On the Day of the Lord’s Glorious Resurrection

SONNET LVXIII

Most glorious Lord of lyfe, that on this day,
Didst make thy triumph ouer death and sin:
and hauing harrowd hell, didst bring away
captiuity thence captiue vs to win:
This ioyous day, deare Lord, with ioy begin,
and grant that we for whom thou diddest dye
being with thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
may liue for euer in felicity.
And that thy loue we weighing worthily,
may likewise loue thee for the same againe:
and for thy sake that all lyke deare didst buy,
with loue may one another entertayne.
So let vs loue, deare loue, lyke as we ought,
loue is the lesson which the Lord vs taught.

From Edmund Spenser’s 1595
Amoretti; quoted from the Oxford
edition of the Poetical Works.

Христос воскресе, радост донесе!

For me, one of the great joys of Pascha is to sing in Church (and everywhere!) the wonderful hymn Људи ликујте (Rejoice, O People!), written by St Nikolaj Velimirović (d. 1956)our beloved Vladika Nikolaj, the “Serbian Chrysostom.” This is one of many Serbian religious folk songs, a genre that is usually called “duhovne pesme” (“spiritual songs,” cf. Colossians 3:16). Some of them are quite ancient, and others are of more recent composition. But the greatest and most prolific writer of these spiritual songs was St Nikolaj; anthologies of his “spiritual songs” are quite popular in Serbian parishes and homes. Also, in many Churches (including our parish here), these “spiritual songs” are often sung during the communion of the clergy, or after the Liturgy. It is therefore with great joy that I share once again with you the joy of the Serbian Orthodox people, our crkvene duhovne pesme, also this time from Stupovi’s remarkable 2006 album Обновимо себе – подигнимо Ступове, produced as part of the efforts to raise funds to rebuild the ancient Djurdjevi Stupovi Monastery in Ras.

(Note: what you hear at 1:37 is precisely how this song was meant to be sung! For the studio version, which includes the final verse in full, click here. If you understand Serbian, and I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t, there is a lovely interview on the recording of this song available here.)

Људи ликујте Rejoice, O People
Људи ликујте, народи чујте: Rejoice, O people; hear, O nations:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Звезде играјте, горе певајте: Dance, O stars; sing, O mountains:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Шуме шумите, ветри брујите: Rustle, O forests; hum, O winds:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Мора гудите, звери ричите: Bow, O seas; roar, O beasts:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Пчеле се ројте, а птице појте: Swarm, O bees; and sing, O birds:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Анђели стојте, песму утројте: Stand, O angels; triple [your] song:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Небо се снизи, земљу узвиси: Bow down, O heavens; rise up, O earth:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Звона звоните, свима јавите: Ring, O bells; announce to all:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!
Слава ти Боже, све ти се може: Glory to Thee, O God; to Thee all things are possible:
Христос воскресе, радост донесе! Christ is risen, bringing joy!

БРАЂО И СЕСТРЕ,

Prolegomenon to a Bible Review: On the Necessity of Seriously and Critically Engaging Matters of Text and Translation

It has been my experience that, when faced with the discussion of issues of Biblical text and translation, not a few Orthodox Christians in North American contexts protest that all such considerations are ultimately petty and irrelevant, since all one really needs in order to approach the Scriptures in an Orthodox manner (say they) is a set of explicitly Orthodox annotations to be used alongside any translation of the Bible. Why invest all this time and attention in such matters, then?

The answer is quite simple, really.

The Bible belongs to the Church, and it is from her that we receive both its letter (i.e., our ecclesiastical text) and its interpretation (i.e., patristic and liturgical exegesis). Our holy and God-bearing fathers, meditating on those words of Scripture, have seen Christ at every turn. This is the interpretation of Holy Scripture embodied in our prayers, our Services, and indeed our whole Faith. But how can we, the faithful, see Christ in every page of Scripture guided by our holy fathers, if we’re not looking at the same page as they? Yet if our Bibles fail to give us the Church’s text of the Scriptures, we will in fact be looking at a different page, and we’ll see Christ a little (and at times even a lot!) less clearly than our holy fathers did. Gems that, according to them, reveal Christ to us, will have disappeared.

The same is true if our translation is substandard. Think of it as trying to admire a rough diamond as though it were already polished. A questionable or incompetent translation can hide Christ in the pages of Scripture from us; it can darken the image that should shine clearly, and in the worst cases, it can obliterate it entirely.

While a good annotated edition can be helpful in many ways, one must be careful to always remember that the notes are not the inspired Scriptural text; that is, we don’t seek to see Christ in the notes, but in the Biblical text. We must not mistake the means for the end! Consider this: neither the Epistle Book nor the Gospel Book used liturgically in Church have explanatory notes. There such notes become superfluous, because the Scriptural texts are in their true context: that of true worship, and the true faith, “given once for all to the saints” (St Jude 3). This context alone enables us to see Christ clearly in every word of Holy Scripture. Thus, good annotations may be a very helpful aid to our reading, but they cannot substitute for the Scriptural text itself. And again, to the extent that the translation in front of us fails to accurately render the ecclesiastical text of the Scriptures, to that extent it departs from the letter and interpretation that the Church has given us, thus preventing us from accessing that authentic Orthodox approach to Scriptures in which we seek to be immersed.

So, why then must we engage with the utmost care matters of text and translation? So that, when we open the Scriptures, we may have before us all that our fathers and mothers in Christ saw, that they may teach us; and so that we may the see splendor of Christ clearly, and not through darkness. After all, Scriptural reading has little do to with private interpretation, and everything to do with reading in communion with those who, now triumphant, have have gone to their rest before us.

[For another discussion of this subject, see my earlier post, On Translating the Church’s (and No Other) Bible. For previous posts on patristic and liturgical exegesis, see here, here and here.]

Customer Service Update

It is now the weekend, and there’s been no word yet from Conciliar Press regarding a replacement copy for the sloppily bound and sloppily handled copy of the complete Orthodox Study Bible that they dispatched to Kevin Edgecomb, who (unknowingly) passed it along to me. I find this a bit disappointing, but perhaps they’re just a bit backed up and we’ll yet hear from them early next week. Here’s hoping!

Meanwhile, thanks to my sister’s superior technological bearings, I have been able to upload two high definition pictures of my copy of the OSB in which the damage may be appreciated in greater detail. Please click on the pictures below for the full size images:


In Which I Discuss, or Otherwise Note, Sundry Comments By Other People Whose Blogs I Read (Or, Highlights from the Blogroll)

  • Michael Bird makes an impassioned plea to doctoral students in New Testament to pay heed to Græco-Roman sources in their research, and offers a well thought out 12-step plan to remedy the widespread neglect of these sources in recent NT research. In light of posts and articles such as this one, I’m really glad to have taken the time to pursue coursework in the Classics!
  • I knew that reading J. Mark Bertrand’s wonderful Bible Design and Binding blog would be bad for me sooner or later. Earlier today, Mark featured an exquisite handmade edition of the Reina Valera 1995, bound in genuine calfskin by Abba Bibles in Mexico. I was blown away and died a million deaths upon beholding such unearthly beauty. Naturally, I set out to look for other Bibles bound by Abba; I found this, which appears to sell for a mere $450.00 MX (roughly $43 USD). Anyone have any experience buying merchandise directly from Mexico? I can’t afford it at the moment, but I’d certainly like to know how to go about buying this Bible if the opportunity presents itself! Of course, perhaps I should wait until I can find a gorgeously bound edition of the RVR1960, because we all know what happens to me when I read any other Spanish translation.
  • And finally, speaking of translations, the Rev Mr Ker asks, “How would you translate Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ?” (I Corinthians 13:4a). The divine Suzanne McCarthy hits the nail square on the head with “Love is slow to anger,” and this for entirely Septuagintal reasons. (By the way, Suzanne also posted earlier today on the subject “participle theology“; go, read, and be enlightened. My favorite part of the post is the last paragraph, because I love it when the ESV gets caught doing that which its most ardent pamphleteers so sharply criticize in other translations.)

In Which the OSB and I Don’t Get Off to Such a Great Start

As I mentioned earlier, our good friend Kevin Edgecomb kindly decided to send me a copy of the complete Orthodox Study Bible, an endeavor to which he attended with remarkable celerity: indeed, I received my copy of the OSB this afternoon, exactly a week after he made the offer! (Many, many thanks to Kevin.) Upon retrieving my new, shrinkwrapped OSB from the box in which it was carefully packed, I realized that the upper right corner of the front cover was bumped, as were several of the pages towards the middle of the volume. Whoever dropped this at Conciliar Press dropped it hard, I thought. Of course, I have bought a number of books thus damaged in my time, so this is in itself not a matter of concern to me; however, Mr Edgecomb paid full price for the book, and he certainly deserves his money’s worth! I alerted him of this small defect, and proceeded to continue to look through the book. As I examined the New Testament, I noticed that the back cover wasn’t sitting quite right, so I decided to take a look. Imagine my surprise when I saw this (with my apologies for the bad quality of the pictures):


It is truly unfortunate that it was this sloppily bound and sloppily handled copy of the OSB that made its way all the way down here. While the binding defect shown above was evidently in place before shrinkwrapping, I’m almost certain that the book was dropped in the process of inserting the list of errata, for which purpose the shrinkwrap was slit along the edge. In any case, a replacement copy has already been requested from Conciliar Press; no word from them yet on the matter, but I do intend to update as soon as there are news, and report on the quality of their customer service.

As an aside, Kevin also sent along a copy of Charles Thomson‘s translation of the Septuagint (1808). I was unaware that a reprint of this beautiful and lively translation is currently available (see here; more information about the reprint from the publisher go here). A bit more about Thomson’s translation (which apparently originally included also the New Testament) may be read here, and those interested in its printing history may learn more about it here. I’ve only had this beautiful volume for a few hours, and I can already tell that it will become one of my favorite Bibles. Again, thanks, Kevin!

Announcement: New Orthodox Psalter Published

Readers will remember that in an earlier post I mentioned that Michael Asser’s revision of the King James Version’s Psalter according to the Septuagint (available online here and here) was forthcoming in a printed and further corrected edition from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies. I am glad to report that the book is now available for purchase, and that shipping is expected by the end of this month. Here is the announcement:

THE CENTER FOR TRADITIONALIST ORTHODOX STUDIES

announces, after several years in production, the publication of

THE PSALTER

arranged for Orthodox liturgical use by Michael Asser, edited by the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery. With full kathismata and verses, conforming to the language of the King James and the Douai-Rheims but translated to reflect the Septuagint text.

This is a beautiful publication of rare book quality on fine paper, with large type, perfect-bound in black faux leather with gold embossing and decorated throughout with original manuscript illumination and Icons in full color.


Because of the cost of production, this first printing is a limited run and should be ordered as early as possible. Pre-orders will be filled and mailed out by the end of April, until the printing is exhausted. If your order is not filled, you should look for announcements of a future second printing.

See details and ordering instructions at:

http://www.ctosonline.org/liturgical/PK.html

Michael Asser, a gifted writer and translator, is a native of Great Britain, where he received his B.A. degree in Classics and postgraduate Diploma in Classical Studies at the Open University. He is a Fellow of the Library Association of England and Wales. Mr. Asser was received into the Orthodox Faith by Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.

See a sample PDF here. This is undoubtedly an important publishing event for English-speaking Orthodox, and this excellent, handsomely bound Psalter deserves to be widely used and recognized. While it is a bit expensive, it should be borne in mind that this quality liturgical text is designed to last several generations of use in the icon corner or the cantor’s stand. Also, it is well known that the CTOS does not arbitrarily inflate book prices for gain (as may be seen from the rest of their catalog), so one may be sure that the price one will pay for this volume is very close to cost. Unfortunately, at $47.95 it is still beyond my means at the present time, but I encourage all who can afford this outstanding publication to order a copy and thus create demand for many other printings.

On People Who Wish Not to Be Bothered with the Facts (or, Don’t Mess with Moisés Silva)

Mike Aubrey reports that, much to his horror (and mine), someone found his blog through these vile search terms:

“moises silva liberal”

I know well, my gentle snowflakes, that no words can possibly express the tremendous horror produced by such ghastly (and indeed, hellish) lucubrations, produced as they are by sick and perverted minds. It is to Mr Aubrey’s credit, then, that he made some excellent (if brief) remarks concerning the wholly reprehensible practice of labeling scholars as “liberal” as a way to conveniently dismiss their work. To them I should only like to add a quote from the infallible Moisés Silva himself (depicted to the right in an artist’s rendering), taken from his Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method, 2nd. ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001):

“Nothing could be more wrong-headed than letting our conceptual framework blind us to the evidence or to new ways of looking at the evidence. It is all too easy for us to prejudge specific interpretations simply because they have been advanced by unbelieving scholars or simply because they appear, at first blush, to conflict with our prior commitments. But the Christian faith does not ask us to ignore or reject the facts. Quite the contrary, it provides the only means of properly evaluating themall of them” (page 151).

(This chapter of Interpreting Galatians appeared originally as “Systematic Theology and the Apostle to the Gentiles” in Trinity Journal 15:1 [Spring 1994]: 3-26. A link to the full text of this article, and to that of several other articles by Our Infallible Hero, may be found at the end of what is perhaps the most important post I have written on this blog.)

More Tuesday Morning Musings

My superfriend Juhem has apparently decided to move from retelling stories from our high school days on to poking fun at me on the basis of news items. Of course, I’m only complaining because I had seen the very same news item a while back and had thought to do the same thing with Jim West, but I forgot! Meanwhile, Juhem forgot to link to the relevant xkcd comic on the subject of death by blogging.

Speaking of blogging and the dangers thereof, Jim West has posted a (typically) provocative response to Chris Brady’s thoughtful reflections on how bloggers write. Be sure to give both posts a read! [UPDATE: Chris writes a second post on the subject here.]

I wish to take this chance to state that I love the OSB. I can hardly think of a better study edition of any Bible, and I find the translation delightful in every respect. Therefore, I’m glad to heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a study edition of the Scriptures. Oh, waitmaybe I should clarify that by “OSB” I mean the Oxford Study Bible in the Revised English Bible, which our good friend ElShaddai Edwards has recently been able to find in a fine genuine leather edition. (He posts pictures!) I too own a leatherbound copy of this Bible (mine is burgundy), and it is one of my top two favorite academic editions. Are you interested in buying one of these beautiful Bibles for yourself, perhaps? Well, no problem! Iyov notes that you can score one for a mere $74o plus shipping. He also discusses Oxford’s crazy Bible publishing strategies, so head on over to read his post and let us be enraged together.

Jim West has recently posted, as “a cautionary note to the young,” some helpful comments on the matter of acquiring books; Nick Norelli, a notorious book junkie (and yes, I do have the moral authority to say that!), inquires as a result which books from Jim’s categories are missing from his library. He wonders, in particular, about Old and New Testament theologies. Since I like to watch out for other people’s wallets every bit as much as for my own, I thought I would let Nick (and any other interested parties) know that Christian Book Distributors has the Prince Press (i.e., single-volume) edition of Gerhard von Rad’s epoch-making Old Testament Theology available for a mere $9.99 plus shipping. Yes, you’re welcome. As for New Testament theologies, other than Ladd, I would highly recommend G. B. Caird’s New Testament Theology (completed posthumously by his student E. D. Hurst), but unfortunately that will set you back a few bucks.

Felix Culpa over at Ora et Labora has posted a marvelous series entitled The Areopagite in 20th Century Orthodoxy, offering a masterful assessment of the anti-Dionysian Orthodox scholarship of the middle of the last century and its reversal. Read it all: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

And to close, I offer the following two quotes for your edification:

Nick Norelli: “Scripture does not interpret Scripture, people interpret Scripture.” (Now, chew on that for a while!)

Iyov: “Now this midrash — like all aggada — is not obligatory to believe. However, it puts the story in a new light — making our Biblical dialogue richer. [….] Midrash is the result of careful and pious reading of Scripture.” (Do read the whole thing! A brilliant post, indeed.)