Re: Cephas

On Mon, 5 Dec 1994, Greg Doudna wrote:

> citing Fitzmyer, _To Advance
> the Gospel_ (New York, 1981), p. 112-123, esp. 116-117.  An
> Aramaic text at Elephantine dated 416 BCE giving a list of
> witnesses for a transfer of ownership of a slave names one
> 'Aqab, son of Kepha'.  Fitzmyer: "The _br_ that precedesit
> makes it clear that _kp'_ is a proper name; so it can no longer
> be maintained that the name is unattested."

Thanks for the ref. May I point out that slave "names" are often 
nicknames (e.g., Onesimus), much like the names of household pets and so 
often do not correspond to the names parents actually gave to their own 
children.  Thus, a single figure referred to as "Bar Kepha" may not be 
even the one example of the "name" that Fitzmyer concedes.  Esp. when we 
reckon with the possibility that "Bar Kepha" may not be a family name but 
a 'moniker' = "Son of stone" (perhaps referring to some personality 

> I proposed that *Kalphai (Alphaeus in the gospels) underwent
> a regular sound change when pronounced in Greek and was
> transliterated in Greek as Kepha.  However, (a) I'm still
> unclear whether this is sound linguistically; and (b) it
> is troubling to me (by my theory) that Kepha by coincidence
> ends up exactly what the Greek transliteration would be for
> Aramaic kepha, "rock."  Both BH occurrances of "kepha
> in Job and Jeremiah are rendered "petra" in the LXX.

Please note that the Greek transliteration is "Ke[eta]phas," and there is 
reasonable evidence that the eta was pronounced long, perhaps not all 
that different from in modern Greek "ee" sound, or perhaps an "ai" [as in 
Cain].  Note also that the Aram. word is spelled usually Qof, yod, peh, 
aleph, i.e., with a long vowel sound in the lst syllable, probably a 
tsere-yod sound.  All this indicates a fairly good attempt to 
transliterate the Aram. word "keypha" into Greek, and not a 
confusion/elision of another word.

> The possibilites as I see it come down to: (a) Peter and
> Kepha are the same figure; (b) Kepha is a proper name and
> a different person from Simon surnamed Petros; (c) two
> figures had the same title or surname.
> My gut feeling still says (b) is slightly more likely to
> be true.  I see (c) as the least probable, given the absence
> of evidence that Petros/Rock was a name of an office or
> function. 

I must say that if (a) is not to be preferred then I would have to side 
with Bart on (c) as the more likely alternative.  "Kypha" is most likely 
NOT a "proper name" but a nickname or sobriquet, and "Petros" is likely 
the same sort of item.  Simon's surname in all the sources giving one was 
"Bar Yona", NOT Petros.  (By the way, is it interesting/significant that 
except for the famous renaming scene in Matt 16:16, the Evangelists 
consistently picture Jesus addressing him as "Simon", not "Peter"?)
	I return to what I think is the only really significant piece of 
data in Bart's and Greg's proposals:  that Paul places a "Kephas" among 
the leaders of the Jerusalem church, and only in Gal. 2:6-7 does he refer to 
a Peter.  Jn. 1:42 is another version of the Matt. 16:16 tradition of 
Jesus renaming Simon Bar Yona, and gives the Aramaic version of the name 
(just as Jn. ALONE gives the Aram. "Messias" [1:41; 4:25], and gives the 
translation of "Rabbi" [1:38], "Siloam" [9:7], and Greek/Semitic 
equivalents also at 19:13, 17, and translates "Thomas" in 20:24, and  
[alone] mentions a tri-lingual inscription on Jesus' crosss).  All this 
suggests a pattern of interest in Semitic/Greek equivalents, and this 
pattern should not be ignored in assessing Jn. 1:42.  In short, I don't 
think it can be dismissed as cavalierly as has been suggested.
	Now, a final note of relevance to lst cent. Palest. names in the 
NT.  See BAR 18/5(1992), 38-42, 76, for a report on the discovery of a 
family tomb mentioning the "Caiaphas" name from the Gospels and giving 
further references to studies of lst cent. Jewish names.  It is of 
interest that "Caiaphas" is spelled in Aram. both as "kf'" and "kyf'" (or 
perhaps "kwf'" (i.e., pronounced "Kafa" or "Kayfa" or perhaps [if the 
"yod" should be taken as a "waw" "kawfa".)  So you see that there is an 
orthographical similarity (at the consonantal level) between "Keypha" and 
"Caiaphas", though all indications are that the two transliterated terms 
represent very different vocalizations of the consonants. 

Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba

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