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Author Topic: Proskynesis vs. latreia  (Read 2501 times)
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scamandrius
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« 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.
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« 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 » Logged
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« 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!"
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2011, 10:58:21 PM »

Distinction without a difference, imo.
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« 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.
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« 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.
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« 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).
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« 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  Wink )
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« 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?
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« 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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