Kephas/Cephas?

Hi,
Recently I was challenged in a debate by the statement that we do not know really if Christ or Matthew used the word Cephas/Kephas in the Aramaic, since we do not have a copy of the Gospel in that language.

So, does anyone know if this is this true? Do we have proof that this was the word he chose to refer to Rock in the play on words with Peter? Or are we “reverse engineering” the Aramaic Gospel, ie. could he have used a different word?? If not, why not?

Thanks all!!
Brandon

Ps… I read somewhere that they found an Aramaic version of Matthew with the Dead Sea Scrolls… anyone know if that is true?

good argument you can use is from some leading Protestant scholars themselves. I have heard also that they found parts of Matthew. I belive I even saw a documentary on it a couple of years ago where they showed the fragments of it on A & E.

J. Knox Chamblin
Presbyterian and New Testament Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary

By the words “this rock” Jesus means not himself, nor his teaching, nor God the Father, nor Peter’s confession, but Peter himself. The phrase is immediately preceded by a direct and emphatic reference to Peter. As Jesus identifies himself as the Builder, the rock on which he builds is most naturally understood as someone (or something) other than Jesus himself. The demonstrative this, whether denoting what is physically close to Jesus or what is literally close in Matthew, more naturally refers to Peter (v. 18) than to the more remote confession (v. 16). The link between the clauses of verse 18 is made yet stronger by the play on words, “You are Peter (Gk. Petros), and on this rock (Gk. petra) I will build my church.” As an apostle, Peter utters the confession of verse 16; as a confessor he receives the designation this rock from Jesus. (“Matthew,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1989), 742.)

Craig L. Blomberg
Baptist and Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary

Acknowledging Jesus as The Christ illustrates the appropriateness of Simon’s nickname “Peter” (Petros = rock). This is not the first time Simon has been called Peter (cf. John 1:42), but it is certainly the most famous. Jesus’ declaration, “You are Peter,” parallels Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ,” as if to say, “Since you can tell me who I am, I will tell you who you are.” 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 play on words in the Greek between Peter’s name (Petros) and the word “rock” (petra) makes sense only if Peter is the rock and if Jesus is about to explain the significance of this identification. (The New American Commentary: Matthew, vol. 22, (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 251-252.)

David Hill
Presbyterian minister and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, England

On this rock I will build my church: the word-play goes back to Aramaic tradition. It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church. The disciple becomes, as it were, the foundation stone of the community. 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. (“The Gospel of Matthew,” The New Century Bible Commentary, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1972), 261.)

Suzanne de Dietrich
Presbyterian theologian

The play on words in verse 18 indicates the Aramaic origin of the passage. The new name contains a promise. “Simon,” the fluctuating, impulsive disciple, will, by the grace of God, be the “rock” on which God will build the new community. (The Layman’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, vol. 16, (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1961), 93.)

Donald A. Hagner
Fuller Theological Seminary

The natural reading of the passage, despite the necessary shift from Petros to petra required by the word play in the Greek (but not the Aramaic, where the same word kepha occurs in both places), is that it is Peter who is the rock upon which the church is to be built. . . . The frequent attempts that have been made, largely in the past, to deny this in favor of the view that the confession itself is the rock . . . seem to be largely motivated by Protestant prejudice against a passage that is used by the Roman Catholics to justify the papacy. (“Matthew 14-28,” Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b, (Dallas: Word Books, 1995), 470.)

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In John’s Gospel (1:42) John writes “You are Simon the son of John, you will be called Kephas” (which is translated Peter).

John was written in Greek, why use Kephas then say it translates to Petros?

Also, Paul always refers to Peter as Cephas.

Another thing, I’ll get back with the actual source: some of the earliest christian documents, like Eusebius’, make mention of MAtthew writting the first Gospel and it being in the aramaic (or hebrew) tongue.

Cephas

[quote=Cephas]In John’s Gospel (1:42) John writes “You are Simon the son of John, you will be called Kephas” (which is translated Peter).

John was written in Greek, why use Kephas then say it translates to Petros?

[/quote]

“Petros” was not a pre-existing name. It was made up for the occasion. Christ gave Simon the Aramaic nickname of “Kepha,” which is transliterated into Greek as “Kephas” or “Cephas.” The reader of the Gospel may not have understood the transliteration, so the author gave the Greek translation, “Petros.”

Thanks all, I guess what I am really curious about is if the word tranlsated “rock” in the English version can be shown to be the same word as Cephas/Kephas in the Aramaic. Can we prove that Christ or Matthew used Peters name (rock) again… ie. “You are Cephas, and upon this** Cephas** I will build my church?” Is there anywhere we can turn to show that the “second” cephas was indeed the word that Christ/matthew chose?

Btw… one has to wonder if Peter didnt take that as an insult at first. .being name “rock”… LOL

Brando

This teaching was given standing next to huge rock which a pagan temple on the top of it. So it fits perfectly.

[quote=SDA2RC]Thanks all, I guess what I am really curious about is if the word tranlsated “rock” in the English version can be shown to be the same word as Cephas/Kephas in the Aramaic. Can we prove that Christ or Matthew used Peters name (rock) again… ie. “You are Cephas, and upon this** Cephas** I will build my church?” Is there anywhere we can turn to show that the “second” cephas was indeed the word that Christ/matthew chose?

[/quote]

Anyone? Anyone? Pretty, pretty, please… with sugar on it??

Brandon

[quote=SDA2RC]Thanks all, I guess what I am really curious about is if the word tranlsated “rock” in the English version can be shown to be the same word as Cephas/Kephas in the Aramaic. Can we prove that Christ or Matthew used Peters name (rock) again… ie. “You are Cephas, and upon this** Cephas** I will build my church?” Is there anywhere we can turn to show that the “second” cephas was indeed the word that Christ/matthew chose?
[/quote]

I guess the closest evidence we have is the Pesh-i-tta. While this Aramaic text has “Keepa…Keepa”, it seems to be a 5th century work. The question is, does this Aramaic translation accurately reflect the hypothesized Aramaic original? Maybe. Maybe not. I guess we’ll have to ask Aramaic Akin for that. :slight_smile:

My husband was asking about George M. Lamsa’s translation of The Bible…so I Googled it…found it…with the following description:

Protected in a Living Time Capsule For Sixteen Centuries in the Mountains of Northern Mesopotamia, The Aramaic Bible, called the*** Peshitta*** in the Middle East, was translated into English, for the first time in 1933 and Published as** “The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts”** in 1957. Having the Peshitta as a Reference has made it possible to correct numerous Translation Errors in all later Translations of the Bible. The errors are of Two Types: Spelling and Contextual. Among the most consistent translation errors are those that involve the Knowledge of Holy Spirit and the Soul.

Is this Aramaic Bible, the Peshitta, the same as the one the Catholic Church follows?? The way they describe ‘it’ as protected in the mountains makes me suspicious. But I see it has been referenced in this thread too.

If this is not our Catholic Bible, and you can provide links, or references to support they are not the same, please share them with me so I can present them to my husband.

Thank you.

Ps… I read somewhere that they found an Aramaic version of Matthew with the Dead Sea Scrolls… anyone know if that is true?

I also read the same.

[quote=SDA2RC]Hi,
Recently I was challenged in a debate by the statement that we do not know really if Christ or Matthew used the word Cephas/Kephas in the Aramaic, since we do not have a copy of the Gospel in that language.

So, does anyone know if this is this true? Do we have proof that this was the word he chose to refer to Rock in the play on words with Peter? Or are we “reverse engineering” the Aramaic Gospel, ie. could he have used a different word?? If not, why not?

Thanks all!!
Brandon

Ps… I read somewhere that they found an Aramaic version of Matthew with the Dead Sea Scrolls… anyone know if that is true?
[/quote]

See the writings of our Apostolic Fathers…it’s quite clear…it was “Cephas / Kephas.”

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]Ps… I read somewhere that they found an Aramaic version of Matthew with the Dead Sea Scrolls… anyone know if that is true?

I also read the same.
[/quote]

What what what? Where has this been published? This would be really great news for everyone - especially those of us who have studied textual criticism issues. This is the first I’ve ever heard of such a notion.

[quote=Karl Keating]“Petros” was not a pre-existing name. It was made up for the occasion. Christ gave Simon the Aramaic nickname of “Kepha,” which is transliterated into Greek as “Kephas” or “Cephas.” The reader of the Gospel may not have understood the transliteration, so the author gave the Greek translation, “Petros.”
[/quote]

John 1:42 is written in GREEK, mentioning ‘Simon’s new name’ in Aramaic word but written in Greek Alphabet. This Aramaic name then translated to ‘Petros’ (‘Petros’ is Greek word in Greek Alphabeth).

This Aramaic word is written as :
kappa-eta-phi-alpha-sigma
Please remember that these alphabet is Greek alphabet.

The problem is: the ‘real’ Aramaic word is supposed to be written in Aramaic Alphabet and not in Greek Alphabet.

Now the question become :
Which aramaic word is represented by this
kappa-eta-phi-alpha-sigma in John 1:42 ?

possibility :

  1. Kepha (aramaic word for MASSIVE ROCK)
  2. Kephath (aramaic word for SMALL ROCK/ PEBBLE/ THROWABLE STONE)

‘Petros’ is more informative in showing what the writer really meant
Because ‘Petros’ is a Greek word written in Greek alphabet. John and Matthew must have chosen the word carefully to translate the Aramaic word in order to clarify the meaning.

The allegedly word ‘kephas’ is less informative because it is an Aramaic-Greek Transliteration of allegedly Aramaic word ‘Kepha -or-maybe- Kephath’.

So by this way of thinking, I guess that John was trying to say
plainly that ‘Simon’s new Aramaic name’ means ‘Petros’
(which plainly means ‘pebble/stone’).

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]Ps… I read somewhere that they found an Aramaic version of Matthew with the Dead Sea Scrolls… anyone know if that is true?

I also read the same.
[/quote]

I have two different texts on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and neither mentions it. I would think if this were true, it would be worth at least mentioning. (Unless they were just recently found).

[quote=SDA2RC]Anyone? Anyone? Pretty, pretty, please… with sugar on it?
[/quote]

If the Bible is enough proof I submit the following:
(Jn 1:42) Jesus says “You are Simon the son of John, you will be called Kephas”

[quote=francisca]John 1:42 is written in GREEK, mentioning ‘Simon’s new name’ in Aramaic word but written in Greek Alphabet. This Aramaic name then translated to ‘Petros’ (‘Petros’ is Greek word in Greek Alphabeth).
. . . . . . .
‘Petros’ is more informative in showing what the writer really meant
Because ‘Petros’ is a Greek word written in Greek alphabet. means ‘Petros’
(which plainly means ‘pebble/stone’).
[/quote]

You’re forgetting that to account for the fact that Greek nouns have gender. You must use the masculine for for a (Petros) male, so there is no choice, it was dictated by his gender. Using Petra would have been an insult.

This is probably silly, but whenever arguments arise over the Kephas/Cephas issue I just can’t help but ask why Jesus would change a persons name knowing that it would cause this much confusion. In other words, if Jesus intended to belittle Peter and show him just how insignificant he was, should’nt he of just left his name alone. Why change it to something that would cause so much controversy? Had Jesus left his name alone, all we would have is “…and I tell you, you are Simon…and on this…”

It’s obvious to me, Peter is the rock on which Christ would build his church.

My .02 cents…

[quote=RBushlow]You’re forgetting that to account for the fact that Greek nouns have gender. You must use the masculine for for a (Petros) male, so there is no choice, it was dictated by his gender. Using Petra would have been an insult.
[/quote]

The problem again is, in Matthew 16:18 Jesus said

You are “Petros”, and uppon this “Petra” I will build My Church.

So in Mat 16:18 Jesus called Simon “Petros/moveable rock”, then about the foundation of the church He did not use “Petros” but “Petra/Massive Rock”

I guess Apostle John must have been very carefull when he translate the aramaic name of simon. There should be no mistake there cos it is consistent with the other part of the bible that constantly use 'Massive Rock" to refer “God”, and even Paul’s letter to the Corinth confirms explicitly that the foundation is Jesus not Simon Peter.

Suppose the use of Petros is only because of translation, Apostle John must have mention it: that the meaning of Simon’s new Aramaic name is supposedly to be “petra”, because in John 1:42, John actually mention the Aramaic name (although transliterated in Greek Alphabeth), while “word Petros” is only a remark to show the meaning of the name, if it is supposedly to be petra, he could have make more remark about it. But he did not).

[quote=matthew1624]This is probably silly, but whenever arguments arise over the Kephas/Cephas issue I just can’t help but ask why Jesus would change a persons name knowing that it would cause this much confusion. In other words, if Jesus intended to belittle Peter and show him just how insignificant he was, should’nt he of just left his name alone. Why change it to something that would cause so much controversy? Had Jesus left his name alone, all we would have is “…and I tell you, you are Simon…and on this…”

It’s obvious to me, Peter is the rock on which Christ would build his church.

My .02 cents…
[/quote]

God also change Abram’s name into Abraham and Jacob’s name into Israel. Both are because of their tested FAITH, and all of them are the begining of a new nation.

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