Friday, September 22, 2023


Contrition Etc.

Edmund Hill, "Religious Translation," Blackfriars Vol. 37, No. 430 (January 1956) 19-25 (at 22):
Contrition is an example of those many words whose meaning, though accurate enough, is poor and colourless compared with what they signify in Latin. It is a technical word for sorrow for sin. Many people, perhaps, who could well manage to be really and truly sorry for their sins, find the complicated business of making a perfect act of contrition too much for them. The Latin word means literally crushing or grinding or bruising; but the English ear, taking the metaphorical sense for the proper one, misses the metaphor completely, and metaphor is the very sap of an effective religious language. 'Make a good act of contrition while I give you absolution'; what would be wrong, except that it would be unfamiliar, with saying, 'Try and bruise your heart for your sins' (or simply 'Be really sorry for your sins'), 'while I untie you from them'?
Id. (at 25):
There is a fetish here that needs exorcising, called Dignity of Language. By all means keep it where it is found in the original, as in St Leo's sermons for example, or the canon of the Mass. But not all, nor yet the greatest, religious works are written in dignified language. To impose elevated diction on St Augustine's sermons or even on the Gospels is to mistranslate them. 'Peace, be still' is a beautiful dignified phrase. But what our Lord actually said to the wind and the sea was literally 'Be gagged, be quiet'; much nearer the undignified but vigorous shut up of colloquial English. If street smells have invaded the original, do not drive them out with incense from the translation.
Mark 4:39:
σιώπα, πεφίμωσο
Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. Frederick William Danker, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 1060, s.v. φιμόω:

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