An Ultimatum from a Liturgist: A Note on Liturgical Translations

27.11.2017 17:57 6

An Ultimatum from a Liturgist: A Note on Liturgical Translations

Last week, I heard once more the old joke that “liturgists are like terrorists, only that it is possible to negotiate with terrorists.” This time it came from a biblical scholar, and I hope it will be the last time. Certainly, liturgists have received justified criticism in the past for their discussion of minutiae that often seem irrelevant or lose sight of the “big picture” of Christian Liturgy, which is prayer to the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit. The best modern summaries of what Liturgy means, and what the task of the liturgist is, can be found in various books and articles today, among them by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. Robert Taft, David Fagerberg, and Fr. Peter Galadza. While liturgists have had a chance to digest this food for thought, it seems theologians with other specializations have not. And this is a big problem, especially since we have one common Liturgy for the whole Church and Liturgy is (supposed to be) the source and culmination of our life together in the Church. When we gather together to pray, we pray to the Father with the Word. The texts we use are biblically grounded. Yet how many people in our Church realize that we are one step ahead of Protestants when it comes to the Bible? We don’t just kiss it in the beautiful bound copies of the Gospels during the Small Entrance at the Divine Liturgy, and we don’t just memorize it for the sake of apologetics and debate—we sing it in praise to God and then we let it seep into our own language and let it permeate our own prayer and conversation with God. How many people realize that the Liturgy supplements and explains the Scriptures? In the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). And the Lord’s resurrection? It is the Anaphora of the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great that adds “and his resurrection” to the text of St. Paul, describing the full Paschal Mystery. At Vespers, we sing “The mystery hidden from all eternity and unknown to Angels, has been revealed to those on earth through you, O Mother of God…” (Theotokion for Saturday evening Vespers, Tone 4). This one phrase of the Theotokion is a string of passages from Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:26, and 1 Timothy 3:16—texts that in turn explain the role of the Theotokos in the history of salvation and deserve further contemplation. Again at Vespers, we sing “We offer you, O Christ, an evening hymn and spiritual worship…” (Sticheron for Saturday evening Vespers, Tone 8). This “spiritual worship” is the worship that St. Paul describes in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 12:1). Singing this phrase on Saturday night every eight weeks or the priest saying it just before the Epiclesis during the Anaphora every time he celebrates the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom should immediately remind us of the offering of our whole selves. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But what it demonstrates is that no theologian or member of the Church can be content to have just any kind of translation of liturgical texts. Since they are biblically grounded, they must correspond to translations of the Bible and they must be done in such a way that they evoke these intertextual connections to those singing and hearing the Word of God. Liturgists have understood this. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash (d. 2016) understood this and paid close attention to liturgical texts that cited the Scriptures, noting cross-references so that they would correspond to one another in the subsequent texts he was translating. Fr. Peter Galadza understood this when working on the Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, a liturgical book of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church that provides texts and music for singing the Divine Liturgies and the necessary hymns to celebrate them throughout the liturgical year. And many contemporary translators of new liturgical texts into Ukrainian understand this, having prepared a liturgical Psalter alongside a proposed draft translation of the Divine Liturgy, so that the cross-references and biblical allusions can be made more clear to the faithful. And what about biblical scholars, particularly in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church? Are they zealous that the texts we sing together in church, in the house of God, reflect the profound depth of the Mystery of Christ, not tolerating compromise or negotiation? Are they guiding us in our understanding of the biblical exegesis that the Church has already provided through hymns and prayers sung in church—usually beyond just the daily Divine Liturgy? Or are they content to read and pray the Word of God outside of its Sitz im Leben of the Liturgy of the Church, leaving this task instead to liturgists? When it comes to the Word of God, negotiation is not an option.Last week, I heard once more the old joke that “liturgists are like terrorists, only that it is possible to negotiate with terrorists.” This time it came from a biblical scholar, and I hope it will be the last time. Certainly, liturgists have received justified criticism in the past for their discussion of minutiae that often seem irrelevant or lose sight of the “big picture” of Christian Liturgy, which is prayer to the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit. The best modern summaries of what Liturgy means, and what the task of the liturgist is, can be found in various books and articles today, among them by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. Robert Taft, David Fagerberg, and Fr. Peter Galadza. While liturgists have had a chance to digest this food for thought, it seems theologians with other specializations have not. And this is a big problem, especially since we have one common Liturgy for the whole Church and Liturgy is (supposed to be) the source and culmination of our life together in the Church. When we gather together to pray, we pray to the Father with the Word. The texts we use are biblically grounded. Yet how many people in our Church realize that we are one step ahead of Protestants when it comes to the Bible? We don’t just kiss it in the beautiful bound copies of the Gospels during the Small Entrance at the Divine Liturgy, and we don’t just memorize it for the sake of apologetics and debate—we sing it in praise to God and then we let it seep into our own language and let it permeate our own prayer and conversation with God. How many people realize that the Liturgy supplements and explains the Scriptures? In the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). And the Lord’s resurrection? It is the Anaphora of the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great that adds “and his resurrection” to the text of St. Paul, describing the full Paschal Mystery. At Vespers, we sing “The mystery hidden from all eternity and unknown to Angels, has been revealed to those on earth through you, O Mother of God…” (Theotokion for Saturday evening Vespers, Tone 4). This one phrase of the Theotokion is a string of passages from Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:26, and 1 Timothy 3:16—texts that in turn explain the role of the Theotokos in the history of salvation and deserve further contemplation. Again at Vespers, we sing “We offer you, O Christ, an evening hymn and spiritual worship…” (Sticheron for Saturday evening Vespers, Tone 8). This “spiritual worship” is the worship that St. Paul describes in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 12:1). Singing this phrase on Saturday night every eight weeks or the priest saying it just before the Epiclesis during the Anaphora every time he celebrates the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom should immediately remind us of the offering of our whole selves. This is just the tip of the iceberg. But what it demonstrates is that no theologian or member of the Church can be content to have just any kind of translation of liturgical texts. Since they are biblically grounded, they must correspond to translations of the Bible and they must be done in such a way that they evoke these intertextual connections to those singing and hearing the Word of God. Liturgists have understood this. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash (d. 2016) understood this and paid close attention to liturgical texts that cited the Scriptures, noting cross-references so that they would correspond to one another in the subsequent texts he was translating. Fr. Peter Galadza understood this when working on the Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, a liturgical book of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church that provides texts and music for singing the Divine Liturgies and the necessary hymns to celebrate them throughout the liturgical year. And many contemporary translators of new liturgical texts into Ukrainian understand this, having prepared a liturgical Psalter alongside a proposed draft translation of the Divine Liturgy, so that the cross-references and biblical allusions can be made more clear to the faithful. And what about biblical scholars, particularly in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church? Are they zealous that the texts we sing together in church, in the house of God, reflect the profound depth of the Mystery of Christ, not tolerating compromise or negotiation? Are they guiding us in our understanding of the biblical exegesis that the Church has already provided through hymns and prayers sung in church—usually beyond just the daily Divine Liturgy? Or are they content to read and pray the Word of God outside of its Sitz im Leben of the Liturgy of the Church, leaving this task instead to liturgists? When it comes to the Word of God, negotiation is not an option.

Last week, I heard once more the old joke that “liturgists are like terrorists, only that it is possible to negotiate with terrorists.” This time it came from a biblical scholar, and I hope it will be the last time.

Certainly, liturgists have received justified criticism in the past for their discussion of minutiae that often seem irrelevant or lose sight of the “big picture” of Christian Liturgy, which is prayer to the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit.

The best modern summaries of what Liturgy means, and what the task of the liturgist is, can be found in various books and articles today, among them by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. Robert Taft, David Fagerberg, and Fr. Peter Galadza.

While liturgists have had a chance to digest this food for thought, it seems theologians with other specializations have not. And this is a big problem, especially since we have one common Liturgy for the whole Church, and Liturgy is (supposed to be) the source and summit of our life together in the Church.

When we gather together to pray, we pray to the Father with the Word. The texts we use are biblically grounded.

Yet how many people in our Church realize that we are one step ahead of Protestants when it comes to the Bible? We don’t just kiss it in the beautiful bound copies of the Gospels during the Small Entrance at the Divine Liturgy, and we don’t just memorize it for the sake of apologetics and debate—we sing it in praise to God and then we let it seep into our own language and let it permeate our own prayer and conversation with God.

How many people realize that the Liturgy supplements and explains the Scriptures?

In the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). And the Lord’s resurrection? It is the Anaphora of the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great that adds “and his resurrection” to the text of St. Paul, describing the full Paschal Mystery.

At Vespers, we sing “The mystery hidden from all eternity and unknown to Angels, has been revealed to those on earth through you, O Mother of God…” (Theotokion for Saturday evening Vespers, Tone 4). This one phrase of the Theotokion is a string of passages from Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:26, and 1 Timothy 3:16—texts that in turn explain the role of the Theotokos in the history of salvation and deserve further contemplation.

Again at Vespers, we sing “We offer you, O Christ, an evening hymn and spiritual worship…” (Sticheron for Saturday evening Vespers, Tone 8). This “spiritual worship” is the worship that St. Paul describes in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 12:1). Singing this phrase on Saturday night every eight weeks or the priest saying it just before the Epiclesis during the Anaphora every time he celebrates the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom should immediately remind us of the offering of our whole selves.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

But what it demonstrates is that no theologian or member of the Church can be content to have just any kind of translation of liturgical texts. Since they are biblically grounded, they must correspond to translations of the Bible and they must be done in such a way that they evoke these intertextual connections to those singing and hearing the Word of God.

Liturgists have understood this. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash (d. 2016) understood this and paid close attention to liturgical texts that cited the Scriptures, noting cross-references so that they would correspond to one another in the subsequent texts he was translating. Fr. Peter Galadza understood this when working on the Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, a liturgical book of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church that provides texts and music for singing the Divine Liturgies and the necessary hymns to celebrate them throughout the liturgical year. And many contemporary translators of new liturgical texts into Ukrainian understand this, having prepared a liturgical Psalter alongside a proposed draft translation of the Divine Liturgy, so that the cross-references and biblical allusions can be made more clear to the faithful.

And what about biblical scholars, particularly in the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church? Are they zealous that the texts we sing together in church, in the house of God, reflect the profound depth of the Mystery of Christ, not tolerating compromise or negotiation? Are they guiding us in our understanding of the biblical exegesis that the Church has already provided through hymns and prayers sung in church—usually beyond just the daily Divine Liturgy? Or are they content to read and pray the Word of God outside of its Sitz im Leben of the Liturgy of the Church, leaving this task instead to liturgists? When it comes to the Word of God, negotiation is not an option.

Ссылка на первоисточник: https://risu.org.ua/ua/index/blog/69158/

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