The Byzantine Forum
Newest Members
Nathaniel Tapsak, LaudeturIesus, Alex Appachan, KruJuice, Eleuthería
5504 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
1 registered members (Exegete), 19 guests, and 272 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Latest Photos
Papal Audience 10 November 2017
Upgraded Russian icon corner
Russian Greek Catholic Global Congress
OL EuroEast II (2007) Group
Portable Icon Screen
Forum Statistics
Forums26
Topics34,539
Posts410,673
Members5,504
Most Online2,716
Jun 7th, 2012
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3
Theotokos #363032
04/13/11 06:37 PM
04/13/11 06:37 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 686
California
J
jjp Offline OP
Member
jjp  Offline OP
Member
J
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 686
California
I have noticed that currently in the RDL, "Mother of God" is replaced by Theotokos - Greek for "God bearer" - and the suggested change is to revert back to "Mother of God".

I have no problem with this necessarily, I am just curious as to why this is suggested. Is it because Theotokos is a Greek word, and does not have much to do in the way of translating from Slavonic to English? That seems to be the obvious answer.

I am a bit biased, as having come from a Greek Orthodox background, I was comforted to hear Theotokos when I began to first attend Byzantine Catholic liturgy.

Incidentally, I see that the ACROD uses "Birth-giver of God", which is probably closer to the translation of "Theotokos" if not somewhat awkward.

I tend to favor phrasing that emphasizes Mary's role as the one who birthed Christ - specifically - rather than the more ambiguous role of "mother", as well as the differentiation from the phrase "Mother of God" which seems more common in Western expression.

I am somewhat inhibited because I neither speak Slavonic nor know the word/phrased that is used in the original Slavonic.

Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363034
04/13/11 07:20 PM
04/13/11 07:20 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
S
StuartK Offline
Member
StuartK  Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
It's not so much a suggested change as a conscious decision, in this iteration of the Liturgy, not to alter the people's parts more than absolutely necessary, while focusing mainly on changes to the priest's parts and the the rubrics. In future editions, Theotokos may be substituted for Mother of God. An incremental approach is being used to avoid the kind of psychic dislocations that accompanied the wholesale revisions of the RDL.

That said, the RDL having used Theotokos for several years now, there seems little point in retaining Mother of God.

The word in Slavonic is Bohorodice (or Bogorodice), which is merely a direct translation of Theotokos. I think you will agree, though, that Theotokos is probably easier for the English speaking tongue to pronounce.

Last edited by StuartK; 04/13/11 07:20 PM.
Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363044
04/13/11 10:30 PM
04/13/11 10:30 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 6,328
Virginia!
Administrator Offline

John
Administrator  Offline

John
Member
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 6,328
Virginia!
As Stuart notes, it was a conscious decision. Here's the reasoning for choosing "Mother of God" over "Theotokos":

1. The earlier Ruthenian translations all used "Mother of God". That it has been used successfully for a half century and has been widely accepted is a solid pastoral reason to retain it.

2. There is precedent from the Slavs for translating "Theotokos" (i.e., "Bohorodice"). Also, we translate other important terms (like "hypostais") with much less precision.

3. There is no standard amongst Byzantine Chrisitans in translating or not translating "Theotokos". I have been in ROCOR and Serbian Orthodox parishes in the last few years and heard "Mother of God". The Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church uses "Birth-Giver of God", which is literal if not literary.

4. For most English speakers, the term "Theotokos" does not evoke anything except perhaps a theological concept. The term "Mother of God" evokes a person, and a mother.

5. The term "Mother of God" is known throughout the English speaking world, even by non-Christians. A few years back just after Thanksgiving I was at the post office mailing packages. After the packages were processed the postal worker - a turban-wearing Sikh - asked me if I want to buy some Christmas stamps. When I asked him what type he responded: "Winter Scene or the Mother of God with Child". A non-Christian knew that the "Mother of God" and the "Mother of Jesus" are one in the same. Whether he believes that is one question, but to give up a term that is known and understood by almost all English speakers - including non-Christians - seem to me to be a real waste. And consider the term's usefulness in evangelizing English speaking Muslims, who already have a devotion of sorts to the Virgin Mary (whom they image when they hear the term "Mother of God"). [Yes, I might wish our inheritance from the language of the KJV and the Anglican Church included a different term, but it doesn't. But it is easier to evangelize people with a language they already know, and "Mother of God" is known.]

6. Bishop Kallistos [Ware] at the Stamford Conference (back in the 90s) noted that, while he personally prefers the term "Theotokos" to be untranslated, he also recognizes that it can be translated, and that if you do translate it the only way to do so is "Mother of God".

7. Also on the pastoral front, since the mandate of the Ruthenian Revised Divine Liturgy (which uses the term "Theotokos") several priests have noted that they have received complaints and questions about the term. Those coming from within the Church could certainly addressed with education (and none at all was offered with the RDL mandate). But a good number of questions come from visitors. A Roman Catholic, Protestant or even most non-Christian visitor will know instantly who the "Mother of God" is. But explaining why we choose to retain Greek terms and titles is a task that need not be engaged in. [But this is mostly another example like #5 above.]

Hope this explanation is clear.

John

Re: Theotokos [Re: Administrator] #363051
04/14/11 03:14 AM
04/14/11 03:14 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 784
USA
ukrainiancatholic Offline
Member
ukrainiancatholic  Offline
Member
Member
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 784
USA
John,

Your post has summed up my whole feeling about the whole Theotokos/Mother of God usage in liturgical texts and in conversation. Points #4 and #7 are right on. Why arbitrarily use the Greek word in an English setting? Why not just use 'Bohoroditsya' instead?

Over zealous usage of Byzantine jargon can be quite alienating and unnecessary. What I find ironic is that those who wish to suppress any remnant of ethnicity in our parishes in order to become an "American Church" are the ones who tend to use completely foreign and niche jargon, all the while purging (or wishing to purge) any hints of the native ethnicity of the parish, be it Lebanese, Rusyn, Ukrainian, etc.

UC

Re: Theotokos [Re: StuartK] #363056
04/14/11 08:20 AM
04/14/11 08:20 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 979
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Pavloosh Offline
Member
Pavloosh  Offline
Member
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 979
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Regarding the Revised Ruthenian Liturgy:
If Bohorodice / Mother of God = Theotokos, has using "Pantocrator" when referring to Jesus Christ been considered?

Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363065
04/14/11 12:52 PM
04/14/11 12:52 PM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 686
California
J
jjp Offline OP
Member
jjp  Offline OP
Member
J
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 686
California
Fantastic answers, thank you. Essentially what I figured, and I appreciate the thoroughness of the responses.

I think I've shared this story on the forum before, but it's very pertinent. We invited a couple of good friends of ours, a very genuine and devout Roman Catholic couple, to DL. Afterwards, they were both enthusastic and impressed. As we were greeted by our clergy leaving, she remarked, "I really enjoyed it, very beautiful and reverent, everything is just like we believe... but I just have one question, who is... Theotokos???"

I couldn't stop laughing, and everybody was quick to assure her that was the Greek word given to Mary. She's such a polite person though, she sang all of the reverential hymns quietly wondering who was "beyond compare"...

I have a personal bias to the usage, but definitely understand the impulse to move away from it.

Out of curiosity, was it ever explained why they chose to introduce it in the first place?

Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363069
04/14/11 05:22 PM
04/14/11 05:22 PM
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 47
USA
chaldobyzantine Offline
Member
chaldobyzantine  Offline
Member
Joined: Jul 2010
Posts: 47
USA
It always feels strange when the words "Mother of God" replaces Theotokos in parts of the Divine Liturgy (for example "Through the prayers of the Mother of God..."

Though there are many hymns where you cannot replace "Mother of God" for Theotokos, for example in "It is truly right to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever blessed, and most pure, and the Mother of our God."

If the words "Birth-Giver of God" sounds awkward in music, I wouldn't mind the Slavonic, Greek, or Arabic translations of the phrase being used in an English DL.

Re: Theotokos [Re: chaldobyzantine] #363073
04/14/11 06:10 PM
04/14/11 06:10 PM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 44
maryland
E
eamon Offline
Member
eamon  Offline
Member
E
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 44
maryland
At our Church we use the Term Birthgiver

Re: Theotokos [Re: chaldobyzantine] #363079
04/14/11 08:43 PM
04/14/11 08:43 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,893
MD
ajk Offline
Member
ajk  Offline
Member
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,893
MD
Originally Posted by chaldobyzantine

If the words "Birth-Giver of God" sounds awkward in music...

The designation Birth-Giver of God is certainly not usual, but then that is the point. A phrase can sound awkward until it is used; or it can become familiar if given a chance. I would submit that it is no more awkward than some of the unusual but correct designations that we encounter: unmercenary, equal-to-the-apostles, God-bearer, etc..

As for the chant setting, I considered it here (see the link to the pdf file at the end of the post; the musical setting is at the end of the pdf file). Other considerations on the style of the hymn are also analyzed in the course of that thread itself (link).

Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363080
04/14/11 09:09 PM
04/14/11 09:09 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
S
StuartK Offline
Member
StuartK  Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
Quote
"Pantocrator" when referring to Jesus Christ been considered?


That's only one of His many titles, and could only be inserted where presently the text uses the English phrase, "Lord of All".

Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363102
04/15/11 08:41 AM
04/15/11 08:41 AM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
S
StuartK Offline
Member
StuartK  Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
The fact is, Theotokos is a fundamentally untranslatable term in English. Neither "Mother of God", "God-Bearer", or "Birth-Giver" captures the sense of the Greek word in the manner of the Slavonic Bohoridice (which is a neologism, probably invented as a direct equivalent to Theotokos). In technical translation, when confronted with a word that does not translate well into another language (e.g., the German military term Schwerpunkt), it is proper to leave the word in the original language, perhaps with an extensive footnote glossing the meaning of the word.

In liturgical and spiritual writing, the same rule applies. The early Church left intact a number of Aramaic words and expressions, including Amen, Alleluia, Sabaoth and Maranatha. The Latin Church retained the Greek phrase Kyrie elieson. In this case, since no English word or short phrase captures the fullness of Theotokos, and since Bohorodice is more difficult for Anglo-American tongues, the term should be left as Theotokos.

Those who want to know what it means can look it up, which will undoubtedly be educational and spiritually enlightening.

Re: Theotokos [Re: StuartK] #363103
04/15/11 09:23 AM
04/15/11 09:23 AM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 275
PL
P
PeterPeter Offline
Member
PeterPeter  Offline
Member
P
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 275
PL
Originally Posted by StuartK
Bohoridice (which is a neologism, probably invented as a direct equivalent to Theotokos)


It is a calque (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calque), one of many calques from Greek introduced with the creation of the Church Slavic language (e.g. theologos -> bogoslov, litourgeia -> bogosluzhene, philanthropos -> chelovekolubets etc.)

Originally Posted by StuartK
The Latin Church retained the Greek phrase Kyrie elieson.


The Kyrie is not a remnant from the Greek times of Roman liturgy, actually it was introduced a few hundred years after the Roman liturgy started to be celebrated exclusively in Latin.

Last edited by PeterPeter; 04/15/11 09:32 AM.
Re: Theotokos [Re: StuartK] #363104
04/15/11 09:32 AM
04/15/11 09:32 AM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,893
MD
ajk Offline
Member
ajk  Offline
Member
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,893
MD
Originally Posted by StuartK
The fact is, Theotokos is a fundamentally untranslatable term in English. Neither "Mother of God", "God-Bearer", or "Birth-Giver" captures the sense of the Greek word in the manner of the Slavonic Bohoridice (which is a neologism, probably invented as a direct equivalent to Theotokos).

This gives the Slavonic too much credit for capturing the "sense of the Greek" (see below also). That one finds in the Slavonic of the Recension a TRANSLATION and NOT A TRANSLITERATION establishes an authenticity for doing so.


Originally Posted by StuartK
In this case, since no English word or short phrase captures the fullness of Theotokos, and since Bohorodice is more difficult for Anglo-American tongues ...
About as difficult as saying kielbasa (kiełbasa) rather than sausage. For us Slavs, however, simply translate into English what we have received in translation from the Greek as Bohorodice ~ Birthgiver of God. We already follow this approach for homoousion in the Creed.

Re: Theotokos [Re: jjp] #363112
04/15/11 12:32 PM
04/15/11 12:32 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
S
StuartK Offline
Member
StuartK  Offline
Member
S
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
Falls Church, VA
Quote
For us Slavs, however, simply translate into English what we have received in translation from the Greek as Bohorodice ~ Birthgiver of God. We already follow this approach for homoousion in the Creed
.

I would agree, if "Birthgiver of God" were the true meaning of Theotokos.

Re: Theotokos [Re: StuartK] #363124
04/15/11 05:51 PM
04/15/11 05:51 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,893
MD
ajk Offline
Member
ajk  Offline
Member
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 1,893
MD
Originally Posted by StuartK
Quote
For us Slavs, however, simply translate into English what we have received in translation from the Greek as Bohorodice ~ Birthgiver of God. We already follow this approach for homoousion in the Creed


I would agree, if "Birthgiver of God" were the true meaning of Theotokos.


"True meaning" for a translation is a tall order; a transliteration just sidesteps the issue.

Prescinding from the Greek, does "Birthgiver of God" properly render Bohorodice in English? If not, what?

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3

Moderated by  Father Anthony 

The Byzantine Forum provides message boards for discussions focusing on Eastern Christianity (though discussions of other topics are welcome). The views expressed herein are those of the participants and may or may not reflect the teachings of the Byzantine Catholic or any other Church. The Byzantine Forum and the www.byzcath.org site exist to help build up the Church but are unofficial, have no connection with any Church entity, and should not be looked to as a source for official information for any Church. All posts become property of byzcath.org. Contents copyright - 1996-2018. All rights reserved.
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.1.1
(Release build 20180111)
Page Time: 0.020s Queries: 15 (0.005s) Memory: 2.0454 MB (Peak: 2.2689 MB) Zlib enabled. Server Time: 2018-05-26 10:14:10 UTC