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A literal translation, in the style of the King James Version, of the words presumably used by Jesus would be "Thou art Rock, and upon this rock will I build my church".
To preserve a supposed pun, the Greek text chose to translate Peter's name as "Πέτρος" rather than as "Κηφᾶς" (Cephas).
Yet, both of these traditional explanations of this passage have been termed incorrect by some recent Catholic Bible scholars.
While the reasons for disagreement on the nature of the primacy are complex—hinging on matters of doctrine, history, and politics, the debate is often reduced to a discussion of the meaning and translation of the "on this rock" passage: In the Greek text, the new name given is Πέτρος (Petros), and in the second half of the same verse the word translated as "rock" is πέτρα (petra).
Vatican Council I defined the primacy of the bishop of Rome over the whole Catholic Church as an essential institution of the Church that can never be relinquished.
This primacy is thus crucial to the understanding of the church from a Catholic viewpoint.
Catholics believe that Saint Paul saw Judaism as the type or figure of Christianity: "Now all these things happened to [the Jews] in figure...." attributes to the High Priest the highest jurisdiction in religious matters.
Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church.
Indeed, using the supposed transliteration of "כפא", which is found several times in the New Testament, would lose the play of words.
In Catholicism, it is argued that the primacy of Peter is a basis for the primacy of the bishop of Rome over other bishops throughout the Church via the doctrine of Apostolic succession.
There are various views on the nature of the primacy and how it has been exercised and passed on.
This belief makes a distinction between the personal prestige of Peter and the supremacy of the office of pope which Catholics believe Jesus instituted in the person of Peter.