Peter the rock

Peter the rock

Peter the rock refers to conflicting interpretation of the meaning "rock" in Mathew 16,18.


It is generally accepted amongst most Catholic and non-Catholic historians that the institution of the papacy as it exists today developed through the centuries. St. Peter the apostle arrived in Rome "c" 50.Fact|date=June 2008 During the first century of the Christian Church, the Roman capital became recognized as a Christian center of exceptional note since the church of Rome was reputed to be founded by the apostles St. Paul and St. Peter, the "prince of the apostles".Fact|date=June 2008 Despite the special status of the church of Rome, there are only a few 1st century references to the recognition of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff of the Holy See outside of Rome.Fact|date=June 2008 The fact that Clement of Rome's letter to the Corinthians (written "c." 96) [ Letter of Clement to the Corinthians] ] adopted a pastoral tone, and also the fact that St. Ignatius of Antioch once spoke of the church of Rome "presiding in love" in his letter to the Romans (written "c." 105)cite web |url= |title=Letter of Ignatius of Antioch to the Romans] are seen by some historians to present proof of the existence of a certain early Papal primacy.Fact|date=June 2008 Others argue that these documents refer only to a primacy of honor. The doctrines of Papal authority and Primacy of the Roman Pontiff continue to be sources of controversy between the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches.

The fact that Peter was in Rome is also disputed. Specifically the places Peter claims to write to in his letter include Babylon, which could have been the actual city of Babylon if his mission was to the Jews. Clement also says: "Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west;" [ (as of 7-07-08)] implying Peter was never in the West [Insight on the Scriptures 1988 Watchtower and Bible Tract Society Pennsylvania; New York] .

The rock

The word "rock" received numerous interpretations through the centuries, especially from representatives of views, which questioned the legitimacy of the papacy. The Catholic Church teaches, that the institution of the papacy was mandated by Jesus in the Biblical passages:

:Matt.16:18-19: "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this "rock" I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the "keys" of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." [Gospel of Matthew: Chapter 16, Verse 18.]

The name "Peter" (Polytonic|"Πέτρος" in Greek) translates as "rock". The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" that Jesus grants Peter are an indication of the papacy not as a "personal" honour (i.e. granted to Peter alone) but as an "office" with clear succession. This occurs several times in similar fashion in the Old Testament.Fact|date=April 2007

Regarding the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19, Lutheran scholar Jaroslav Pelikan writes, [cite book |last= Pelikan |first= Jaroslav |authorlink= Jaroslav Pelikan |coauthors= |editor= |others= |title= The Riddle of Roman Catholicism |year= 1959 |publisher= Abingdon Press |location= New York |pages= 78] "As Catholic scholars now concede, the ancient Christian father Cyprian used it to prove the authority of the bishop—not merely of the Roman bishop, but of every bishop," referring to Maurice Bevenot's work on St. Cyprian. [cite book |last= Bevenot |first= Maurice | title= St. Cyprian: The Lapsed, The Unity of the Catholic Church |pages= 6-8] But this was in 1959, and much has been published since on this topic (To be expanded)

Some linguistic authorities have noted that in Greek, the name of Peter and the word for 'Rock' are different. "Addis and Arnold's Catholic Dictionary" repeat: "It has often been urged that Peter does not mean 'rock' but 'stone'...Sound scholarship will not support this difference or the inferences drawn from it. Christ calls Simon 'Petros', not 'petra' simply because 'petra' could not stand as a man's name" [W.E. Addis and T. Arnold (1960) "A Catholic Dictionary", Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, London, p653] . But, in Greek a feminine or neuter name could have been used to describe a man, as 'dayspring' is used to describe Christ by Justin Martyr [Dial C, 4: (as at 7-07-08 footnote 2332) Ps 118:24 Day is neuter, which Clement of Alexandria referred to Christ] , in any case the Hebrew words for 'rock', are masculine. But since Jesus did not speak in Greek to his apostles, the meaning of this difference in the Greek language is not clear.


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