16 November 2017

For Classicists ...

There is an interesting internet correspondence going on concerning Leitourgeia. Does it, as we are often told by a certain school of modern Catholic liturgical 'experts', mean "Work of the People"; or "Work for the People"?

8 comments:

bedwere said...

For the people. At least in Ancient Greece. λειτουργία, ἡ

John F H H said...

Any pointers toward he discussion, Father?

I found this

http://taylormarshall.com/2017/09/liturgy-not-mean-work-people-liturgical-pelagianism.html

but no more.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Don't some of Lysias' forensic speeches deal with this?? It's a long time since I was an undergraduate, but one of them deals with this - it's definitely a public service rendered by a wealthy citizen for the benefit of the city-state.

Gregory DiPippo said...

Rev. Father, I am given to understand that in Greek compound nouns, when the second term is based on a verb root, the relationship between the two terms may be that of a verb to its direct object, or a verb to its indirect object, but not a relationship of possession. In the word "Theotokos" e.g., "tokos" means "bearer", "Theo" is the object of implied verb "to bear." This often leads to confusion in English, because "God-bearer" sounds clumsy, and therefore we say "bearer of God", and hence "Mother of God", using our possessive form. As Liddell points out, a "leitourgos" was one who performed a public service, i.e. one who did a work (>ergein) FOR the people (indirect object.)

B flat said...

There was a very good article written by Dr Carol Byrne here:

http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/f109_Dialogue_29.htm

and answering your specific question in the section subtitled
'Is liturgy the "Work of the People?"'

Tom Forde said...

I am not a classicist but I do remember reading somewhere that the first recorded use of the word was in reference to the building and equipping of a warship for a Greek city (Athens I think). If the word subsequently kept its reference then it is a 'work FOR the people.'

William Weedon said...

FWIW, The Apology to the Augsburg Confession notes:

So the term leitourgia agrees well with the ministry. For it is an old word, ordinarily used in public civil administrations. To the Greeks it meant public burdens, such as tribute, the expense of equipping a fleet, or similar things. For Leptines, the oration of Demosthenes, speaks about such things, discussing at length public duties and exemptions: “He will say that some unworthy men, having found an exemption, have withdrawn from public burdens.” And so they spoke in the time of the Romans, as the reply of Pertinax, On the Law of Exemption, shows: “Even though the number of children does not liberate parents from all public burdens.” And the Commentary on Demosthenes states that leitourgia is a kind of tribute, the expense of the games, the expense of equipping vessels, of attending to the gymnasia and similar public offices.

Colin Spinks said...

I was always taught (as I'm sure you have taught countless others Father!) that the word referred in particular to the financing of the great festivals of ancient Athens where tragedy and comedy were performed. Each year it was the responsibility of a wealthy citizen to endow the festival with all the funds necessary (including the payment of priests to perform sacrifices). So the strict meaning of Leitourgia must be "work for the people". However, I don't think that necessarily means that the English word "Liturgy" must have such a narrow definition. The way we actually use the term (=? its meaning) is much broader and richer than simply (if at all) "the act of paying a priest (and musicians etc) to say Mass". It surely includes the work of the priest towards God, his work for the people, and the work of the people.