Does any church father make a distinction on size between the rocks in Matthew 16:18?


#1

This is a spin off thread from PCM’s linguistical study of the rocks described in Matthew 16:18, *Petros *and Petra.

I have asked PCM to provide me with one church father, or gnostic, or heretic that makes a distinction between the size of the rocks in this passage.

God bless,
Ut


#2

No.


#3

Likewise, look at all of the most ancient translations of scripture that we still have available. None of them really make the distinction. It has been argued that the Aramaic Peshitta “may” be copies of the scriptures. Regardless, the copies we have in Aramaic are very old and probably predate any existing Greek texts that still exist.

The Aramaic translations all use the same word for rock. They say, you are “kepha” and on this “kepha” I will build my Church. The question of primacy of Latin, Greek, or Aramaic is my mind irrelevant when it comes to the use of the word rock. The Aramaic translation being quite ancient is sufficient for me to conclude that the Catholic view of Mathews account is the correct one.


#4

Thanks for this information PAX.

God bless,
Ut


#5

OK. Since Melville and PCM do not seem to want to contribute anything to this thread, I guess I’ll have to do the leg work.

Here is a quote from Tertullian’s Perscriptions agains the Heretics in chapter 22.

They [the heretics] usually tell us that the apostles did not know all things: (but herein) they are impelled by the same madness, whereby they turn round to the very opposite point, and declare that the apostles certainly knew all things, but did not deliver all things to all persons,—in either case exposing Christ to blame for having sent forth apostles who had either too much ignorance, or too little simplicity. What man, then, of sound mind can possibly suppose that they were ignorant of anything, whom the Lord ordained to be masters (or teachers), keeping them, as He did, inseparable (from Himself) in their attendance, in their discipleship, in their society, to whom, “when they were alone, He used to expound” all things Mark 4:34 which were obscure, telling them that “to them it was given to know those mysteries,” Matthew 13:11 which it was not permitted the people to understand? **Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called “the rock on which the church should be built,” who also obtained “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” with the power of “loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?” **

Here we have Tertullian in his Catholic period equating the second rock to Peter himself. No mention of a difference in size. He also has the same understanding in his Montanist period expressed in his text on Modesty chapter 21.

Here is a pssage from Origen in which he equates Peter with the second rock. Note that Origen is a Greek.

And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail Matthew 16:18 left only one epistle of acknowledged genuineness.

There are other passages that I will post when I have some time.

God bless,
Ut


#6

Interesting. Cyprian in chapter 2 of his work on unity uses the same quote Melville uses to question the second rock in Matthew 16. But for Cyprian, it seems as though this rock is not enough to guard the faithful against the deceptive and deceitful heretics. In chapter 4 he says.

  1. If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter,1 saying, "I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."1 And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, "Feed nay sheep."1 And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, "As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained; "1 John 20:21 yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity.1 Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, "My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her."1 Song of Songs 6:9 Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church1 trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, "There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God? "

An of course, once again, he makes no distinction in size between the rocks.

God bless,
Ut


#7

Thank you, Ut!

I was direcred here from the Apologetics thread that arose from the strictly linguistic question about the Aramaic words for rock, which I have no intention of rehashing. I like what Cyprian wrote, though while he begins with Matt. 16, this is les of an exegesis of Peter’s primacy than it is upon the unity of the church, per se, for he says the Lord gave the apostles equal power, and perhaps most strongly on Paul’s declaration, without reference to Peter or to eccleastical hierarchy. But this has nothing to do with the size question.

I hope not to appear lazy- one only has so much time. Has it been brought up here and did any of the church fathers specifically refer to the Aramaic origins of the word Cephas at all, or refer to possible translation of an original Aramaic Matthew to Greek? What is the oldest reference we have to suggest this?

What are the oldest Aramaic Mss. of Matthew and John that we have, cp. the date for the Peshitta? But then are even the oldest Aramaic Mss. translations from the Greek?

Yours in Christ,

Melville


#8

It’d help if I’d been aware of such a thread as this. :stuck_out_tongue: But perhaps I simply missed where you linked me.

Second, if you’re going to quote Cyprian, you might as well answer the previous point I made…

“Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity.”

How does that leave any supremacy for Peter, except as a symbol of unity, which we incidentally see emphasized in this work by Cyprian (after all, it was specifically about the unity of the church, so symbols of unity [not authority] would be expected to be mentioned)? Equal power (that means they had the keys, the ability to speak, act, and govern as Peter), and equal honor (that means they had the same respect and prominence). Only symbolic (not actual) examples are left, and Cyprian clearly believes that being the symbol of unity was Christ’s intention.

Regardless of the sizes of rock, Cyprian doesn’t accord primacy to the bishop of Rome, so using his works as a component of such an argument doesn’t seem very fair.

Oh, and as I recall, I had also asked you to provide a source that explicitly says there was no difference in the sizes of rock. I mean, if you want me to not argue from silence, it seems only fair to ask the same of you. I’ll be reading to see if there is an example of what you’re looking for me to provide that is explicit in it.


#9

Oh, and as I recall, I had also asked you to provide a source that explicitly says there was no difference in the sizes of rock. I mean, if you want me to not argue from silence, it seems only fair to ask the same of you. I’ll be reading to see if there is an example of what you’re looking for me to provide that is explicit in it.

1500 years is a awful lot of silence for a verse that has been commented on repeatedly over the centuries in between. I mean really, how often do you put your pen to the paper to refute non existant arguments? What you are asking is ridiculous, and I really, really wish you could see that. Because I am sure it is painfully obvious to everyone else on this forum, with the possible exception of Melville.

Regardless of the sizes of rock, Cyprian doesn’t accord primacy to the bishop of Rome, so using his works as a component of such an argument doesn’t seem very fair.

Do you want to go back into the church fathers thread again to get into all of this? By all means, I am willing. Cyprian saw the bishop of Rome as the exemplary bishop with whom all other bishops had to conform in order to be considered Catholic. Of course, when faced with a real disagreement with the bishop of Rome over rebaptising, he sings a different tune, but future generations fully supported Pope Stephen in his rights as the leader of the Catholic church. If I remember correctly, I even posted several quotes about the subject which you failed to answer in the church fathers thread.

God bless PCM,
Ut


#10

I would point you to what I wrote in the previous post to PCM and I think I will leave it at that. I don’t want to be insulting, but I simply cannot understand your reasoning on this matter.

God bless,
Ut


#11

Dear Ut,
Ut,

I hope it is OK to offer an anecdote.

In 1985 my late wife and I were in San Gimignano inder distressing circumstances and in the middle of winter. We read in the Michelin guide about a cloister garden and we went there on Christmas, or close to it. (It’s cold there in winter.) There we met a couple of Franciscan brothers from Mexico and the love among us was palpable. One spoke English, the other not, (unless He was being silent). We were spiritually refreshed without words and the one with whom we spoke seemed refreshed too, though who knows what he thought. It was just one of those sublime expreiences. Then they had to go to help with confession. I knew we were in different situations, on different paths, but the love and sense of spirtual unity was so strongly there.

However, if we had gotten into intellectual arguments about where we each and all were, it would have been different. I wouldn’t have touched it, any more than I could judge the man I saw touch the little baby Jesus figure on the door of the cathedral at Pisa, with some sort of prayer or duty, which had been rubbed bare to the brass.

But here a minority, I guess, are trying to talk about biblical translations and exposition in an open forum, for which I am grateful.

Yours,

Melville


#12

PCM–

As you already know, St. Cyprian is the one Church Father who ascribes indefectibility to the entire Church of Rome!

To say the entire Roman Church is incapable of falling into error does indeed reflect favorably upon the Church’s bishop, doesn’t it?

DJim


#13

Generally speaking, one does not. But the question is, which was the common understanding and which was the non-extant opposing idea? You blindly assert one way, and I do the other (though I’d like to believe there’s a bit more logic and evidence to my point than yours, but this could simply be incorrect).

That you assume one particular view to have been the obviously accepted one of the day does not make it so, any more than my assumption of the opposite makes it so.

What you are asking is ridiculous, and I really, really wish you could see that. Because I am sure it is painfully obvious to everyone else on this forum, with the possible exception of Melville.

I’m just asking you to substantiate your claim that none of the early fathers believed there was a difference betwen petros and petra.

Do you want to go back into the church fathers thread again to get into all of this? By all means, I am willing.

Then start with addressing the quote I provided, rather than ignoring it. Thanks.

Of course, when faced with a real disagreement with the bishop of Rome over rebaptising, he sings a different tune…

It would seem that situations of pressure such as this are more likely to reveal one’s true beliefs, so this only supports that Cyprian didn’t actually view the bishop of Rome as superior.

…but future generations fully supported Pope Stephen in his rights as the leader of the Catholic church.

Future generations are reading into the past what they wish to see (no matter which side they’re on). Let’s not bring them into this.

If I remember correctly, I even posted several quotes about the subject which you failed to answer in the church fathers thread.

Actually, I just got tired of you guys ignoring the hardest questions I asked, and repeatedly ignoring my responses to your questions (every one of which I responded to up until I got tired of the refusal to acknowledge what I’d said). There are probably two pages worth of questions and quotes in that thread which you have yet to respond to. If needed, I’ll go put them all together again for you.

And as we already covered, this is quite the literary device, used to emphasize the point that, of all the churches the heretics could have gone to, Rome was quite a bad choice. Also, it says that “faithlessness could have no access” to the church of Rome, not that “sin can have no access”. There is a difference between being without faith, and being without infallibility. You can have faith (as Rome did in that day), and still lack infallibility. Falling into error is simply not faithlessness. Lacking any faith at all is faithlessness.

To say the entire Roman Church is incapable of falling into error does indeed reflect favorably upon the Church’s bishop, doesn’t it?

No more than it does every member of that congregation. After all, the text doesn’t say that it was the bishop of Rome himself to whom faithlessness (again, not sin) can have no access. It says it was the church (the assembly of true believers that were in Rome) that had this quality.


#14

These are Fathers who support that Peter IS the ROCK on which the Church is built. I think the OP is asking what Church Fathers speak of the difference between “Rock” and “Stone”. I have not been able to find any. All seem to just accept without any issues that Peter is the Rock, period.


#15

What thread are you referring to?

The Shepherd goes on to explain the rock and the gate as the Son of God, that the stones that didnt enter through the gate were cast out as they had not taken on the name of the Son of God, that the multitude building the tower were the angels, the glorious man was the Son of God, and the six men with Him were the Angels that do not leave His side. The Tower is the Church…

members.ozemail.com.au/~moorea/shepherd_hermas.html

  1. [New paragraph in the oldest extant manuscripts] First of all, Sir, I said, tell me what this rock and this gate denote? He said, This rock and this gate are the Son of God. I replied, Sir, how can that be, seeing the rock is old, but the gate new?

ministries.tliquest.net/theology/apocryphas/nt/hermsima.htm


#16

That’s a nice assertion, but it’s just as much an argument from silence as if I claimed “they all clearly understood the difference, and thus no one felt the need to write in regard to it”. There may be no writings that overtly contradict the theory, but that doesn’t make the theory so.


#17

It’s not an assertion it simply an observation. I have never found any Fathers that felt a need defend the Catholic position because it was attacked or found any Fathers that supported the Protestant position. They all simply say that the Rock is Peter and the Church is built upon Peter the Rock. If the other position had been floating around in the early Church someone would have mentioned it, no?


#18

Where were the PC Masters during the times of the Early Church Fathers who thought that Peter wasn’t THE rock?

And why didn’t any of them ever become an Early Church Father?


#19

Hello Br. Rich,

I’m assuming you mean the Catholic positon on this specific point. I have read the “church fathers” a little, not extensively, but from this they did not agree on all points, (which only later, maybe much later, settled down to the current Catholic position), did they?

I am not sure there is a unified Protestant position on this, except that it was among Protestants, as some have asserted, that the size issue first appeared.

I have to say we really can’t be sure no church father or other credible person of the time never touched on this because not all documents have survived. It seems safe to say that most documents did not survive. We have only the one letter from Polycarp, for example, and from it we know he wrote others. In addition to the effects of age and circumstances, and the persectionns, there have been a lot of burnings of documents by various people through the centuries.

We could say that it was divine Providence that certain documents survived and others didn’t, but I am only willing to ascribe that to the scriptures, at least as regards foundational authority. No later documents have that same quality of spiritual foundation and authority. We beleive we have the scriptures intact, or not?

We do see anyway that not all church fathers (by the way, who was the first “church father”, Clement? And who was the last?) gave equal emphasis of primacy to Peter. I have been trying to point out that, if all we had was the New Testament to go by, and this is the set of documents that are looked upon as foundational, there is a gap where one should think there would be none, regarding the church being built up on Peter during the Apostolic time in bery significant ways.

But back to the specific size issue, I can’t tell if it holds up or not. There is doubt about the textual interpretation and the whole point raised was doubt about the Aramaic issue. This is not a proof, but only an indication to give pause, nothing more that I can see. But it is not sheer fabrication.

The extant church fathers did not seem to have referred to the size issue, but then there has been nothing adduced to say they even wrote about translation questions.


#20

Oh of course they wrote about translation and interpretation questions through their homilies.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.