In the New Testament the masculine “petros” is only ever applied to Peter. In all cases of “rock” the Greek word is “petra”, the feminine. (Excluding lithos stone).
When I read the definitions of the two words “petra” and “petros”, I cannot actually see any real difference between the two that would require two Greek words to express the very same thing “rock”. So an author would observe a rock and then have to question to themselves whether it would categorically be more appropriate to describe that “rock” as a “petra” or a “petros”.
My question then is this, does the Greek word “petros” actually appear in any literature external to the NT, that it can then be shown that “petros” is anything more than just a Proper Name as a masculine equivalent of “petra”?
The Catholic Answers’ tract, Peter the Rock, says:
…the words *petros *and *petra *were synonyms in first century Greek. They meant “small stone” and “large rock” in some ancient Greek poetry, centuries before the time of Christ, but that distinction had disappeared from the language by the time Matthew’s Gospel was rendered in Greek. The difference in meaning can only be found in Attic Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine Greek—an entirely different dialect. In Koine Greek, both *petros *and *petra *simply meant “rock.”
In languages with gender to use the wrong gender in addressing someone is an insult(i.e. Petra for Peter). Beyond that it’s a question to ask those with some knowledge of Greek, like the Catholic Answers apologists. Most of us Catholic or not have to take other people’s word on all sorts of things in which we’re not familiar.
If the word only appears in ancient Greek poetry, it could then be that it is an invented word purely for the sake of poetry, much as the poetry of English also invents words.
Does it even appear in the Septuagint as the masculine form?
There is an interesting English translation in the King James version in John 1:42 which says thou shalt be called Cephas which is by interpretation “A stone” (ie petros). But I suspect this is just a protestant ant-Catholic bias which is placing their own interpretation into the text rather than Johns interpretation. John would appear to be saying thou shalt be called Cephas which is by interpretation “Peter”.
I think all the argument about whether Petros/Petra means large or small rock is absurd. Matthew was written first in Aramaic, so we are not even working from the original but a translation into Greek. I think what most Protestants resist in picking at this red herring is the context of the discussion.
” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And 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. 19I 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.” 20Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. Matthew 16:14–20
It is more important to look at the meaning and history of God changing people’s names in Scripture. Everytime He did this, it had profound impact on the life and ministry of the person who received the new name.
If, as most Protestants assert, Jesus was not building His Church upon Peter, and did not give him the Keys, then what was the point of changing his name? Why is it that all other passages in Scripture where Jesus changes a name there is a change of role?
Yes. But it is more than that, by becoming Catholic I have “joined the most anti-Christ”. I am currently exploring the origin of that sentiment, and it seems to run deep into history, unravelling it is very complicated, it requires in my case an examination of the early 19th Century, because that is where my families movement was born, next to SDAs. But I am finding many seeds are much older and culminate in that time frame. This is one of them.