used interchangeably.
Right, but your example here shows that lithos and petra are used interchangeably, thus deconstructing the argument that lithos and petra have two different meanings, and thus deconstructing the argument that if Christ really meant lithos, he would have said it. However, the sole example that can be given of petra being a smaller rock is where it is synonomous with lithos, with Christ Himself being the chief corner lithos.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:52 AM
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Right, but your example here shows that lithos and petra are used interchangeably, thus deconstructing the argument that lithos and petra have two different meanings, and thus deconstructing the argument that if Christ really meant lithos, he would have said it. However, the sole example that can be given of petra being a smaller rock is where it is synonomous with lithos, with Christ Himself being the chief corner lithos.
I am not sure who made that argument. The argument was that if Jesus wanted to use a word that was more commonly used to designate a smaller stone the best choice was lithos not petra. As you stated, petra can often mean a very large immovable rock and petros often means a large slab. Lithos was the most common word if contrast was the intention.

But aside from that what this verse demonstrates is that there are usages of petra that are in line with the usages of petros, making the point that they are cognates during the NT period.

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Old 05-25-2009, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: The Rock of the Church

Are you aware that these same types of arguments could be used against EO beliefs, to which I am sure you would protest, and rightly so?

For example, I have heard people argue against the roles of priest and bishops, saying that the original terms in the Bible are nebulous and inter-changable, and therefore the strict seperation we make between them is not Biblical. Now of course, you and I know that our understranding of these things became clearer over time and that their argument is just wrong. The roles of priest and bishop became more clear and disctinct as the Church grew.

The same goes here. Our understanding of the clear distinction of Peter's role over the other apostles became clearer over time. One can attempt to pick apart pieces of the puzzle, but when taken in their entirety, Peter's primacy becomes clear. And Peter's primacy really is what is at issue here, isn't it.
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