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I went to Vespers tonight, and as I was cantoring, I noticed two things. First, the prayer of the Holy Prophet Simeon. The current translation of this scripture(Luke 2:29 and following), from IELC's second revised edition of Vespers, July 2005, renders it �Now you may dismiss your servant, O Lord.� The Greek word translated as �Lord� is �despota,� which also, and more correctly, may be translated as �master,� especially since we usually reserve �Lord� for �Kyrios.� Nevertheless, here, the IELC has decided that �despota� should be �Lord.� But on the very next page, in the prayer �Most Holy Trinity have mercy on us: Lord, cleanse us of our sins; Master, forgive our transgressions,� the word �despota� is rendered �Master.� Why the change? In the space of two pages, the same word in the original is given two different translations. If "Master" is used in the prayer to the Trinity because of the mention of "Lord" on the previous line, why not retain "Master" in the prayer of Simeon, so that the translation will be consistent?

What is particularly strange is that the 2002 edition of Vespers renders the prayer of Simeon as �Now you may dismiss your servant, O Master.� This means that someone made the conscious decision to change the translation of �despota� when referring to Christ from �Master� to �Lord,� while retaining the translation of �despota� as �Master� on the following page.

I noticed another thing: it has been argued that for various reasons we may not use the word �orthodox� in the Liturgy, and instead we translate it as �of the true faith.� That is, in fact, how the current Vespers text does it: �O God, strengthen the true faith forever and ever.� But as we sang the Troparion of Basil, I was shocked to find that it reads �Guide to Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness. . . .� Shouldn't it be �Guide to the true faith, teacher of piety, etc.?� If we can't use �Orthodox� in the Liturgy or the Vespers, why can we use it in the troparia?

To me, these look like inconsistencies of translation, like errors. But, I know that the people behind the translations are not the sort of people to make errors. There must, therefore, be some deep reason for the shift in the translation of �despota� and the change in the permissibility of the word �orthodox� from the Liturgy to the troparia. What is it?

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Is there a way to subscribe to a thread without posting in it? I'd like to follow this discussion but have nothing to add to it.

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You dont have to log into the forum to read the postings. That how the bishops and some clergy prefer to do it so I am told wink and no one knows they are there reading. You also could do the same.

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Dear Pseudo-Athanasius,
Thank you so much for bringing these two inconsistencies to my attention; they shall not go to waste!

Fr. Serge

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Originally posted by Pavel Ivanovich:
You dont have to log into the forum to read the postings. That how the bishops and some clergy prefer to do it so I am told wink and no one knows they are there reading. You also could do the same.
Pavel,
I know nothing of their viewing habits, but I was referring to the email notification I get on subscribed threads. I wanted to follow when it was updated without having to post in it to be able to check off the Email Notification box.

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Change your details on the profile to modify what you want, or consult the Administrator directly.

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The variations you mention, P-A, are all found in the 1976 Byzantine Book of Prayer, which in turn took translations from Archbishop Raya's Byzantine Daily Worship:

Canticle of Simeon: "Now you shall dismiss your servant, O Lord"

Usual beginning: "O Master, forgive our transgressions"

Commemorations: "and all you Christians of the true faith"

Common Troparion of a Confessor: "Guide of Orthodoxy, mirror of piety"

So in essence the IELC is keeping texts unchanged that we are currently using in each of these cases. Since there are recurrent calls on this forum to change as little as possible in our current texts, I fail to see much to build a conspiracy theory over.

Yours in Christ,
Jeff Mierzejewski

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Dear Jeff,

The problem with the translation is not that it changes things, but that it is incorrect. If the 1976 edition is incorrect, but the errors are not to be fixed, what's the point of a new translation?

Besides, wouldn't the texts to be considered not be the Byzantine Daily Prayer book, but whatever texts were used for Vespers?

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Originally posted by Pseudo-Athanasius:

The problem with the translation is not that it changes things, but that it is incorrect.
But is it incorrect? Or is this an issue of style rather than substance? Let's look at how other Eastern Christians have translated these into English.

The Melkites (in Archbishop Raya's books) have "Now you shall dismiss your servant, O Lord", but "O Master, forgive our transgressions."

The Old Believers (Erie prayerbook) have "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant", but "O Master, forgive our iniquities."

Mother Mary and Bishop Kallistos Ware (Festal Menaion) have "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant" but "O Master, forgive our transgressions."

The Ukrainian Catholics (My Divine Friend, 1959) have "Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord", but "O Master, forgive us our iniquities."

The Ruthenian Catholics (1976) have "Now you shall dismiss your servant, O Lord", but "O Master, forgive our transgressions."

And the proposed People's Book (which matches the current MCI Vespers book) has the same - but somehow it is incorrect? Do you plan to ask the Melkites, and Old Believers, and Bishop Kallistos to correct this mistake as well?

Yours in puzzlement,
Jeff Mierzejewski

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Dear Jeff,

Yes, it is incorrect. The text is Luke 2:29. Look in the New American Bible, or the Greek text, if you have it handy. The word is "despota," the same word that is translated "master" in the following prayer. "Lord" is properly reserved for "Kyrios."

Shouldn't we translate the same word the same way? It doesn't really matter what the old texts say, if they aren't faithful to the original.

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There is a difference between apparent inconsistency and incorrectness. It has already been noted pointed out, even by Fr. Serge, that there are times that different words in the target are used to translate a given word in the sources to communicate most properly the original meaning. Despota may be an example. In the dismissal at liturgy, it is translated into English by various juridictions as Father or Master. Is this variation really "incorrect"?

What about the Canticle? This is straight out of Luke. There should, I would think, be an effort for consistency between the scripture and the quotation from it. The translation "Lord" has a long history in English Bibles. So there is a dilemma: consistency with other tranlsations of "despota" in the services or in the Bible.

I suppose that we can look forward to a continuing proliferation of Bible translations where we will have to face the question of the degree to which the decisions made in crafting the KJV or DR should be binding the retranslation. Won't that be fun?

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P-A, you started by asking what the "deep reasons" are for the inconsistency (I'm not sure which 2002 Vespers text you are referring to), but the IELC is using the same translations for these phrases we have had to 40 years. I question whether there is really evidence for some sort of plot here.

As far as "Orthodoxy" - I suspect that if I told my pastor, and the OCA pastor down the street, that we had "ninety Orthodox Christians" at our Divine Liturgy this morning, both would be surprised. At this point, changing "Christians of the true faith" to "Orthodox Christians" will require both some explanation, and some getting used to. I'm glad to see the word Orthodoxy starting to appear in our official books, and I hope the trend toward consistency continues. Would you really rather we avoid the word entirely until we can use it everywhere? (E.g. "Commemoration of the Holy Images" in Msgr. Lekvulic's 1978 book, versus "Sunday of Orthodoxy" in the proposed book.)

Yours in Christ,
Jeff

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P-A: You responded to my question before I posted it! cool
Let me make the point more technically: the mapping of words in language to another is, in general, not isomorphic. Therefore an "inconsistency" in words used to translate a given source word into a target cannot be taken as indicating, ipso facto, an incorrect translation.

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djs - as to whether the variation between "Father bless" and "Master bless" in requesting the dismissal is correct, that depends on which one chooses in addressing whom: in that particular context one says "Master bless" to the Bishop (or in the cathedral even in the bishop's absence) and "Father bless" to the Priest.

Fr Serge

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Dear djs and Jeff,

Yes, occasionally the same word can be translated differently in diferent spots, but I don't see that there's any reason to do that in this case. I see lots of reason not to do it, especially in that our original Greek text of the liturgy was written by people who either spoke or read the original Greek of the New Testament. So, if there is a juxtaposition of "despota" with "despota," it is probable that there is a good reason for it, theologically, or at least that we are supposed to recall using the word in the canticle just a few minutes before.

This is similar to my reasons for preferring "Master" for "Despota" in the liturgy. If we decide to use different words to translate the same word, we run the risk of losing parallels and threads of meaning in the original, such as the parallel between the priest as "despota" and Christ as "despota."

Why translate "despota" from the Canticle as "Lord?" Just because lots of other people do? If we are just going to go with the flow, why change our translations at all? The idea behind a new translation is to improve things, isn't it?

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