Re: [ustav] Reader Isaac
- Having taken a few courses on the Bible at the seminary, I can appreciate the efforts of Reade Isaac and also the efforts of Fr. Nassar and Ms. Hapgood and Mr/Ms Orloff (I am not familiar with this individual). In their times the works of Fr. Nassar and Ms. Hapgood were masterpieces and they still are. However, today my parishes do not use them directly because of the archaic English but their rubrics are still extremely valuable and they also serve as a guide for finding the right verses.
Scholars to this very day are still debating the meaning of Romans 5:12. Remember that when St. Paul was writing, there were no punctuations and capitalization. Everything was in capital letters and words were joined together. You knew that a new sentence has started because you see the word "gar" or something other clue. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" and "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" have the exact same meaning. The word "for" which is "gar" in Greek was just to let you know that a new sentence started.
There are many other problems associated with translating from ancient Greek to English. You have the issue of the movable "Nu" (N), for example. You also have variations in manuscripts. Perhaps one manuscript left out a line and another manuscript included as part of the text notes that were in the margin.
A few years ago as an experiment, I took a paragraph and deleted all the punctuation marks and spaces and then made all the letters capital and asked Jeannette to read it. She was able to read the paragraph, but it was not that easy.
I, for one, welcome a discussion of the issues in translating ancient text.
Stephen Reynolds wrote:
> Dear Nicholas,
> You had a legitimate question about a rather difficult text. I hope no one was seriously offended by any of the discussion. No one even superficially acquainted with the history of translations of Eastern liturgical texts into English can fail to appreciate the heroic service that Reader Isaac has rendered; anyone who recalls when Orloff, Hapgood, and Nassar were 90% of what was available will thank God for blessing us with the translators of recent decades, and none more than Reader Isaac, whose work is used regularly in the parish I usually attend and which I greatly appreciate. But there will always be some disagreement about the proper interpretation of one text or another. This forum is surely an appropriate place to discuss such issues--politely, of course. The discussion of this sticheron has been informative, and if it motivates some to get out the Greek and Slavonic texts and compare for themselves, and perhaps to inquire into the history of the text, it will have
> been useful indeed.
> Stephen Reynolds
> On Fri, 28 Sep 2001 16:21:01
> Nicholas Park wrote:
> >Dear List,
> >Please forgive me for initiating this thread. If I had known that my
> >question would end up causing offense to Rdr. Isaac, I would certainly not
> >have asked it.
> >In XC,
> >Nicholas Park
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- --- In ustav@y..., "Michael M. Ossorgin" <mm@o...> wrote:
> Dear List,and we
> Reader Isaac, a long-time contributor, has withdrawn from the list
> beg him to reconsider. If you would like to offer support, you cane-mail
> him:Please add my second to the above note.
> Thanks for your support!
> In Christ, Subdeacon Michael and visiting Reader Daniel Olson
Subdeacon Sergius Miller
- In a message dated 9/28/2001 9:47:36 PM, stephen.r@... writes:
<< Dear Nicholas,
You had a legitimate question about a rather difficult text. I hope no one
was seriously offended by any of the discussion. No one even superficially
acquainted with the history of translations of Eastern liturgical texts into
English can fail to appreciate the heroic service that Reader Isaac has
rendered; anyone who recalls when Orloff, Hapgood, and Nassar were 90% of
what was available will thank God for blessing us with the translators of
recent decades, and none more than Reader Isaac, whose work is used regularly
in the parish I usually attend and which I greatly appreciate...... >>
A few years ago, I was choir director at a large Orthodox parish, where I
served for several years.
There was a new priest who came a few months before I did (he was newly
ordained as well) and with his support, we decided to begin to bring the
liturgical practice of the church up to standard.
For years, the propers of the Liturgy were not sung according to the tones by
the choir, but merely read recto tono by a reader. Included in this were the
Troparia and Kontakia. The Alleluia verses were not done at all. Even the
Beatutides themselves were abbreviated--forget about doing the Troparia
Never mind about the Lenten Presanctified Liturgy. The standard midweek
Lenten devotion in this parish--in the diocese as a whole, in fact--was a
hodgepodge of highlights from Holy Week called "Passions."
Of course, they did not have a full set of liturgical books in their
traditional liturgical language. (I'm trying to avoid mentioning the
jurisdiction by name. Let him who can decipher.) The Epistle Book in their
"native language" contained merely the Sunday and Feast day readings, and
none of the Prokeimena and Alleluia.
Of course, the older priests of this jurisdiction were brought up on nothing
but Liturgy and Molebens; that's all they ever did at the seminary. They had
never even heard of what else existed in any language at all--much less in
English. (God bless them and their ministry; it's because of their like we
have any Orthodox Churches here to start with!)
Now, can you imagine the difficulties involved here? People are very
persnickety about services, prayers, and hymns in their church! (ANYBODY'S
We got them to understand that with the emigration, it was a case of getting
something out in a hurry for immediate use, and filling in the gaps later. Of
course, what happens to often, the provisional emergency version became the
accepted use. We compared the old "mother tongue" epistle book with a
complete one in English, and eventually most of them understood that there
was nothing wrong with the old one. It was ok as far as it went, but it
wasn't complete. Their accustomed lenten service was done because there
simply was not a copy of the Triodion available in English--and I showed them
one, explaining that this was the official Lenten prayer book with the
prayers that the Church wanted us to use during this time. "Do these first,"
the priest explained, "and then whatever else devotioin prompts, after we've
said the official appointed prayers."
Most of them were satisfied. A few who had been elsewhere knew what a fuller
standard Orthodox liturgical life was all about.
Hapgood, Nassar, and Orloff--God bless them! They at least provided the
basics for English services.
But we have gone beyond a selective phase. There's nothing wrong with their
works, but they are compendia and selections. We need, and now have,
Thanks to the labors of Reader Isaac and others we now have everything
avaible for full daily liturgical celebrations in English. God grant them
Eventually a generally accepted English liturgical diction will develop,
though it may not be in our lifetimes. A book on the Romanian recension of
Byzantine chant says that it took centuries of work to come up with the
definitive Romanian version of our holy services, but that it is truly the
work of the Church, and not that of any one person.
The same thing will happen in English, but it will need the CHURCH--that is,
the faithful--to actually use and alter translations to make them sound
better and more singable. All we choir directors here know that what we
prepare at home won't always work in rehearsal--and what worked in rehearsal
may not work in an actual service. "Back to the drawing board--or desk--or
computer" is the summary of a choir director's life.
Whatever the definitive English text will be, it will exist because it
recommends itself to the faithful because of its intrinsic excellence, not
because it was artifically imposed, as the editors of the Old Orthodox
Prayerbook from Erie remind us.