October 2011


Here’s a third excerpt from one of John Chrysostom’s homilies De Precatione (On Prayer). Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here. See part 1 for the link to the Greek text. I start translating at Ὅστις γὰρ οὐ προσεύχεται τῷ Θεῷ.


“For the one who does not pray to God, who does not desire to enjoy such divine communion, is dead and soul-less, and has no share of wisdom. For this is a great sign of foolishness, to not understand the weight of this honor, to not passionately desire prayer, to bring death to the soul by not worshiping God. Just as our body, when not having a soul, is dead and decaying, so it is with the soul: when it does not move itself to prayer, it is dead, wretched, and decaying … But when I see someone who has an insatiable desire for serving God, and who immediately considers the lack of prayer a great loss, I consider this one to certainly have all of the virtues of discipline, as if they were the temple of God.”

John Chrysostom. De Precatione.

Edit: Typo corrected.

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See part 1 for the introduction. Here’s another excerpt from a little latter in the homily. I was much more free with this translation, since the syntax was pretty far from anything resembling English. Corrections, as always, are welcome. The Greek text can be found here. I started at “θάνατος γὰρ ψυχῆς ἀσέβεια.”

“Ungodliness and the irreverent life are death for the soul. But is not the worship of God, and proper life, sustenance for the soul? Prayer leads to a life that is worthy of serving God, and it enriches our very souls. For if one extols virginity, or zealously honors the temperance of marriage, or rules over anger and lives with meekness, or is purified of envy , or practices one of the other virtues, then they will have an easy and light time on the race-path of godliness, for their path has been made smooth by the leadership of prayer.”
John Chrysostom, De Precatione.

This week, my campus pastor spoke about prayer, and I decided it would be beneficial to offer some thoughts from the Church Fathers on prayer throughout the week. Most likely, they will come from John Chrysostom, since I’m reading one of his homilies at the moment. It’s titled, quite appropriately, “On Prayer” (Περι Προσευχης). The Greek text can be found in the Patrologia Graeca 50.775. I found it online here.

Here’s an excerpt from the first homily (my own translation, corrections are welcome).

“For just as the sun is light to the body, so prayer is light to the soul. If then it is a great loss for a blind person to not see the sun, how much worse is it for a Christian to not pray always, and through praying to lead the light of Christ into their soul? Indeed, who wouldn’t marvel in amazement at the loving mercy of God that has been shown to us, that such a great honor has been given to us, that we are considered worthy of prayer, and of communion with God himself! For in the time of prayer, we truly do speak with God, and through this prayer we are joined with the angels.”
~John Chrysostom. De Precatione. Homily 1.

As a follow up to my post from a few days ago, I thought that I’d post an example of Greek to Latin translation. For those familiar with Latin, you’ll see just how nascent my Latin is. Naturally though, the purpose of this is to learn Latin (and practice Greek), not to produce the successor to the Vulgate ;-).

I’ve tried to produce a fairly literal translation, though there were a few places where I simplified the syntax (trading participles for sub-clauses), or used an infinitive instead of a relative clause.

This excerpt is from John 1:26-29. I’ve included the Greek text (which comes from a manuscript at the British Library: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_7141_f152r), my Latin translation, and an English translation. I have since looked at the Vulgate, but I haven’t corrected my word choice or sentence structure against the Vulgate. (For instance, I should have put Ecce agnus Dei in the final line, but I used a plural imperative of video instead). I’ve only corrected grammatical/spelling errors as I’ve noticed them. If you spot any errors, please let me know in the comments!

in caritate Dei,
Alex

εγω βαπτιζω εν υδατι, μεσοσ δε υμων εστηκεν ον υμεις ουκ οιδατε
Ego baptizo per aquam. in medio vostrorum stetit quid vos non conspicitis.
I baptize with water. Among you all stood the one whom you do not understand.

αυτος εστιν ὁ οπισω μου ερχομενος ος εμμπροσθεν μου γεγονεν.
ille est qui post meum veniet et ante meum fuit.
He is the one who comes after me, and was before me.

ὁυ εγω ουκ ειμι αξιος ινα λυσω αυτου τον ιμαντα του υποδηματος
Ego non sum dignus lorum calceorum solvere.
I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandles.

ταυτα εν βηθανια εγενετο περαν του ιορδανου ὁπου ην Ιωαννης βαπτιζων.
haec in Bethanae in ripa Iorandanis fuerunt, ubi Joanes baptizibat.
These things took place in Bethany at the bank of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

τη επαυριον βλεπει ὁ Ιωαννης τον Ιησουν εχρομενον προς αυτον και λεγει
cras vidit Joanes Jesum venientem ad illum et dixit,
On the next day, John saw Jesus approaching him and said,

ιδε, ὁ αμνος του Θεου, ὁ αιρων την αμαρτιαν του κοσμου.
Videte, agnus Dei qui rapit peccatum mundi.
Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

As I’ve been plodding away trying to learn Latin, I thought that I’d write a bit about my process. Over the span of my Latin study, I’ve tried four or so different approaches. The first was Rosetta Stone. I honestly found Rosetta Stone frustrating. Maybe it was because I never got past “puer legit” and “puella edit” but it was boring and I often felt like the vocabulary being taught was useless. I suppose it is useful to know “radiophonam” is a modern word for radio, but that wasn’t going to help me read Augustine or Cicero. Granted, I do think immersion is a good thing (which entails learning modern words), but that didn’t help my interest.

At the same time, I was also using the traditional textbook: Wheelock. The traditional approach was similar to how I had approached Greek: memorize the basic charts and just start translating sentences. I do find Wheelock a bit daunting. The amount one has to memorize for Latin is significantly higher than one does for Greek (5 declensions versus 3!). I’m still working through it because I do like seeing all of the grammar laid out, but it’s not my sole approach any longer.

Recently, I purchased Ortberg’s excellent “Lingua Latina per se illustrata.” For those who aren’t familiar with this book, it’s an excellent way to get acquainted with reading Latin. The chapters start off very simple “Roma in Italia est. Italia in Europa est. Graecia in Europa est” etc. It progressively gets more difficult, but the entire textbook is in Latin. The exercises are mostly of the “fill in the the ending” sort, which is fantastic practice as I try to make the declensions second nature.

Since my knowledge of basic grammar has progressed somewhat, I’ve added a third practice that really seems to be helping. One thing I’ve realized about language is that I don’t even begin to internalize it until I start “producing” in the language. Thus, I’ve started translating bits of the Gospel of John into Latin (from Greek of course!). This is not only much more fun than Ortberg or Wheelock, but I’m learning quite rapidly. I’m having to look up most of the words I write, but certain things are starting to stick. Plus, there’s something that’s just fun about writing in Latin. Perhaps that’s the nerd in me though ;-). Oh, and if you really want to nerd out, then don’t dare translate from your printed/online Greek New Testament. Instead, pull up one of the beautiful Greek manuscripts online, like this one. Then you can practice your Latin, Greek, and Paleography!

Finally, I’ve found reading about the Church Fathers to be helpful also. I’m currently reading J.N.D. Kelly’s excellent biography of Jerome. As the early Church’s linguist par excellence, he definitely encourages me to press on. I want to be able to read what he wrote in the original!

in caritate Dei,
Alex