Is there really only one word for "Rock"?


#1

I read an article online and this guy, Mr. Stark says that is Syraic Aramaic that there were two words for rock Kepha and Shu’a’. Pastor Stark argues that in the Syriac Aramaic, Kepha is usually used for a movable rock and Shu`a’ for a large immovable rock.

He states that Shu ‘a’ would be more approprietely used for “petra” and kepha for “petros”. Hence the translation in Aramaic could have been “You are kepha and upon this shua…”?

Is this right? Has anyone answered this article yet? What do you all think?

You can find the article at gpcredding.org/petra.html


#2

catholic.com/library/Peter_the_Rock.asp


#3

[quote=cmom]catholic.com/library/Peter_the_Rock.asp
[/quote]

Thanks for the links but this really doesn’t address the issue that Stark raises in his article.


#4

First off my spelling of any big important words will be really bad sorry about that stick with me.

Really what I see as the issue here is that they are saying that Peter isn’t the rock on which Christ will build his church due to the different word used to refer to Peter and to the Rock on which christ will build his church. That is not true. First off get your self a copy of Unabridged Christianity by Fr. Mario P. Romero all of what I am going to tell you is in that book. But here we go…

Jesus did not speak the Greek language, he spoke aramaic when they went to translate what he said into greek they ran into problems. In aramaic Jesus said to Peter (Matt 16:18) “and so I say to you, you are [Kepha] and upon this [Kepha] I will build my church…” When they went to translate that they had a problem…the translators had to use the greek feminine word “petra” for inaminmate rock. But the word is feminine which St. Peter is not so they went with the greek masculine name “petros” which is derived form the feminine greek noun “petra”.

So the whole thing was just a translation problem and not meaning to demean Peter in any way. Why would jesus say blessed are you Simon Peter, you are an insignifican little pebble, here are the keys to the kingdome of heaven, just plain silly. Hope that helps!


#5

Well, thanks again for the information but the really does not address the issue in this persons article either.

:confused: wonder if I should just post the article instead of the link:confused:

Take a look at the article by clicking on the link. I have not read anything that addresses what he brings up in response to the “kepha - kepha” argument.


#6

[quote=OrthodoxBerean]I read an article online and this guy, Mr. Stark says that is Syraic Aramaic that there were two words for rock Kepha and Shu’a’. Pastor Stark argues that in the Syriac Aramaic, Kepha is usually used for a movable rock and Shu`a’ for a large immovable rock.

He states that Shu ‘a’ would be more approprietely used for “petra” and kepha for “petros”. Hence the translation in Aramaic could have been “You are kepha and upon this shua…”?

Is this right? Has anyone answered this article yet? What do you all think?

You can find the article at gpcredding.org/petra.html
[/quote]

ROCK

Two Hebrew words, sur and sela`, are found where the English versions are likely to read “rock.” Sur indicates the massive stone formations that are the building blocks of mountains. These awesome structures are often referred to metaphorically to suggest strength, reliability, and safety. The mountains in ancient religions, as in the religions of many American Indians, were seen as the home of the gods; but in Scripture, mountains remind the believer of the greatness of the one who created them. “There is no Rock [sur] like our God,” Hannah affirmed in her prayer (1 Sa 2:2). And the psalmist joins in: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Ps 62:1-2; cf. v. 6). “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” (v. 7).

The other Hebrew term is sela`. It indicates a cliff, or a cleft in a mountain. It too is used metaphorically in the OT. The psalmist expresses its meaning: “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go” (Ps 71:3).

In the NT, “rock” is petra. Petra too indicates the mass of rock that can symbolize stability and safety. One of the most debated passages in Scripture is Mt 16:18. It reports Jesus’ words to Peter: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” The play on words is more obvious in Greek. Jesus said, “You are petros, and on this petra I will build my church.” Petros indicates, not the mountainous mass, but rather a fragment, a stone, from the larger mass. Most Protestant theologians agree that the foundation of the church is the reality that Peter confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). It is Jesus and not Peter on whom the church of God is founded. Christ himself remains our Rock, our source of security and the unshakable foundation for our lives.


#7

[quote=Ric]ROCK

Two Hebrew words, sur and sela`, are found where the English versions are likely to read “rock.” Sur indicates the massive stone formations that are the building blocks of mountains. These awesome structures are often referred to metaphorically to suggest strength, reliability, and safety. The mountains in ancient religions, as in the religions of many American Indians, were seen as the home of the gods; but in Scripture, mountains remind the believer of the greatness of the one who created them. “There is no Rock [sur] like our God,” Hannah affirmed in her prayer (1 Sa 2:2). And the psalmist joins in: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Ps 62:1-2; cf. v. 6). “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” (v. 7).

The other Hebrew term is sela`. It indicates a cliff, or a cleft in a mountain. It too is used metaphorically in the OT. The psalmist expresses its meaning: “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go” (Ps 71:3).

In the NT, “rock” is petra. Petra too indicates the mass of rock that can symbolize stability and safety. One of the most debated passages in Scripture is Mt 16:18. It reports Jesus’ words to Peter: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” The play on words is more obvious in Greek. Jesus said, “You are petros, and on this petra I will build my church.” Petros indicates, not the mountainous mass, but rather a fragment, a stone, from the larger mass. Most Protestant theologians agree that the foundation of the church is the reality that Peter confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). It is Jesus and not Peter on whom the church of God is founded. Christ himself remains our Rock, our source of security and the unshakable foundation for our lives.
[/quote]

Ric thanks for the info. Since you already stated that Matt 16:18 is a highly debated passage I am sure that you are aware that Protestants also hold that the Rock in this passage refers to Peter himself and not his confession.


#8

[quote=OrthodoxBerean]Ric thanks for the info. Since you already stated that Matt 16:18 is a highly debated passage I am sure that you are aware that Protestants also hold that the Rock in this passage refers to Peter himself and not his confession.
[/quote]

Hey OB,

Sorry, I don’t personaly know of any “Protestants” that believe that the Rock refers to Peter himself and not his confession. :confused:


#9

[quote=Ric]Hey OB,

Sorry, I don’t personaly know of any “Protestants” that believe that the Rock refers to Peter himself and not his confession. :confused:
[/quote]

Oh sorry for the assumption. Here are some,

taken from catholicoutlook.com/rock.html

D.A. Carson explains:

Although it is true that petros and petra can mean “stone” and “rock” respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. Moreover the underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and 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 Pe****ta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name. . . 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).[1]

Protestant scholar Oscar Cullman, writing in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, writes,

The Aramaic original of the saying enables us to assert with confidence the formal and material identity between p tra [petra] and P tros; P tros = p tra. . . . The idea of the Reformers that He is referring to the faith of Peter is quite inconceivable . . . for there is no reference here to the faith of Peter. Rather, the parallelism of “thou art Rock” and “on this rock I will build” shows that the second rock can only be the same as the first . It is thus evident that Jesus is referring to Peter, to whom he has given the name Rock. . . . To this extent Roman Catholic exegesis is right and all Protestant attempts to evade this interpretation are to be rejected.[5]

Protestant Greek scholar Marvin Vincent wrote,

The word refers neither to Christ as a rock, distinguished from Simon, a stone, nor to Peter’s confession, but to Peter himself, . . . The reference of petra to Christ is forced and unnatural. The obvious reference of the word is to Peter. The emphatic this naturally refers to the nearest antecedent; and besides, the metaphor is thus weakened, since Christ appears here, not as the foundation, but as the architect: “On this rock will I build.” Again, Christ is the great foundation, the chief cornerstone, but the New Testament writers recognize no impropriety in applying to the members of Christ’s church certain terms which are applied to him. For instance, Peter himself (1 Peter 2:4), calls Christ a living stone, and in ver. 5, addresses the church as living stones.[6]

Protestant scholar W.F. Albright wrote,

This is not a name, but an appellation and a play on words. There is no evidence of Peter or Kephas as a name before Christian times. . . . Peter as Rock will be the foundation of the future community. Jesus, not quoting the Old Testament, here uses Aramaic, not Hebrew, and so uses the only Aramaic word which would serve his purpose. In view of the background of vs. 19, one must dismiss as confessional interpretation any attempt to see this rock as meaning the faith, or the Messianic confession, of Peter. To deny the pre-eminent position of Peter among the disciples or in the early Christian community is a denial of the evidence. The interest in Peter’s failures and vacillations does not detract from this pre-eminence; rather, it emphasizes it. Had Peter been a lesser figure his behavior would have been of far less consequence (cp. Gal 2:11 ff.).[7]

David Hill, a Presbyterian minister at the University of Sheffield wrote,

It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church. . . . Attempts to interpret the ‘rock’ as something other than Peter in person (e.g. his faith, the truth revealed to him) are due to Protestant bias, and introduce to the statement a degree of subtlety which is highly unlikely.[8]


#10

I listed several more Protestant scholars with the same belief on another thread about this topic. I readily admit to having not verified them myself but they are from a trusted source and every citation is there so you can verify them yourself if you would like.

209.239.45.222/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=show_thread&om=208&forum=DCForumID7&omm=3&viewmode=threaded

I have seen some Catholic apologists insist that you don’t even have to get to the fact that it was likely spoken in Aramaic in order to refute this claim. Of course, this claim of a second “rock” in Aramaic is a new one to me.

Jimmy Akin has studied Aramaic. Ask him in the “Ask an Apologist” forum …


#11

[quote=OrthodoxBerean]Oh sorry for the assumption. Here are some,

taken from catholicoutlook.com/rock.html

[/quote]

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation-- if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:2-9 ESV)

Vincent is the only one I recognize from your list. But remember that mere men can be incorrect (and I’m not sure if those quotes are taken out of their context or not from the site you gave) and testing their teachings against the Word of God will expose any incorrect teaching. Look at 1 Peter 2:2-9 (posted above) and we see that Peter himself tells us that Christ built His Church on Himself and not on Peter. :thumbsup:


#12

Ric << Sorry, I don’t personaly know of any “Protestants” that believe that the Rock refers to Peter himself and not his confession >>

You’ve got to be kidding. If you’ve read anything from the Catholic apologetics side on this, there are dozens of Protestant scholars who support Peter = Rock. I quote virtually all of them here (some of these I looked up and verified myself, others I am relying on secondary quotes from Butler’s Jesus, Peter, Keys and Steve Ray’s Upon This Rock).

The Rock of Christ’s Church

The first part of this refutation of James G. McCarthy on authority is done, the second half has been in a state of Limbo for a couple years. :smiley: Someday I may get around to finishing all of it…the “Rock” and “Keys” part are basically done.

My summary –

Let’s summarize what all the Protestant scholars are saying in their commentaries on Matthew 16:18 –

(A) Peter is the Rock, the foundation stone of Jesus’ Church, the Church would be built on Peter personally;

(B) Peter’s name means Rock (petros or petra in Greek, Kepha or Cephas in Aramaic);

© The slight distinction in meaning for the Greek words for Rock (petros, petra) was largely confined to poetry before the time of Jesus and therefore has no special importance;

(D) The Greek words for Rock (petros, petra) by Jesus’ day were interchangeable in meaning;

(E) The underlying Aramaic Kepha-kepha of Jesus’ words makes the Rock-rock identification certain;

(F) The Greek word petra, being a feminine noun, could not be used for a man’s name, so Petros was used;

(G) Only because of past “Protestant bias” was the Peter is Rock identification denied;

(H) The pun or play on words makes sense only if Peter is the Rock;

(I) Jesus says “and on this rock” not “but on this rock” – the referent is therefore Peter personally;

(J) Verse 19 and the immediate context (singular “you”) shows Peter is the Rock of verse 18;

(K) Peter’s revelation and confession of Jesus as the Christ parallels Jesus’ declaration and identification of Peter as the Rock;

(L) Peter is paralleled to Abraham who also had his name changed, was a Father to God’s people, and was called the Rock (Isaiah 51:1-2; cf. Gen 17:5ff).

Now to be fair, virtually all of the Protestant scholars who admit Peter = “this rock” say this has nothing to do with the papacy, since supposedly there is nothing in the text about succession. But the first premise is at least admitted (that Peter = Rock). And succession is at least implied by the connection with the keys of vs. 19 and Isaiah 22 (some Protestant scholars – see article above – also admit this connection).

Phil P


#13

[quote=PhilVaz]Ric << Sorry, I don’t personaly know of any “Protestants” that believe that the Rock refers to Peter himself and not his confession >>

You’ve got to be kidding. If you’ve read anything from the Catholic apologetics side on this, there are dozens of Protestant scholars who support Peter = Rock. I quote virtually all of them here (some of these I looked up and verified myself, others I am relying on secondary quotes from Butler’s Jesus, Peter, Keys and Steve Ray’s Upon This Rock).

Phil P
[/quote]

Sorry Phil,

I have studied many things about the Roman Catholic church, but I really have never touched the subject about the Peter v Jesus the rock issue. I have just stuck with what Scripture says. :slight_smile:


#14

[quote=OrthodoxBerean]Has anyone answered this article yet?
[/quote]

1 - Right off the bat, his first mistake is his first sentence:
"The Greek text is the inspired original of the New Testament."
No, the Aramaic original is the inspired original. He makes this claim so that he can dismiss the Catholic argument that the Aramaic root can only be Kepha for both petra and petros.

2 - Only minor quibbles with his point 2.

3 - This is an old argument that has been subsequently disproved. In 1st century Koine (NT) Greek there is no distinction. From a Protestant source:

"Although it is true that petros and petra can mean ‘stone’ and ‘rock’ respectively in earlier Greek, the distinction is largely confined to poetry. Moreover the underlying Aramaic is in this case unquestionable; and 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 Pesh!tta (written in Syriac, a language cognate with Aramaic) makes no distinction between the words in the two clauses. The Greek makes the distinction between petros and petra simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine petra could not very well serve as a masculine name.”

*The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 8 *(Matthew, Mark, Luke) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), page 368; by Donald A. Carson III (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) Baptist and research professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois.

4 - Is just nonsense. The guy’s no Greek scholar.

5 - Again, he expresses doubt so as to avoid the Aramaic roots, even though the testimony of the early church was that Matthew was written in the language of the Hebrews.

6 - no point made?

7a - okay

7b - he’s got it backward. Sounds like he’s going to ignore the Aramaic root, rely on the Greek as the original, and then translate petra as he sees fit. This is known as eisegesis – twisting the text into preconceived notions thus forcing the evidence to fit the theory.

8 - Yep. He quotes the Pesh*tta Syriac of Mt 16:18, as translating both petra and petros as Kepha. But then uses poor logic to claim that this is wrong. The ancient translators got it all wrong apparently. His logic escapes me.

9 - His conclusion is unsupported by his argument. Obviously those poor fools in the ancient world translated the bible incorrectly.

The Catholic perspective:
The original Aramaic must be “You are Kepha” because Kepha is Peter’s name. The second clause “upon this kepha” is translated as “upon this (large) rock” and I’m not aware of anyone claiming that second phrase is mistranslated.

There is, simply put, a mountain of logical, linguistic, and scriptural evidence supporting the Catholic claim. One post is not enough room for it all.


#15

Ric << I have just stuck with what Scripture says. >>

Stick with Scripture, you’ll be Catholic in no time. :stuck_out_tongue:

Welcome, if you are visiting from CARM or elsewhere

I hadn’t heard the “two words” for rock in Hebrew/Aramaic argument, but everything I find from reading the many Protestant commentaries on Matthew, show these Protestant scholars weren’t aware of this either. They all say about Matthew 16:18 that “Peter = this rock”, and that the original word spoken in both cases would be Kepha (Thou art kepha, and upon this kepha). D.A. Carson admits to deny the Peter = Rock interpretation is based on past Protestant bias and overreation to the Catholic interpretation.

To be fair, Robert H. Gundry in his Matthew commentary says it is Peter’s confession, and John MacArthur in his commentary argues it is all the apostles collectively (if memory serves). So there’s two Protestant commentaries against Peter = Rock vs. about 50 Protestant commentaries for it. :thumbsup:

I am aware of one book that James White has quoted in the past in his debates arguing for two words for Rock in Hebrew, by Chris Carygounas (spelling?) where he says “kepha” and “minra” would supposedly be the two words (not sure of spelling there).

Phil P


#16

This is very typical of Protestant/Catholic debates. Who is the Rock? Jesus or Peter. Jesus is our Rock but are there others? Catholics of course claim that Peter is rock. What does Saint Paul say? Ephesians 2:19-20 “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord:” So what makes Peter different? The keys. Those keys are mentioned in Is. 22:15-25, Mt. 16:15-19 and Rev. 3:7 They represent the power to bind and loose. Jesus gave them to Peter not to the twelve.


#17

Here’s another reference:

16:18 Peterrockchurch. In the Greek ‘Peter’ is *petros * and ‘rock’ is petra. The rock on which the church is built may be Peter’s inspired (v. 17) confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, ‘the Son of the living God,’ or it may be Peter himself, since Eph. 2:20 indicates that the church is ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. . .’”

The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House

As for the Aramaic, Jimmy Akin might be able to help. My tentative analysis is that “upon this shu’a” wouldn’t harm the Catholic interpretation, unless the Catholic interpretation excludes Christ and Peter’s confession of faith from being “this rock”. Of course, it does not. The Catholic reads Scripture with a four-fold sense, and so he can legitimately interpret “this rock” to be Peter, his confession of faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church), and * Christ Himself (Crossing the Threshold of Hope*).


#18

[quote=Vincent]Here’s another reference:

16:18 Peterrockchurch. In the Greek ‘Peter’ is *petros * and ‘rock’ is petra. The rock on which the church is built may be Peter’s inspired (v. 17) confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, ‘the Son of the living God,’ or it may be Peter himself, since Eph. 2:20 indicates that the church is ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. . .’”

The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House

As for the Aramaic, Jimmy Akin might be able to help. My tentative analysis is that “upon this shu’a” wouldn’t harm the Catholic interpretation, unless the Catholic interpretation excludes Christ and Peter’s confession of faith from being “this rock”. Of course, it does not. The Catholic reads Scripture with a four-fold sense, and so he can legitimately interpret “this rock” to be Peter, his confession of faith (Catechism of the Catholic Church), and * Christ Himself (Crossing the Threshold of Hope*).
[/quote]

Here is the whole referance:

16:18 Peter . . . rock . . . church. In the Greek “Peter” is petros (“detached stone”) and “rock” is petra. (“bedrock”). Several interpretations have been given to these words. The “bedrock” on which the church is built is (1) Christ; (2) Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah (v. 16); (3) Christ’s teachings–one of the great emphases of Matthew’s Gospel; (4) Peter himself, understood in terms of his role on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2), the Cornelius incident (Ac 10) and his leadership among the apostles. Eph 2:20 indicates that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” The rock on which the church is built may be Peter’s inspired church. In the Gospels this word is used only by Matthew (here and twice in 18:17). In the Septuagint it is used for the congregation of Israel. In Greek circles of Jesus’ day it indicated the assembly of free, voting citizens in a city (cf. Ac 19:32, 38, 41). Hades. The Greek name for the place of departed spirits, generally equivalent to the Hebrew Sheol (see note on Ge 37:35). The “gates of Hades” may mean the “powers of death,” i.e., all forces opposed to Christ and his kingdom (but see note on Job 17:16).


#19

Yeah, good point. The Catechism (CCC) seems to accept all four interpretations here:

The literal interpretation is that Simon alone is the rock of Christ’s Church, the Church is built on Peter personally (CCC 881, 586, 552). However, the Catechism also notes that Peter is the unshakeable rock because of his faith in Christ (CCC 552); that the acknowledgement of Christ’s divine sonship is the Church’s foundation (CCC 442); on the rock of Peter’s faith Christ built His Church (CCC 424); and Christ Himself as rock and “chief cornerstone” (1 Peter 2:4ff; 1 Cor 10:4; Eph 2:20) is the foundation (CCC 756).

Phil P


#20

Found Chris Caragounis web page

He argues there are two words in Hebrew/Aramaic for Rock in this book

Peter and the Rock (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 58), Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1990

Don’t know if that stands up but he does seem to have academic credentials. Can’t find excerpts from this book so not sure if I can add anything more :o

Phil P


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