It's all Greek to me

Unfortunately, I don't know Greek, beyond "kyrie elieson" and the like. In English, the Nicene Creed says, "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven; And was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and became man." (Exact wording may vary slightly depending on the translation you use.)

My main question is about that last bit: does it suggest, in the Greek, that he became "a man" or that he became the Platonic ideal of human, or something else?

Comments

  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited December 2018
    Not much of a Hellenist, but this interesting page says the Greek word translated "and became man" is ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, which seems to have 'anthropos' in it, i.e. a human being and not especially a male.

    This page translates it "and took on human form".

    Here's something from the world of Orthodoxy on the subject.

    Compare also Philippians 2:7 (link goes to Greek interlinear).

  • Thanks, Eutychus.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    While we're on the subject of Greek liturgical texts, I'm curently trying to edit my earlier attempt at adapting my church's setting of the Phos Hilaron from the French to the English text.

    In my earlier effort, I simply followed the syntax of the French in one of the lines as it was easy to make the words in that order fit the existing music with little adaptation. However, now I see that this could result in potential confusion over which noun is being described by the string of adjectives near the beginning of the hymn:
    O joyous Light
    of the holy glory of the Father immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed;
    O Jesus Christ.

    My impression is that, as heard when sung, it could be misunderstood to mean that the adjectives "immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed" refer to "Jesus Christ", while actually they refer to "the Father". (I know that, theologically, either reading works just fine but I want to render the Greek original meaning faithfully rather than make up my own.)

    The result is here.

    What do others think? Do you get the same impression or is it ok? Would it be worth my altering it to something like this?
    O joyous Light
    of the holy glory of the immortal, celestial/heavenly, holy, and blessed Father;
    O Jesus Christ.

    Thoughts would be welcomed.
  • Could you say, ...of the immortal Father, celestial, holy, and blessed?
  • Cyprian wrote: »
    My impression is that, as heard when sung, it could be misunderstood to mean that the adjectives "immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed" refer to "Jesus Christ", while actually they refer to "the Father". (I know that, theologically, either reading works just fine but I want to render the Greek original meaning faithfully rather than make up my own.)

    The result is here.

    What do others think? Do you get the same impression or is it ok?
    I actually don’t get the impression that “immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed" refer to Jesus Christ rather than to the Father. I think the “O” before “Jesus Christ” keeps that from happening and signals the start of a new phrase.

    Musically, if this works in the context of the musical style of your church, a very slight break or breath between “blessed” and “O” would underscore the separation. It looks to me like that might work quite naturally with the music—based only on reading it and not hearing it, “of the holy glory of the Father immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed” appears to be one musical phrase and “O Jesus Christ” appears to be a related but separate musical phrase.

    My $0.02, fwiw.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Would "...of the immortal Father, who is celestial, holy, and blessed" get you there with even more clarity?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I agree with Gee D that you need something like “who is” or alternatively your suggested word order to unambiguously tie the adjectives to the Father. (My Greek isn’t good enough to know whether the Greek might also be ambiguous with the ambiguity being resolve on theological rather than syntactic grounds.)
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Are there metrical issues that restrict you? If not, perhaps "...Father, You who are etc" makes a better balanced sentence.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Thank you, all, for your helpful and thoughtful responses. I had looked at some existing English translations to see how others had tackled this. They range from accuracy and clarity, through the sort of ambiguity I think my above effort has, all the way to outright abandonment of the original meaning and applying the adjectives explicitly to the Son (such as the paraphrased metrical hymn "O gladsome light, O grace"). So others have clearly faced the same question.
    Gee D wrote: »
    Are there metrical issues that restrict you?

    There aren't metrical issues as such, as it's based on a non-metrical plainchant melody so there is some flexibility. However, I don't want to depart too much from the adaptation of Maxim Kovalevsky. The English already has more syllables than the French for which he composed it, so adding more might be a challenge while preserving the integrity of the music. I keep being told that the music is the servant of the words and I try to keep that principle in mind with these adaptations but it really is a bit of a balancing act.
    If not, perhaps "...Father, You who are etc" makes a better balanced sentence.

    The issue here would be that the entire hymn is addressed to the Son, the Joyous Light of the Father's glory, with the adjectives describing the Father.
    mousethief wrote: »
    Could you say, ...of the immortal Father, celestial, holy, and blessed?

    As it happens, that's the original Greek word order so there's good precedent. I'll keep it as one of my possibilities and see which one lends itself best to the music.
    BroJames wrote: »
    I agree with Gee D that you need something like “who is” or alternatively your suggested word order to unambiguously tie the adjectives to the Father. (My Greek isn’t good enough to know whether the Greek might also be ambiguous with the ambiguity being resolve on theological rather than syntactic grounds.)

    Thank you for this. My suggested word order actually comes from the text commonly used in the Orthodox Church in America, on which mine is closely based. I just moved the word "Father" to the French position because it was musically easier and I was being a little lazy, not realising the potential ambiguity I was introducing. Lesson learnt.

    On the adjectives, my bishop wrote this little exposition on this hymn, (if your French is anywhere near as bad as mine a good browser should provide a fairly comprehensible translation), in which he says that the Greek is fairly unambiguous on this point.
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    I actually don’t get the impression that “immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed" refer to Jesus Christ rather than to the Father. I think the “O” before “Jesus Christ” keeps that from happening and signals the start of a new phrase.

    Thank you for this. Perhaps it isn't as glaring as I thought and I'm being over-critcal.
    Musically, if this works in the context of the musical style of your church, a very slight break or breath between “blessed” and “O” would underscore the separation.

    It looks to me like that might work quite naturally with the music—based only on reading it and not hearing it, “of the holy glory of the Father immortal, celestial, holy, and blessed” appears to be one musical phrase and “O Jesus Christ” appears to be a related but separate musical phrase.

    My $0.02, fwiw.

    More than that. It's very valuable. Thank you. It is actually sung in French just as you describe. I'll add a breath mark to highlight it in the English version.

    Thank you, all.

    Having re-read Bishop Gregory's article and discussion of the ambiguity of the Greek in a later phrase, I also feel free to restore the OCA's "voices of praise" as it fits the music better than "holy voices", which I only changed in slavish following of the French "les voix saintes".

    I'll work on it now.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    I'm overall happy with this result and think that this is what I'll use in our Vespers service when we start to do it.

    Thank you so much, all of you, for your observations and suggestions.
  • If there's any way to do a recording, I'm betting I'm not the only denizen of Ecclesiantics who'd love to hear it. :wink:
  • @Cyprian I'm going to be a bastard and suggest that that wording might make it sound like Jesus has come to the setting of the sun; it waited so long to say it's about us, I had to do a doubletake.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited January 4
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    If there's any way to do a recording, I'm betting I'm not the only denizen of Ecclesiantics who'd love to hear it. :wink:

    I can't believe I've done this. Hehe. I've not warmed up and have had a gin or two but here is a quick effort. I'm sorry you don't get to hear the four voices as that's really what makes it but it's just me.
    mousethief wrote: »
    @Cyprian I'm going to be a bastard and suggest that that wording might make it sound like Jesus has come to the setting of the sun; it waited so long to say it's about us, I had to do a doubletake.

    Nooooo! I do see that possibility, Mousethief, but I don't hear it when it's sung.

    Does anybody else get that? Even after hearing it?

    If so, please say. I promise I'll try to move past my initial reaction of referring you to John 19:22 and take the feedback on board. ;)
  • Wow! Thanks for that. And no problem about who has come to the setting of the sun. The semicolon makes it clear in the text, and the pause makes it clear in the sung version.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Cyprian wrote: »
    I'm overall happy with this result and think that this is what I'll use in our Vespers service when we start to do it.

    Then wait for the cries of heresy, schism and so forth!
  • Now that I've listened to it, it's a lot more clear.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited January 4
    mousethief wrote: »
    Now that I've listened to it, it's a lot more clear.

    Splendid. Thanks for your word order suggestion. I'm so happy with the way things are going with my little group and adding Vespers to our services will be a real blessing. :)
    Gee D wrote: »
    Then wait for the cries of heresy, schism and so forth!

    Oh, absolutely! Over the past 14 years or so, I've come to accept it as a standard part of Orthodox church life. :smiley:
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Wow! Thanks for that. And no problem about who has come to the setting of the sun. The semicolon makes it clear in the text, and the pause makes it clear in the sung version.

    Thank you! And I'm glad you like it. In my opinion Maxim Kovalevsky was a genius and I'm just glad to have the opportunity to have some part in bringing his work of adapting and harmonising ancient plainchant for the French Orthodox to English-speaking Christians.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited January 5
    I think someone in the congregation had written to Athos for a condemnation of your new version before it saw the light of day.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    I think someone in the congregation had written to Athos for a condemnation of your new version before it saw the light of day.

    :notworthy: :killingme:
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host
    Beautiful when sung, thank you @Cyprian.
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