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She spoke yet – Miriam did (a translation of Luke 1:34-38)

December 25, 2012

She spoke yet –
Miriam did, to the angel:

How on earth is this to go?
When did a man I ever know?

And it retorted, that angel did –
it spoke to her:

Breath of Dedication is to come upon you,
Power of Heights is to shade you,
Hence the Birthed child so Dedicated
is to be called
Son of God.

So Gaze –

El-Ishiva, that birth relative of yours,
She is with child, a son in that womb of hers,
This month, this sixth is hers,
She the one called

There is to be no
powerlessness of God
Given every utterance.

She spoke yet –
Miriam did:

Gaze – GirlSlave of the Master!
May this birth be to me,
By that Utterance of yours.

And it went away from her, that angel did.

εἶπεν δὲ Μαριὰμ πρὸς τὸν ἀγγελον,

Πῶς ἐσται τοῦτο,
ἐπεὶ ἀνδρα οὐ γινώσκὼ;

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἀγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ,

Πνεῦμα ἀγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σέ,
καὶ δύναμις ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι·
διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἀγιον
υἱὸς θεοῦ.

καὶ ἰδοὺ

Ἐλισάβετ ἡ συγγενίς σου
καὶ αὐτὴ συνείληφεν υἱὸν ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς,
καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἑκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ
τῇ καλουμένῃ

ὁτι οὐκ
ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ
πᾶν ῥῆμα.

εἶπεν δὲ Μαριάμ,

Ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη κυρίου·
γένοιτό μοι
κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου.

καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτῆς ὁ ἀγγελος.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. tiro3 permalink
    December 25, 2012 12:22 pm

    Wow. Beautiful translation. Thank you!!

  2. December 26, 2012 7:04 am

    Thank you, Tiro3.

  3. December 27, 2012 2:40 pm

    Lovely. Can you tell us a bit about why you made some of the choices you did?
    And what does Ishiva signify?

  4. December 27, 2012 4:49 pm

    Thanks Victoria. Well, I am trying to speculate how some Greek readers might have heard Ἐλ-Iσάβετ, where the last part “Ishiba” would be ישֶׁבַע (meaning something like “vows”). Miriam is a little easier from Μαριὰμ, and yet if it is some sort of Egyptian for Blessed or Hebrew for Bitter, then what do you do in English? Certainly Mary just doesn’t work.

    In general, I was trying to hear the poetry and the rhetoric that comes out in what Miriam speaks in Greek. The Greek word for “angel” is not Hebraic at all; it’s not until the LXX probably that the word was used for heralds. In Greek the noun phrase has masculine gender, but I’ve made it “it” in English to give the messenger less human personality and to focus, instead, on the quizzical message. Luke has Miriam reacting initially to it this way:

    ἡ δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ διεταράχθη καὶ διελογίζετο ποταπὸς εἴη ὁ ἀσπασμὸς οὗτος. For this verse 29 of the 1st chapter of this gospel, the KJV has “…she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” Of course, it’s much more poetic in the Hellene, as this formatting might show:

    ἡ δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ
    διεταράχθη καὶ διελογίζετο
    εἴη ὁ ἀσπασμὸς

    Yet at this Logos, she
    Puzzled through and Logossed through
    How out of place
    Might such an embrace
    Like that be?

    The angel gives more, and it’s hardly less puzzling. So I’m just taking all of the conjunctions δὲ as “yet” as some sort of hesitation yet then some courage –

    εἶπεν δὲ Μαριὰμ

    She spoke yet –
    Miriam did

  5. December 30, 2012 12:18 am

    Thanks Kurk. I love “Logossed” as a verb, and Elizabeth as “God-vows” is very striking.

    “δὲ as “yet” as some sort of hesitation yet then some courage” – this is also very interesting. Although I find “hesitation” doesn’t resonate properly with Mary for me, but “pause” or “waiting” would. Perhaps “still”?

  6. December 30, 2012 8:14 am

    Victoria, “Still” works well. (The hesitation I read in Luke’s Mary comes not only because of the incredible message she’s hearing but also because this supernatural extraordinary being is talking with her. How does anybody respond to that without some sort of, measured, hesitation? She’s puzzling and reasoning through; but she’s also contemplating the ἀσπασμὸς [the “embrace,” the “hug,” the “warm greeting”] here. That single Greek word always makes me think of Aspasia of Miletus, whose name means “embraced” and who gets embraced by others in various ways in the study of rhetoric.)

  7. December 30, 2012 11:20 am

    I wondered about “embrace”, and your brief discussion of it here reminds me of a tradition associated with making the sign of the cross. We say “In the name of the Father [touching forehead] and of the Son [chest] and of the Holy [left shoulder] Spirit [right shoulder].” Among some Catholics, that’s a little reminder of the Holy Spirit — the Consoler, the Comforter — giving you a little hug, a little embrace around your shoulders.

    (I didn’t grow up with this tradition, but heard it from a Dutch priest in the pulpit about 15 years ago, and was delighted by it.)

    Since the angel’s next words are about the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary, you can see why I’m reminded of it.


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