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Ronald C. Semone
01-17-2006, 04:09 PM
In ancient Aramaic did the word for the common name 'Peter' sound like the word for "rock'?

Captain Amazing
01-17-2006, 04:43 PM
The Greek for "stone" is "petros"....that's where we get the words "petrified", meaning turned into stone, and "petroleum", meaning "oil that comes from stones". The Aramaic for stone is "cephas". Now, in the Christian "Book of Matthew", Jesus makes a joke/pun after one of his apostles, the apostle Simon says that Jesus is the Messiah, and says to one of Simon,

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it

Remember, the gospel of Matthew was written in Greek, so it has Jesus give Simon the nickname "Peter". Jesus, who spoke Aramaic, really probably would have given Simon the nickname "Cephas", and in fact, in the book of John, also written in Greek, John has Jesus give Simon his Aramaic nickname, saying:

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

but including the translation of "Cephas" into Greek for those readers of his who don't know Aramaic.

Likewise, the apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, warns them against the factionalization that's going on in the early Christian church, saying:

My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

"Cephas" is the same apostle Simon referred to in the book of Matthew.

Captain Amazing
01-17-2006, 04:45 PM
In other words, in case I wasn't clear, there wasn't a seperate name "Peter" in Aramaic or Greek, until Jesus gave it to the apostle Simon, and then, because of the growth of Christianity, "Peter" became a common name.

Ronald C. Semone
01-17-2006, 07:16 PM
In other words, in case I wasn't clear, there wasn't a seperate name "Peter" in Aramaic or Greek, until Jesus gave it to the apostle Simon, and then, because of the growth of Christianity, "Peter" became a common name.
Thank you very much. I have been bothered for a long time about this pun, wondering how the Greek just happened to mirror the Aramaic. You have cleared it up for me. Thanks again.

uglybeech
01-17-2006, 07:24 PM
Jesus, who spoke Aramaic, really probably would have given Simon the nickname "Cephas" Just a nitpick, since the rest of your evidence is very convincing. But isn't Jesus thought to have probably been fluent in Greek as well?

Polycarp
01-17-2006, 08:01 PM
Just a nitpick, since the rest of your evidence is very convincing. But isn't Jesus thought to have probably been fluent in Greek as well?

He's likely to have been, since Greek was a lingua franca throughout the Roman East. But consider it as akin today to Dutch or Danish people: their native language is what they'll speak among themselves, by and large, though the majority of them know English for international use as well.

Jesus is known to have taught his disciples in Aramaic, as there are a few instances throughout the four Gospels where his own original words are preserved (e.g., the raising of Jairus's daughter, where he said "Talitha, cumi", meaning, roughly, "Little girl, get up."), and they are invariably in Aramaic. The pun is even more striking in Aramaic, where "Cephas" means both "new name given Simon bar Jonah" and "rock" than in Greek, where "Petros" (name) contrasts with "petra" (a rock).