Monday, June 06, 2011

Study Texts of the Byzantine Liturgy

Guest piece by John Vernoski, Moderator

A small group of individual Byzantine Catholics has recently published unofficial draft study texts of the Divine Liturgies of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil the Great, the two main Eucharistic Liturgies of the Byzantine Church. The goal is to produce study texts of these Liturgies that are both literally accurate and elegant, and the process much the same as has been occurring in the Latin Church with the new translation she will be implementing in December. The hope is that solid, scholarly, and elegant translations will be a source that local Byzantine Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, can adopt or draw from as the Christian East moves forward in authentic liturgical renewal.

The starting point was the 1964 translation of the Chrysostom Liturgy and the 1976 translation of the Basil Liturgy published by the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church based in Pittsburgh. Those translations were reasonably accurate, but in places they were awkward and inconsistent, and oftentimes what should have been a clear Scriptural reference was not obvious (the issues were not dissimilar to those with the current translations of the Roman Mass). For the past four years a small team which includes Church Slavonic and Greek scholars have reviewed these English translations against the normative Church Slavonic texts published by Rome in 1942 (and, where necessary, the equivalent Greek texts), making corrections (with direct Scriptural texts being rendered as close to the RSV-2CE as is possible).

Ruthenian, Ukrainian, and Hungarian Byzantines (Catholic and Orthodox who originate in central Europe) all use what is called the "Ruthenian Recension" of the Byzantine Liturgy. It's not identical to the Russian and Greek recensions, but most worshippers don't see any differences. The differences are, in fact, fairly small, and amount to an occasional different text or rubric (the Ruthenian ones often being the more ancient).

Reviewers of all types are welcome. We especially are looking for several non-Byzantine reviewers. They are the ones who can find our awkward renderings (that we have become used to).

The texts can be found at:

Study Text of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom:

Study Text of the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great:

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