22Dec 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!

2 Responses

  1. Antonio

    The additional words “quia Nobiscum-Deus” [sic] are in the editio typica of the Latin lectionary (1970), on which the English translation is based; presumably the Jerusalem version was checked against this, and modified accordingly.

    Whence these additional words in the lectionary of 1970? You are quite right is saying that they are absent from the Hebrew, Vulgate and Septuagint traditions. Nor are they found in the reading as it occurs in the Tridentine Missal (Ember Wednesday). One must presume they arose at the level of the editing of the Latin lectionary in the late 1960s. It was a time when certain people in Rome felt fairly free to innovate with liturgical – and even biblical – texts, and provides an interesting example of this tendency.

    Thank you very much for pointing this out.

  2. Eddie Finnegan

    Pádraig, is this inclusion of the translation of ‘I(E)mmanuel’ (which a Hebrew or Aramaic reader or listener would understand without interpretation) not a small but prophetic warning sign to Vox Clara that, if and when they lay their literal paws on the Lectionary, dynamic equivalence is the only tool worth having in their translator’s kit? God’s Word, like His Bread, must be broken for His people.
    Thanks indeed for that Vienna website. Interesting how the local language translators deal with the ‘gloss’ on ‘Emmanuel’: some by a parenthesis in brackets, as in Czech; – or between dashes – as in Dutch and German; some like Hungarian by a more extended clause: “es Emmánuelnek nevizi, ami annyit jelent: Velu:nk az Isten.” (That colon in Velunk should be an umlaut.)
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    About 12.15 yesterday afternoon I was delighted to see my friend and fellow Sth Armagh tweeter,journalist Eamonn Mallie, tweet: “Immanuel/Emmanuel . . . interesting name – meaning ‘God is with us’ -Hebrew”. Eamonn tweets from Mass most Sundays, usually just one or two tasty morsels from Fr Eddie’s homily at the noon Mass in St Brigid’s Parish Church, off Belfast’s Malone Road. “Tweet Jesus!” some shocked fellow congregants might cry, but Eamonn sees no reason not to tweet unobtrusively from Mass,at least from the Ministry of the Word – just as he retweets some of Pope Francis’s better tweets. No doubt the gadget slips back into the pocket before the Credo.
    I don’t think the Immanuel gloss was new to Eamonn – probably, like Matthew (or a scribe of Matthew) glossing the angel’s words to Joseph in his dream, Eamonn was just being reflective but maybe aware that most of his Twitter followers of a Sunday morning-early afternoon might not be up to scratch on their Hebrew etymology.
    As Eamonn said, Immanuel/Emmanuel is an interesting name. Certainly for Catholics in the ‘Newer Churches’ it seems to carry much of the prophetic weight Isaiah and Matthew loaded it with. Three members of a class I taught in Kono District, Sierra Leone (1970/’76) and with whom I’m still in close touch bear the name proudly, not as a middle name with their Kono names, Sahr/Tamba/Aiah, taking precedence as would be natural for many with a less significant Christian moniker, but in prime position. So I must remind our 3 Emmanuels – Senessie, Kabba and Komba – that yesterday’s First Reading was special.
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    Pádraig’s minor diversions for the last Sunday of Advent provided me with further “divarsion”. I for one am glad he has so little to occupy his mind in the days of Christmas!
    We have no real problem in the English or Irish speaking world in encountering Divinity or Godhead in words like God or Gott (feeling safe and at home with “God-met-ons” or “Gott mit uns”). Theos and Deus and Dios or “OMonDieu!” aren’t likely to stump us – and of course Dia Linn tells us we are God’s own people in the Real Promised Land.
    It’s when we meet the Czech “to je ‘Buh s nami'” that we know we’re on strange territory, and with “Emanuel – s Nama Bog” it’s clear that NAMA has let the Croatians loose on our cutaway bogland. And if you’re wondering whether the Magyars could invent a more unique language, what on earth could “Velu:nk az Istan” have to do with the Divine Being, ourselves or indeed I/Emmánuel?
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    As Kavanagh liked to say: “We live and sometimes we learn” – and sometimes we don’t. I thought first Pádraig’s “Slovensky / Slovensko” must be Slovene and Slovakian. But that would be simplicity or simplemindedness. Seems Slovensko’s the Slovak name for Slovakia and Slovensky’s the adjective. Or maybe not. Why does the Vienna site give two languages by those names? MINE FIELD – KEEP OUT! Messed about by Hungarians and Czechs for centuries, many a Slovakian must have felt like Stephen Dedalus in the old Physics Theatre off Stephens Green faced with the English Jesuit Dean of Studies who’d never heard of a tundish: “The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words ‘home’, ‘Christ’, ‘ale’, ‘master’, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.” Dynamic equivalence, Vox Clara, how are ya!