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Author Topic: Translations of Orthodox words  (Read 1717 times) Average Rating: 0
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Νεκτάριος
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« on: April 02, 2004, 12:15:44 AM »

Does anyone know why it is common practice to NOT translation certain words one often runs across in Orthodoxy (such as Orthodoxy!) into English, like Theotokos?  It is my understanding that the usage with other Orthodox languages is to translate Theotokos from the Greek to "Mother of God" in whichever language....why not in English?

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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2004, 12:21:04 AM »

Well, sometimes the words just are English loan-words (like orthodoxy lol), but yeah, you've got me with the Theotokos bit.  Maybe in that case it's because it's awkward when translated properly (God-birth-giver)?
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2004, 02:50:02 AM »

Theotokos in English is Godbearer because Godbirthgiver and Mother of God each have their own Greek phrases.

I would suggest reading Constantine Cavarnos, Orthodox Christian Terminology for assistance in this matter.

anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2004, 09:37:36 AM »

I thought Godbirthgiver was Theotokos and Godbearer was Theophoros, which is why Godbearer is an inaccurate title because many saints are refered to as God-bearing but only the Virgin is Mother and Birthgiver of God.

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TonyS
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2004, 10:42:40 AM »

Does anyone know why it is common practice to NOT translation certain words one often runs across in Orthodoxy (such as Orthodoxy!) into English, like Theotokos?  It is my understanding that the usage with other Orthodox languages is to translate Theotokos from the Greek to "Mother of God" in whichever language....why not in English?



Dear Nektarios,

Great question! English has a long, long history of incorporating loan words into its use to serve particular needs.  While those of us who grow up outside of the Church find some of the vocabulary strange, it is really no stranger than Christian vocabulary on the whole.  Why Christ and not Anointed One?  Why Baptism and not Plunging?  Why Apostle and not Sent-one? Why Bible and not Book?   All of these terms have come into English (via Greek and Latin usually) because they carried specific nuanced understandings.  

I am not sure to which "Orthodox languages" you refer but in the case of Slavonic in its various forms it has indeed oftentimes, not always, but usually, translated hence Bogoriditsa, a pure calque, for Theotokos.  Yet much of the Greek liturgical vocabulary came into Slavonic intact.  Romanian also has done similarly.  

Orthodoxy is English, by the way.  As is heterodoxy.  

TonyS
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2004, 11:15:22 AM »

I thought Godbirthgiver was Theotokos and Godbearer was Theophoros, which is why Godbearer is an inaccurate title because many saints are refered to as God-bearing but only the Virgin is Mother and Birthgiver of God.

Fr. Deacon Lance


From 'The Complete Book Of Orthodoxy' - a comprehensive encyclopedia and glossary of Orthodox terms, theology, history and facts from A to Z.

Theotokos (Gk. "Bearer" or "Birthgiver of God") -(*) the classic theological term promulgated by the Council of Ephesus in 431.  It referes to the highly exalted place of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox Church and her role in mans redemption by consenting to be the Bearer of the Redeemer.

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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2004, 01:00:00 PM »

But there is a difference, in Greek the Mother of God is Theotokos never Theophoros as is for Example St. Igantius of Antioch.  Tokos is birthgiver, phoros is bearer, so to accord the Virgin the highest honor we should stick with Theotokos, Birthgiver of God or Mother of God.  Godbearer is applied to many saints.  I believe Fr. Thomas Hopko pointed this out in one of his books.

Fr. Deacon Lance
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2004, 01:22:27 PM »

eh we should  just make it easy and all learn Slavonic.  JK.

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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2004, 05:25:00 PM »

But there is a difference, in Greek the Mother of God is Theotokos never Theophoros as is for Example St. Igantius of Antioch.  Tokos is birthgiver, phoros is bearer, so to accord the Virgin the highest honor we should stick with Theotokos, Birthgiver of God or Mother of God.  Godbearer is applied to many saints.  I believe Fr. Thomas Hopko pointed this out in one of his books.

Fr. Deacon Lance

Dear Deacon Lance,

If you will go to http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary and enter bear then choose the option for the verb you will see that after the notion of carrying or holding the understanding of bear is to give birth.  The problem is that in modern English we tend to limit the understanding of bear to carry, yet if we say "she bore a child" most know we mean she had (birthed) a baby not merely carried one.  

Of course in Greek and Slavonic it is clear but English muddles it.  Few flinched in church today when we heard "on the foal of an ass" because we can situate our understanding.  That is what we need to do when we hear "Godbearer Virgin" because Godbirther is not as euphonous and if people don't understand we need to educate them.

I wish all a profitable Great Week.

Tony
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2004, 06:48:23 PM »

But there is a difference, in Greek the Mother of God is Theotokos never Theophoros as is for Example St. Igantius of Antioch.  Tokos is birthgiver, phoros is bearer, so to accord the Virgin the highest honor we should stick with Theotokos, Birthgiver of God or Mother of God.  Godbearer is applied to many saints.  I believe Fr. Thomas Hopko pointed this out in one of his books.

Fr. Deacon Lance

I returned the book by Cavarnos to the library already but I will go back and check it out and see.

anastasios
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