25 March 2020


Are the senior Archangels punsters? S Gabriel certainly was; he hailed our blessed Lady with the words Khaire kekharitomene (incidentally I consider it highly probable that the Holy Family, and the Twelve, were Greek-speaking).

The second of those two words is a Greek perfect participle passive. Perfect participles in Greek refer to a present state which is the result of a past action (like our English expressions "the married" and "the dead"). So the word means that Mary is a having-been-graced-person; as the result of her Immaculate Conception (in the past) she is (now) crammed full of grace. Christine Mohrmann tells us that "several early translations, the North African Codex Palatinus (e), as well as the European , perhaps Illyrian, translation of Codex q29, render the words of St Luke ... by ave gratificata!

This Latin word looks exactly like a Latin equivalent of that Greek perfect participle passive. Mohrmann points out that words formed like this "were very popular in Early Christian Latin ... [i]n this way, one single word was sufficient to reproduce the full meaning of the Greek ... one cannot dismiss the early Bible translations as clumsy products of semi-literates, as is too often done in Classically minded phililogical circles."

It is, I am sure, no coincidence that the next paper in this Collection, Volume III of Mohrmann's collected papers, is her deservedly celebrated 1947 hatchet job in Vigiliae Christianae on the disgraceful new translation of the Psalms concocted by Cardinal Bea at the instigation of Pius XII. She quotes Bea's words advocating "Una Traduzione latina dei salmi che ... si attenga al vocabulario, alla grammatica e allo stile di quel migliore periodo della latinita", i.e. the Augustan period.

I'm sure they used to say in German seminaries, "Sancte Tulli, ora pro nobis" and "Sancte Horati, ora pro nobis.". I wonder what they say nowadays.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father, It is a joy to read Dom Gueranger on this Blessed Feast Day but some of his words drew the attention of ABS

Thy incomparable purity drew down upon thee the love of the great Creator.. and while that is a beautiful phrase one could raise a pedantic objection because it is the love of Our Creator which caused her incomparable purity not vice versa and that is because God
has a greater love for Mary than any creature before or after her.

√Čamonn said...

For anyone who hasn't yet read "Mohrmann's Hatchet Job" it can be found here:

Fr PJM said...

God loved her, the Immaculata into existence, but He loved her, or was *pleased* by her perfect, ever more loving and perfect response. She was the first, among created persons who have pleased Him throughout all the ages.

PM said...

Re the German seminaries nowadays, I cannot begin to imagine how one latinises Hegel, Durkheim, Marx, Heidegger, Harnack, Bultmann, etc etc.

PM said...

A comment I tried to make on the earlier post on Mohrmann's remarks on the fidelity to the Greek of Latin translations of the Scriptures seems to have disappeared into the ether. It was that the Latin versions of the prologue to John reproduce with 'Deus erat Verbum' the word order of the Greek, whereas no English version that I know (including Douai-Rheims) does so. Some commentators, I understand, read a theological significance into the Greek word order, as an emphatic assertion of the divinity of the Word. As Fr Hunwicke's knowledge of Greek and Latin grammar and syntax far exceeds mine (and most other people's), could I ask him to venture an opinion on this?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father PJM. Yes. Mary is the preeminent (by far) of all created persons and Dogmatists observe that she is in a category by herself in that she embodies the most perfect created personality just as the manhood of Jesus is the most perfect type of human nature and so God does look upon the Mary, Mother of His son, with great pleasure.

ABS was trying to load a lot into a little post and he erred by not expressing his own self adequately but we are in agreement

Irenaeus said...

Happy belated Blessed Annunciation Day to you, Father. May God bless you.