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January 27, 2011

Elder Paisios On the Greek Language

- You should see what some people are making out of our language! I was reading a Modern Greek translation of the New Testament the other day. They were rendering "Out of Egypt I call My Son" as "From Egypt I have called My Boy". But that doesn't sound right! This way you cannot tell the sacred from the profane! Supposedly they write this way so that there is uniformity in the written and spoken language. Can you think of anyone, even someone from the most remote village, who would not understand "my Son"?

Once when I was at the Holy Mountain I heard a reading that used vernacular Greek: "The bread (psomi) and wine (krasi) which make up the Holy Communion...." It just doesn't sound right! Is there anyone who doesn't know what the New Testament words bread and wine (artos and oinos) mean? And will they benefit from the translation?

- There are some people who are trying to create a new language. But Greek is not just a language! It is a tongue shaped by the fiery Tongues of Holy Pentecost! It bears the "flame" of Pentecost. No other language can render adequately the dogma of our faith.

This is why the Good Lord even provided for the Old Testament to be translated into Greek by the Seventy (Septuagint), and for the New Testament to be first written in Greek. Anyone seeking to study the Christian doctrines without the knowledge of ancient Greek is very likely to fall into serious error.

And we have abolished the teaching of ancient Greek in our schools! Soon, we'll have Germans teaching ancient Greek in our universities. That's what it will probably take for some people to realize the value of this language. But I suppose someone will have to embarrass them first before they figure it out. And then you will hear them marvel: "See, how the Church has been preserving ancient Greek all along!"

- Today they load students with all kinds of useless subjects and they end up confusing them. They burden them with mere information without a spiritual counterbalance to it. The first thing children should learn at school is to have fear of God. You see these little kids, so young, and they start learning English, French, German - but no ancient Greek - music, you name it. When will they have time to learn all these things?

Excerpts from With Pain And Love For Contemporary Man (vol. 1), pp. 321-338.