"upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

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Jeffrey Dangel
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"upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Jeffrey Dangel » October 18th, 2017, 4:04 pm

κάγω δε σόι λέγω ότι συ ει Πέτρος και επι ταυτη τη πέτρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν και πυλαι άδου ου κατισχυσουσιν αυτής.

First of all, please excuse some of the words that don't have all of the accent marks, breath marks and iota subscripts. My Greek keyboard does not have some of those options.

Now to the text. Since this is such a controversial passage regarding "επι ταυτη τη πέτρα", I would like to get some feedback on what other NT Greek students believe the pronoun "this" is referring back to in this context only (i.e. Jesus, Peter, or Peter's confession of faith). Can we determine that definitively from a grammatical standpoint? Thanks.

Jeffrey Dangel
Jeffrey Dangel

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » October 19th, 2017, 12:54 pm

This is discussed on page 230 (PDF 242)
**Scenarios, Discourse, and Translation**, Richard A. Hoyle, 2008 SIL International

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do ... 1&type=pdf
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stephen Hughes
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 19th, 2017, 9:34 pm

Jeffrey Dangel wrote:
October 18th, 2017, 4:04 pm
Matthew 16:18 wrote:κάγω δε σόι λέγω ότι συ ει Πέτρος και επι ταυτη τη πέτρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν και πυλαι άδου ου κατισχυσουσιν αυτής.
Since this is such a controversial passage regarding "επι ταυτη τη πέτρα", I would like to get some feedback on what other NT Greek students believe the pronoun "this" is referring back to in this context only (i.e. Jesus, Peter, or Peter's confession of faith).
As a student of Greek, my understanding is guided by my experience with grammar, and parallel real-life situations. That is to say, how the lamguage itself works in abstract, and how other things have been fit into language, both linguistically and logically.

Grammatically, I wonder whom Jesus is talking to in either part of this verse. σόι λέγω ότι συ ει Πέτρος is definitely to Peter. If the second half is addressed to Peter too, then the choice of pronoun might suggest Jesus was talking about what Peter was named after. If Jesus had turned and was talking to others, then it could be either the event or words that Peter was named after or Peter himself.

For precedents, I look to Sarai laughter and her son's name, and the unfortunate children of Hosea. Isaac reminded his mother of her laughter, and Pitied-NOT and My-people-NOT were testimony to the action of others, not their own actions. Rebecca's son, though, may have been named after his own action. Not one of those four with convenantly sugnificant names was named entirely after himself, but the name was a reminder of something else in covenant history.

I don't think Greek is the only background knowledge that one needs to bringnto bear here.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jeffrey Dangel
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Jeffrey Dangel » October 21st, 2017, 12:56 am

Hey, Stephen. Thanks for your reply. So, as far as you know, there is no certain way to tell what επι ταύτη τη πέτρα (upon this rock) is referring back to. Since ταύτη is a Demonstrative Prounoun Dative Feminine Singular, and the definite article τη and the noun πέτρα are both in the Dative Feminine Singular, then basically that is all the grammatical agreement information we are going to get for “upon this rock”? It would be nice if you could go back to Peter, Jesus, or his confession of faith and one of those words was in the Dative Feminine Singular form as well and you would know what “upon this rock” is referring to grammatically. Then, you could say, “yes, I know ταύτη refers to Jesus himself or I know it’s a reference to Peter or his confession. Yet, that is not the case, right? In other words, we’re left to interpreting this phrase by means of New Testament word studies and context, as well as what else we know about how Scripture uses these words and concepts in other passages. Thanks for your reply.
Jeffrey Dangel

timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » October 21st, 2017, 4:11 am

It wouldn't make any difference if there were another feminine noun in the context. πετρα is feminine; its gender is not affected by anything else it might refer to or be equivalent to. And certainly the case doesn't matter. A noun's case is determined by its use in the sentence, not by anything it might refer to or be in apposition to or whatever.

Stephen Hughes
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 21st, 2017, 9:27 am

Jeffrey Dangel wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 12:56 am
Hey, Stephen. Thanks for your reply. So, as far as you know, there is no certain way to tell what επι ταύτη τη πέτρα (upon this rock) is referring back to.
Another question we could ask is whether John believed the pronoun referent could be clearly identified. Given the number of interpretaions that are possible, it seems that he felt he didn't need to be clear about it in the grammar.

A fourth possibility to add to three that you are considering is that it may be that Jesus was pointing at the physical ground.
timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 4:11 am
Jeffrey Dangel wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 12:56 am
Since ταύτη is a Demonstrative Prounoun Dative Feminine Singular, and the definite article τη and the noun πέτρα are both in the Dative Feminine Singular, then basically that is all the grammatical agreement information we are going to get for “upon this rock”? It would be nice if you could go back to Peter, Jesus, or his confession of faith and one of those words was in the Dative Feminine Singular form as well and you would know what “upon this rock” is referring to grammatically. Then, you could say, “yes, I know ταύτη refers to Jesus himself or I know it’s a reference to Peter or his confession. Yet, that is not the case, right?
It wouldn't make any difference if there were another feminine noun in the context. πετρα is feminine; its gender is not affected by anything else it might refer to or be equivalent to. And certainly the case doesn't matter. A noun's case is determined by its use in the sentence, not by anything it might refer to or be in apposition to or whatever.
Let me add to what TPMc has said by saying that full grammatical (number, gender and case) agreement tend to occur in quite small contexts. Number is derived from the real world, gender is derived from nouns and as TPMc says case is derived from the role that it has taken in the sentence - being an adverb, or depending on the needs of a verb or preposition.
Jeffrey Dangel wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 12:56 am
In other words, we’re left to interpreting this phrase by means of New Testament word studies and context, as well as what else we know about how Scripture uses these words and concepts in other passages.
A comparison of interpretations of scripture will have to look into more than just how the scripture uses the words. There may be certain motivations in the history of how the scriptures were used and applied, that will explain why one method of interpreting or other is supported by one exegete or another. The method you're describing is just one of a number of approaches to finding an understanding of the text.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 23rd, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jeffery Dangel in a PM wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 9:27 am
Jeffrey Dangel wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 12:56 am
Hey, Stephen. Thanks for your reply. So, as far as you know, there is no certain way to tell what επι ταύτη τη πέτρα (upon this rock) is referring back to.
A fourth possibility to add to three that you are considering is that it may be that Jesus was pointing at the physical ground.
Hey, Stephen. You mentioned a possible fourth interpretation of “upon this rock” could be referring to Jesus pointing to the ground (I assume at a mass of rocks, perhaps). Would you be able to elaborate a bit more on what you are thinking there?
Sure...
Little c "church", rather than big c "Church". Simply, that he meant a literal building of a physical church later in the spot they were talking at that time. Is there archeological evidence for a church founded for this event of Jesus ministry?
  • If Ockham's razor finds it easiest path through his gordian knot by saying that rocky (solid and good for foundation) ground - the physical mass of CaCO₃ and build means build as in a church structure, then the blade my foul on the anachronism of the meaning of church at that period - requiring us to leave a little snarly tusset of the knot unloosed - prophesy of some sort.
  • If the same Zen-like razor feels its easiest path is to assume that brick-on-brick οἰκοδομεῖν includes to a large extent the meaning θεμελιοῦν as the "rock" refers to a foundational truth - the first layer of bricks laid down on the rock with more to follow, or person, then perhaps it snags on the need to spiritualise the understanding to something that none of Jesus' listeners had ever experienced - the Christian Church as either a hierarchical or witnessing body.
  • If the ground is physical and the assembly is the people in the sense that assembly was conceived of at the time of speaking or penning the Gospel, but the building (up) of tne members corporately (and individually) is metaphysical - moral or spiritual, then we are left wondering how big the scope of the "this" (rock) is - a few metres or the whole world.
Basically, once you get free of the constraints of familiar English, with well-worn wheel ruts to guide its interpretation, the possibilities multiply. I'm guessing that people, who would wave a sandal and chase Brian, might have been asking which rock was he pointing at then, when he said that.

But whatever popular understandings may have been held any, all and sundry, I think what you are asking for is which of the possibilities is authoritive (or right). I still say that it is not obvious or evident in this instance from the Greek alone.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 24th, 2017, 6:01 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:
October 21st, 2017, 4:11 am
It wouldn't make any difference if there were another feminine noun in the context. πετρα is feminine; its gender is not affected by anything else it might refer to or be equivalent to. And certainly the case doesn't matter. A noun's case is determined by its use in the sentence, not by anything it might refer to or be in apposition to or whatever.
I don't want this to get lost - Timothy is correct here, and this is the one direct response to the question in the OP.

ταυτη is not referring back to anything, it refers to πετρα. For WAYK folks, it's analogous to this dialogue:

τί ἐστιν τοῦτο;
αὕτη ἐστιν ἡ ἐπιστολή.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Jonathan Robie » October 24th, 2017, 6:03 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
October 23rd, 2017, 4:12 pm
Basically, once you get free of the constraints of familiar English, with well-worn wheel ruts to guide its interpretation, the possibilities multiply.
And then context, culture, history, and other things help guide our understanding of which possibilities are most likely. Grammar alone is not enough to interpret a passage.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Hughes
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Re: "upon this rock" in Matthew 16:18

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 24th, 2017, 11:29 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
October 24th, 2017, 6:01 am
I don't want this to get lost - Timothy is correct here, and this is the one direct response to the question in the OP.

ταυτη is not referring back to anything, it refers to πετρα. For WAYK folks, it's analogous to this dialogue:

τί ἐστιν τοῦτο;
αὕτη ἐστιν ἡ ἐπιστολή.
Jonathan, I question your assertation about it referring to πέτρα.

I think it agrees with πετρα in number, case and gender, when it functions syntactically here as a demonstrative adjective with πέτρα or in apposition to πέτρα. In your example, αὕτη is used syntactically as demonstrative pronoun referring back to what was before, viz. the thing that the questioner was gesturing towards. That is a good illustration of a different syntax.

The demonstrative adjective in Matthew 16:18 lends its demonstrative force to πέτρα. In effect it is saying "there was a πέτρα just mentioned, and I'm gunna build my Church on it."

By confusing reference and agreement, your assertion repeats the same mistake that occurs in the OP. The part of PTMc response that has been quoted as authoritative is in fact incomplete.

Any correct answer must indicate that demonstrative-ness is demonstrative-ness and agreement is agreement. It must also say that when used syntactically as a demonstrative adjective, a demonstrative indicates that the noun with which it is in apposition to and in agreement with refers to something or someone else in the discourse. The basic principle that the poster needs to come to understand is that at the syntactic level there is agreement, while at the discourse level there is reference. Any clear answer that explains or differentiates between those two is adequate. Any direct answer that does not tease out the difference between syntax and discourse (by either naming them or implying them) is inadequate. (Going into deeper discussion of the grammar - either translational to justify why the English "this" could be used with validity or how this type of demonstrative serves a discourse rather than an emphatic function, iedoes not mean for example this rock and no others - is probably not necessary to bring out this particular point that the original poster has a misunderstanding about). A better than adequate response will foster understanding of what the OP poster needs to understand.

To be clearer still, a similar example from any number of those available could provided to illustrate the point and let the poster's mind go through the steps, such as:
Mark 12:43 wrote:ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων βέβληκεν τῶν βαλλόντων εἰς τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον·
This widow we see now, which is the same one as we saw before ...
The αὕτη prompts us to think which widow we were just talking about.
Luke 2:17 wrote:Ἰδόντες δὲ διεγνώρισαν περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τοῦ λαληθέντος αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου τούτου.
We are prompted by the τούτου to think about which child was just being talked about in the narrative.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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