Matt 16:18 and Aramaic/Greek


#1

Hi guys.

I am currently formulating a response to a protestant fellow in a discussion we are having about Matt 16:18.

I have already proven that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Aramaic does not have the masculine/feminine version of “rock” that Greek does, andthat according to the grammatical rules in Greek the masculine had to be used in the first part and the feminine in the second part, and that in Aramaic it is simply one word used in both parts. I have a fairly descent understanding of this.

But his whole argument hangs on the following idea:
He basically asks if the Greek is so unclear, using two different words for Rock, then why did the author not clarify and quote Jesus in Aramaic as he did in Matt 5:41? At least that is what I believe he is asking- its kind of hard to tell…

Here is exactly what he wrote to me:

  1. So let’s assume that Aramaic was spoken by Christ with the statement “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani”. (I could say that it is a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic… NOT PURELY Aramaic) Jesus could used Aramaic because his mother, John. etc. were present and I don’t doubt Christ is comfortable in speaking in Aramaic. That is why the Roman soldiers could misunderstood and thought Christ was talking about Elijah. BUT that does not change the authorship of the same person, Matthew… If it was so crucial to write in Aramaic, it would have been done… That simple… Not Greek… The account ( the attributes of rock) you refer is highly documented that includes letters from Peter, Paul, and even James (half-brother of Christ). The only argument you have is that they write Greek because most converted afterward was the Gentiles… Again, the writing of Matthew would have wrote the same attributes if you are referring ROCK is the same in that passage… It was NOT! Matthew is from Galilee which would make him as proficient as Jesus in Aramaic… Why did he distinguish the difference in Greek?

#2

I'm not sure exactly what his argument is, but I would simply ask - is Matthew God-breathed Scripture, or not? If it is, then was it written in Greek or Aramaic (hint - has ANY church council accepted an Aramaic version of Matthew as inspired Scripture)? To argue that Jesus spoke Aramaic is irrelevant, since the Gospel in question was written in Greek. Furthermore, as he has pointed out, the writer had no problem using Aramaic when it seemed appropriate (and again, didn't God inspire the writer to include what God wanted in the account?). What, exactly, is his argument? If it's the "big rock/little rock" or "immovable stone/pebble" argument, I would say he needs to reexamine that, since it's not a very strong argument.


#3

[quote="SMA_12, post:1, topic:333395"]
Hi guys.

I am currently formulating a response to a protestant fellow in a discussion we are having about Matt 16:18.

I have already proven that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Aramaic does not have the masculine/feminine version of "rock" that Greek does, andthat according to the grammatical rules in Greek the masculine had to be used in the first part and the feminine in the second part, and that in Aramaic it is simply one word used in both parts. I have a fairly descent understanding of this.

But his whole argument hangs on the following idea:
He basically asks if the Greek is so unclear, using two different words for Rock, then why did the author not clarify and quote Jesus in Aramaic as he did in Matt 5:41? At least that is what I believe he is asking- its kind of hard to tell...

Here is exactly what he wrote to me:

[/quote]

I would search this site, there is an Apologist link that describes all this in great detail.

The short answer is that we do know that Jesus gave Peter an Aramaic name, Cephas. It is preserved in Paul's letter to the Galatians. Cephas means "rock."

What your friend is trying to do is have you defend what boils down to his opinion. He seems to think Matthew should have "code switched" back to Aramaic to describe this event. But why would Matthew have to? He has the ability to use the word "rock" in Greek in just about the same way as he could in Aramaic.

The argument is really a red herring that comes down to Rock envy. The alleged point is that Simon's rock (Petros) was smaller than Jesus' rock (Petra) and thus unable to support the Church makes no sense in the light of rest of the passage where keys are handed over, ropes are bound and loosened, etc. etc. If Jesus wanted to insult or degrade the size of Simon's rock, why in the world would he then bestow such authority on him?

Likewise the argument that the "rock" was Peter's faith, or that because Peter's knowledge came directly from God it negates the importance of Peter himself make no difference either. Because, again, whatever Jesus meant or saw in Peter was sufficient for him to bestow primacy upon him.


#4

I will add that another argument is that the Koine Greek work for small stone is "lithos" not "petros." Petros is an old Attic Greek word that was used in that context 2-3 hundred years before Christ.

Personally, I wouldn't bother over arguing about the size of Simon's rock. It is a sophist's trick to divert attention away from the meaning of the complete passage, in which Jesus clearly bestows primacy for his Church on Earth to Peter. Jesus could have called Simon "rock head" and it wouldn't change the fact that he handed him the keys to the car and the permission to drive it.


#5

Thanks guys I used a lot of what you said in my answer, as well as some other resources from Catholic Answers, Jimmy Akin, Scripture Catholic, etc.

Jesus could have called Simon "rock head" and it wouldn't change the fact that he handed him the keys to the car and the permission to drive it.

I especially liked this line :D

But your responses were quite helpful and I greatly appreciate it!

God bless!


#6

[quote="SMA_12, post:1, topic:333395"]
Hi guys.

I am currently formulating a response to a protestant fellow in a discussion we are having about Matt 16:18.

5) So let's assume that Aramaic was spoken by Christ with the statement "Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani". (I could say that it is a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic.. NOT PURELY Aramaic) Jesus could used Aramaic because his mother, John. etc. were present and I don't doubt Christ is comfortable in speaking in Aramaic. That is why the Roman soldiers could misunderstood and thought Christ was talking about Elijah. BUT that does not change the authorship of the same person, Matthew.. If it was so crucial to write in Aramaic, it would have been done.. That simple.. Not Greek.. The account ( the attributes of rock) you refer is highly documented that includes letters from Peter, Paul, and even James (half-brother of Christ). The only argument you have is that they write Greek because most converted afterward was the Gentiles.. Again, the writing of Matthew would have wrote the same attributes if you are referring ROCK is the same in that passage.. It was NOT! Matthew is from Galilee which would make him as proficient as Jesus in Aramaic.. Why did he distinguish the difference in Greek?

Here is exactly what he wrote to me:

[/quote]

:confused:

I am confused what is he really trying to argue or say? He is conjecturing because he could not refute what you say. It does not matter...as the others have pointed out...it is the rock of Peter...that is being referred to.

Also, point out that rock in aramaic is Cephas...not small rock..and Jesus indeed spoke in Aramaic.

Here is further proof that others missed....John 1:42:2 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[a]).

I think you have already pointed this out...in aramaic...it would be..."you are cephas and upon this cephas....."


#7

[quote="pablope, post:6, topic:333395"]
:confused:

I am confused what is he really trying to argue or say? He is conjecturing because he could not refute what you say. It does not matter...as the others have pointed out...it is the rock of Peter...that is being referred to.

Also, point out that rock in aramaic is Cephas...not small rock..and Jesus indeed spoke in Aramaic.

Here is further proof that others missed....John 1:42:2 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[a]).

I think you have already pointed this out...in aramaic...it would be..."you are cephas and upon this cephas....."

[/quote]

It is hard to really understand what he is trying to say. I tried to summarize it since what I think he is getting at based on this and the rest of his argument. I didn't post the rest of his argument because it is quite lengthy and I feel I refuted fairly well. He seems to be grasping at straws a bit.
Yes, he uses a lot of conjecture, and then actually accuses me of doing so when simply mentioning the surrounding verses are also all about Peter and his authority.

Oh well. Maybe he will realize he doesn't have all the answers, and that the Catholic teaching is pretty ROCK solid! :D


#8

[quote="Cachonga, post:2, topic:333395"]
I'm not sure exactly what his argument is, but I would simply ask - is Matthew God-breathed Scripture, or not? If it is, then was it written in Greek or Aramaic (hint - has ANY church council accepted an Aramaic version of Matthew as inspired Scripture)? To argue that Jesus spoke Aramaic is irrelevant, since the Gospel in question was written in Greek. Furthermore, as he has pointed out, the writer had no problem using Aramaic when it seemed appropriate (and again, didn't God inspire the writer to include what God wanted in the account?). What, exactly, is his argument? If it's the "big rock/little rock" or "immovable stone/pebble" argument, I would say he needs to reexamine that, since it's not a very strong argument.

[/quote]

Until 1517, this argument occurred nowhere on earth. Never. Now that is a clue.


#9

[quote="po18guy, post:8, topic:333395"]
Until 1517, this argument occurred nowhere on earth. Never. Now that is a clue.

[/quote]

Absolutely. I gave him a link to a bunch of quotes from the Early Church Fathers on the subject. I wonder how he will reply.


#10

[quote="SMA_12, post:1, topic:333395"]
Hi guys.

I am currently formulating a response to a protestant fellow in a discussion we are having about Matt 16:18.

I have already proven that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Aramaic does not have the masculine/feminine version of "rock" that Greek does, andthat according to the grammatical rules in Greek the masculine had to be used in the first part and the feminine in the second part, and that in Aramaic it is simply one word used in both parts. I have a fairly descent understanding of this.

But his whole argument hangs on the following idea:
He basically asks if the Greek is so unclear, using two different words for Rock, then why did the author not clarify and quote Jesus in Aramaic as he did in Matt 5:41? At least that is what I believe he is asking- its kind of hard to tell...

Here is exactly what he wrote to me:

[/quote]

What he wrote belies a failure to comprehend how Greek works. But let's ignore that for a moment and reveal through Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the King James the Greek words and James Strong's understanding of this Greek...

The first reference "you are Peter" reveals the meaning of Peter as Πέτρος Petros pet'-ros - Apparently a primary word; a (piece of) rock (larger than G3037 - λίθος lithos); as a name, Petrus, an apostle: - Peter, rock. Compare G2786 (Κηφᾶς Kēphas).

The second reference "on this rock" reveals rock as πέτρα petra pet'-ra - Feminine of the same as G4074 (the word above is 4074 - Πέτρος Petros); a (mass of) rock (literally or figuratively): - rock.

Here's the simple logic of the Greek. If petra is the feminine form of petros and the same as petros, then Jesus is referring to the same person. Further, Augustine states that Jesus is referring to Peter's faith. The fact is there are multiple layers of meaning in this passage and they are all true.


#11

Concerning Aramaic...it is not totally distinct from Hebrew, but an older, related form of that language (conversation with a Jew who was fully conversant in both languages).


#12

[quote="SMA_12, post:9, topic:333395"]
Absolutely. I gave him a link to a bunch of quotes from the Early Church Fathers on the subject. I wonder how he will reply.

[/quote]

Just go easy on him, as sooner or later, he will realize that protestantism stops dead at the door of the Catholic Church. J.R.R. Tolkien summarized the reformation as an attack on the Eucharist. Although it did not appear so at first, we see today that it most certainly was. 495 years later, there are virtually no reformation churches left intact. Communities and doctrines have split and devolved into disagreeing denominations. Is this what Christ prayed for?


#13

[quote="melekali, post:10, topic:333395"]
The fact is there are multiple layers of meaning in this passage and they are all true.

[/quote]

I think that everything that our Lord said had multiple layers of meaning. I'm slow on the uptake, but recently learned of another take on the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. The "five husbands" refers to the five baals (idols) that Samaritans had worshipped, and "the one you have now is not your husband" can be interpreted as Jesus referring to Himself, as He was with her at that time, yet she did not believe in Him.


#14

[quote="SMA_12, post:1, topic:333395"]
Hi guys.

I am currently formulating a response to a protestant fellow in a discussion we are having about Matt 16:18.

I have already proven that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Aramaic does not have the masculine/feminine version of "rock" that Greek does, andthat according to the grammatical rules in Greek the masculine had to be used in the first part and the feminine in the second part, and that in Aramaic it is simply one word used in both parts. I have a fairly descent understanding of this.

But his whole argument hangs on the following idea:
He basically asks if the Greek is so unclear, using two different words for Rock, then why did the author not clarify and quote Jesus in Aramaic as he did in Matt 5:41? At least that is what I believe he is asking- its kind of hard to tell...

Here is exactly what he wrote to me:

[/quote]

scripturecatholic.com/my_top_ten.html#I


#15

So let’s assume that Aramaic was spoken by Christ with the statement “Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani”.

Assume? Did he somehow forget our Lord’s words, “Talitha, koum” from Mark 5:41? Aramaic was not a foreign tongue to our Lord. It was what He and the Apostles spoke.


#16

Are you saying that until 1517 everyone accepted an Aramaic version of Matthew that somehow we have absolutely no trace of today? Could you please give your source for this assertion (that there was no argument prior to 1517)? Who brought up this argument? What was the context? Were they arguing for or against an Aramaic original?


#17

[quote="Cachonga, post:16, topic:333395"]
Are you saying that until 1517 everyone accepted an Aramaic version of Matthew that somehow we have absolutely no trace of today? Could you please give your source for this assertion (that there was no argument prior to 1517)? Who brought up this argument? What was the context? Were they arguing for or against an Aramaic original?

[/quote]

No. He is saying that nobody until the Protestant Reformation ever argued that Peter was not receiving pastorship over the Church in Matthew 16:18-19. Church Fathers and heretics alike never once suggested that in this verse, Jesus was degrading Peter rather than elevating him.


#18

[quote="Cachonga, post:16, topic:333395"]
Are you saying that until 1517 everyone accepted an Aramaic version of Matthew that somehow we have absolutely no trace of today? Could you please give your source for this assertion (that there was no argument prior to 1517)? Who brought up this argument? What was the context? Were they arguing for or against an Aramaic original?

[/quote]

There is not a single original of any of the scriptures. Not one copy anywhere that has a signature on it. Each and every genuine, original, written-and-signed-by-the-author book or letter is long gone. All examples that exist today are copies of copies of copies of copies, made over hundreds of years by various and sundry scribes in different nations, who spoke differing languages. The only reason that any of the books of the bible has an author's name on it is due to the Church tradition that ascribes that author's name to the book. When you or I refer to the Gospel of Matthew, we place absolute trust in the Tradition that has preserved Matthew's name as the author. Tthat same Tradition tells us that Jesus and the twelve spoke Aramaic, which was the language of Galilee, and which made them known as Galileans in Acts 2. Jesus is twice quoted in Aramaic in Mark.

After the protestant rebellion and rejection of the Catholic Church in 1517, all of this slowly began to be questioned. I note here that it is now after 1517 and the original language of Matthew is currently being questioned. Why? In a weak attempt to show that Jesus founded His Church on some other, unknown "rock." It is a silly accusation, but will not die. If one questions whether or not Matthew was written in Aramaic, one is also implicitly questioning if Matthew had anything to do with the Gospel. Without the Church, the bible has no provenance at all, and is simply a collection of interesting stories. Someone must bear witness to its authenticity, and that someone is the Church. Question the Church, you question the bible. Many live in contented ignorance of this rather obvious fact. But, ignorance it is and ignorance it will remain.

You ask about scripture being "God-breathed" Fine. But who on earth has the authority to declare this? Cachonga? Me? God Himself certainly did not declare it. So, who did? And why should we believe them?

You might pick up a copy of Inside the Bible by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. It is a very handy, non-scholarly reference for the Christian.


#19

I do not believe it is a dogmatic teaching of the Church that the original Gospel of Matthew was written in Aramaic.


#20

We can argue Greek/Aramaic and petros/petra all day long and not get anywhere. The fact is that Matthew 16 is Jesus quoting Isaiah 22.

**In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand*; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. (Isaiah 22:20-23)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death 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." (Matthew 16:18-19)*

Jesus was elevating Peter to the position of Prime Minister. The title was "over the house of" which I can't remember in Hebrew, someting like El Biet or someting like that.

Joseph was "over the house of" Pharoah:

**And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Behold, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." *(Genesis 41:20-22)*

Mor'decai was placed "over the house of" Haman who was the second in command to the King of Babylon.

**On that day King Ahasu-e'rus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mor'decai came before the king, for Esther had old what he was to her; and the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mor'decai. And Esther set Mor'decai over the house of Haman. ... Then Mor'decai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a mantle of fine linen and purple, while the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. *(Esther 8:1-2, 15) *

Jesus was making a clear political statement about Peter as the Prime Minister of his kingdom and the reference would have been crystal clear to the Jews. We can go on and on and on arguing about ancient languages but it is really pointless. Anyone who actually studies history and knows how ancient monarchies operated can see the precident set in the Old Testament and Jesus' reference just as clearly as a Jew in the first century.

Read further at catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

-Tim-


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