Author Topic: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?  (Read 4086 times)

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Offline Fr. David

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Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« on: January 01, 2015, 05:57:06 PM »
Greetings: to all those on the New Calendar: Christ is born!

Question for you, from a priest who is still a Greek hack.

In the Nativity troparion -- Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἀνέτειλε τῷ κόσμῳ, τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως· -- Is "the light of KNOWLEDGE" (as in, Knowledge OF Christ personally) a better way to translate τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως·, or would it be "the light of WISDOM" (perhaps ABOUT Christ, though the latter, in my mind would be "τῆς σοφιας")?

A friend of mine suggested "has enlightened the world with the knowledge of the Light," citing the second τὸ as being a reason to reverse the words. As I still lack the skills to parse all this out, I'm asking around.

Many thanks!
Priest in the Orthodox Church in America - ordained on March 18, 2012

Oh Taste and See (my defunct blog)

From Protestant to Orthodox (my conversion story)

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 06:26:51 PM »
Glorify Him!

Well, speaking as merely an average ancient Greek student, in cases like this, much would depend on a translation formula. That is, there are several conceivable ways to represent that attributive position, or synonyms to translate gnosis, and a formula should be adhered to for consistency and traditionality.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 06:28:25 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2015, 07:28:13 PM »
Gnosis means knowledge. Tis Sophias would be wisdom.

But it depends whether you're going for a literal rendering or one that flows better.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 07:29:23 PM by xOrthodox4Christx »
“There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.”- St. Ambrose of Milan

"Now one cannot be a half-hearted Christian, but only entirely or not at all." -Fr. Seraphim Rose

"He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20)

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2015, 07:31:52 PM »
Oh and, no, you can't reverse the words there. "... the light, the one pertaining to the knowledge" is about as literal as you could twist out of that, and as you can see it can't reverse the meaning.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 07:32:29 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline LBK

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2015, 05:29:37 AM »
The correct translation is knowledge, not wisdom. Given the great significance of both words in biblical and liturgical use, I very much doubt the hymnographer was anything but precise and deliberate in the choice of word.

Moreover, the Slavonic word used in the troparion is разума (razuma). Wisdom in Slavonic is премудрост (premudrost').
« Last Edit: January 02, 2015, 05:30:12 AM by LBK »
Am I posting? Or is it Schroedinger's Cat?

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2015, 10:15:42 AM »
Greetings: to all those on the New Calendar: Christ is born!

Question for you, from a priest who is still a Greek hack.

In the Nativity troparion -- Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἀνέτειλε τῷ κόσμῳ, τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως· -- Is "the light of KNOWLEDGE" (as in, Knowledge OF Christ personally) a better way to translate τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως·, or would it be "the light of WISDOM" (perhaps ABOUT Christ, though the latter, in my mind would be "τῆς σοφιας")?

A friend of mine suggested "has enlightened the world with the knowledge of the Light," citing the second τὸ as being a reason to reverse the words. As I still lack the skills to parse all this out, I'm asking around.

Many thanks!

Knowledge is the most accurate rendering into English, but since very few words match up 1:1 with Greek, I would suggest that knowledge is not the only "theological" meaning. The second "to" is needed because in classical Greek an attributive adjective that comes after the noun it modifies needs the article to be duplicated. I only know that thanks to years of Classical Greek composition.  As to your friends suggestion using the preposition "with" the only way that can happen is if the case of phos were dative instead of accusative.  It is accusative and the direct object of aneteile.
Da quod iubes et iube quod vis.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2015, 02:37:30 PM »
Greetings: to all those on the New Calendar: Christ is born!

Question for you, from a priest who is still a Greek hack.

In the Nativity troparion -- Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἀνέτειλε τῷ κόσμῳ, τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως· -- Is "the light of KNOWLEDGE" (as in, Knowledge OF Christ personally) a better way to translate τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως·, or would it be "the light of WISDOM" (perhaps ABOUT Christ, though the latter, in my mind would be "τῆς σοφιας")?

A friend of mine suggested "has enlightened the world with the knowledge of the Light," citing the second τὸ as being a reason to reverse the words. As I still lack the skills to parse all this out, I'm asking around.

Many thanks!

Knowledge is the most accurate rendering into English, but since very few words match up 1:1 with Greek, I would suggest that knowledge is not the only "theological" meaning. The second "to" is needed because in classical Greek an attributive adjective that comes after the noun it modifies needs the article to be duplicated. I only know that thanks to years of Classical Greek composition.  As to your friends suggestion using the preposition "with" the only way that can happen is if the case of phos were dative instead of accusative.  It is accusative and the direct object of aneteile.

There are other ways to represent an attributive, and, after all, an adjective does not have to be attributive -- that here it is is the salient point.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline scamandrius

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Re: Apolytikion of Nativity -- light of knowledge or wisdom?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2015, 03:42:57 PM »
Greetings: to all those on the New Calendar: Christ is born!

Question for you, from a priest who is still a Greek hack.

In the Nativity troparion -- Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἀνέτειλε τῷ κόσμῳ, τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως· -- Is "the light of KNOWLEDGE" (as in, Knowledge OF Christ personally) a better way to translate τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως·, or would it be "the light of WISDOM" (perhaps ABOUT Christ, though the latter, in my mind would be "τῆς σοφιας")?

A friend of mine suggested "has enlightened the world with the knowledge of the Light," citing the second τὸ as being a reason to reverse the words. As I still lack the skills to parse all this out, I'm asking around.

Many thanks!

Knowledge is the most accurate rendering into English, but since very few words match up 1:1 with Greek, I would suggest that knowledge is not the only "theological" meaning. The second "to" is needed because in classical Greek an attributive adjective that comes after the noun it modifies needs the article to be duplicated. I only know that thanks to years of Classical Greek composition.  As to your friends suggestion using the preposition "with" the only way that can happen is if the case of phos were dative instead of accusative.  It is accusative and the direct object of aneteile.

There are other ways to represent an attributive, and, after all, an adjective does not have to be attributive -- that here it is is the salient point.

THere are other ways, yes, but the grammar here indicates that this IS an attributive adjective.
Da quod iubes et iube quod vis.