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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names


By Jeff A. Benner

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; (ASV, Matthew 10:2)

Before examining the name Andrew, let's take a quick look at the name Peter (a Greek name), as the study of this name has some commonality with the name Andrew. Peter had three names: Shimon (a Hebrew name), Kepha (an Aramaic name) and Petros (a Greek name). It is not known for certain if he went by all three names, or just the Hebrew and Aramaic names and the Greek name Petros (meaning rock) was a translation of the Aramaic Kepha (also meaning rock) that was added when the original Hebrew (or Aramaic) New Testament was translated into Greek.

This is an important issue for when it comes to his brother Andrew, which is a Greek name (Ἀνδρέας/Andreas). If Peter’s names were originally Hebrew and Aramaic, then it would be safe to assume that Andrew also had a Hebrew and Aramaic name. The New Testament does not give us any clues to his original Hebrew and Aramaic names as it does with his brother Peter, except that the Aramaic name must have meant "brave" as this is the meaning of the Greek name Andreas.

While the 4th Century Aramaic Peshitta provided us Peter’s Aramaic name Kepha in Matthew 10:2, it simply transliterates the Greek name as Andraus, which means that, unlike Peter who used his Hebrew and Aramaic name, Andraus may have used his Greek name.

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