Author Topic: Proskynesis vs. latreia  (Read 4172 times)

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Offline scamandrius

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Proskynesis vs. latreia
« on: February 28, 2011, 10:18:14 PM »
If latreia is the worship reserved for God alone, why then, at the beginning of the services say, "Come, let us worship (proskynemen) God our King?"  Why isn't a verb form of latro used instead?  I can't seem to find a satisfactory answer.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2011, 10:51:19 PM »
Because we reverence/worship (proskynemen) and adore (latro) God, but we do not adore anyone else. So there is no issue. I guess the real issue is the translation, depending on your viewpoint on the language. Technically in English, worship is the equivalent of honor, and what is due to God alone is adoration. So it could also be properly translated "Come, let us revere God our King." The prayer is a call to honor, not to adoration.

I would think you only would rightly have an issue if you found the liturgy calling for the adoration of someone else other than God.

It would technically be proper to say that we worship the saints, as worship is even used in addressing people "Your Worship", etc.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 10:55:00 PM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2011, 10:56:44 PM »
If latreia is the worship reserved for God alone, why then, at the beginning of the services say, "Come, let us worship (proskynemen) God our King?"  Why isn't a verb form of latro used instead?  I can't seem to find a satisfactory answer.

Alveus is spot on, IMO; we're not denying latreia to God, just affirming that we also proskynoumen Him, just as telling a parent, child, friend, or spouse, "I greatly respect you" does not imply that we do not love them, also.  The same phrase (Defte proskynysomen) is used as the beginning of the "standard" entrance hymn at Liturgy: "Come let us worship and bow down before Christ; save us, O Son of God, Who rose from the dead, who sing to You: Alleluia!"
"If you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test. Be sincere and determined. Keep calm when trouble comes. Stay with the Lord; never abandon Him and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient. Gold is tested by fire and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation. Trust the Lord and He will help you. Walk straight in His ways and put your hope in Him. " Sir 2:1-6

Offline augustin717

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 10:58:21 PM »
Distinction without a difference, imo.
Holy martyr Proterius, patriarch of Alexandria,  pray for us!

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 11:02:13 PM »
Distinction without a difference, imo.

I'm pretty sure an Ecumenical Council disagrees with you.

Offline augustin717

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 11:10:40 PM »
Distinction without a difference, imo.

I'm pretty sure an Ecumenical Council disagrees with you.
The difference lies in the content of the "proskynisis/latria" we bring to God or to the saints.
Holy martyr Proterius, patriarch of Alexandria,  pray for us!

Offline John Larocque

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 12:01:40 AM »
One of the odd things about the evolution of English, is that the verb "worship" was used for veneration/proskynemen. "worship" or veneration in a secular context was also title applied to kings and public figures like judges ("your worship"). The Latin Vulgate consistently uses the verb "adorare" for veneration, which is the verb of choice in older Roman Catholic bibles (Douay Rheims), as well as the Eastern Orthodox bible ("to express adoration"). The word "worship" still retains some of its old context (albeit idolatrous worship of Hollywood "stars") but it is today almost exclusively used for God, now, and even "adore" is rarely used for other than God.

The Authorized version is somewhat inconsistent for "latreia", usually rendering "serve" (for divine service), although some times lapsing in using the same word for veneration, "worship".

I just scanned the Louis Segond (a Protestant French Translation) and they seem to carry the same terms as the Douay/Vulgate, "adorer" for veneration and "servire" for divine service (test passages: Mat 2:2, Mt 4:10).

Offline Apostolos

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2011, 12:43:16 PM »
Προσκυνώ: Compound. Pros (preposition and prefix) that means "in the direction of, towards, proximity" + verb kyneo (uncontracted)-kyno (contracted) that means "to kiss", cognate with English "kiss" (both languages are of Indo-European origin). Proskynesis is the whole process of moving closer towards a person/object and kissing it.
Λατρεία: From the verb latrevo which initially meant "to serve the gods with prayers and sacrifices" or latreio "to render as offering". In the ancient culture/religion, latreia (i.e. the offering of sacrifice) was reserved only for the gods 
(when in doubt, run to etymology  ;) )
Ἦχος Βαρύς

Ὁπλιτικῆς φάλαγγος οἰκεῖον μέλος
ὁ τοῦ βάρους σὺ κλῆσιν εἰληφῶς φέρεις.
Ἧχον τὸν ἁπλοῦν τὸν βάρους ἐπώνυμον
ὁ τοὺς λογισμοὺς ἐν βοαῖς μισῶν φιλεῖ.
Ἀνδρῶν δὲ ἄσμα δευτερότριτε βρέμεις.
Ὧν ποικίλος δὲ τοὺς ἁπλούς ἔχεις φίλους.

Offline pensateomnia

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2011, 02:52:57 PM »
In Attic and Koine Greek, προσκυνέω is just as likely to mean "worship"  (i.e. worship befitting a god) as it is anything else.

This is the case in the LXX and NT. For example, John 4:23: ἀλλὰ ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστίν, ὅτε οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ πατρὶ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ τοιούτους  ζητεῖ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν.

So, to answer the OP, there are many parts of the liturgical services that use προσκυνέω in its older, pre-Damascene (and Scriptural) sense, possibly because these hymns predate the Iconoclastic period. In addition to the example you cited, which is actually a direct allusion to the language of the Psalms, there is the hymn that the clergy chant during the Little Entrance of the Divine Liturgy. Also, IIRC, the Pentecost prayers, which predate the Damascene. There are many others.

That aside, it's my feeling that the modern English words "worship" and "veneration" imply a far greater difference than their equivalents in Byzantine & Modern Greek, Romanian, etc. That's largely because "veneration" is essentially meaningless in our cultural vocabulary, but also because, in English, we are constantly trying to defend Orthodoxy against modern-day Iconoclasts.

In modern Greek, however, you can still speak of η προσκύνηση (worship) at church, and a person can indeed προσκυνεί God. Theologians, of course, will speak about η Λατρευτική προσκύνηση, but even that is telling, no?
But for I am a man not textueel I wol noght telle of textes neuer a deel. (Chaucer, The Manciple's Tale, 1.131)

Offline orthonorm

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Re: Proskynesis vs. latreia
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2011, 03:11:42 PM »
Alveus is spot on, IMO; we're not denying latreia to God, just affirming that we also proskynoumen Him, just as telling a parent, child, friend, or spouse, "I greatly respect you" does not imply that we do not love them, also.  The same phrase (Defte proskynysomen) is used as the beginning of the "standard" entrance hymn at Liturgy: "Come let us worship and bow down before Christ; save us, O Son of God, Who rose from the dead, who sing to You: Alleluia!"

Fr. George,

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