Petros/Petra Attic/Koine

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ChrisR246

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In one of the Catholic.com tracts, Karl Keating explains that the claim

petra = big rock while petros = little stone

is valid for Attic Greek but in Koine Greek the two words are synonomous. He even notes a Protestant Greek scholar.

Does anyone know of an online, neutral source that supports this - it would make online apologetics a little more powerful, IMO.
 
I have not verified those sources. I think these originated from Dave Armstrong although I could be mistaken … You may want to look into them just to make sure
 
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ChrisR246:
In one of the Catholic.com tracts, Karl Keating explains that the claim

petra = big rock while petros = little stone

is valid for Attic Greek but in Koine Greek the two words are synonomous. He even notes a Protestant Greek scholar.

Does anyone know of an online, neutral source that supports this - it would make online apologetics a little more powerful, IMO.
I have no specific internet source, but I do have a wonderful book to recommend, which covers this quite well:

JESUS, PETER & THE KEYS
by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, David Hess,
ISBN: 1-882972-54-6

It does a most through job of debunking the non-Catholic objections to the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19, especially the “Petros/petra pair” we see in verse 18.

It is in paperback, for about $20.00 and well worth the money! 🙂

God bless,

PAX

Bill+†+

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not
thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn
away his wrath from him.

Proverbs 24:17-18
 
Remember Matthew was written in aramaic, then translated into greek.
 
William Putnam:
I have no specific internet source, but I do have a wonderful book to recommend, which covers this quite well:

JESUS, PETER & THE KEYS
by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, David Hess,
ISBN: 1-882972-54-6

It does a most through job of debunking the non-Catholic objections to the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19, especially the “Petros/petra pair” we see in verse 18.

It is in paperback, for about $20.00 and well worth the money! 🙂
Thanks, but I find that an internet source, that can be immeadiately clicked on, is much more powerful when doing internet discussion. Very few people, particularly interested lurkers, will go find a book. Thats why I really want to find an internet source.
 
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cmom:
Remember Matthew was written in aramaic, then translated into greek.
I’m aware of that, but with no copies of the Aramaic version it’s difficult to convince those who doubt the Papacy that it would say Kepha…kepha.
 
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cmom:
Remember Matthew was written in aramaic, then translated into greek.
Ah, not quite, cmon, but there is a suspicion that Matthew may have “taken notes” in Aramaic, to later be used when he wrote his gospel in Greek. And it would not surprise me that Matthew did indeed, write the gospel, originally, in Aramaic, but there is no proof.

But, Jesus’ native tongue was indeed, Aramaic, thus the famous words of Matthew 16:18 would have been, “And I say you are Kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church.” (paraphrased from memory.)

Aramaic has no gender renderings for “rock” whereas, the ancient Koine Greek did. Thus we see the “Petros/petras” pair in the sentence.

The book I recommend above covers this all quite throughly…

God bless,

PAX

Bill+†+

Pillar and Foundation of Truth, the Church. (1 Tim 3:15)
 
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ChrisR246:
Thanks, but I find that an internet source, that can be immeadiately clicked on, is much more powerful when doing internet discussion. Very few people, particularly interested lurkers, will go find a book. Thats why I really want to find an internet source.
Yes indeed, but you can at least read the book, which provides you with powerful arguments that you can use in your debating.

It also girds you in the convincing Catholic argument in dabate, something that has helped me a great deal.

In Catholic apologetics, you cannot ever read too much! 🙂

God bless,

PAX

Bill+†+

Rome has spoken, case is closed.

Derived from Augustine’s famous Sermon.
 
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cmom:
Remember Matthew was written in aramaic, then translated into greek.
Yup. We should know, we Catholics got the original copies of the Scriptures, or at least we DID have them 🙂 We still got the oldest extant versions…
 
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ChrisR246:
In one of the Catholic.com tracts, Karl Keating explains that the claim

petra = big rock while petros = little stone

is valid for Attic Greek but in Koine Greek the two words are synonomous. He even notes a Protestant Greek scholar.

Does anyone know of an online, neutral source that supports this - it would make online apologetics a little more powerful, IMO.
The portion of the logic missing here is that “petros” is the way the translator of Matthew’s Gospel confronted the “Boy Named Sue” Problem. When Jesus spoke, He spoke in Aramaic. In Aramaic, He called Peter “Kephas.” See John 1:42. Matthew 16:18, in Aramaic, would have read, “You are Kephas and upon this kephas I will build my Church.” Note well: In Aramaic, there is no change of ending!

When the Gospel was translated into Greek, the translator apparently thought something like, “Sheesh! If I translate ‘Kephas’ into Greek, I’ll be giving ol’ Pete a feminine name, since the Aramaic term ‘*kephas’ *is a feminine noun in Greek!,” so to avoid the problem he masculinized it with the -os ending, thus making the tiny ending change, to avoid embarrassing the Apostle Peter, upon which Protestants have based their rejection of the papacy for nearly 500 years now.
 
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ChrisR246:
In one of the Catholic.com tracts, Karl Keating explains that the claim

petra = big rock while petros = little stone

is valid for Attic Greek but in Koine Greek the two words are synonomous. He even notes a Protestant Greek scholar.

Does anyone know of an online, neutral source that supports this - it would make online apologetics a little more powerful, IMO.
It might be difficult, not least because you will be talking to people whose prejudices lead them to disbelieve everything that you say, as I am afraid yours may lead you to disbelieve what follows.

Nonetheless, being a fairly sceptical individual, and one who has just recently been looking at this particular text, I would suggest that you might find that there is a considerable problem in demonstrating the claim that the two words were utterly synonymous at the time. To do so, you would need to find texts which used the words interchangeably, and then you would need to establish that these texts had greater cultural-linguistic significance than 800 years of previous, separate usage by the likes of Homer, Pindar and Sophocles. Explaining away the fact that they belong to separate declensions would also be useful. It certainly does not help that the New Testament texts parallel “petra” with “lithos” rather than with “petros”. The words do have an overlap in meaning, in that they can both refer to a boulder, but they are otherwise not synonymous.

However, I would like to suggest that you might look in a different direction linguistically. “petros” was most likely used in Matthew 16:18 because it was already Simon’s name. At some unknown point, someone translated “kephas” as “petros”, and it stuck. This point was certainly well before the writing of Matthew’s Gospel, and so Matthew had to use “petros” and was probably motivated to explain it, hence the inclusion of the verse. The question then falls to “petra”: why not use “pagos”, which would have an additional benefit in that it would echo the Temple Mount? (“lithos” was unusable because it could be employed as a pejorative.) The best reason for using “petra” is that the two nouns, while not the same, are related, as can be seen in their sharing of the “petr” root, which half a dozen other words also have. Thus the implication of the text is that Jesus would build his Church upon Peter-and-those-like-him.
 
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Mystophilus:
Nonetheless, being a fairly sceptical individual, and one who has just recently been looking at this particular text, I would suggest that you might find that there is a considerable problem in demonstrating the claim that the two words were utterly synonymous at the time. To do so, you would need to find texts which used the words interchangeably, and then you would need to establish that these texts had greater cultural-linguistic significance than 800 years of previous…
How about the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures done about 100 years before Christ?

Ok, I don’t know Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek so this might not mean anything but I did some investigating on my own and here is what I found…

According to my Bible software, the word rock or rocks occurs some 125 times in the King James Version of the Old Testament as a translation of one of five Hebrew words:* tsuwr**, cela,* keph, ma’owz, and challamiysh. Comparing the verses where these words are translated as rock with the corresponding verses in the online Greek Septuagint, I found that in the 73 instances where either the Greek word petra or petros (or some obvious variation) appears, both petra and petros seem to be used interchangeably as a translation for the Hebrew words tsuwr, cela, or* keph***, with petra being preferred over petros 66 to 7.

Here is a summary of my findings:
  1. Rock(s) = Hebrew tsuwr: 64.
    Rock(s) = Hebrew tsuwr = Greek petra: 29.
    Rocks = Hebrew tsuwr = Greek petros: 1.
    Rock(s) = Hebrew tsuwr = Greek other: 34.
    [*]Rock = Hebrew cela: 56.
    Rock(s) = Hebrew cela = Greek petra: 36.
    Rock(s) = Hebrew cela = Greek petros: 5.
    Rock(s) = Hebrew cela = Greek other: 15.
    [*]Rock = Hebrew keph: 2.
    Rocks = Hebrew keph = Greek petra: 1.
    Rocks = Hebrew keph = Greek petros: 1.
    [*]Rock = Hebrew ma’owz: 1.
    Rock = Hebrew ma’owz = Greek other: 1.
    [*]Rock = Hebrew challamiysh: 1.
    Rock = Hebrew challamiysh = Greek other: 1.
    A similar check showed that in the 300+ places where the word stone is used in the King James Version of the Old Testament, the Greek word petra appears only once and the word petros does not appear at all in the corresponding verses in the Greek Septuagint.
 
Todd Easton:
How about the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures done about 100 years before Christ?
Or, rather, the Greek translations of the Jewish Scriptures, started probably in 282 BC and continuing on down to the C1st, subsequently written up in various codices, the oldest extant (the Codex Vaticanus, or ‘B’) dating from the early C4th. In other words, ugly and nasty as far as proving C1st Greek goes, but about as close as we are likely to get with Scriptural sources.
I found that in the 73 instances where either the Greek word petra or petros (or some obvious variation) appears, both petra and petros seem to be used interchangeably as a translation for the Hebrew words tsuwr, cela, or*** keph***, with petra being preferred over petros 66 to 7.
Having finally managed to find a way to search the whole of the LXX, I found only 72 usages of “petra” in its various forms, and none of “petros”. Could you please tell me in which verses you found “petros”?
 
Here’s the data I used for my previous post of the occurances of rock(s) in King James Version (KJV) of the Old Testament and the Hebrew and Greek words in the corresponding verses where the Greek words petra or petros or their variations appear.

petra family: petra, petrai, petrais, petran, petras.
petros family: petrwn

Key:
Heb = Hebrew text
Gk = Greek Septuagint
Note: The Psalms are numbered slightly differently in the KJV and Gk. The Gk numbering is indicated in parenthesis.

Exodus 17:6 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:tsuwr/tsuwr Gk:petras/petran
Exodus 33:21 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Exodus 33:22 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Numbers 20:8 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:cela/cela Gk:petran/petras
Numbers 20:10 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:cela/cela Gk:petras/petras
Numbers 20:11 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
Numbers 24:21 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petra
Deuternomy 8:15 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Deuternomy 32:13 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:tsuwr/cela Gk:petras/petras
Judges 1:36 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Judges 6:20 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
Judges 6:21 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Judges 13:19 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran
Judges 15:11 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Judges 15:13 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Judges 20:45 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
Judges 20:47 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:cela/cela Gk:petran/petra
Judges 21:13 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petra
1 Samuel 13:6 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petrais
1 Samuel 14:4 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:cela/cela Gk:petras/petras
1 Samuel 23:25 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
2 Samuel 21:10 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran
2 Samuel 22:2 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petra
1 Kings 19:11 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petras
1 Chronicles 11:15 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran
Nehemiah 19:15 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Job 14:18 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petra
Job 19:24 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petrais
Job 24:8 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran
Job 30:6 KJV:rocks Heb:keph Gk:petrwn
Job 39:1 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Job 39:28 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Psalm 27:5 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petra (Gk Psalm26:5)
Psalm 40:2 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran (Gk Psalm39:3)
Psalm 61:2 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petra (Gk Psalm 60:3)
Psalm 78:15 KJV:rocks Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran (Gk Psalm77:15)
Psalm 78:16 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras (Gk Psalm77:16)
Psalm 78:20 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran (Gk Psalm77:20)
Psalm 81:16 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras (Gk Psalm80:17)
Psalm104:18 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petra (Gk Psalm 103:18)
Psalm105:41 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran (Gk Psalm 104:41)
Psalm114:8 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran (Gk Psalm 113:8)
Proverbs 30:19 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Proverbs 30:26 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petrais
Song of Songs 2:14 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Isaiah 2:10 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Isaiah 2:19 KJV:rocks Heb:tsuwr Gk:petrwn
Isaiah 2:21 (2) KJV:rocks/rocks Heb:tsuwr/cela Gk:petras/petrwn
Isaiah 7:19 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petrwn
Isaiah 8:14 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Isaiah 22:16 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petra
Isaiah 33:16 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petras
Isaiah 42:11 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
Isaiah 48:21 (2) KJV:rock/rock Heb:tsuwr/tsuwr Gk:petras/petra
Isaiah 51:1 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petran
Isaiah 57:5 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petrwn
Jeremiah 4:29 KJV:rocks Heb:keph Gk:petras
Jeremiah 5:3 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
Jeremiah 13:4 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petras
Jeremiah 16:16 KJV:rocks Heb:cela Gk:petrwn
Jeremiah 18:14 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petras
Jeremiah 23:29 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petran
Amos 6:12 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petrais
Obadiah 1:3 KJV:rock Heb:cela Gk:petrwn
Nahum 1:6 KJV:rock Heb:tsuwr Gk:petrai
 
Todd Easton:
petra family: petra, petrai, petrais, petran, petras.
petros family: petrwn
This, unfortunately, is wherein the problem lies. It was foolish of me not to have thought of it earlier.

The “wn” inflection in “petrwn” is used as the genitive plural both for the first declension nouns, such as “petra”, and for the second declension nouns, such as “petros”. On the basis of possible inflection alone, establishing that these instances instances represent “petros” rather than “petra” would be quite difficult. This would be further problematised by the fact that six of these instances in the LXX refer to dwelling places and the seventh to an overhanging crag: they are large masses of rock, which is the root meaning of “petra”. Then, we have to consider the fact that there are no instances of “petros” occuring with any other inflection within the text: “petros” can also be inflected as “petre”, “petron”, “petrou”, “petrw”, “petrwi”, “petrw”, “petroin”, “petroi”, “petrous”, or “petrois”. The claim that they repesent the genitive plural of “petros” rather than that of “petra” would, therefore, be untenable.

What you have clearly demonstrated is the inefficiency of search engines. Mine failed to locate any of those genitive plurals. To add to your collection, there are also instances of “petra” forms in Jdg 5:2, 15:8, 2 Chr 26:7, Neh 9:15, Job 14:8, 22:24, Ps 136:16, 137:9, 141:6, Is 5:28, 16:1, 31:9, 50:7, Jer 48:28, Eze 3:9, Hab 2:1.
 
Thank you for the info. As I said in my original post, I don’t know Greek so it’s not surprising that I was probably in error.

If the Greek word petrwn is not a variation of petros as I thougth it might be, then my conclusion that the words petra and petros were interchangeable near the time of Christ based on their appearance in the Greek Septuagint as translations of the same Hebrew words is wrong.

However, if, as you suggest, the Greek word petros never appears in the voluminous Greek Septuagint with its hundreds of references to rocks and stones of various sizes, it makes me wonder if the word petros had not completely fallen out of use so as to be unknown among the Greek-speaking Jews when the Septuagint was written some years before Christ? If that is the case and the word petros wasn’t even known some years before Christ, then the word Petros at the time of Christ would most probably just be the masculinization of the female word petra, the common word for rock, to make it suitable as a man’s name. Thus, the Greek words Petros and petra would have meant the same thing at the time of Christ among Greek-speaking Jews.
 
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ChrisR246:
I’m aware of that, but with no copies of the Aramaic version it’s difficult to convince those who doubt the Papacy that it would say Kepha…kepha.
How about John 1:42a

And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas
 
One other thing to ask people who question what “Petros\Petras” meant

Christ took the Apostles to Caesarea Phillipi to ask them the question “Who do people say I am?”

Caesarea Phillipi is in the Roman Province of Syria, well outside of Israel, near the headwaters of the Jordan. It was a pagan city with no Jewish population.

Why would Christ bring them all the way there?

This is what Caesarea Phillipi looks like.

.http://home.att.net/~d.q.hall/niches1.jpg

Notice the VERY large Rock the Roman temple is built into?

Is it a pebble in the background that Christ wanted to build HIS Church on?. No, it is a huge ROCK, almost a mountain.

Notice the cave off to the left; it was a ‘bottomless’ pit the pagans would throw sacrifices into (the ‘Gates of Hell’ anyone?}

BTW, as another point. The Roman temple there was a temple to Pan, the God of Shepards. Christ was selecting His own Shephard in Caesarea Phillipi.
 
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