Friday, January 15, 2010

An extensive exegesis of Matthew 16:18 based on the Aramaic

I have received the following exegesis from Alfred Persson [] and reproduce it below as received

I will prove the double entendre in Mat 16:18 is an elegant Janus Parallelism on PETROS.

"Thou art PETROS and upon this PETROS I will build"

-hypothetical Aramaic speech of Christ in Mat 16:18

"You are PETROS-Firstborn (of the divine revelation of Me)

and upon this (revelation) THE PETROS (the life giving rock) I will build my church."

The most parsimonious interpretation is most likely correct.

The supposed ambiguities of Matthew 16:18 vanish when we interpret Jesus’ double entendre historico-grammatically as an Old Testament style Janus Parallelism on the Aramaic/Greek homonym (Aramaic PeTRos / Firstborn ; Greek PETROS / petra / rock). Among competing explanations, this alone achieves maximum parsimony, the universal characteristic of truth.

What is a Janus Parallelism?

"Janus Parallelism. This type of parallelism hinges on the use of a single word with two different meanings, one of which forms a parallel with what precedes and the other with what follows. Thus, by virtue of a double entendre, the parallelism faces in both directions. An example is Gen 49:26."-Freedman, D. N. (1996, c1992). The Anchor Bible Dictionary (5:157). New York: Doubleday.

The transliterated Aramaic PeTRos(firstborn) and Greek PETROS(stone) are spelled the same in Greek, so it is likely the Greek speaking Church would confuse them

After the Jewish revolt was crushed about AD. 135, Judea was renamed Syria Palestina, and Jerusalem became a pagan city Jews were forbidden to enter. Soon Jewish Christians familiar with Palestinian Aramaic names had vanished from the church. Therefore it is certain they would confuse the Aramaic PETROS ("firstborn") with the Greek PETROS ("stone"), not only are they spelled the same, Jesus called Simon "KEPHA" in John 1:42, which John interpreted to be, in Greek, a PETROS.

When we test the proposition these were confused, that PETROS is in fact a homonym with radically different meanings, all alleged ambiguity vanishes from the relevant texts---proving beyond reasonable doubt they did confuse this homonym.

The Aramaic PETROS "Firstborn" and Greek PETROS "Rock" are homonyms

"And a surprising discovery among the Dead Sea Scrolls proves the existence of the Greek form, Petros, even among Aramaic-speaking Jews some time before the dialogue at Caesarea Philippi took place. The leather fragment 4QM130, an Aramaic writing exercise in the form of several names like Aquila, Dallui, Eli, Gaddi, Hyrcanus, Jannai, Magnus, Malkiha, Mephisbosheth, Zakariel—in other words, Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and even Latin names—includes Petros, in a precise Aramaic transcription of the Greek spelling.36 It is safe to say that Jesus did not have to invent the name and its Greek form. Jews knew it and used it, even in a cross-cultural writing exercise." Thiede, C. P. (2004). The Cosmopolitan World of Jesus : New findings from Archaeology (p.69). London: SPCK.

There was, on the contrary, as already mentioned (note 12), an Aramaic name פטרוס (Petros), which perhaps is to be connected with פטר (patar) "firstborn". -PETER Disciple-Apostle-Martyr, by Oscar Cullmann, translated from the German by Floyd V. Filson (Westminister Press, Philadelphia, 1953), p 19, Note 14.

An Aramaic PETROS resolves all alleged ambiguity of the antecedent

Matthew preserved the succinct elegance of Christ's double entendre by changing the gender of the usually masculine idiom KAI EPI TOUTOIS to KAI EPI TAUTEE, disqualifying the masculine PETROS as its antecedent.

The demonstrative pronoun has Christ leaving direct address (SOI, SU), speaking TO Peter ABOUT "The Rock"---literally "upon this the rock" (KAI EPI TAUTEE TEE PETRA). Usually masculine KAI EPI TOUTOIS (Lev 26:23; 1 Ma 10:42; Sir 32:13; Amo 8:8; Zec 14:18; TOUTW Joh 4:27), its antecedent implied, not supplied by the context (Lev 26:23; Sir 32:13; Amo 8:8 John 4:27).

By attaching verse 17 to v.18 (KAGW DE SOI) "And I also unto thee", Matthew carried forward the antecedent, italicized as "it" in the KJV, which is feminine being the APOCALUPSIS (revelation) or ALEETHEIA (truth) "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God", that Peter just confessed changing his status. (cf the Makarism "blessed"; the Aramaic Barjona, see below).

Therefore, Matthew designed the context to disqualify the masculine PETROS as the antecedent. The article strengthens this disqualification as Jesus is speaking TO Simon ABOUT "The" rock.

This is corroborated by his including Peter's embarrassment---Jesus "said unto PETROS, Get thee behind me, Satan" (vs. 23); obviously written against PETROS being "the rock", for then Christ built upon Satan.

This exegesis is consistent with the overriding theme of the context---Jesus' identity (16:13-17,20); While Peter's confession is the occasion for discussing this, he remains a digression Christ quickly leaves, to return, using the short form, to what is important: "tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. (Mat 16:20 KJV)"

This is that "saying" upon which Christ built His church--- a parallel use of PETRA:

KJV Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings (LOGOS) of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built (OIKODOMEW) his house upon a rock(PETRA).

PETRA as the rock fountain of life to the dead:

KJV 1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock(petra) that followed them: and that Rock(petra) was Christ.

"The currency of Peter's name {PETROS} is confirmed"

"…The currency of Peter's name {PETROS} is confirmed in Tal Ilan's identification of three additional first and second-century Palestinian Jewish individuals who bear the name Petros.[90] It is worth noting that the Palestinian Talmud and midrashim repeatedly feature an early Amoraic Rabbi Yose ben Petros, whose father constitutes proof that even this Greek name was by no means unknown in the early rabbinic period. A Jewish convert called Petrus also appears in a fifth-century Christian inscription from Grado in Italy.…

90 Ilan 2002 s.v. The first of these is Petros (c. 30 CE), a freedman of Agrippa’s mother Berenice, whom Josephus mentions in passing in Ant. 18.6.3 §156 (v.l. Protos). The other two names are Patrin פטרִין son of Istomachus at Masada (ostracon no. 413, pre-73) and Patron פטרון son of Joseph in a Bar Kokhba period papyrus deed at Nahal Hever (P.Yadin 46, 134 CE). Although these two names seem at first sight different from Petros, the Aramaic rendition of Greek names in –ος as ון- or ין- was in fact well established, as Ilan 2002:27 demonstrates (cf. similarly Dalman 1905:176).

91 E.g. y. Mo _ed Qat.. 3.6, 82d (bottom); y. _Abod. Zar. 3.1, 42c; Gen. Rab. 62.2; 92.2; 94.5 Exod. Rab. 52.3; Lev. Rab. 7.2. For additional references and discussion see Bacher 1892–99:1.128, 2:512, n. 5, and 3:598. The phenomenon of the Greek name פיטרס is also discussed by Dalman 1905:185. Cf. further Jastrow s.v.: the spelling varies from פיטרוס to פיטרס and פטרס. This in turn would account for the wide range of vocalisations encountered in the various English translations. פטרוס in t. Demai 1.11 is a place-name. -Bockmuehl, Markus. 2004. Simon Peter's Names in Jewish Sources. Journal of Jewish Studies 55:71-72

The existence of an Aramaic PETROS means the sample considered was too small

"PETROS…Fr. the beginning it was prob. thought of as the Gk. equivalent of the Aramaic Keph Keephas; J 1:42; cf. Mt 16:18"- A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Bauer; University of Chicago Press, 1979) p. 654.

"Probably thought", not "is". The conclusion is a hasty generalization---the sample too small, there are other relevant words, for example, the Aramaic PETROS which in transliterated Greek, is spelled PETROS but has a radically different meaning.

Simon called PETROS before Christ surnamed him Cephas in John 1:42

KJV John 1:40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's (PETROS) brother. (Joh 1:40 KJV)

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

(Mat 4:17-21 KJV)

Simon "who is called Peter" ( ton legomenon petron), cp Mat 27:17 Jesus "who is called" Christ (ton legomenon christon).

While some argue the present tense describes what was happening as Matthew wrote---"the one commonly called Peter" (now), that is less parsimonous, unhistorical, contrary to accurately describing the event as it happened.

It follows Jesus did not give Simon the name PETROS in John 1:42

When John translates Aramaic into Greek, it is METHERMENEUW, when he explains what the Aramaic means it is HERMENEUW:

38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted(HERMENEUW), Master,) where dwellest thou?

41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted(METHERMENEUW), the Christ.

42 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, which is by interpretation(HERMENEUW), A stone.(Joh 1:38-42 KJV)


KJV John 9:7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation(HERMENEUW), Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (Joh 9:7 KJV)

Although HERMENEUW can be found outside scripture as "translate," that is not John's usage. It is unhistorical to read into KEPHA what it became later, a proper name. Here it is an epithet, an idiom, not a name; therefore, John would not translate it into a proper name, rather he is interpreting it to be a stone.

It is parsimonous Christ meant KEPHA as it is found in the Aramaic Targums, and so John chose the Attic Greek "petros" because it means "small stone":

Pr 3:15 "more precious than rubies," Aramaic KEPHA Heb. paniyn, lxx lithos;

Pr 17:8 "stone of grace," Aramaic KEPHA; Heb. eben cheen, lxx misthos charitwn, gracious reward. [That is, a stone for a bribe, to buy favor].

-"Dictionary of the Targumim Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature," Marcus Jastrow [Judaica Press, NT, 1996], pp. 634-635).

As KEPHA=PETROS (Attic)=LITHOS (Koine) it follows Christ called Simon a precious "lively stone" which Simon later applies to the church:

4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.(1Pe 2:4-6 KJV)

The imagery is derived from Christ---the Rockmass KEPHA/PETRA, which Moses was to strike once (Ex 17:6; 1 Cor 10:4) for living water to come out…

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock PETRA that followed them: and that Rock PETRA was Christ. (1Co 10:4 KJV)

Believers are little christs" (CHRISTIANOS), lively stones that figuratively purchase favor from God preaching the immutable truth of Christ's Name---mediating life to all who believe.

38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (Joh 7:38 KJV)

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (Joh 3:18 KJV)

Jesus surnamed Simon by putting upon him an epithet

16 And Simon he surnamed (EPITITHEMI) Peter (PETROS);

17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed (EPITITHEMI) them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

(Mar 3:16-17 KJV)

Boanerges is an epithet, idiom, not a proper name, hence neither of these men are ever called this name. Jesus put the meaning "of sons of thunder" on the pair… It follows Jesus also put upon Simon a meaning, not a proper name.

The only place in Scripture where Jesus says, "Thou art PETROS," is Matthew 16:18, not John 1:42 where He called him "Cephas".

What meaning did Jesus put upon Simon? Scripture says all who confess Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, via divine revelation, are born again (Rom 10:8ff; John 1:12; 1 John 4:15). It follows Jesus called Simon "Firstborn of the Gospel of Christ". Context supports this exegesis:

KJV Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Mat 16:17 KJV)

In this Makarism we find an undeveloped double entendre, rather than writing "Son of Jonah" in Greek (huios Iwna, Joh 1:42 TR), Matthew conveys Jesus’ EPITITHEMI via the epithet BARIWNA---Simon is "blessed" for receiving and proclaiming divine revelation just like Jonah the Prophet (cp Mat 12:39-41; 16:4). Having risen from the dead speaking the Word of Life, Simon is just like him = born again. Compare:

5 The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.

6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.

7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.

10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.

(Jon 2:5-2:2 KJV)

Only a child of God is given keys to His Kingdom, as Peter was promised the keys then, it follows he was born then.

KJV Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: (Mat 16:19 KJV)

Matthew CONFIRMS Simon is the First (PRWTOS):

2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first (PRWTOS), Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

-Mat 10:2 KJV

As "First Simon" is not followed by "Second Andrew", "Third James" etc... This is not a numbering system. In addition, the LORD expressly forbade thinking any were PRWTOS in the "Chief" sense:

27 And whosoever will be chief (PRWTOS) among you, let him be your servant: (Mat 20:27 KJV)

Only one likely meaning remains: Simon is the FIRST of the group born of the Gospel of Christ, and Matthew emphasized that by calling Simon "First" and so lists him first.

Peter's confession was unique, the first (PRWTOS) of its kind

Peter's confession was a product of divine revelation of Christ's Name in the heart and mouth hence archetypical of the entire Church (16:17 cp Rom 10:8f)), unlike others which preceded it in time (14:24-33; Mark 6:49-52) but were the product of human emotion and intellect (cf James 2:19f). Observe John doesn't mention a confession when relating the same event (John 6:19-21) and none of these result in a Makarism:

49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. (Joh 1:49-50 KJV)

The parallels between this event and Romans 10:8ff indicate dependence:

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:8-10 KJV)

Divine revelation of Jesus' Name is put in Peter's heart and mouth, the word of faith John says is required for eternal life. Peter confessed this publicly, he was the first to do so via divine inspiration.

Corroborating this is Paul's switch from PETROS to KEPHA, in Gal 2:9:

And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars -KJV

Evidently Paul switches from PETROS to Cephas in Galatians 2:9 (TR) because PETROS("Firstborn") didn't covey the stone metaphors Paul wanted for his caustic review of "those who seemed to be somewhat…seemed to be pillars", these lamps of fire guiding the people imparted no light to Paul (cp Gal 2:6,9 with Ex 13:21; cf also Berachoth 28b). Peter is both a pillar and a KEPHA stone of grace, a small precious stone benefiting the holder:

Therefore Peter failed both as a pillar and as a stone of grace. Rather than a guiding light to the Gospel of Christ, Peter cowers in fear following followers James failed to guide correctly, into error…even against the vision God gave him! (Ac 10:34). Ironic indeed for a pillar and a kepha.

As would be expected in unsound eclectic texts, the change from Cephas (Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) to petros (2:7, 8) is purely random, a property not found in Paul's expositions, who arguably had a reason for every word carefully chosen. That contradicts the claim these are accurate copies.

However, in a footnote Professor Cullmann argues for dependence from these texts:

14 …’The proper name Peter does not appear at all in pagan literature; it first appears in Tertullian.’ There was, on the contrary, as already mentioned (note 12), an Aramaic name פטרוס (Petros), which perhaps is to be connected with פטר (patar) "firstborn". The theory that the Greek Petros was first derived from it and gave occasion for a false retranslation Kepha into Aramaic is quite impossible, in view of the fact that in Paul’s letters Cephas is already the usual designation and Peter clearly was only a derivation from it."-PETER Disciple-Apostle-Martyr, by Oscar Cullmann , translated from the German by Floyd V. Filson (Westminister Press, Philadelphia, 1953), pp18-19.

However, as Prof Cullmann’s argument would yield the opposite conclusion in John--Cephas appears only once, but PETROS 35 times, it must be unsound. The middle term is undistributed and the reasoning circular as its conclusion also one of its premises.

When we suppose the Early Church "fathers" confused PETROS (Firstborn) as PETROS (stone), the reason for their similar interpretations of "the Rock" is clear--- They tried to remain true to apostolic exegesis, and somehow include Peter. Later Peter supplanted all reference to the content of his confession

Roman Catholic Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick prepared a paper to be delivered at Vatican I (1870), in which he noted that five interpretations of the word "rock" were held in antiquity:

1. The first declared that the church was built on Peter, endorsed by seventeen fathers.

2. The second understood the words as referring to all the apostles, Peter being simply the Primate, the opinion of eight fathers.

3. The third asserted that the words applied to the faith that Peter professed, espoused by forty-four fathers, some of whom are the most important and representative.

4. The fourth declared that the words were to be understood of Jesus Christ, the church being built upon him, the view of sixteen fathers.

5. The fifth understood the term "rock" to apply to the faithful themselves who, by believing in Christ, were made the living stones in the temple of his body, an opinion held by only very few (107–108).- Journal of Biblical apologetics : Volume 3. 2001 (16). Las Vegas, N.V.: Christian Scholar's Press, Inc.. p. 16.

TERTULLIAN: If, because the Lord has said to Peter, 'Upon this rock I will build My Church,' 'to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom;' or, 'Whatsoever thou shalt have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,' you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? 'On thee,' He says, 'will I build My church;' and, 'I will give thee the keys'...and, 'Whatsoever thou shalt have loosed or bound'...In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what key: 'Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you,' and so forth. (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ's baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which kingdom are 'loosed' the sins that were beforetime 'bound;' and those which have not been 'loosed' are 'bound,' in accordance with true salvation...(Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951), Volume IV, Tertullian, On Modesty 21, p. 99).

Theodore of Mopsuestia: This is not the property of Peter alone, but it came about on behalf of every human being. Having said that his confession is a rock, he stated that upon this rock I will build my church. This means he will build his church upon this same confession and faith.-Fragment 92, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002).

"And I say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church;" that is, on the faith of his confession. "-John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew LIV.3

"… when Simon Bar Yona {St. Peter} declared that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the son of God, and on this specific point in FAITH Our Lord Jesus Christ built the Holy Church." -V. Rev. Fr. Boutros Touma Issa, St Ephraim Syriac Orthodox Church

"Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18). That the rock spoken of was the faith, not the person of Peter, was a common explanation of the fathers. Owen (Person of Christ, preface) cites the following: "Origen (tractate in Matt. 16) expressly denies the words to be spoken of Peter: ‘If you shall think that the whole church was built on Peter alone, what shall we say of John and each of the apostles? Shall we dare to say that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Peter alone? Hilary (Concerning the Trinity 2) says: ‘This is the only immovable foundation; this is the rock of faith confessed by Peter, You are the Son of the living God.’ And Epiphanius (Heresies 39) declares, ‘Upon this rock of assured faith (epi tē petra tautē tēs asphalous pisteōs)  I will build my church.’ ’ One or two more out of Augustine shall close these testimonies (Sermon concerning the Words of the Lord 13): ‘Upon this rock which you have confessed, upon this rock which you have known, saying, You are Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my church, that is, on me myself, the Son of the living God, I will build my church." Shedd, W. G. T., & Gomes, A. W. (2003). Dogmatic theology. "First one-volume edition (3 vols. in 1)"--Jacket. (3rd ed.) (p. 791). Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub.

PETROS should be added to any list of Aramaic/Hebrew transliterations in the NT---abba; bar; batos; elooi; ephphatha; kokrban; korbanas; lama; mamoonas; maran atha; rhabbi; rhabbouni; rhabitha; rhaka; sabachthani; talitha koum, SIMWN, IAKWBOS, ZEBEDAIOS, IWANNES, BARTHOLOMAIOS, THWMAS, ALPHAIOS, IOUDAS ISKARIOTES (Mat 10:2-4) etc.

39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better. (Luk 5:39 KJV)

The old wine accepts "Peter is the Rock" and then argues it does not follow Rome's pope is Peter's successor. Many will resist changing their apologetic. However, it is inefficient to refute a lie after agreeing with it.

The "Peter is the rock" theory is pernicious novelty, not this exegesis.

KJV 1 Corinthians 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (1Co 4:6 KJV)

Like the Flat Earth and global warming theories, the Peter is the Rock consensus is certainly wrong, a tradition of men.