Thursday, December 09, 2010

Responding to Bugay - "Built on Sinking Sand" (Part 2)

Built on Sinking Sand: The “Scriptural” Foundation for the Papacy (2)

I wanted to follow up with my look at the defense of the papacy that Scott Windsor gave (in conjunction with his “defense” of the Donation of Constantine).
To be clear here - I do not "defend" the forgery, I simply proved - quite succinctly, that the document is not "a complete lie" - as Bugay falsely charged.  While its origin is not from the Emperor Constantine, many of the statements within the Donation of Constantine are quite true.  To be "a complete lie" there could be NO truths within it.  Mr. Bugay needs to realize his hyperbole has been called and his next step should be to acknowledge what I have said - there are SOME truths within the Donation of Constantine document.  Yes, there are SOME false attributions in it, in fact the whole document is falsely attributed to Emperor Constantine - but to say it is "a complete lie" is not a truthful statement.
I’ve already noted that he misunderstood or misrepresented what William Webster was saying about that document;
And again, Mr. Bugay was not present in the chatroom when White (using Webster) explicitly affirmed his statement.  ALSO Mr. Bugay spoke out of context for my argument was against White's contention that St. Thomas Aquinas based HIS entire concept of the papacy upon the Donation of Constantine (and/or the False Decretals).  White's point was proven false in quoting St. Cyril of Alexandria from the Summa Theologica (and I grant, from the appendix to the Summa Theologica, which was still a compilation of Aquinas' works - but compiled after his death). 
I’ve also commented his “scriptural evidence”:
Scriptural Foundation:
Matthew 16:18 – “And I say to thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Here we have Jesus bestowing upon Peter (whose name means “rock”) the foundation of the Church. In fact, in the Aramaic, which is what Jesus was likely speaking when speaking to His Apostles, and also the likely original language that the book of Matthew was written in, there is no distinction between the name “Peter” (Kepha) and the term for “rock” (kepha). Hence, if we stuck closer to the original language (instead of transliterating it to Greek and then English), that same verse would read something like: “… thou art Kepha, and upon this kepha will I build My Church.” This one verse alone is enough for one who has The Faith....
This notion is very thoroughly dismantled by an investigation of the earliest translations of the Gospel into the Syriac language, which itself is a later version of the Aramaic.
But Mr. Bugay seems relatively ignorant of the FACT that throughout the New Testament the Aramaic name of "Cephas" is used in the Greek!  The logical end to this is that Jesus indeed was speaking in the Hebrew tongue, not Greek (which is also testified to by Eusebius when he records that the book of Matthew was originally in the Hebrew tongue).
In my first response to this Scriptural argument, I cited David Garland (“Reading Matthew”, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1995) contending that there is a very good possibility that the possible “underlying Aramaic” for the “petros/petra” wordplay (possibly “kepha/kepha” in the unknown Aramaic) may well have been “kepha/tnra” – which then separates the Greek “petros/petra” by more than just gender issues; it changes the whole meaning of the wordplay. And this “changed wordplay” greatly advances the (already likely) scenario that Peter is not “the rock” of that verse.

Following on what Garland pointed out, Everett Ferguson, in his “The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today” (Grand Rapids/Cambridge: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), also affirms that in the Syriac language, which is a later form of Aramaic, does indeed make the “kepha/tnra” distinction in existing Syriac translations of the Gospel of Matthew:

The difficulties of applying the rock to Peter come in the text of Matthew 16 itself.

(1) The wording does not naturally lend itself to this interpretation. On the surface level there is the change from the second person of direct address (“You are Peter”) to the third person of indirect address (“on this rock”). If the author of Matthew had wanted to say that Jesus intended to build the church on Peter, there were certainly less ambiguous ways of doing it.
Again, in Greek (or even the later Syriac) there is a distinction for "rock" and "stone" as to imply a difference - but in the Aramaic there is no such distinction.  Mr. Bugay is relying on wordplay here from other "scholars" who have an agenda to prove, an anti-Catholic agenda.  History and an unbiased reading simply does not bare out Bugay's presentation of Garland, Ferguson or Caragounis or their propaganda.  
(2) The Greek text of Matthew and some strands of the Syriac tradition (pertinent here because Syriac is a later form of Aramaic) make a distinction between the words for Peter and the Rock. They seem to understand a different referent for Jesus’ words.
Bugay and company assert the Syriac is pertinent simply because it fits their agenda.  However, as Bugay has affirmed, "Syriac is a LATER form of Aramaic," it is not the same form used and spoken by first century Hebrews/Jews.
(3) Aramaic perhaps could have made a distinction, as Syriac did, either by different words or by the distinction between masculine and feminine (preserved in Greek by different endings).
Again, the "different endings" is easily explained as being the proper grammar of Greek.  A "rock" is an inanimate object - and thus would have the feminine noun of "petra" - whereas the name of a male person being named as a "rock" would necessarily (grammatically speaking) be Petros.  And again, we don't have this sort of grammar in Aramaic!
(4) At any rate, if Jesus used the same word with the same sense in both cases, the wordplay is lost. There is no wordplay if the same word is used twice with the same meaning [“kepha/kepha”]. A play on words requires similarities of sound, different meanings of the same word (possible here if Jesus used the same word, once for Peter and once for another “rock”), or different words with the same idea (again possible here if Jesus used two different expressions represented by different but similar words in Greek). The difference in Greek and some Syriac texts indicate that a wordplay was intended here.
Let us note here as well, Bugay has gone from asserting simply "Syriac texts" to "some Syraic texts."  Is he affirming that "some Syraic texts" do NOT make the distinction?
That being said - the fact remains that in the context of Matthew 16 Jesus calls him first "Simon Bar-Jonah" and then by his new name of "Peter" ("Rock" or "Cephas") and then immediately states that it is upon THIS ROCK that He will build His Church!  To imply there is some sort of cryptic wordplay going on here would seem to equate to Jesus attempting to deceive later readers (knowing His words would be later written down).  I, for one, do not accept a deceptive Jesus!  I believe He was being quite straight-forward in His delivery and context and not trying to fool anyone with "wordplay."
(5) Nowhere else in the New Testament or earliest Christian texts is Peter understood as the foundation stone of the church. Where Matthew uses rock elsewhere in a symbolic sense, the reference is to the teachings of Jesus (Matt 7:24).
An argument from silence is not a very valid one.  The fact remains that in the context of Matthew 16 Jesus begins by calling this Apostle "Simon Bar-Jonah" and then calls him "Rock" and then states He will build His Church upon "this rock."  If one chooses to believe Jesus was using deceptive wordplay here, well, they have chosen deceit over plain and simple truth and attempt to make the simple statement much more complicated than it is. 
So like Garland, Ferguson here is citing Caragounis’s intensive look into the Syriac. The argument that many of us former Roman Catholics have heard all of our lives, that Jesus used the same word for both Peter and for the rock upon which he would build the church [“Thou art Kepha, and on this kepha”] is literally without foundation.
To emphatically state the simple Catholic position is without foundation and the more complex, going into LATER variations of Aramaic to use words not even yet invented is simply a presentation of one blinded by his paradigm.
In a private email, “Constantine” has pointed out that, at Vatican I, Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick pointed out that there were no less than five different scenarios for that verse extant in the early church
Now (a reader not knowing the full context here) might point out the anachronism of "Constantine" using email and/or email being available at Vatican I!  Allow me to clarify, "Constantine" here refers to someone's online nickname and NOT the Emperor Constantine referred to in this context!
Schaff summarizes this:
But of the passage Matt. xvi., which is more frequently quoted by Popes and Papists than any other passage in the Bible, there are no less than five different patristic interpretations; the rock on which Christ built his Church being referred to Christ by sixteen Fathers (including Augustine); to the faith or confession of Peter by forty-four (including Chrysostom, Ambrose, Hilary, Jerome, and Augustine again); to Peter professing the faith by seventeen; to all the Apostles, whom Peter represented by his primacy, by eight; to all the faithful, who, believing in Christ as the Son of God, are constituted the living stones of the Church.
And certainly, I do not dismiss that there ARE other ways to interpret this passage, as rightly pointed out that some Early Church Fathers (ECFs) did, however just because some did does not negate the fact that MANY (if not most) ECFs express the interpretation precisely as Peter being "this rock" which Jesus promised to build His Church upon.  
Truth Unites ... and Divides had also pointed this out in a comment, here.

The Schaff citation is Volume 1, “Creeds of Christendom,” pg 186, and can be found at this link.

And as for the “five different patristic interpretations,” that would be corroborated by primary-source research by William Webster.

Caragounis’s work supports the interpretation that it was “Peter’s confession” that is the “this petra” of Matt 16:18 – and according to Vatican I’s Archbishop Kenrick, this particular interpretation is supported by no less than forty-four patristic interpreters.
I repeat - I do not dismiss other interpretations!  On the other hand, Bugay and company utterly and flatly dismiss the Catholic interpretation, affirmed by many other ECFs, and why?  Because they do not wish to lend any credence to the reality of the FACT that the Catholic Church existed from the very beginning and their off-shooting schisms have parted ways from the One, True Church built by Jesus Christ upon the bishoprick foundations of the Apostles, with St. Peter in primacy.
As another aside here: Ratzinger makes mention of the Caragounis work in his “Called to Communion.” He says that Caragounis’s work is “just as unconvincing as earlier interpretations of this sort.” (Pg 60, n. 14. But one wonders if he is exercising the Roman practice of “lying without lying” otherwise known as mental reservation. Ratzinger says that Caragounis's study “is just as unconvincing [to me] as earlier interpretations of this sort.” He of course concludes his note here without any effort at all to say precisely why it is unconvincing.

Needless to say, I'm not inclined to accept Ratzinger's word on this topic.
And I grant Mr. Bugay his right to his opinion - but the objective reader here should be able to see that Mr. Bugay's opinion is far from objective.
As Windsor says, "This one verse alone is enough for one who has The Faith, but for the Protestant opposition, they require more so let us go on."
"For one who has faith, no explanation is necessary; for one without faith, no explanation will suffice." (St. Thomas Aquinas).


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