Friday, September 9, 2011

Tenses In The Verba Christi

Looking at the various debates within Rome between the current and the new translation of the mass, I am struck by the Words of Institution (the Verba Christi).  I note here that in old and new the verb is future tense -- the Body that will be given and the Blood that will be shed.  It strikes me because I am so accustomed to the present tense -- Body given and Blood shed.  Here you see both versions:

Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, he took bread and gave you thanks. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT IT: THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: THIS IS THE CUP OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT. IT WILL BE SHED FOR YOU AND FOR ALL SO THAT SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.”
The new translation of the canon of the mass/Eucharistic prayer reads,

At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion, he took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples, saying: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.”
 I have not researched this at all -- to tell you the truth I had hardly noticed this.  But the verbs are aorist imperatives (take, eat) and the esti (no Greek font on my I-pod) is not future tense.  Luke adds the modifier "being given for you" and Paul "which is for you." Luke includes the attributive present participle didomenon to modify soma, “the one being given for you.  How did these words become future tense in Latin and specifically in the Roman missal -- "will be given.... will be shed?"  Can someone enlighten me?


Terry Maher said...

St Jerome.

In Matthew he uses effundetur, and in Luke fundetur, to translate the words in question. The "words of institution" in the (real) Roman Canon are a composite of Matthew and Luke, and effundetur is the form used, Matthew being the oldest Gospel account and itself a translation of a non-extant original therefore placed first in the NT, both among the Gospel accounts and among the NT itself, so it occupies the place of the Law in the Hebrew Bible which it fulfilled.

There is no theological significance to this. At the time of the Last Seder, the Crucifixion was in the future. By making the bread and fruit of the vine his body and blood in that moment, he is referring to and event that at that moment was in the future, the sacrifice at Calvary.

The words quoted are not the Roman Canon but the miserable hack job paraphrase of it that the novus ordo offers. There is no "freely accepted" or "entered willingly" in either Scripture or the original Canon at all, and at the bread, there is only This is indeed my Body (Hoc est enim corpus meum) and no "which is/will be given up for you" at all. That language is only in the fruit of the vine -- in Matthew, but Luke does say at the bread "quod pro vobis tradetur", so the drooling frothing revisionists obviated the pride of place given to Matthew and inserted it in the New Mass, along with their theological reflexions (freely accepted, willingly entered) not found anyplace to attain a text they thought more balanced by a similar construction as against Scripture and the traditional usage of the church.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please list some blogs about the Lutheran Missouri Synod faith?
Everytime I come here it seems, most of the posts center around it the Catholic faith, their liturgy, their popes, their history, etc, etc.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 10:08

The Lutheran Church is the true heir to the Church catholic. The Roman church is the sect. Most of what I see that you complain about is our history. To be sure, Fr. Peters does discuss current Roman issues, but that is his right, and I for one am not offended by it.

Anonymous said...

Some of the issues rasied here in theRoman church are questions that I have had and as a Lutheran I did not know how to answer. I have learned a great deal from this blog.

Terry Maher said...

Pig's bum. The "church catholic" has no heir. It is built on the rock of its confession, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and Jesus shall be with it to the end of time. No heir.

Terry Maher said...

Well back to the subject, the reason for the present tense is Jerome, whose Vulgate is the source of the Words of Institution in the Roman Canon -- the raal one, not the novus ordo one, whose words come in part from Scripture and in part from straight out its authors', well, never mind. And the Verba as given in Matthew prevail in the canon over the slightly different rendering in Luke due to Matthew's traditional pride of place.

It was the Gospels that Jerome mostly worked on in the NT, true to his commission from Pope Damasus -- he who is named in the Imperial Edict of Thessalonica defining what is and is not the "catholic church" -- to revise the Vetus Latina, the previous Latin edition, from the Greek. I don't know or have the Vetus Latina, so I so not know whether his use of "effundetur" is new with him or carries over from the earlier Latin version. Maybe the good Dr Tighe can settle that one, or pull from his bibliographic memory an article that does.

Anonymous said...

First anonymous poster:

You want an LCMS issue on verb tense in the Verba? How about whose "never mind" the idea came out of that Jesus meant "This is not my body, but will be when you receive it," or worse: "This is not my body but is set aside so that it will be that in/with/under which you will receive my body when you eat it."

Irenaeus said...

Ah, yes, Anonymous, the great receptionist heresy! Even some Lutherans with their great "solas" need somehow to be involved with God's gracious actions on our behalf. "Hoc est einem Corpus Meum" was more than enough for Martin Luther. Would that it would be for his namesakes today!

Dr.D said...

I find it interesting that the new translation has Jesus referring to the chalice, which is very much "church" talk, not common dinner table talk. I thought the previous reference to the "cup" was far more natural.


Chris Jones said...

very much "church" talk, not common dinner table talk

It's remarkable that a priest (not the head of a lay family), standing at the altar (not sitting at a common dinner table), in the Church (not at home), celebrating the central mystery of Christian worship (not "saying grace" at a family meal) should speak with "Church talk" rather than "common dinner table talk."

If we can't use "Church talk" at the Church's altar, where can we use it? It's true that saying "cup" is more "natural" than saying "chalice," but not only is "chalice" the more straightforward translation of the Latin calix, but the sacred mysteries of the Church are far more than "natural," and language that is more than natural is quite fitting in that context