Friday, November 21, 2008

Simon Ioannis, diligis me?

A few weeks ago our assistant priest, who is teaching adult formation classes each week, put in a plug for the Vulgate in one of his off hand remarks.

In the last chapter of John we have the famous exchange between Our Lord and Peter where Peter is asked 3 times "Do you love me?". This is the rendering in the Douay-Rheims:

DRBO
John 21:16 - 17

5 When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 17 He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.

First, some reference so you can see what you are reading:

amo: to love, like, be fond of, cherish.
diligo: to choose out, esteem highly, prize, love.


New Vulgate: (Clementine Vulgate is the same)

15 Cum ergo prandissent, dicit Simoni Petro Iesus: “ Simon Ioannis, diligis me plus his? ”. Dicit ei: “ Etiam, Domine, tu scis quia amo te ”. Dicit ei: “ Pasce agnos meos ”.
16 Dicit ei iterum secundo: “ Simon Ioannis, diligis me? ”. Ait illi: “ Etiam, Domine, tu scis quia amo te ”. Dicit ei: “ Pasce oves meas ”.
17 Dicit ei tertio: “ Simon Ioannis, amas me? ”. Contristatus est Petrus quia dixit ei tertio: “ Amas me? ”, et dicit ei: “ Domine, tu omnia scis, tu cognoscis quia amo te ”. Dicit ei: “ Pasce oves meas.



I hope I get this right...

Our priest pointed out that in this exchange, Christ was asking diligis me?. He is not asking, "are you fond of me." Amo is friendship love. Christ was asking something greater and then finally accepted Peter's love even at the lowest level he could give. Peter was grieved because twice after Christ asked him "dligis me?" and then "amas me?" it finally sunk in. Christ lowered himself (again) to the level of a man. He meets us where we are. It is quite a meditation.

This was a plug for the Vulgate he said, as this differentiation didn't come over even into the Douay-Rheims Bible. The Vulgate, being in Latin has the capacity word for word to better reflect the underlying Greek text. Not only that, Latin is much more accesible to most of us than Greek. Sure its not perfect but at least we can come closer to the original by using a parallel ancient language. I went home and looked this up in my copy of the New Vulgate (Thank you Moonshadow!) and sure enough there it was.

So I began thinking of all the places where John is called the Beloved disciple. At the foot of the Cross is one that sticks out.

DRBO
John 19:26, 27

26
When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. 27 After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.

New Vulgate Version

26 Cum vidisset ergo Iesus matrem et discipulum stantem, quem diligebat, dicit matri: “ Mulier, ecce filius tuus ”.
27 Deinde dicit discipulo: “ Ecce mater tua ”.


We always think of "beloved" disciple as sort of this touchy feely kind of thing. At least that has been my impression. John was honored, esteemed, and chosen out by Christ. Thus we are to follow the example of Christ and esteem, honor, (diligebat) , cherish (amo), and love his Church.

8 comments:

Moonshadow said...

You are very welcome, of course.

Now, at the head of my blog is the scene from John 21, so you might think I know something about that passage. And I do.

Yes, you explained it correctly but it's still likely wrong or, in any case, isn't the proper reason to abandon English translations and scramble for the Vulgate.

Matt said...

"but it's still likely wrong or, in any case, isn't the proper reason to abandon English translations and scramble for the Vulgate."

?!?! I wish I had read this BEFORE I put all my English translations into the fireplace to save money on our heating bill!!

Ok, just kidding. I'm not advocating scrambling for the Vulgate. But it does have its uses. For one, like I said, it is useful for the nuances you can't or don't get in the English.

Moonshadow said...

put all my English translations into the fireplace

That made me laugh.

You know what I'm really against? The gimmicks. This one's got whiskers on it.

Let's revel in the grand text without any titillating eisegesis.

Who wouldn't prefer the version that stimulates, even if illusorily?

shabbat shalom

Matt said...

I admit I had to look up eisegesis. Not sure what you mean by gimmicks though. I don't think my priest was putting his own personal spin on the text here, or reading something that wasn't there, and of course I do see his point.

I agree with the post on your blog that in essence the text of John 19:15-17 is not in any way harmed by using just "love" in English translations. Although I personally don't know enough to say that agape and filios are completely interchangeable having "love" in both spots in English never prevented me from getting the gist of the conversation.

In a way, no matter what language we read Scritpure in, aren't we basically getting a gist anyway? I mean, we weren't THERE. Even at the end of John it says Jesus did so much that it was too much to write down. (That was a paraphrase of the paraphrase in The Message...hehehe.)

Moonshadow said...

paraphrase of the paraphrase

More to make me laugh.

I personally don't know enough to say that agape and filios are completely interchangeable

In three places in Scripture, Abraham is called "friend of God." Indicative of second best? (textual note: James 2:23 uses philo and the LXX of 2 Chr. 20:7 & Is. 41:8 use agape.)

Then there's paragraph 1030 in the Catechism:

Illi qui in gratia et amicitia Dei, sed imperfecte purificati, moriuntur, quamquam suae aeternae salutis sunt certi, post suam mortem patiuntur purificationem, ut sanctitatem acquirant necessariam ad caeli gaudium ingrediendum.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says friendship of God is "one of the most excellent of the effects of [sanctifying] grace" and that Aristotle denied its possibility.

Fr. Hardon says, "If we live in God's friendship, we shall die in His friendship."

Jesus was (and is) a friend (philos) of publicans and sinners (Mt. 11:19, Lk. 7:34).

I'd guess this is a Semitic construct not preserved in Greek, Latin or American culture.

Don't think I'm hounding you, please. I enjoy the exercise of prooftexting regardless of whether I change your mind. Pax.

Matt said...

You are not hounding. I enjoy this. As for the friendship of Abraham with God as compared to that of Peter, I have to ponder that question for a moment.

However, this thought comes to mind. I've heard it said before that at all times God has had ONE GUY here on earth here to lead the people. In the old testament these were the prophets and kings. However in the new covenant we have Peter and his successors. It strikes me that the friendship of Abraham and the original "People of God" would be similar to that of Peter and the new People of God, the Body of Christ, his Church.

Again, good points, I have to ponder.

Roman Sacristan said...

The Greek seems to show the conversation better:

Peter, Do You Love Me?

Moonshadow said...

The Greek seems to show the conversation better:

But the conversation probably didn't take place in Greek ... or Latin (pace Gibson).

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton