Peter the Rock and 1 Corinthians?


#1

I hear Catholics all the time assert that the reasoning behind the wording of Petros and Petra was merely a case of masculine and feminine variations of the same word, that is, Rock.

However, I have recently stumbled upon a protestant claim which appears to debunk that assertion: Protestants assert that in 1 Corinthians, Christ is described as the cornerstone using the word Petra, the feminine form of the word Rock.

How can one argue over masculine and feminine distinctions if the feminine form was used in reference to Christ?


#2

Soniczelda 514
I have recently stumbled upon a protestant claim which appears to debunk that assertion: Protestants assert that in 1 Corinthians, Christ is described as the cornerstone using the word Petra, the feminine form of the word Rock.
How can one argue over masculine and feminine distinctions if the feminine form was used in reference to Christ?

Are you interested in the truth?

On St Peter, scholarly commentary identifies that Cephas is merely the transliteration of the Aramaic ‘Kepha’ into Greek. Catholicism And Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, 1988, Ignatius, p 207].

“Transliteration” means to represent words in the characters of another alphabet. Convert David B Currie puts it this way: “Kepha] transliterated into English, can be written ‘Cephas’.” Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, 1996, Ignatius, p 76]. Since “Kepha” is the only Aramaic word for rock, Currie points out that Jesus said: “I tell you that you are Rock (Kepha) and on this Rock (Kepha) I will build my Church.”

Sur” was the chief biblical word for rock, and the Psalms emphasised that God was the only Rock (sur). “Being closely synonymous with “sur”, the name Kepha could not help but evoke in pious Jews, as all the twelve were, a sentiment of awe and reverence.” And On This Rock, Fr Stanley L Jaki, OSB, 1987, Trinity Communications, p 77].

The Swiss Calvinist biblical scholar, Oscar Cullman, declared …”the Roman Catholic exegesis must be regarded as correct.” (See Peter, Apostle, Disciple, Martyr, 1953, p 18-20).
Paul calls Peter “Cephas” quite often.
[Keating, p 208-11].

Cephas is Aramaic for Rock and Petra is the Greek. When he said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,” the two words meant the same thing.


#3

A couple problems with this–first, the word “cornerstone” does not appear in 1 Corinthians. Verse 11 of chapter 3 of this epistle contains the word “foundation,” but not the word “stone” or “cornerstone.” The main reference to Christ as “cornerstone” doesn’t use the word petros/petra, but rather ακρογωνιαιου, which literally means “corner.” So whoever made this claim hasn’t done their homework.

I’d then point to the fact that in 1 Peter 2, 6-8, Peter himself calls Christ the cornerstone, referencing the Psalms (the stone which the builders rejected…), and uses the same word ακρογωνιαιου. And this reference is contained in quite a few other places. Again, whoever made the claim hasn’t done their homework.

And lastly, just a systematic sort of note. Peter is called “Petros” as a proper name which means “rock,” because it would be inappropriate to call him “petra,” which is a feminine word, since he is a man. It would be like naming a man Michelle rather than Michael–they both technically mean the same thing, but one is a feminine form and one a masculine. If Jesus is described as a rock (or a vine or a door or any other thing), then these words would remain in the masculine or feminine because they’re simply part of a metaphor or comparison. If Jesus had been renamed with a proper name meaning one of these things, it would be appropriate to use the masculine ending. It’s something we don’t quite pick up on in English since we don’t have masculine/feminine words, but if you look to Spanish or French or scores of other modern languages, there are names which are masculine that may derive from a word with a feminine meaning, and vice versa.

-ACEGC


#4

The feminine form was not used as a NAME for Jesus. Peter, on the other hand, was NAMED Petros - thus, Petras clearly would be inappropriate.

To be technically correct, however, please remember that Jesus spoke Aramaic. Thus, what he actually said was, “You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my church.”

That’s why you see Simon called, “Cephas” throughout the NT. Cephas is a form of the word “Kepha”.


#5

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