Diversions for Advent Sunday 4A!
Minor diversions for the Fourth Sunday of Advent in this year A! Don’t I have little to occupy my mind?
In the Lectionary for this day, the first reading is Isaiah 7:10-14. In our Irish and English language lectionaries, it finishes: ‘The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us.”‘
The curious thing is that this last phrase explaining the name is not in Isaiah in any English language Bible translation I’ve looked at; nor is it in An Bíobla Naofa. It does not appear in the Hebrew text, nor in the Septuagint which Matthew’s gospel uses. It’s not in the Vulgate.
Staying in out of some inclement weather, I checked other languages on http://www.virc.at/texte/aktuell_e.htm, a useful resource if you want the readings in twelve other European languages as well as English. The only languages which omit the final phrase there are Italian, Portuguese, Slovensky and Slovensko. (I’m sure some learned polyglot will enlighten me about that final two!) The reading in French has the phrase, and continues on to verse 16.
So: Has the phrase slipped back from today’s gospel reading from Matthew 1? Has it popped in from footnotes? Was it in the previous lectionary? Did the people setting the type know the reading so well that they knew the phrase was in Isaiah? Is this a modern-day example of how a peculiarity in a manuscript is reproduced in subsequent copies, except now it’s transmitted by technology?
A second piece of musing: Chapter 1 of Matthew begins with the “genesis” (the Greek word) of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham, the genealogy which we have on 17 December, and today, the gospel reading from Matthew begins at verse 18: the “genesis” of Jesus Christ. The genealogy presents three sets each of fourteen generations – that’s six sets of seven. With Jesus we start the seventh set of seven.
Nobody in the congregation this morning admitted to being a seventh son or daughter of a seventh son or daughter. But as the Body of Christ, we are all now that seventh of the seventh, the new genesis, the fulfilment of the promise. We are all Emmanuel. Maranatha!