The Psalms of David: Translated from the Septuagint Greek

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9781620325100: The Psalms of David: Translated from the Septuagint Greek

Professor Sheehan's brief introductory exposition of the Davidic roots of Psalms and the poetics of chiasmus guides us in understanding how the ruining oppositions of actual experience are held in Psalms within the musical disciplines of lyric art: held, until God Himself can be seen in the ruins: seen, and felt, and overwhelmingly and gratefully loved. The psalmist's world doesn't change as he turns his experience toward God. What changes is he himself. How he changes is toward acquiring the very mind of Christ, to which each of us is called.
"In this rendering, the Psalms become once again what they were for Christian believers from the very beginning: the hymnal of the Church. They remain, certainly, the songs of Israel: from its cries of lamentation to its shouts of exultation. But for the Christian reader, they become as well hymns of petition and praise that express both the joy and the longing of those who live 'in Christ' . . . At the same time their very language can convey to us the assurance that, as he has throughout the millennia, God hears our prayer and responds to it with boundless mercy, love, and compassion."--From the Preface by Fr. John Breck 

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From the Author:

My primary aim in making this translation was to create in English a body of poetry that, in employing the rich idioms of contemporary English poetics, would stand on its own in cadence and shape. My many years as a university teacher of both ancient and modern lyric poetry, along with my work of reading, writing, and translating poetry--both privately and professionally--guided me to see that each psalm possessed a unique cadential shape in every line as well as in each whole poem.
   I soon discovered something of what Mother Maria had found in translating the Hebrew Psalter: that every psalm has a unique face; that is, each psalm possesses something very like personhood. I found the lexical meanings of the Greek words would therefore illumine the musical shape of my translation just as the English cadences would help reveal to me more fully the Greek meanings.
   I also consulted the Hebrew text in working on the Greek, thereby gaining a growing awareness of and insight into the remarkable achievement of the LXX translators... For the rhythmic movement of the Greek line could not be more unlike Hebrew. Where the Hebrew moves oceanically, the Greek moves balletically. Thus, rather than being carried on slow, strong tidal movements, we are instead brought into a quick, bright, and intricate dance as it is being perfectly executed. And so assured is the line's rhythmic movement that it can even execute a Hebrew 'gesture' and never lose its perfect balance: such is everywhere the genius of Septuagint Psalmic Greek. In this way, the final effect of the Greek rhythm may best be seen as one of balletic perfection. Thus, while being vastly different, the Greek rhythm is nevertheless an admirable counter-response to the Hebrew: a response, that is, that fully matches but never anywhere attempts to rival the Hebrew reality it is responding to.
   In this sense, then, Septuagint Greek gives itself in love to the Hebrew original, in an act of kenosis. For on every single page, almost in every sentence and phrase, we can witness how the Greek language is dying to itself so that the Hebrew may live. It dies the death of its own syntactic coherence, over and over, a coherence fully and beautifully established in Homer and brought to a luminous magnificence in Pindar, Sophocles, and Plato. Yet each time Septuagint Greek willingly dies in love for biblical Hebrew, it enters into that perfective stillness we call eternal memory...
   Thus, in measuring the arc from biblical Hebrew to LXX Greek, I came to understand more clearly the relational work every translation must accomplish. As the Hebrew was being, at every moment, uprooted and replanted by and in the Greek, the living personhood of each psalm deepened and changed in the sense that any plant is changed by being uprooted from the soil where it has grown to fruitfulness. Yet the Hebrew psalm's unique shape was unalterably recognizable in the new Greek soil. It was breathtaking to behold. I would find myself altering a word--very often a syllable--of my English to reflect more fully something of the relational reality existing between LXX Greek and biblical Hebrew.
   Hence, my constant hope was that my work on English cadential shape and Greek lexical meaning would help bring my versions closer to the beautiful soil wherein the LXX translators had established that living relationship between their Psalms and the Hebrew originals, thereby giving richer shape and deeper meaning to my English. Such was my deepest hope for these Psalms; such, indeed, was my prayer. --From the Translator's Preface

About the Author:

Donald Sheehan (PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison) began his long teaching career at the University of Chicago and concluded it at Dartmouth College. He served for twenty-seven years as Director of The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire, where he created internationally acclaimed writing programs and inspired many contemporary poets. Becoming an Orthodox Christian in 1984, he studied, prayed, taught, and wrote about Psalms until his repose in 2010.

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Book Description Wipf Stock Publishers, United Kingdom, 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this rendering, the Psalms become once again what they were for Christian believers from the very beginning: the hymnal of the Church. They remain, certainly, the songs of Israel: from its cries of lamentation to its shouts of exultation. But for the Christian reader, they become as well hymns of petition and praise that express both the joy and the longing of those who live in Christ . . . At the same time their very language can convey to us the assurance that, as he has throughout the millennia, God hears our prayer and responds to it with boundless mercy, love, and compassion. --from the Preface by Fr. John Breck Professor Sheehan s brief introductory exposition of the Davidic roots of Psalms and the poetics of chiasmus guides us in understanding how the ruining oppositions of actual experience are held in Psalms within the musical disciplines of lyric art: held, until God Himself can be seen in the ruins: seen, and felt, and overwhelmingly and gratefully loved. The psalmist s world doesn t change as he turns his experience toward God. What changes is he himself. How he changes is toward acquiring the very mind of Christ, to which each of us is called. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781620325100

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