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"What's in a Name?" The use of Symeon Petros in 2 Pet 1:1

Hultin, J.F. (2013) "What's in a Name?" The use of Symeon Petros in 2 Pet 1:1. In: Annual Meeting. Society of Biblical Literature, 23 - 26 November 2013, Baltimore, MD



2 Peter 1:1 introduces Peter as "Symeon Petros." The conjunction of this spelling of the apostle's given name ("Symeon" rather than "Simon") with the Greek version of his nickname ("Peter" rather than "Cephas") is unattested apart from this passage. Although this peculiarity has often been observed, its significance has not been clear. It has sometimes been proposed that this spelling of Symeon was meant to sound "Semitic" or "archaic." But a thorough survey of how Jewish and Christian authors spell the name shows this to be untenable. Careful attention to the various ways Peter's double name was represented in other texts, as well as a study of how Jewish texts written in Greek represented the Hebrew name "Shimon," reveals a far more complicated pattern than has previously been acknowledged. In fact, a few Jewish authors writing in Greek (or translating texts from Aramaic or Hebrew into Greek) alternate between the spelling "Simon" and "Symeon," sometimes even when referring to the same person or to members of the same family. Some of the instances when an author deviates from his standard spelling are especially suggestive for the interpretation of 2 Pet 1:1. In addition to isolating and comparing these antecedent examples, at least two other factors help explain the use of "Symeon Petros." One is the use of "Symeon" in Acts 15:14 (another case where the choice of names has often been poorly understood). The other is the growing notoriety, at the time 2 Peter was written, of Peter's great opponent, Simon Magus. As Syriac translations of the NT attest, there was careful effort to distinguish this Simon from Simon Peter by using different spellings for their names.

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