Posts Tagged 'kiss me i’m a participle'

Exercises in translating liturgical Greek: “With these blessed powers…”

I’ve been getting something of a double-dose of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil this Great Lent; our priest has decided to follow the practice of doing a Saturday of Souls Divine Liturgy every Saturday of the fast, and he has done so with St. Basil’s.

He serves the Saturday liturgies without a deacon, so all of the prayers wind up being read aloud, more or less sequentially, and he told us on the first Saturday of Souls to use the opportunity to contemplate their content, that, as he put it, the story of our salvation is told very beautifully in those prayers.

With that in mind, and knowing that I needed to start preparing for a diagnostic exam in Greek this fall (also in Latin, but never mind that now), I thought that a very appropriate way to contemplate the content of St. Basil’s was to do my own translation of part of it — in particular the long prayer starting just after the Thrice Holy (the Sanctus, if my giving the Latin name of a section helps) and leading into the Words of Institution. I also decided that, in order to maximize the educational utility, I would pretty much look up everything, even words I knew, and force myself to get to know alternate definitions. For verbs I didn’t know, I would write down their principal parts. As much as possible, I would also analyze syntax and make sure I wasn’t just divining meaning based on familiarity with an English version. To that end, I would refer only to an English version (in this case, that printed in the Liturgikon published by the Antiochian Archdiocese) if I got absolutely and totally lost.

First I had to come up with a text; I’m going to look for an Ieratikon when I go to Greece (along with so many other things — one thing I’d be really curious to see is a textbook for Ancient Greek written in Modern Greek), but in the meantime, some digging produced this site as a source. I copied the text to a Word document, blew it up to 14pt, triple spaced it, printed it off, and armed with my good friends Hardy, Gerald, Henry George, Robert, Frederick, Walter, William, and Felix, off I went.

Just so we’re clear: this isn’t a critical edition or a translation intended for scholarly or literary use. At best this is a working document, intended primarily as an exercise for my own benefit, but in the spirit of the other Greek resources I’ve provided, if there is a way it can benefit other people, then terrific. Just know ahead of time that “Well, Richard Barrett says this…” is not likely to to win any arguments.

So, on this last Sunday of Great Lent on which the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil is offered, here’s the Greek text:

Μετὰ τούτων τῶν μακαρίων Δυνάμεων, Δέσποτα φιλάνθρωπε, καὶ ἡμεῖς οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ βοῶμεν καὶ λέγομεν· Ἅγιος εἶ, ὡς ἀληθῶς, καὶ πανάγιος, καὶ οὐκ ἔστι μέτρον τῇ  μεγαλοπρεπείᾳ τῆς ἁγιωσύνης σου, καὶ ὅσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις σου, ὅτι ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ κρίσει ἀληθινῇ πάντα ἐπήγασες ἡμῖν· πλάσας γὰρ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, χοῦν λαβὼν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, καὶ εἰκόνι τῇ  σῇ, ὁ Θεός, τιμήσας, τέθεικας αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ Παραδείσῳ τῆς τρυφῆς, ἀθανασίαν ζωῆς, καὶ ἀπόλαυσιν αἰωνίων ἀγαθῶν, ἐν τῇ τηρήσει τῶν ἐντολῶν σου, ἐπαγγειλάμενος αὐτῷ, ἀλλὰ παρακούσαντα σοῦ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ Θεοῦ, τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν, καὶ τῇ  ἀπάτῃ τοῦ ὄφεως ὑπαχθέντα, νεκρωθέντα τε τοῖς οἰκείοις αὐτοῦ παραπτώμασιν, ἐξωρίσας αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ δικαιοκρισίᾳ σου, ὁ Θεός, ἐκ τοῦ Παραδείσου εἰς τὸν κόσμον τοῦτον, καὶ ἀπέστρεψας εἰς τὴν  γῆν ἐξ ἧς ἐλήφθη, οἰκονομῶν αὐτῷ τὴν  ἐκ παλιγγενεσίας σωτηρίαν, τὴν  ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ Χριστῷ σου· οὐ γὰρ ἀπεστράφης τὸ πλάσμα σου εἰς τέλος, ὃ ἐποίησας, ἀγαθέ, οὐδὲ ἐπελάθου ἔργου χειρῶν σου, ἀλλ’ ἐπεσκέψω πολυτρόπως, διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους σου. Προφήτας ἐξαπέστειλας, ἐποίησας δυνάμεις διὰ τῶν Ἁγίων σου, τῶν καθ’ ἑκάστὴν  γενεὰν εὐαρεστησάντων σοι, ἐλάλησας ἡμῖν διὰ στόματος τῶν δούλων σου τῶν Προφητῶν, προκαταγγέλλων ἡμῖν τὴν  μέλλουσαν ἔσεσθαι σωτηρίαν, νόμον ἔδωκας εἰς βοήθειαν, Ἀγγέλους ἐπέστησας φύλακας. Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε τὰ πλήρωμα τῶν καιρῶν, ἐλάλησας ἡμῖν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ Υἱῷ σου, δι’ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐποίησας, ὅς, ὢν ἀπάγαυσμα τῆς δόξης σου, καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεώς σου, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα σοὶ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρί, ἀλλά, Θεὸς ὢν προαιώνιος, ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὤφθη, καὶ τοῖς   ἀνθρώποις συνανεστράφη, καὶ ἐκ Παρθένου ἁγίας σαρκωθείς, ἐκένωσεν ἑαυτόν, μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, σύμμορφος γενόμενος τῷ σώματι τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἡμᾶς συμμόρφους ποιήσῃ τῆς εἰκόνος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ. Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ δι’ ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον, καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, ηὐδόκησεν ὁ μονογενής σου Υἱός, ὁ ὢν ἐν τοῖς κόλποις σοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρός, γενόμενος ἐκ γυναικός, τῆς ἁγίας Θεοτόκου καὶ ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας, γενόμενος ὑπὸ νόμον, κατακρῖναι τὴν  ἁμαρτίαν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα οἱ ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ ἀποθνήσκοντες, ζωοποιηθῶσιν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ Χριστῷ σου, καὶ ἐμπολιτευσάμενος τῷ κόσμω τούτῳ, δοὺς προστάγματα σωτηρίας, ἀποστήσας ἡμᾶς τῆς πλάνης τῶν εἰδώλων, προσήγαγε τῇ  ἐπιγνώσει σοῦ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρός, κτησάμενος ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῶ λαὸν περιούσιον, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, καὶ καθαρίσας ἐν ὕδατι, καὶ ἁγιάσας τῷ Πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ, ἔδωκεν ἑαυτόν ἀντάλλαγμα τῷ θανάτῳ, ἐν ᾧ κατειχόμεθᾳ, πεπραμένοι ὑπὸ τὴν  ἁμαρτίαν, καὶ κατελθὼν διὰ τοῦ Σταυροῦ εἰς τόν, ᾍδην, ἵνα πληρώσῃ ἑαυτοῦ τὰ πάντα, ἔλυσε τάς ὀδύνας τοῦ θανάτου, καὶ ἀναστὰς τῇ  τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ὁδοποιήσας πάσῃ σαρκὶ τὴν  ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀνάστασιν, καθότι οὐκ ἦν δυνατὸν κρατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς φθορᾶς τὸν ἀρχηγόν τῆς ζωῆς, ἐγένετο ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμημένων, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα ἦ αὐτὸς τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσι πρωτεύων·  καὶ ἀνελθὼν εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης σου ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, ὃς καὶ ἥξει, ἀποδοῦναι ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ. Κατέλιπε δὲ ἡμῖν ὑπομνήματα τοῦ σωτηρίου αὐτοῦ πάθους ταῦτα, ἃ προτεθείκαμεν ἐνώπιόν σου, κατὰ τὰς αὐτοῦ ἐντολάς. Μέλλων γὰρ ἐξιέναι ἐπὶ τὸν ἑκούσιον, καὶ ἀοίδιμον καὶ ζωοποιὸν αὐτοῦ θάνατον, τῇ  νυκτί, ᾗ παρεδίδου ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς, λαβὼν ἄρτον ἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀχράντων χειρῶν, καὶ ἀναδείξας σοὶ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρί, εὐχαριστήσας, εὐλογήσας, ἁγιάσας, κλάσας.

Ἔδωκε τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ Μαθηταῖς καὶ Ἀποστόλοις, εἰπών·  Λάβετε, φάγετε. Tοῦτό μού ἐστι τὸ Σῶμα, τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν κλώμενον εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. Ἀμήν.

Ὁμοίως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον ἐκ τοῦ γεννήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου λαβών, κεράσας, εὐχαριστήσας, εὐλογήσας, ἁγιάσας.

Ἔδωκε τοῖς   ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ Μαθηταῖς καὶ Ἀποστόλοις, εἰπών· Πίετε ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες. Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ Αἷμα μου, το τῆς Καινῆς Διαθήκης, τὸ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν καὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυνόμενον εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. Ἀμήν.

Τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν  ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν· ὁσάκις γὰρ ἂν ἐσθίητε τὸν Ἄρτον τοῦτον, καὶ τὸ Ποτήριον τοῦτο πίνητε, τὸν ἐμὸν θάνατον καταγγέλλετε, τὴν  ἐμὴν Ἀνάστασιν ὁμολογεῖτε. Μεμνημένοι οὖν, Δέσποτα, καὶ ἡμεῖς τῶν σωτηρίων αὐτοῦ Παθημάτων, τοῦ ζωοποιοῦ Σταυροῦ, τῆς τριημέρου Ταφῆς, τῆς ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀναστάσεως, τῆς εἰς οὐρανοὺς Ἀνόδου, τῆς ἐκ δεξιῶν σοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς Καθέδρας, καὶ τῆς ἐνδόξου καὶ φοβερᾶς δευτέρας αὐτοῦ Παρουσίας.

Τὰ Σὰ ἐκ τῶν  Σῶν, σοὶ προσφέρομεν κατὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ πάντα.

And here is my intentionally literal, uncleaned-up, unpoetic translation:

With these blessed powers, benevolent Master, even we the sinners cry out and say: Holy are you, so truly, and all-holy, and there is no measure for the majesty of your holiness, and devout are you in all your works, so that in true justice and judgment you built all things for us: for forming man, taking dust from the earth, and to your image, God, honoring, placing him in the Paradise of delight, immortality of life, and for enjoyment of good ages, in the observance of your commands, promising to him, but (man), ignoring you, the true God, having created him, and by the deception of the serpent being led away, being put to death with his kinsmen by means of his own transgressions, (you), banishing him in your just verdict from the Paradise into this world, and returned him unto the earth from which he was taken, planning for him the salvation of regeneration in your Christ himself: for you were not turned away from your handiwork unto the end, (your handiwork) which you made, O good (one), neither did you forget the work of your hands, but you looked after him in many ways, through the affection of your mercy. You sent prophets, you performed deeds of power through your saints, (the saints) well-pleasing to you according to each generation, you spoke to us through the mouth of your servants the prophets, (the ones) foretelling to us the salvation about to come, you gave the law unto (our) aid, you appointed angels (as) sentinels. And when the fullness of the times came, you spoke to us in your Son himself, through whom you formed even the ages, who, being (the) effulgence of your glory, and (the) outward appearance of your essence, and bearing all things by means of the word of his power, did not consider it robbery to be equal to you, the God and Father, but, God being pre-eternal, was seen on the earth and associated with men, and was enfleshed from the holy Virgin, emptied himself, taking the outward appearance of a slave, being made of the same form in body as our humble station, in order that he might make us of the same form as the image of his glory. For since through man sin entered into the world and through sin death (entered the world), your only-begotten Son, who being in your bosom, the God and Father, born from woman, (namely) the holy God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary, born under the law, consented to pass sentence on the sin in his flesh in order that the dead in Adam might be made alive in your Christ himself, and becoming a citizen in this world, giving orders of salvation, absolving us of the error of the idols, he drew near in the knowledge of you the true God and Father, procuring us for himself (as) a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and cleansed in water and consecrated to the Holy Spirit, he gave himself in exchange for death, in which we were confined, having been sold under sin, and going down through the Cross into Hades in order that he might fulfill all things of himself, he destroyed the distresses of death, and rising on the third day, and making a path for all flesh (of) the resurrection from the dead, because the originator of life was not able to be seized by corruption, he became the first portion of them having fallen asleep, first-born from the dead, in order that he might be first, all things in all things. And going up into the heavens, he sat on the right hand of your majesty in the heights, who even will come to recompense for each according to his works. And he left behind for us these remembrances of his salvific suffering, which we have set forth before you, according to his commandments. For, being about to go to his voluntary, famed, and life-giving death, on the night in which he was handing himself over on behalf of the life of the world, taking bread in his holy and undefiled hands, and showing forth to you the God and Father, giving thanks, blessing, consecrating, breaking:

He gave to his holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: Take, eat. This is my Body, which is broken on behalf of you unto forgiveness of sins. Amen (Let it be).

In the same way, taking the cup of the fruit of the vine, mingling, giving thanks, blessing, consecrating:

He gave to his holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: Drink out of this, everybody. This is my Blood, which is of the New Covenent, which, on behalf of you and many, (is) poured out unto forgiveness of sins. Amen (Let it be).

Do this unto me for remembrance: for as often as you are eating this Bread, and drinking this Cup, you proclaim my death, you profess my resurrection. Remembering then, Master, his salvific Sufferings, his life-giving Cross, his three-day Burial, his Resurrection from the dead, his Ascension into the heavens, his sitting at the right hand of the God and Father, and his glorious and fearful second Advent:

We offer to you Your (things) of Your (things), on behalf of all (things) and through all (things).

Notes:

In general, this text is an exercise in tracking participles. As you can see from the English, it’s really hard to figure out what goes with what when you don’t have inflection (that is, agreement in gender, number, and case) to tell you. It also demonstrates very clearly the Greek preference for participles over finite verbs, and how, in a cleaned-up English translation, participles would need to be re-spun into finite verbs that have relative pronouns as their subjects and objects in order to aid understanding. (I would do that here, except that I still have the voice of my first Greek teacher in my head telling me, “Translate what it says, not what you think it means” and “That’s an English problem, not a Greek problem”.)

There are three words in this text which you won’t find in BDAG, and then there are some variants with which BDAG won’t help much, either. σαρκωθείς, as I noted earlier, is found in Sophocles; ἀοίδιμον and ἀχράντων you will find in the “Middle Liddell”. Also, κρίσει, despite looking like an Attic dual, is a dative singular, thus identical in meaning to κρίσῃ. Similarly,  ἀπάγαυσμα is the same as ἀπαύγασμα, which is how the word is spelled in Hebrews 1:3. I don’t know enough to be certain if these are just common Byzantine variants or what; that’s my assumption, but somebody who actually knows what they are doing with Byzantine Greek hopefully can chime in here.

φιλάνθρωπε — translating this as “philanthropic” seemed to me to a) be a cop-out b) not really have the meaning in English that it does in Greek. Translating it as “man-loving” would be literally correct, but also not quite have the right connotation in English. BDAG gives “benevolent” as a possibility, so I went with it.

καὶ ὅσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις σου — in this entire, very long, sentence, if we see a nominative masculine singular noun, adjective, or participle, and we can’t otherwise figure out how to make sense of it, we can see if it makes any sense if we pick up the εἶ from the beginning, adding “are you”. That works here, giving us “and devout are you in all your works” instead of the less-clear “and devout in all your works”. Since there’s only one thing something nominative, masculine, and singular could possibly agree with here, it makes sense anyway, but this helps to solve “the English problem”.

νεκρωθέντα τε τοῖς οἰκείοις αὐτοῦ παραπτώμασιν — I have yet to see an English transation which picks up τε τοῖς οἰκείοις at all, and I’m not sure why this is. I have taken it as a dative of accompaniment.

Ἀγγέλους ἐπέστησας φύλακας — the Antiochian translation says “thou didst appoint guardian angels,” which gets across the meaning, but φύλακας is properly a noun rather than an adjective, and given that it is separated from Ἀγγέλους, I have taken this as a double accusative — to appoint somebody (as) something. The translation on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website also reads it this way.

καὶ κατελθὼν διὰ τοῦ Σταυροῦ εἰς τόν, ᾍδην, ἵνα πληρώσῃ ἑαυτοῦ τὰ πάντα, ἔλυσε τάς ὀδύνας τοῦ θανάτου, καὶ ἀναστὰς τῇ  τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ὁδοποιήσας πάσῃ σαρκὶ τὴν  ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀνάστασιν — this is very interesting, because the text doesn’t use a dative of means to describe how Christ descends into Hades, but rather uses διὰ + gen., which literally means “through”, similar to Latin via. I assume this is so that there is poetic resonance with ὁδοποιήσας πάσῃ σαρκὶ τὴν  ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀνάστασιν, “making a path for all flesh (of) the Resurrection from the dead”. Do note that, as with the Paschal apolytikion, it is not “from the dead” as from death as a stateνεκρῶν here is plural. Christ is risen from the place where all the dead people are.

ἀοίδιμον — the Antiochian and GOArch translation uses “ever-memorable”; the word is not to be found in either BDAG or Sophocles, but Liddell & Scott gives “sung of, famous in song or story”. I have thus gone with “famed” as something which is equivalent in meaning but doesn’t weigh down the translation.

τῇ  νυκτί, ᾗ παρεδίδου ἑαυτὸν — παρεδίδου is imperfect indicative active, meaning that Christ was handing himself over on a progressive and/or repeated basis. This is interesting; it suggests that during the whole night he was having to yield himself up, not just when he allowed himself to be arrested.

Tοῦτό μού ἐστι τὸ Σῶμα…Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ Αἷμα μου — 1 Cor 11:24. Ah, the big doctrinal question — and it depends on what your definition of “is” is, doesn’t it? Given that I belong to a Communion which proclaims the Real Presence in the Eucharist, my definition of “is” should be obvious, but besides that, I will point out that given that Greek doesn’t require the verb “to be” to express a predicate, the presence of the verb “to be” as well as a demonstrative pronoun come across very much as, “No, really, I’m serious, this actually is my Body and Blood.” Yes, fine, go ahead and trot out John 10:9, ἐγὼ εἰμι ἡ θύρα, but that fits in with the very specific Old Testament reference of “I AM”. There’s no corresponding “THERE IS” so far as I know.

Τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν  ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν· ὁσάκις γὰρ ἂν ἐσθίητε τὸν Ἄρτον τοῦτον, καὶ τὸ Ποτήριον τοῦτο πίνητε — ποιεῖτε is a present imperative; that is, rather than “do this once,” which would be an aorist imperative, it’s more like “be doing this continuously”. Additionally, the syntax of ἐσθίητε and πίνητε is that is present to show progressive/repeated aspect, subjunctive because it is in a present general temporal clause, showing simultaneous action (I think — I am assuming that ὁσάκις ἂν works the same way as ὅταν, a supposition which I believe to be backed up by Smythe’s Greek Grammar, 2383.A). This is simply a quote of 1 Cor 11:25-6, but given that the Greek makes very clear that the eating of this bread and drinking of this cup takes place on a continuous basis, it is unclear to me how one might argue that the celebration of the Eucharist as an ongoing liturgical act is unscriptural.

Μεμνημένοι — BDAG gives μέμνημαι as the perfect indicative active principal part of μιμνῄσκομαι, but also notes that is present in meaning. Thus, I translate it here as “remembering” (as the GOArch translation does) instead of “having remembered” (as the Antiochian translation does).

I invite questions, corrections, discussion, or feedback otherwise.

Can I have a declinable participle, please?

One of the major constituents of the initial massive overhead required in learning ancient Greek is the participle. Participles are extremely important in ancient Greek; where possible, it seems, it’s preferable to a finite verb. Because they decline and agree in gender, number, and case with what they modify, participles seem complicated compared to English; on the other hand, this reduces the ambiguity that can exist in English with participles, a la “I saw the dog running down the street.” Is it “I” or “the dog” which is running down the street in that sentence? In ancient Greek, however, there would be no confusion — the participle would either be in the nominative case, meaning it would agree with the subject “I”, or it would be in the accusative case, meaning it would agree with the direct object of the main verb “saw”, “the dog”. In English, having lost most of our inflection, we depend on word order and proximity, as well as context, to tell us grammatical function, so the only real way to distinguish whether it’s I or the dog running down the street is to change the sentence to “Running down the street, I saw the dog,” which unfortunately seems a little stilted and artificial. “I saw the dog while running down the street” is a little better, but it seems to imply the imperfect periphrastic “while I was running down the street,” which starts to edge away from a pure use of a participle.

Modern Greek’s participles, it turns out, do not decline. This means there isn’t as much to learn at the outset, but it also means that the ambiguity you have in English exists in Modern Greek:

Είδα τον Πέτρο πηγαίνοντας στο σπίτι μου -> I saw Peter going to my house. (Not clear if it’s the subject, “I”, or the object, “Peter”, going to my house.)

As opposed to ancient Greek, where you can do this:

Εἴδον/Ἔβλεπα τὸν Πέτρον βαίνοντα εἰς τὸν οἴκον μου. Here, the participle βαίνοντα is in the accusative case, making it clear that it’s Peter going to my house. Also, because of the inflection, you can manipulate the word order in all kinds of ways and have it make sense regardless:

Εἴδον/Ἔβλεπα τὸν Πέτρον τὸν βαίνοντα εἰς τὸν οἴκον μου. Literally, “I saw Peter, the one going into my house.”

Εἴδον/Ἔβλεπα τὸν βαίνοντα εἰς τὸν οἴκον μου Πέτρον. Literally, “I saw the going-into-my-house Peter.”

But then you can also do this:

Εἴδον/Ἔβλεπα τὸν Πέτρον βαίνων εἰς τὸν οἴκον μου. Here, the participle βαίνων is in the nominative case, making it clear that it agrees with the unexpressed subject “I” (unexpressed since the -ον/-α ending of the verb already makes it clear that we’re in the first person).

All of this is to say — here’s to inflected languages. Pay now or pay later.

The Final hours of Bright Week

All Saints on Pascha just before Agape VespersMeshiha qam! Bashrira qam!*

So, I find it more than a little ironic that, having opened the doors of the iconostasis for Bright Week, tonight will have been my first time in the nave since Agape Vespers, and the doors will be closed fifteen minutes or so after I get there.

On the other hand, since Bright Week did double duty as Finals Week, I’m not really sure it could have been any other way, at least not this year.

I had two finals this week; Latin and Syriac. Latin was relatively easy; I’ve commented before that studying a language like Latin, one is the beneficiary of all kinds of useful pedagogical editions of things with helpful features like half of the page being a glossary and 75% of the words being glossed. With Syriac, as I have commented before, one, well, isn’t.

Going into the Syriac final, we were all rather panicked; we read three longish texts — The Gospel of Mark chap. 14 through the end, The Doctrine of Addai, and the Life of Ephraim — with just an impossible amount of vocabulary being contained therein. (And make no mistake: at least at this stage of the game, until we get to texts that don’t have vowel-pointing, it’s the vocabulary that’s the killer. Syriac grammar is actually remarkably uncomplicated, at least so far.)  We studied one of the passages from the Life of Ephraim that we thought might be on the exam the evening before, got it down pretty well, and we all felt a bit better. The next morning, the professor handed out the exams and just said, “Do what you can.” Of course, the three passages that actually wound staring up at us from the page were nothing from any of those three texts which I had actually spent any particular time mastering. As my Syriac co-sufferer Diane acknowledged, “There were a lot of made-up words and grammatically-appropriate blanks in my translation.” Um, yeah.

Nonetheless, the school year is over, and as soon as grades were posted yesterday morning (not to mention no e-mails having arrived from my Syriac professor asking, “You know, have you ever considered a direction change? Like, say, becoming a shepherd?”), I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders. I survived the school year, something that at points felt unlikely for a whole host of reasons. Between classes being over (at least for six weeks) and settling into the new job, I am getting to truly decompress a bit for the first time in perhaps a year and a half — certainly since before I broke my ankle last February, one way or the other. We’ll see if I know what to do with myself.

(By the way, Iron Man rocks. Hard.)

* Just to prove I learned something in Syriac — “Meshiha” is “Christ”, being a passive pe’al participle used attributively in the singular masculine emphatic (from the root mshah, “to anoint”), therefore carrying the meaning “anointed one”; “qam” is the 3rd person masculine singular pe’al perfect form of the verb which means “to stand”; “ba-” is a preposition meaning “in”; and “shrira” is “truth”. So — “Christ stood/arose/got up!” “In truth He arose!” Isn’t this fun? Next year I’ll do it in Coptic.

End-of-Finals-Week miscellany

In a nutshell: Greek not so good, Syriac very good.

cursivegkms-640w.gifGreek this semester (my third) has been a war over a particular person getting to make a particular point, fought in such a way so that it is those in the classroom who have been the collateral damage, and the final was very much a final salvo. I’m being deliberately vague for a lot of reasons; suffice it to say I did the work, put in my time, and learned a lot, but it is questionable how much of a high point it will wind up being on my transcript. Oh well; it happens.curetoniansyriac-640w.gif

By contrast, I handed in my Syriac final feeling quite chipper, on the other hand, and I felt quite justified in my chipperness when I saw the posted grade this morning.

Now I get to spend the break reviewing Latin for next semester. Opto, optare, optavi, optatus. Sum, esse, fui, futurus. Femina, feminae, feminae, feminam, femina

Dr. Liccione has an essay entitled “Freedom, evolution, and original sin” which he posted yesterday. It’s the kind of thing which, when I read it, makes me think things along the lines of, “You know, maybe things could be worked out between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy within my lifetime…” I’m not qualified to engage the post on any kind of a theological or doctrinal level, but I do want to point out a few things.

Kecharitomene is an interesting word in Greek. If my Greek teacher were to ask me to give its syntax on a test, I would say that it is a feminine singular participle, perfect tense to show completed aspect, passive voice, in the vocative case, agreeing in gender, number, and case with the unexpressed subject (being the Virgin Mary), and it is being used attributively.

What in the world does all of that mean?

A participle as a verbal adjective; in English we end participles with “-ing” and then use them in conjunction with the verb “to be” to express various tenses periphrastically. If I say, “I am walking,” “am” is the finite verb and “walking” is the participle–it’s attributing the characteristic “walking” to me rather than expressing it directly as a finite verb, whereas a single finite verb in Greek, “baino,” says all of that on its own—the “o” ending indicates that it’s first-person singular, so the subject is already implied, and it in the present tense, so it doesn’t need the helper verb “to be.” In Greek, you would use the participle perhaps to express a parallel thought to the main idea of the sentence (e.g., in “The turkey being cooked, we will now eat dinner”, “being cooked” would be expressed as a participle), often to indicate a present state before an action is taken (my Greek teacher likes to use the example that instead of “Take the money and run,” Plato would say, “Taking the money, run!”), and also to attribute verbal characteristics to people. Think of the movie “The Running Man,” and you’ve got the idea. Kecharitomene is an example of this last use—the verb is being applied to the Virgin Mary as an attribute, and therefore is singular and feminine, since in Greek adjectives must agree with what they modify in gender, number (singular/plural, as in “I/we”), and case. This is direct address, and that case is called “vocative.”

Participles, while not being finite verbs, have tenses like finite verbs; we usually think of tenses as expressing time, but Greek (at least how my teacher taught us) is a little more granular, expressing both time and aspect, aspect being the state in which the action is being performed. There is simple aspect, which means that the action is done once; progressive or repeated aspect, which means that it occurs continuously or over and over, and completed aspect, which means that the action is, well, done to completion. “I am walking” is present time, progressive or repeated aspect. “I was walking” is past time, progressive/repeated aspect. “I walked to the store” is past time, simple aspect. “I have walked home” is present time, completed aspect. And so on. Kecharitomene is in the perfect tense, which indicates present time, completed aspect. One thing about Greek, though, is that participles, if they communicate time at all (outside of the indicative mood, tenses lose connotation of absolute time and only have to do with aspect) communicate time relative to the main verb. “Chaire, Kecharitomene!” being a greeting (“Chaire” is the imperative form of the verb which means “rejoice,” used idiomatically in Greek to mean “Hello”), there’s not really a main verb, so an argument can be made that we can’t really say anything about the time in which this action was performed, only that it is done to completion.

There are two grammatical voices in English, active and passive. In the active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb; “I throw the ball.” In the passive voice, the subject receives the action of the verb; “I am thrown the ball.” Greek has both of these as well (plus a middle voice, where the action is performed reflexively or causatively or there’s some other special meaning being communicated). Kecharitomene is passive, which means the Virgin Mary has received the action of the verb; somebody else has performed the action (presumably, God).

Having now explained the syntax, the base meaning of the verb conjugated as Kecharitomene is “endow with grace.”

Therefore, if we were to try to incorporate every last nuance of the above into a literal English translation of “Chaire, Kecharitomene”, it would come out to “Hello, woman completely endowed with grace (don’t know when that happened, it’s just the way it is)!”

Doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, does it? Regardless, Dr. Liccione’s summary of the implications is worth a glance:

[The Virgin Mary’s state of being kecharitomene] is sola gratia: a direct product of divine power divinizing. And it is itself but the most proximate effect of…the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of that divine person who is Mary’s Son, a process in which we are all destined to participate, thus becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

Amen! Others can hash it out further.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is an interesting figure, even to the Orthodox; Fr. Seraphim Rose was quite critical of him, and others (such as Fr. John Meyendorff, I believe) evidently thought he hit the nail on the head. I’ve never read any of his works myself, but I don’t claim to have any particular interest in the creation vs. evolution issue. If we are to understand time as a part of creation, and if we are to understand the Fall as having corrupted all of creation, then presumably time was part of what was corrupted, as well as how we perceive it. For all I know (and I wasn’t there), the Genesis account is exactly and literally what happened, but we’re on the wrong side of the event to be able to see empirical evidence of it. I don’t know, and it frankly is irrelevant to me, having no bearing on the personal struggle to become a partaker of the Divine Nature. Maybe that’s a shortsighted point of view, but there we are.

Moving on…

I’m still stewing deep in thought about my Greek class. I can’t really go into a lot of details because the players would easily identifiable, and I don’t want to go there. What I will say is that after the first year of Greek (assuming use of a introductory textbook like Hansen & Quinn, which appears to be the closest the Greek world has to a standard like Wheelock’s is for Latin), I can imagine a very compelling case being made for Religious Studies departments having a second-year sequence running parallel to a Classical Studies department’s sequence. For example, this semester, we spent roughly three-fourths of the term on Plato’s Ion, and the last three or four weeks on the New Testament. That’s all well and good for classicists, but let’s just say that there wasn’t a lot of love left over for anything written Anno Domini, and I believe I would have ultimately benefited more from the ratio having been reversed, particularly since the fourth semester, as taught here, is radio station WHMR, all Homer, all the time.

It also occurs to me that one thing from which my beloved Hansen & Quinn textbook could benefit, faithful and constant companion, friend, and projectile over the last year as it has been, would be something of a supporting library along the lines of what’s available for Wheelock’s. It’s also quite amusing, looking back at the sentences I slaved over for hours in September 2006; if anyone would like an exact count of how many ways Homer can send the brothers into the battle in the country on the road with books, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.

OK. Enough for now. Finals week is over, Deo gratias, the syntax of “deo” being that it’s an indirect object “to/for” dative, and in the singular number you decline that deus, dei, deo, deum, deo…


Richard’s Twitter

adventures in writing alexander lingas all saints bloomington all saints orthodox church american orthodox architecture american orthodox music american orthodoxy Antiochian Archdiocese Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America Antiochians books byzantine chant cappella romana chant church architecture ecclesiastical chant ethnomusicologists ethnomusicology fellowship of ss. alban and sergius Greece Greek greek food greekness hazards of church music international travel tips ioannis arvanitis joe mckamey john michael boyer kurt sander Latin liturgical adventures liturgical architecture liturgical music liturgical texts and translation liturgy liturgy and life lycourgos angelopoulos medieval byzantine chant Metropolitan PHILIP militant americanist orthodoxy modern byzantine architecture modern greek music music as iconography my kids will latin and greek when they're newborns my kids will learn latin and greek when they're newborns orthodox architecture orthodox architecture is bloody expensive Orthodox choir schools Orthodox Ecclesiology orthodox outreach orthodox travel pascha at the singing school Patriarchate of Antioch Patriarch IGNATIUS IV Patriarch of Antioch publishing random acts of chant richard barrett in greece richard toensing rod dreher sacred music st. vlads st john of damascus society Syriac the Bishop MARK fan club the convert dilemma the dark knight The Episcopacy The Episcopate the only good language is a dead language this american church life travel we need more american saints why do we need beautiful music in churches?

Blog Stats

  • 228,416 hits

Flickr Photos