St. John Chrysostom’s Contribution to Orthodox Worship

This is the title of a lecture by the learned Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash) of Manchester which has recently been posted on the Internet. Father Ephrem is a distinguished philologist and translator, well versed in several ancient and modern languages as well as in the whole corpus of biblical and patristic literature. As he is one of my personal heroes, I’m delighted that this lecture has been made available online, and that I can share it with you. Enjoy!

Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash) holds degrees in humanities, theology, and languages from St. John’s College, Oxford; the Seminary of St. Sulpice, Paris; and the École Pratique des Hautes Études of the Sorbonne. He has served as lecturer in Biblical Greek, Hebrew, and New Testament at the Institut Catholique, Paris; assistant editor of the Oxford Hebrew Dictionary; faculty member in Oriental Studies at Oxford University; lecturer in Biblical and Patristic Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne; and currently as honorary research fellow in Middle Eastern Studies at Manchester University. From 1984–1987 he resided in the Monastery of Docheiariou, Athos. His publications include On the Life of Christ: Kontakia by Saint Romanos the Melodist (ISLT); An Orthodox Prayer Book (OUP); and articles and reviews in various dictionaries, encyclopædias, and journals.

[H/T: Aaron Scott Taylor, who kindly passed the link along.]


More Comments on the Complete OSB

Reviews and comments on the complete Orthodox Study Bible, released less than two weeks ago, continue to filter out in various corners of the Internet:

  • Rick Mansfield offers some comments on the OSB by Theron Mathis, who was responsible for the books of I and II Kingdoms (I and II Samuel).
  • David Bryan has also offered his initial thoughts on the OSB; you can read them here.

Again, I do not yet have access to a copy, but I hope to obtain one and make my own comments available in the not-too-distant future.

Athens and Jerusalem: A Quote and (Hopefully) an Article

On the 1139th anniversary of the repose
of St Cyril (in the world, Constantine
the Philosopher), Equal to the Apostles
and Enlightener of the Slavs.

April DeConick has called for a blog co-op today on the question of the relationship between Athens and Jerusalem. Being only slightly less lazy than Nick Norelli, I’ve decided to provide the passage where this fiery question occurs and then make some comments based on that, if only because the context of this question has all too easily faded from view as it has been asked from one generation to the next down the centuries. Our text comes from Tertullian’s De præscriptione hæreticorum VII.7-13:

Whence spring those “fables and endless genealogies,” and “unprofitable questions,” and “words which spread like a cancer?” From all these, when the apostle would restrain us, he expressly names philosophy as that which he would have us be on our guard against. Writing to the Colossians, he says, “See that no one beguile you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and contrary to the wisdom of the Holy Ghost.” He had been at Athens, and had in his interviews (with its philosophers) become acquainted with that human wisdom which pretends to know the truth, whilst it only corrupts it, and is itself divided into its own manifold heresies, by the variety of its mutually repugnant sects. What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? what between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from “the porch of Solomon,” who had himself taught that “the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart.” Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic composition! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief. For this is our palmary faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides. (link)

Tertullian’s question (which in turn echoes St Paul’s question and argument to the Corinthians in a different, but in some ways related, context) concerns broadly the relationship between theology and philosophy, and more narrowly, between the faith of heretics, which is said to have been corrupted by the adoption of pagan teachings, and the faith of the Apostolic Church, which is said to have been derived from revelation (Plato’s “Academy” vs. “the porch of Solomon”). Of course, this raises the question of whether Apostolic Christianity itself did not succumb to the very same influence by paganism of which it accused others. This is an interesting (and vexing) question over which much ink has been spilled during the past two centuries; indeed, even our hero J. Gresham Machen dealt rather extensively with this subject as it relates to the Apostolic era in his 1921 Sprunt Lectures, published as The Origin of Paul’s Religion. But even if the foundational age of Christianity can itself be absolved from such a charge, could this still be claimed of Apostolic Christianity in the fluid second century, and even more, after Origen and Constantine? Did the Apostolic Church not fall prey then to the very kind of distorting pagan influence of which Tertullian earlier accused Valentinus and Marcion? Even Machen (!) seems to concede this point, citing a perceived “divergence” between the “Pauline doctrine of salvation” and the “Christianity of the Old Catholic Church” in the second century, an indictment that he extends to the Apostolic Fathers (OPR, pp. 6-7). For his part, von Harnack said regarding the Orthodox Church that she “is in her entire structure alien to the gospel and represents a perversion of the Christian religion, its reduction to the level of pagan antiquity”and, if I read him correctly, this on account of the perceived intrusion of pagan thought into the patristic Christianity of the III and IV centuries, to which that Church tenaciously clings. “Divergence,” “perversion”: is this truly the end result of any ingerence whatever of Athens in Jerusalem?

The answer, I think, is both “yes” and “no” because there are here truths held in tension by Apostolic and later Patristic Christianity. One the one hand, the content of pagan philosophical teaching is eschewed (“yes”) while on the the other its terminology and shape is retained (“no”); thus Tertullian is both right and wrong, whereas Machen and von Harnack are, I’m afraid, only wrong. As I once heard it put, the terms of pagan philosophy are like a vessel found in the mud and wholly defiled, which one then picks up and cleanses thoroughly in order to fill it with new content. But even this analogy falls short, because there is no adoption of philosophical categories in the Patristic tradition that does not involve a metamorphosis, a transformation, an adaptation that will make them suitable for a new purpose.

A superb article on this very subject, entitled “Comments on the Transformation of Hellenistic Philosophical Nomenclature in the Byzantine Patristic Tradition” and written by Orthodox scholars Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna and Hieromonk Patapios, was recently published in Glossa: An Ambilingual Interdisciplinary Journal (Vol. 2 No. 1, December 2006). It is unfortunately no longer available online, but I have requested permission from the editor to make it available here at least temporarily, since this new journal is as yet of rather limited circulation. This is a fine discussion of the relationship of Athens and Jerusalem in Patristic thought which will undoubtedly be of interest to many readers; and, if permission is forthcoming, I hope to upload the article for your reading pleasure early next week.

This Post Brought to You By the Letter ‘E’

In the wake of the wretched Oscars that (thankfully) nobody watched, Jim West has bestowed upon this blog the “E for Excellent” award. Not only that, he’s said that this is one of six blogs he can’t do without, and which together with his form a sacred heptad of bloggy perfection. Why, Jim, thank you ever so much for the kind words!

Now, being tagged with this meme a recipient of this award entitles me to name 10 other excellent blogs, thus bestowing on them this award. While I will also name only 7 instead of the full number, I welcome this opportunity to note several blogs that I greatly enjoy. Naturally, I will not mention any from among the “Sacred Seven” already named (cf. Jim’s post), but it goes without saying that each of those (mine alone excepted) should be read by all. So, without further ado, here are my picks:

  • Eric Sowell, Archaic Christianity. I discovered this blog only recently, but it has quickly become one of my favorites. To see why, check out Eric’s recent exercise on textual criticism and syntax in St Mark 1:4, and the latest installment of his ongoing series on St Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Ephesians.
  • J. K. Gayle, Aristotle’s Feminist Subject. Kurk is translating Aristotle’s Rhetoric rhetorically and feministically, and invites us to join him for the ride. It is difficult to keep up with him, I know, but the effort is not without reward: everything (from Bible translation to politics) looks different from the meeting place of the speakeristic and the feministic, and it pays rich dividends to follow where Kurk leads in order to take a look for ourselves from that vantage point.
  • Kevin Edgecomb, Biblicalia. Kevin’s was one of the very first blogs I started reading regularly, and his truly recherché contributions remain an essential and much-anticipated element of my reading: original research and reviews in patristics, semitics, and canon; extensive notes for lectures that would otherwise remain inaccessible to the rest of us; choice selections from liturgical, patristic and poetic sources… in short, a must read!
  • Juhem Navarro, The Paranoid Style [now defunct]. Juhem, a PhD student in political science and my best friend since middle school, offers brilliantly incisive (and often amusing) perspectives on politics and issues, news and research, and the role of science and religion in public life. [New blog at The Latinone.]
  • Mike Aubrey, ἐν Ἐφέσω. Mike has read very widely on the interpretation of Ephesians, and it shows: his exegetical posts hardly leave a stone unturned, and neither do his reviews of pertinent second literature. He also has a keen eye for Greek grammar, such has I’ve been unable to find among students (and even teachers!) of that language anywhere. I never fail to learn something from whatever he writes.
  • Biella Coleman, Interprete. My friend Biella, an anthropologist and newly an assistant professor of the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU, is truly a blogging veteran: she’s been at it since 2002! Her doctoral research focused on hacker culture, about which she has written extensively also on her blog; lately she has been researching and writing about health care issues and patient advocacy, which makes for yet more fascinating reading.
  • Phil Sumpter, Narrative and Ontology. Phil’s blog, which I’ve been reading since the week of its launch, is largely a vehicle to process his doctoral research on theological exegesis and Brevard Childs’ “canonical project.” I have found his explorations on these and related subjects illuminating from the beginning, and more than once they have put my own reading and thinking into perspective by allowing me to engage broader scholarly perspectives.

And that’s that! Enjoy discovering these outstanding blogs, in case you don’t know them already.

An Initial Impression on the Complete OSB

The complete Orthodox Study Bible has started to ship at long last, and T. R. Valentine (an Orthodox layman whose articles on history, theology, and the ecclesiastical canon and text of Scripture I have always found both challenging and helpful) has made available his first impressions on the long-awaited volume. Since his remarks are likely to be of interest to readers of this blog, I reprint them here in their entirety by the kind permission of the author.

Orthodox Study Bible — initial impressions

I received my copy Saturday.

IMO, it is very good the books of the OT were arranged in canonical order (as done by the Greeks). But I wish they had rearranged the NT in the canonical order (as done by the Greeks) at the same time. Oh well.

I really dislike the ugly font used in the running header — zeroes are wider than the capital letter O; ones look like a capital I. The font used for the text has far too high an x-height: lower case letters are about 3/4 the size of capital letters instead of 1/2. But I can live with ugly. The content is far more important.

I was checking to see if ἐκκλησία was translated as ‘church’. To my delight, it was rendered ‘church’ in Psalm 21 (vv. 23, 26); Psalm 25 (vv. 5, 12); Psalms 34:18; 39:10; 67:27; and 88:6. I wish they had maintained that rendering for the remainder of the psalms, but for some reason did not in Psalm 106:32 and Psalm 149:1.

The word ἐκκλησία was also translated as ‘church’ in Job 30:28, Proverbs 5:14, and Lamentations 1:10. I really wish they had also used ‘church’ in the 23rd chapter of Deuteronomy (vv. 2, 3, 4, and 9) and Joel 2:16, but, alas, they did not.

When I was checking to see the rendering of ἐκκλησία in the four books of Kingdoms, I ran into a problem finding the verses. So I started digging into verse numbering.

What a mess!

The standard numbering of the books of the Old Testament [is], like it or not, based on the Masoretic text.

The ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text I have adapts to this by skipping verse numbers where the Church’s text does not have the equivalent of the Masoretic. Thus, in 1 Kingdoms, the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text numbers the first eleven verses of chapter 17 which basically parallel the Masoretic text, then skips numbers 12 through 31, numbers verses 32 through 40 which parallel the Masoretic text, skips verse 41, numbers verses 42 through 49 which parallel the Masoretic text, skips verse 50, numbers verses 51 through 54, and omits numbers 55 through 58. (Note: the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text includes the omitted verses from the Masoretic text in footnotes rendered in a distinct font.)

When there are verses present in the Church’s text that are not in the Masoretic text, the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) edition numbers verses with added letters. Thus, in Chapter 2 of 3 Kingdoms, it numbers the first 35 verses which parallel the Masoretic text, and then numbers the following verses 35α, 35β, 35γ, 35δ, … 35μ, 35ν, 35ξ. The next verse is numbered 36 as is the parallel verse in the Masoretic text.

The Brenton translation of the Septuagint basically uses the same numbering system as the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text, but instead of appending letters it has no verse numbering (effectively making 3 Kingdoms 2:35 a great long verse!).

The Orthodox Study Bible doesn’t follow either of these methods. Instead it uses what is, IMO, the worst possible method. It numbers verses sequentially regardless of the standard numbering of verses. Thus, where the Church’s text does not have text which parallels the Masoretic text, the Orthodox Study Bible ends up with few verse numbers than other editions. For instance, 1 Kingdoms 17:32 in the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text and the Brenton translation and 1 Samuel 17:32 in the NASB, is rendered in the OSB as 17:12! The same thing is done where there are additional verses, only this results in more verse numbers than other editions. For instance, what the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) edition counts as 35, 35α, 35β, 35γ, 35δ, … 35μ, 35ν, 35ξ, 36 is counted in the OSB as verses 35 through 49. So 3 Kingdoms 2:36 in the ΖΩΗ (ZOE) text and the Brenton translation and 1 Kings 2:36 in the NASB becomes 3 Kingdoms 2:50.

Like I said, it is a mess. Worse, there is no ‘conversion table’ that will allow a reader to find the equivalent of a verse found in any other translation/edition. Perhaps some enterprising soul(s) will create a web page with a conversion table.


In looking at 1 Kingdoms chapter 17 (the story of David and Goliath), I found two things which bothered me. The OSB has a verse 29 which parallels 1 Samuel 17:50 in the same place as it appears in the Masoretic text, but that verse DOES NOT EXIST in the Church’s text. I wonder if someone, working from the NKJV Old Testament (which was used as this project’s boilerplate), inadvertently left that verse in.

The second thing was the OSB’s note to 1 Kingdoms 17:4 — ‘Goliath is over nine feet tall.’ This would be true if one is following the Masoretic text which gives Goliath’s height as six cubits and a span (a cubit being about 18 inches makes six cubits approximately equal to nine feet), but the Church’s text — properly translated in the OSB — gives Goliath’s height as FOUR cubits and a span (which works out to about six feet plus a ‘span’, i.e. about 6’4″ instead of 9’4″)! It appears notes from the NKJV Old Testament may have been retained without checking.

The icons included in the OSB are quite good (and traditional). The Lectionary will be very useful. Of course, the patristic comments are important. The Index to Annotations looks like it will be helpful, but I haven’t had much chance to look through it.

Back to looking at the OSB.


An additional piece of information that I have learned elsewhere: although the book of 4 Maccabees was originally slated to appear in an appendix (as it does in the Greek Bible), it was not included in the end. Apparently, however, both text and annotations were produced for this book; it would be splendid if these were made available online for individual use.

I requested a review copy of the complete OSB sometime back, since previous posts and comments on the OSB on this blog continue to generate quite a bit of traffic. I do hope to receive a copy and make my own comments available in the near future, but I couldn’t neglect passing on Thomas’ initial comments.

Bible Meme

I’ve been tagged (sort of) by Nick Norelli with the latest Bible Meme to scourge and impoverish Biblioblogdom, so here we go:1. What translation of the Bible do you like best?

This very much depends on things like the purpose for which I’m choosing a translation and its relation to the Earth’s axial tilt and the tidal evolution of the lunar orbit. Another key consideration would be on which side of the bed I got up that morning. Once these variables have been carefully weighed, I am likely to pick up the King James Version, the Revised English Bible, or the New Revised Standard Version. I simply love the KJV; it is a thing of beauty. As I’ve noted elsewhere, however, I’d be likely to take the REB Oxford Study Bible with me to a deserted island. The NRSV is simply my standard scholarly Bible, and I’ve been using it so long for academic purposes that it’s almost second nature to reach for it. Sometimes, however, I will use the New King James Version as an alternative to the KJV, and the New American Standard Bible instead of the REB, often for long stretches.

As an aside, I once led a detailed Bible study of the Book of Acts using the New Living Translation, which was then (1996) just hot off the press. I found it to be remarkably good as a translation. Also, while I’ve often recommended to others (especially other Orthodox) the second edition of the Ignatius Bible (Revised Standard Version—Catholic Edition) as a basically reliable Bible, I make very little use of it myself.

Now, things are radically different when it comes to Spanish Bibles. I use the 1960 Revision of the Reina-Valera Version exclusively. For some reason, and much to my chagrin, I suffer a dramatic attack of the “They’re Changing My Bible” Syndrome whenever I try to read anything else.

2. Old or New Testament?

I’ve always been a New Testament person, academically speaking; however, knowing that many New Testament scholars have a rather myopic approach to their work, I’ve always consciously tried to be an attentive student of the whole canon.

3. Favorite Book of the Bible?

Well, I have a lively interest in the interpretation of Luke-Acts, Galatians, Hebrews and Revelation. Other than that, the Psalms, which are used constantly in the worship of the Orthodox Church, are by now part of my life’s blood, as is Isaiah.

4. Favorite Chapter?

Thinking strictly about books other than the ones I mentioned above, Zephaniah 3. Oh, and I do love I Timothy 2; I quote verses 11-15 all the time.

5. Favorite Verse? (Feel free to explain yourself if you must.)

“At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.” (I Chronicles 26:18, KJV) This is my “life verse,” which I hope will bring all kinds of light and spiritual nourishment to those who think that “verses” are the ultimate units of meaning in biblical discourse. For something close to a real answer to this question, you’ll have to wait for my response to John Hobbins’ “Top 10 Verses of the Bible” meme, which I’ve been kicking around in my head for quite some time.

6. Bible character you think you’re most like?

Samson (cf. Judges 13-16).

7. One thing from the Bible that confuses you?

The question of literary dependence in the Synoptics, and especially in Kings-Chronicles.

8. Moses or Paul?

Paul’s Moses. (Long live Apostolic exegesis!)

9. A teaching from the Bible that you struggle with or don’t get?

I’ve always had a very hard time wrapping my head around God commanding Israel to exterminate the peoples of Canaan.

10. Coolest name in the Bible?

Mahershalalhashbaz (cf. Isaiah 8:1-4).

Now tag five people.

I have four to tag: the Rev Mr Hobbins, ElShaddai Edwards, Lingamish (a.k.a. the Rev Mr Ker), and of course, Jim West. No, not really. Well… maybe. Heh.

A Funny Thing Happened to Me While Reading the Apocryphote of the Day

April DeConick’s “Apocryphote of the Day” for Wednesday, her own rendering of a Baptismal hymn found in the Gnostic Holy Book of the Invisible Spirit (also known as The Gospel of the Egyptians), struck me as eerily reminiscent of the type of song usually heard in “contemporary” Evangelical worship. Go give it a look; hers is a really vibrant rendering of this most interesting selection.Now, I don’t point out this uncanny similarity because I wish to suggest that Evangelical worship of the “ooh, aah, Jesus” variety is akin to at least one strand of ancient Gnostic worship (though I do perversely relish that thought), but because one of DeConick’s objectives in posting her daily “Aporcryphote” is to remind us “that the people who wrote the literature that we call ‘apocryphal’ or ‘parabiblical’, were ‘living’ their religion”that is, that they engaged in community and private worship, sought to live piously, and so on. That her lucidly translated selection immediately resonated in my mind with the worship experience of people I know means that, at least with respect to me, her project found immediate success. Kudos to April DeConick for this thoughtful new series!

Actually, this is not the first time that a Gnostic text has reminded of the worship experience of some of our contemporaries. I have remarked in the past that the Hymn of Jesus from the Acts of John readily brings to mind a hymn often sung in mainline Protestant (and, I understand, even Roman Catholic) settings: Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance. The difference, of course, is that Carter’s galling little piece has a “Just Jack!” quality to it that is altogether absent from the ancient Gnostic text:

I am the dance, and I still go on!

Apostolic Exegesis in Action: "And that Rock Was Christ"

I have written about “Apostolic exegesis” a number of times on this blog, but it occurred to me that other than linking to a recent article by Peter Enns on that subject, and writing a few posts about how Liturgy reads the Bible taking a cue from Apostolic (and patristic) exegesis, I haven’t done much in the way of illustrating the shape of Apostolic exegesis. Following up on my last post, then, I would like to offer a methodologically related example taken from an excellent book about Biblical interpretation for students and laity, and written from a perspective committed to the normative character of Apostolic exegesis: Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand: A Guide to Interpreting and Applying the Bible (Wheaton: BridgePoint, 1994; now available from P&R in a second edition). In their discussion of the “typological” readings characteristic of the Apostles’ biblical interpretation as reflected in the writings of the New Testament, McCartney and Clayton offer the following interpretive guidelines, which they then illustrate with (among others) the example provided below.

(1) To be identified as a type, an event’s redemptive-historical function must be known and must show an organic relationship to the later redemptive history it allegedly foreshadows.
(2) The nature of the type must lie in the main message of the material, not in some incidental detail.
(3) An antitype (the fulfillment) must be greater than the type (the foreshadow). (page 158)

“Our [….] example is the story of Moses striking the rock in the wilderness. The first incidence of Moses’ striking the rock is recorded in Exodus 17, where God commands him to strike the rock. Moses did so, and water came forth to satisfy the people. A similar situation arises later in Numbers 20, where the Lord this time commanded Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses in exasperation (or unbelief, thinking that speaking would be inadequate, see v. 12) strikes the rock twice, and as a result is forbidden to enter the Promised Land with his people.

“Now we have some explicit N[ew] T[estament] warrant for understanding this rock as a type of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul tells the Corinthians that the “rock” of the wilderness wandering was Christ and that it was by this rock that the Israelites are of the same spiritual drink of which Christians now partake.

“If the rock was Christ in a typological sense, the reason for God’s anger with Moses over striking the rock becomes clear. The first time, when Moses was commanded to strike the rock, the rock represents humiliation, and Moses strikes the rock because unless Christ be stricken the living water cannot flow to God’s people. But the striking occurred once for all and from then on only speaking was necessary to renew the supply. Moses’ impatient disobedience resulted in his dislodging of some of the symbolism of the rock. Now it is likely that Moses did not realize the full typological symbolism of his actions; his punishment was for his unbelief in the effectiveness of doing exactly what the Lord commanded, not for destroying the symbol. This text by itself therefore serves only as a reminder that exact obedience is what God requires. But taken as a part of the whole O[ld] T[estament] which points to the expected Redeemer, and as part of the whole Bible which recounts the Redeemer’s appearance, the story looks to Christ. The integrity of the historical meaning is maintained, although its ultimate meaning in the content of the whole Bible is christological.” (page 159)

[For other posts on Apostolic, patristic and liturgical exegesis see here, here and here.]

How Liturgy Reads the Bible: In the Shadow and Letter of the Law

On this Day of Grace, forty days after the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Meeting of Lord, namely, of his presentation in the Temple (cf. St Luke 2:22-40). The rich service of this Feast affords us yet another opportunity to contemplate (albeit very briefly) how Liturgy reads the Biblethat is, how the Church’s liturgical texts interpret the Scriptures after the model of Apostolic and patristic exegesis.

In the shadow and letter of the Law, let us the faithful discern a figure: ‘Every male child that opens the womb shall be holy to God.’ Therefore the firstborn Word, Son of a Father who has no beginning, the firstborn child of a Mother who had not known man, we magnify. (Irmos of the IX Ode of the Canon at Matins)

In his Gospel narrative, St Luke writes (2:22-23) that Christ was brought to the Temple to be presented to the Lord according to what was written in the Law of Moses. Commenting on this, Liturgy calls the worshipping faithful to not simply regard St Luke’s indirect quotation of the Torah as a mere citation—a footnote, as it werebut to further discern in it a “figure,” a type (τύπον κατίδωμεν, typon katidōmen). It wasn’t only that Christ was presented in the Temple to fulfill the command of the Law, but rather that his presentation itself was The Fulfillment of the Law: he alone was the Holy One of God to which pointed every firstborn male that was presented to the Lord and called holy.

Here we have another example, then, of liturgical exegesis moving beyond a simple Messianic reading of an Old Testament text and firmly into an redemptive-historical understanding of it. And as I’ve written before, “this progression turns out to be inescapable, for as the infallible Moisés Silva has noted, ‘If we refuse to pattern our exegesis after that of the apostles, we are in practice denying the authoritative character of their scriptural interpretationand to do so is to strike at the very heart of the Christian faith’.”

(For previous examples of how Liturgy reads the Bible, see here and here.)

An Exceedingly Small Contribution to the Translation Theory Wars

Lingamish has posted a translation theory florilegium (of sorts) whose purpose is to throw light on “some of the philosophies that underlie the CEV translation.” The selection from an interview with Barclay Newman (among others!) caught my attention:

“We take in consideration the fact that more people hear the scriptures read than read them for themselves, and we tried to create a text that a person who is unfamiliar with traditional biblical jargon can read aloud without stumbling, can hear without misunderstanding, and can listen to with appreciation and enjoyment because the language is lucid and lyrical.”

Fair enough, I suppose; but to this one might easily reply with a quote from the Rev Mr John Hobbins (which features an embedded quote from the Rev Mr Ker himself):

“I agree with Lingamish’s earlier propositions, which he has now forgotten:

1. A truly literary translation will suggest the foreignness of the original without being incomprehensible.

2. A literary translation will not be literary in ways that the original is not.

A corollary of (2) is that a literary translation will be literary where the original is.”

And one might add, a “literary translation” (and note that this term is, in fact, equivalent to what ElShaddai has aptly called Literary Equivalence) will not be complicated where the original is not, and by the same token, will not be simpler than the original.