Monday, April 14, 2008

Scott Hahn on the Papacy

When I was coming back into my Catholic faith I listened endlessly to Professor Scott Hahn on tape. His logic defending the Papacy in my mind was outstanding. Here are some key excerpts. Please click and read the entire article!

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    • Let me read that passage and then I will back up and consider those three aspects. Let's drop back to verse 13, "Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, 'Who do men say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets'." Rather impressive testimony because these people constitute the Old Testament Hall of Fame of Saints, here. "He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'" And as is characteristic throughout Matthew's gospel, Peter steps forward, or I should say, speaks up. Peter is the only one to walk on water. Peter is the one who often speaks up, representative of the twelve disciples. Verse 16, "Peter replied, 'You are the Christ,' -- the Christos, the Anointed One in Greek or the Messiah in Hebrew, 'the Son of the Living God. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven, and I tell you, you are Peter (Petra) and on this Rock (Petros), I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.'" And then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ.

    • But then one day, as I was working through the Gospel of Matthew, because that stresses, that gospel builds on the Old Testament more than any other and especially the idea of David's kingdom. That really seems to be the central thrust of Matthew's gospel, that Jesus is the Son of David and He is establishing the Kingdom of David. That's how Matthew introduces Jesus. He is the only one of the four gospel writers who traces His genealogy right back to David, and he says, "Jesus, the Son of David" at the very start of Matthew. That's a common and prominent theme throughout the gospel.

      So I wanted to dig deep and see what I found in this particular passage, and on the basis of that discovery, or I should say, on the basis of that study, I made some discoveries. First of all, I discovered that when you read in verse 17, "Jesus answered, 'And blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church,' " I discovered that all the evidence points to the fact that Peter is the "rock."

    • Now you might say, "That's as plain as the nose on your face. What's the excitement of that discovery?" Well, non-Catholics frequently claim that it's Peter's faith that Jesus is speaking of, or Peter's confession that Jesus is speaking of when He says, "this rock." Or other Protestants object and say, "No, Jesus says, 'And you are petros.'" You are petros, you are rock, and on this petra, the Greek word for large rock, "I will build my Church." So some Protestants object to the Catholic view and say, "What Jesus is really saying is. 'You're a little pebble and on this rock, namely Christ, the Rock, (1 Corinthians, 10:4 and so on) I will build my Church.'"

      Now the closer I studied the more I realized that those positions were untenable, simply untenable. And I'm going to share in a few minutes the fact that most conservative anti-Catholic Protestant scholars today will admit that readily and candidly. The more I dug, the more I found that the evidence pointed to the fact that Jesus was speaking of Peter. Peter is the Rock. Peter just said, "You are the Christos," so Jesus says, "You are the Petros." There is a little parallelism there. "You are the Son of the Living God" and "You are the son of Jonah, Simon Bar-Jonah; you are the Petros."

    • Now people could say, "Wait a second. There is a distinction in the Greek language between petros," Peter's name and petra. Petros can mean stone, whereas petra can often mean "big rock." The problem with that is two-fold. First of all, Jesus probably didn't speak Greek when He was with the disciples. I mean that is held by 99.9 percent of all scholars. It's overwhelmingly unlikely that Jesus in His normal conversations spoke Greek. What's almost certain is that He spoke Aramaic and in the Aramaic there is only one word that could possibly be used and Kouman and other scholars have pointed to the fact that if Jesus spoke Aramaic, He only could have said, "You are Cephus, and on this Cephus I build my Church." So given our knowledge of the Aramaic language, there is no possibility for Jesus to have made the distinction between "little stone" and "big rock." The Aramaic language doesn't allow it.

      Well, somebody could say, "The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to use two different words. Well, that's true, because "petra" is the word in Greek that is normally used for "large rock," but - I should say petra is the Greek word that means "large rock" but it's in the feminine form. In other words, the gender of this Greek word, petra, large rock, is feminine. You do not apply a feminine form of the word in order to name a male. You adopt it by giving the masculine form. In other words what Matthew was doing, guided by the Holy Spirit, is something that was rather obvious and practically necessary. That was to take the Greek from Jesus' saying and start by saying, "I will build my Church on this massive stone, this 'petra' in the feminine but then to show that Peter gets the name, "Rock" in its proper masculine form.

    • You wouldn't name him Josephine or Rockina or, you know, something like that. You give him the masculine form of the word. I should also add that there is absolutely no archeological evidence from antiquity for anybody having been named Peter before Simon. In other words, Jesus was taking a word that had never been used as far as all the many records we have are concerned, never was used to designate an individual person and Jesus gives that name, gives that word to Simon.

    • rotestants are often ready to admit the fact that Peter is the Rock and that the keys of succession are given to him to imply an office that will be filled by successors. For instance, one of the top evangelical New Testament scholars in the world, R.T. France says this in his commentary on Matthew, "Verses 17 through 19 are addressed to Peter and have been regarded by some as a late addition to support an early claim to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Whether or not they give any such support, there is no textual evidence for their addition to the gospel after its original composition, and the strongly Semitic or Jewish character of the language throughout these verses point to a relatively early origin in a Palestinian environment." What is France saying? Well, many scholars have suggested that Jesus could not have given this gift to Peter. Jesus could not have given this original saying. Why? Because many scholars don't believe that Jesus foresaw the building of the Church. They think that all of these sayings of Jesus concerning the Church were added later by the Church to support whatever had happened to the Church.

    • Dr. France says, "That's just not tenable." When you study this you realize that all of the evidence in the text shows that this is one of the original sayings of Jesus. He goes on to say, "Jesus' beatitude of Peter or His blessing is given to Peter alone. The other disciples may have shared his insight but Peter, characteristically expressed it. Matthew often illustrates Peter's place at the head of the disciples' group. He was the spokesman, the pioneer, the natural leader." He goes on to talk about how Peter is referenced to the Rock. France says, "It describes not so much Peter's character, that is the Rock. He did not prove to be rock-like in terms of stability or reliability but rather the name Rock or Peter points to his function as the foundation stone of Jesus' Church."

      This is a non-Catholic. This is an Evangelical Protestant who has absolutely no interest in supporting the Church's claims but he says, "The term Peter, Rock, points to Simon and not his character because he could be very unstable, but rather his official function as the foundation stone of Jesus' Church. The word-play is unmistakable." He says, "It is only Protestant over-reaction to the Roman Catholic claim, of course, which has no foundation in the text, that what is here said of Peter applies also to the later Bishops of Rome." In other words France is saying, "We can't apply this to the Popes, the later Bishops of Rome." I'll overthrow that opinion in a few minutes, I think, but France is very candid in saying, "Look, it's only because we Protestants have over-reacted to the Catholic Church that we are not frank and sincere in admitting the fact that Peter is the Rock. He is the foundation stone upon which Jesus is going to build the Church."

    • One of the greatest Protestant Biblical scholars of the century supports this -- W. F. Albright, in his Anchor Bible Commentary on Matthew. I opened it up. I was surprised to see, "Peter as the Rock will be the foundation of the future community, the church. Jesus here uses Aramaic and so only the Aramaic word which would serve His purpose. In view of the background in verse 19, one must dismiss as confessional interpretation any attempt to see this rock as the faith or the confession of Peter." In other words, Professor Albright is admitting as a Protestant that there is a bias in Protestant anti- Catholic interpreters who try to make Jesus' reference to the rock point only to Peter's faith or confession. "To deny the pre-eminent position of Peter," Albright says, "among the disciples or in the early Christian community is a denial of the evidence. The interest in Peter's failures and vacillations does not detract from this pre- eminence, rather it emphasizes it. Had Peter been a lesser figure, his behavior would have been of far less consequence. Precisely because Peter is pre-eminent and is the foundation stone of the Church that his mistakes are in a sense so important, but his mistakes never correspond to his teachings as the Prince of the Apostles." We will see."

      Albright goes on in his commentary to speak about the keys of the kingdom that Jesus entrusted to Peter. Here's what he says, "Isaiah 22, verse 15, undoubtedly lies behind this saying of Jesus. The keys are the symbol of authority and Father Roland DeVoe rightly sees here the same authority vested in the vicar, the master of the house, the chamberlain of the royal household in ancient Israel. In Isaiah 22 Eliakim is described as having the same authority."

    • Now let's just stop here and ask, "What is he talking about?" I think it's simple. Albright is saying that Jesus in giving to Peter not only a new name, Rock, but in entrusting to Simon the keys of the kingdom, He is borrowing a phrase from Isaiah 22. He's quoting a verse in the Old Testament that was extremely well known. This, for me, was the breakthrough. This discovery was the most important discovery of all. Let's go back to Isaiah 22 and see what Jesus was doing when He entrusted to Peter the keys of the kingdom.

      By the way, I do not find hardly any Catholic defenders of the faith these days with awareness of this particular point. This was the point above all points for me. It was the point that the defenders of the Catholic faith in the 16th and 17th Centuries were very aware of, but for some reason amnesia has set in upon many defenders and interpreters not aware of how crucial this particular passage is. In Isaiah 22 beginning back in verses 19 and 20, we have some very interesting background. This is where Jesus goes for a quotation to cite this passage.

    • Let me go back and try to simplify this even further. I'll read the quote. Albright says, "In commenting upon Matthew 16 and Jesus giving to Peter the keys of the kingdom, Isaiah 22:15 and following undoubtedly lies behind this saying." Albright, a Protestant, non- Catholic insists that it's undoubtable that Jesus is citing Isaiah 22, "The keys are the symbol of authority and DeVoe rightly sees here the same authority as that vested in the vicar, the master of the house, the chamberlain of the royal household of ancient Israel." In other words, the Prime Minister's office

    • Other Protestant scholars admit it too, that when Jesus gives to Peter the keys of the kingdom, Peter is receiving the Prime Minister's office, which means dynastic authority from the Son of David, Jesus, the King of Israel, but also an office where there will be dynastic succession. When I discovered that, it was like the blinders fell off. Within a few weeks I had gotten together with the leading Protestant theologians in the world, one of the most reputable anti- Catholic Protestant theologians and spent ten hours with him and then in a Mercedes we drove two hours and I presented this case, and his only comment was, "That's clever." But he said, "You don't have to follow the Pope because of that." I said, "Why not?" And he said, "Well, I'm going to have to think about it." He said, "I've never heard that argument before." And I said, "It' s one of the basic arguments that Cajeton used against the Protestants in the 16th Century and Cajeton was one of the most well-known defenders of the Catholic faith and you've never heard of him before?" I said, "I had never heard of it before until I discovered it on my own and then found it in all these other people." And he said, "That's clever." Clever, perhaps. True, definitely; enlightening, illuminating, very interesting.

    • Now, what he means there is that nowhere else, when other Apostles are exercising Church authority are the keys ever mentioned. In Matthew 18, the Apostles get the power to bind and loose, like Peter got in Matthew 16, but with absolutely no mention of the keys. That fits perfectly into this model because in the king's cabinet, all the ministers can bind and loose, but the Prime Minister who holds the keys can bind what they have loosed or loose what they have bound. He has, in a sense, the final say. He has, in himself, the authority of the court of final appeal and even Protestants can see this.

    • The only thing that Luther won't admit is that there was succession after Peter died, which is exactly what the keys denote, given their Old Testament background


Blondie said...

Dr. Scott Hahn is absolutely brilliant, I have learned so much from him. I have a one of his audio sets called "Bible Only?" and it is so thorough. Covers many of the points mentioned here in great detail. There are a total of 8 tapes/CD's in this series, and each one is about an hour long. I have listened to it many times and each time I learn something new. Highly recommended!

Blondie said...

BTW Elena not to be nitpicky but you have a typo in the word papacy - you may want to change that for search engines.

Tracy said...

I just love all of the books that Scott and Kimberly have wrote and also his show on EWTN!!