Monday, August 4, 2008

Kefa--a seer stone?

When Jesus met Simon son of Jona, he gave him a new name--Cephas. "Cephas" (Aramaic--kefa) is the equivalent of "Peter." The name means "stone." According to Hugh Nibley, kefa is an Aramaic word that refers to a green crystal used for divination. In other words, kefa doesn't just mean "stone" but more precisely it means "seer stone."

The Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:42 is more interesting now, isn't it?

"And [Andrew] brought [Peter] to Jesus, and When Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by interpretation, a seer, or a stone..."

So, two questions:

Is Hugh Nibley right about kefa?
If so, how do you explain Joseph Smith's uncanny ability to get these things right?

5 comments:

Ron Beron said...

I have checked this out and for the life cannot find where Nibley makes this assertion. Can you supply a source? Thanks.

Hans said...

Ditto for me, I have heard Nibley's quote on that but can't find the cite.

Marc said...

The Nibley/stone thing is in Nibley's Wikipedia article, too.

Thanks for this awesome blog, love your insights.

Andrew I. Miller said...

My source is wikipedia.


I can't find the original reference either.

I was hoping someone else might help me out with that.

Anyone?

Thanks for the comments, friends.

Dan Knudsen said...

Wikipedia, quite a ways down in the article on Hugh Nibley (just Google "Hugh Nibley"):

Linguistic contributions

Nibley proposed new translations of some important words, but it is unclear to what extent these alternate translations are accepted by other linguists.

* Aten - Usually translated "disk of the sun." Nibley pointed out that relief illustrations of the Aten portray it as a sphere, not a flat disk, concluding that a correct translation would be "globe," "orb," or "sphere."

* Kefa - Nibley pointed out that in Arabic and Aramaic this word refers to a green crystalline stone used for purposes of divination. Its best translation is perhaps "Seerstone." In the Greek New Testament it appears as Kefas, in the English New Testament as Cephas.

* Makhshava - This Hebrew word is usually translated as "thought," but Nibley made a case for translating it as "plan." e.g., in the book of Esther many translations say that Haman "thought" to destroy the Jewish people. Nibley suggests that it is more accurate to say he planned to exterminate them. He did not just think about it, but made a plan.

* Shiblon - This Book of Mormon name, Nibley argued, is almost certainly connected to the Arabic shibl, "lion cub." Nibley's student Benjamin Urrutia went on to make the connection with the "Jaguar Cub" imagery of the Olmec people of Ancient Mexico, a theory that has been widely embraced by LDS scholars.[14]