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  #1  
Old Jun 5, '08, 2:33 pm
PC Master PC Master is offline
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Default Kepha not transliterated...why?

An interesting question came up in another thread. Here it is:

In the gospels, Simon is supposedly called Kepha, translated into Greek as Petros, from which we transliterate (through French, I believe?) the name Peter.


My question is why would the name Kepha ever have been translated to Petros, and not be consistently translitterated as Cephas (as John and Paul both did in at least some instances)?

Simon, Jesus, Israel, Jacob, and so many other names were transliterated (sound for sound) into other languages from their originals. Why not do the same with Kepha? Does it make sense at all for this particular name to have been a translation of a Hebrew/Aramaic name's meaning instead of a transliteration of the name itself?
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  #2  
Old Jun 5, '08, 3:02 pm
Catholic Dude Catholic Dude is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Im not sure I understand your question, but it looks like you are asking why in English and such we go by the name "Peter" rather than "Cephas".

Im not sure but this reminds me of how some Messianic Jews prefer to use "Yeshua" (Joshua) for Jesus, which I thought was Iesus in the Greek.
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  #3  
Old Jun 5, '08, 3:09 pm
Todd Easton Todd Easton is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

It seems to me that the New Testament writers wanted to make sure their Greek readers would know who the "rock" of the Church was, namely Simon Peter. That identification would have been much less apparent to Greek readers if the name "Cephas" was used.
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  #4  
Old Jun 5, '08, 3:13 pm
PC Master PC Master is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

In Greek, we see both Petros (presumed a translation of Kepha) and Cephas (presumed a transliteration of Kepha) used describing Simon. This is what I'm curious about -- why not follow the standard and transliterate in all cases? Why are all instances in Greek not Cephas, as would seem to be normal for translational practices?

As for Jesus/Joshua....Yah-ho-shu-a (I believe that's the correct pronunciation in Hebrew) can be shortened to Yashua, and since names have to end in "ous" or "as" in Greek (or so I was told by someone), we get Yasous, which can easily become Iesous. Into English we get the original soft-"yi" sound for J, so Jesus, which changes as J developed the "hard J" sound. It's a transliteration through two languages. In fact, my understanding is Joshua (from the Old Testament) is recorded as Iesous in the Greek Septuagint.

Transliteration tries to maintain the sound, whereas translation tries to maintain meaning. Usually names are transliterated, and most other words are translated. So why the difference with Simon (something like Shi-mon in Hebrew)?
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  #5  
Old Jun 5, '08, 3:15 pm
PC Master PC Master is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Easton View Post
It seems to me that the New Testament writers wanted to make sure their Greek readers would know who the "rock" of the Church was, namely Simon Peter. That identification would have been much less apparent to Greek readers if the name "Cephas" was used.
Interesting thought -- but why would John and Paul not do the same? Why not simply say Cephas, and provide a translational note for Matthew 16:18 to clarify what Christ's intent was?
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  #6  
Old Jun 5, '08, 3:20 pm
VociMike VociMike is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

The difference I see between Kepha/Petros and the other examples you gave is that in the Kepha/Petros instance, both languages were being spoken side by side in the same time and in overlapping places, while in the other examples the transliteration would have come much later.

Do you have some theory you're going to spring on us, or are you just asking?
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  #7  
Old Jun 5, '08, 4:15 pm
joeybaggz joeybaggz is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VociMike View Post
Do you have some theory you're going to spring on us, or are you just asking?

Have to wonder if Mike isn't on to something here. Kepha isn't a name, it's the ancient aramaic word for rock and it has no masculine - feminism forms. Luke, writing for the Greeks, would translate that to petra, the Greek form for "massive/solid rock. Applying it to Simon he would have used the masculine form, Petros, later transliterated to Peter.

I'm wondering what Mike is wondering, are we headed for that classic protestant "argument" about whether rock was meant to refer to Peter or Christ because of the usage of the two Greek words, petra and petros? If so, please see Karl Keatings book, "Catholicism and Fundamentalism". You'll get your answer and it will save you a lot of time.
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  #8  
Old Jun 5, '08, 4:28 pm
Catholic Dude Catholic Dude is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

I dont see how PCM could "spring" something on us here, in fact the dual usage of Peter/Cephas actually helps the Catholic case because Cephas takes away any option of saying Peter was actually just a pebble.
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  #9  
Old Jun 5, '08, 5:17 pm
flameburns623 flameburns623 is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

I don't know if PC Master has a hidden agenda, but I could see where someone who cared to do so could argue that the decision of the inspired writers of Scripture to translate the name 'Cephas' into 'Petros' (rather than transliterating the Hebrew word) may have been an attempt by the Holy Ghost to underscore the fact that Peter is not himself the 'rock' upon which the Church was built, but that something else is intended. I do understand that someone fluent in Koine Greek might find this a compelling theory, which is why no less a luminary than Augustine apparently bought into the idea. If this is the direction that PC Master intends to develop, I congratulate him on developing what appears to be a fresh argument in Protestant exegesis of this passage.

I'm not going to pursue this much further since, Greek or not, I think the plain reading of the whole passage in Matthew 16 tends to break down if one argues in this fashion. In other words, I personally can buy the Catholic interpretation that Peter was given some sort of special role by Christ's pronouncement in Matthew 16:16-18. For me the debate would be over what that role really represented: was Peter first above his peers or first among his peers? (There's a Latin phrase for this distinction but I forget it and can't be bothered to google the subject at the moment--I'm taking a break from mowing my grass and need to finish this and get back to work).

In other words, I think one need not interpret from this passage that Simon Peter was basically declared King-designate in the place of Christ over the whole church by Christ's words in Matthew 16. THAT IS essentially what the Papacy has evolved into over time but I don't think it was the historic understanding of the Petrine role in the Church.
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  #10  
Old Jun 5, '08, 5:20 pm
flameburns623 flameburns623 is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catholic Dude View Post
I don't see how PCM could "spring" something on us here, in fact the dual usage of Peter/Cephas actually helps the Catholic case because Cephas takes away any option of saying Peter was actually just a pebble.
That would be the point of transliterating the name consistently, if we assume this is the argument that PC Master is developing here. Since the Holy Ghost did NOT inspire Matthew to transliterate this name consistently, but rather to translate it to a Greek name that carries with it some inherent ambiguity--one could argue that this ambiguity may have been intentional on the part of God.
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  #11  
Old Jun 5, '08, 7:54 pm
PC Master PC Master is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

flameburns> That's actually an interesting point. I'm not sure that I agree with it, but it's certainly not something that had crossed my mind before. It's certainly worthy of further consideration -- would God act in this way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VociMike View Post
The difference I see between Kepha/Petros and the other examples you gave is that in the Kepha/Petros instance, both languages were being spoken side by side in the same time and in overlapping places, while in the other examples the transliteration would have come much later.
I don't understand what you're saying. Names in scripture are transliterated most of the time, and while I haven't done an exhaustive study on this subject, I'm not sure why it would not be done in the case of Kepha. That's what I'm asking about here -- what reason is there for Kepha to not always have been transliterated as Cephas? Why should it ever have been translated to petros?

I suppose you can argue that they wanted to really point out that Peter was the rock of the church, but I think this argument makes little sense. All of the gospels record Christ's name as the transliterated Iesous (Jesus), even though Jesus' name certainly has meaning in its original tongue.

Quote:
Do you have some theory you're going to spring on us, or are you just asking?
It's a linguistic oddity that came up in a thread about Peter being "the rock". I personally find oddities such as this worthy of investigation, because there's usually some misunderstanding in such cases.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catholic Dude View Post
I dont see how PCM could "spring" something on us here, in fact the dual usage of Peter/Cephas actually helps the Catholic case because Cephas takes away any option of saying Peter was actually just a pebble.
I never have suggested that Simon Peter was a pebble. That's generally sloppy scholarship (on the part of protestants) or straw-man argumentation (on the part of Roman Catholics).

In any case, the dual usage is seemingly unique from what I can see. Thus, we have to consider what the possible reasons for this are.

Is it possible that the use of Petros is not actually a translation of Kepha (except, of course in John, where it clearly is indicated as such), but instead is the transliteration of another name Simon possessed (perhaps making the similarity with the Greek word petros a mere coincidence)?

Is there some other possibility I'm missing here? Why would a seemingly "standard" linguistic practice be violated in this case?

I realize most of you will want to simply insist that the traditional understanding is correct, but I'm looking for genuinely interested people with possible ideas here -- not folks looking to defend the RCC at any cost. This isn't a petros/petra discussion, nor is it about the role of Simon in the church. Let's keep the ad hominem out of it, and address the question I raised.

Thanks, guys.
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  #12  
Old Jun 6, '08, 12:11 am
Gofer Gofer is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by flameburns623 View Post
Since the Holy Ghost did NOT inspire Matthew to transliterate this name consistently, but rather to translate it to a Greek name that carries with it some inherent ambiguity--one could argue that this ambiguity may have been intentional on the part of God.
But Matthew never uses "Cephas". Paul (writing first) does. John (last to write) explains "Cephas" and "Petros" are the same. See: http://bible.cc/john/1-42.htm
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  #13  
Old Jun 6, '08, 12:44 am
WynCatholic WynCatholic is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Because Rock at that time and in both languages were not used as names. to call Simon by 'Rock' you were addressing his function, His Title Name, as it were.
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  #14  
Old Jun 6, '08, 11:25 am
Evan Evan is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

It might be that the authors of the Gospels/Epistles were reporting what people hear.

Some may have called Simon, Kephas. In that they had heard him referred to in this manor many times. So in the NT you find that nickname being used.

As Simon travelled through Greece, some, who know both languages, may have begun to use Petros as a nickname. So in the NT occationally the other nickname was used. It would then have been very approriate to use Petros when writing in Greek and comparing his nickname to Jesus statement that he is a Rock.

Our Priest (Fr Young) had the same problem when he first arrived. Many in the community called him Padre Joven (Spanish for father young). It took a while for him to figure out what they were calling him. Then he asked them to begin using Young rather than Joven.

This may have resulted from the diocese joke. They kept telling us we were getting a 'young' priest, so at the masses in spanish it was announced we were getting a 'joven' priest.
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  #15  
Old Jun 6, '08, 12:36 pm
utunumsint utunumsint is offline
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Default Re: Kepha not transliterated...why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PC Master View Post
An interesting question came up in another thread. Here it is:

In the gospels, Simon is supposedly called Kepha, translated into Greek as Petros, from which we transliterate (through French, I believe?) the name Peter.


My question is why would the name Kepha ever have been translated to Petros, and not be consistently translitterated as Cephas (as John and Paul both did in at least some instances)?

Simon, Jesus, Israel, Jacob, and so many other names were transliterated (sound for sound) into other languages from their originals. Why not do the same with Kepha? Does it make sense at all for this particular name to have been a translation of a Hebrew/Aramaic name's meaning instead of a transliteration of the name itself?
For what its worth, in Latin, Iacob is used for both Jacob, and James. From Iacob to French, we have Jacques (James), and Jacob. From Iacob to Spanish, we have Hime and Iago.

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