Re: Cephas

On Sun, 4 Dec 1994, Greg Doudna wrote:

> >if it is argued that Peter is the original Simon Bar-Jona,
> >should be to explain that name transformation.  Or at least
> >it would help?
> There are numerous ways this could have happened other than
> Jesus naming him Kepha and Kepha being translated into Petros
> in Greek.  Let me outline one scenario, and I emphasize that
> is all this is.  Simon is known as Simon at first, and then
> at some point (post-crucifixion?) receives, for whatever reason,
> the epithet or name "Stone" *in Greek*.  He receives this 
> name in Greek because he is, in fact, a Greek-speaking "apostle
> to the circumcision" in the Diaspora, where they speak Greek.
> According to Gal 2:7-8, Peter had probably received a handshake
> just like Paul, from the pillars in Jerusalem.  I interpret
> "apostleship to the circumcision" to mean Peter made trips into
> the Diaspora.  (Cp. Peter's multilingual address to Jews of the
> Diaspora of Acts 2.)
> Since Greek was the language of the Diaspora, this would be the
> primary language in which Peter worked.  Peter would have been
> fluent in Greek from having grown up bilingual--and his Greek
> affinities are seen in his own Greek name and that of his
> brother (Andrew), as well as consistent with his city of 
> origin (Bethsaida).  His name Petros would originate in Greek
> and become his name.  Only later, when Christian historians 
> such as the author of Luke-Acts decided to trace the lineage
> of the church via Peter (instead of via James), did "Stone"
> become etymologized into the Foundation Rock for the church,
> or something similar.  
> By this proposal, the fact that "Stone" is semantically
> equivalent to Kepha's name would be a coincidence.
Well, this does have some plausibility to it, particularly the Greek name 
of his brother and the city of his origin as Bethsaida (which we derive from
John rather than from the Synoptics, don't we? This raises a couple other 
questions in my mind, not necessarily related to the distinction of 
Petros from Khphas except tangentially: 
(1) Is the Greek proper name Petros attested earlier than our NT "Peter"?
(2) The etymologizing explanation of the name Petros appears for the 
first time in extant documents (or is that true?) in Matthew 16. And here 
I betray a woeful ignorance--don't we assume or argue a basic 
independence of Matthew and Luke from each other? We do readily accept a 
knowledge of Hebrew/Aramaic in Matthew, I think, from the form of his 
citations of OT text that aren't quite identical with the LXX? But what 
about Luke? Can we suppose any knowledge of Hebrew or Aramaic in him (I 
should, I suppose, have written the name as "Luke")? Conzelmann doubted 
Luke's familiarity with the geography of Palestine even. I ask this 
regarding Luke precisely because of the Pentecost speech in Acts, which 
does seem to imply that Petros was bilingual.
(3) More tangential still (and again I reveal my ignorance of the 
scholarly literature), what do we assume to be the origin of the story of 
the call of Peter and Andrew by Jesus in Capernaum? I ask because (a) 
this would seem to imply that Capernaum is his home town; (b) it is, or 
would certainly seem to be, inconsistent with John's account of Peter's 
first being encountered in the circle of John the Baptist; (c) it seems 
to me that, inasmuch as the center of gravity of the Call-of-Peter 
pericope lies in the dominical saying, "I shall make you fishers of men 
(evangelists)," that this pericope very likely arose originally in 
Greek-speaking Christianity, where the word IXQYS may already have held a 
distinct theological significance--i.e. the story bears no relationship 
to historical event (at least, so far as time and place given in the 
account are concerned), but rather the association of Simon bar-Jona with 
fish and his being a fisherman could arise from his known role in the 
Hellenistic world as evangelist to the (Greek-speaking) circumcision. 
This purely speculative (on my part) hypothesis would perhaps add a 
little more weight to the distinction between Petros and Khphas. Or am I 
hopelessly confused? 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu  OR cwc@oui.com