Translation of Lk 1.28
- In Lk 1.28 we find the Greek expression: CHAIRE KECHARITOMENH. I have
looked at the way KECHARITOMENH is translated in the old versions, and
there are a few questions I ask myself.
Literally, it is a passive participle : "gratified one", "one to whom
grace was done/given".
It is a passage where the Syriac and Latin traditions concur in having
the same translation, which is not literal. My question is: in such a
case where the Greek text is difficult, and where apparently it seems
necessary to translate in a non-literal way, what can explain the
agreement of remote traditions?
syp : shlom lekh, MALYAT TAYBUTHO "peace to you, full of grace"
Both old syriac versions "desunt" for this verse.
lat. vulgate + most old latin mss : have, GRATIA PLENA "Hail, full of
The only exceptions in the old latin tradition are:
- d: have benedicta "hail, blessed one" (a different non-literal
- q e : ave gratificata "hail, gratified one" (literal transl. of the
Several other witnesses translate in the same way.
In Arabic, the Arabic Diatessaron, the Alexandrian vulgate of the XIIIth
century and ms Sinai Arabic 122 have equivalent translations to that of
Lectionary Sinai Arabic 133 has the same translation: "as-salaam `alayki
mumtaliyat an-na`mat" which means "the peace on you, the one filled with
grace". This lectionary is apparented to ms Sin. Arb. 71, but this
"ancester" has a translation derived from Greek: "IfraHi ya muqaddasat"
which means "rejoice, o Holy one". "Rejoice" clearly comes from "chaire",
and "holy one" is probably another embarrassed translation from the
greek. The shift from the translation of ms 71 to the one of ms 133 can
be a point in the demonstration that ms 133 comes from a revision using
the Syriac peshitto.
Other witnesses translating "full of grace" are citations by Ephrem, and
several Gospel harmonies (persian, latin, dutch, middle english...
Such a translation, not literal but clearly recognizable, probably points
to a connection between the Latin and the Syriac traditions. I don't want
to jump too quickly on Tatian, there are may be other possibilities such
as common translation techniques, common exegetical traditions... I has
even been suggested that the latin versions had their origins in Antioch:
Metzger, EVNT, p. 288 mentions this but seems to prefer the explanation
involving Tatian "bringing Western readings from Rome to the East", but
readings are not tranlsations... and Metzger adds directly that the most
probable origin for the Latin versions is North Africa. Is it possible
that in this last place, there might have been Syriac influences?
To complete the documentation, other versions that DON'T translate in
that way are:
- the syropalestinian version: shilam lekhi, Hasidtha (peace to you,
- as I mentioned, Sin. Arb 71 most probably comes directly from Greek.
- in Arabic again, the malkite version of the XIth century (oldest ms:
Sin. Arb. 69) has: "as-salaam laki, ayyuhaa al-man`am `alayhaa" which is
to be translated: "the peace to you, o the one upon whom is the grace".
- the sahidic version has "rejoice, the one who found grace". Another
non-literal translation, showing that the expression is difficult in
Greek, but a different one from the syro-latin tradition.
- the gothic version: "rejoice, of grace favorized".
Jean Valentin - Bruxelles - Belgique
e-mail: jgvalentin@... /// netmail: 2:291/780.103
"Ce qui est trop simple est faux, ce qui est trop complexe est
"What's too simple is wrong, what's too complex is unusable"