4 April 2011

CONTRA ORIENTEM

For those who use the Liturgia Horarum: today's readings are important. I'm not going to expound them in detail because I think anybody can work the business out for themselves, and I hope they will do so. Just a pointer.

Home in on Leviticus 16: 13-14. Compare the translation of this in the Biblical Reading, as offered you in LH Second Edition (it comes from the Neo-Vulgate), with the translation of the same Hebrew verses in the text of the Patristic Reading, Origen's exegesis of the Leviticus passage. You will notice that the Neo-Vulgate offers you "contra frontem", while Origen read "contra orientem". Origen's text comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation used by the first Christians (and, if I am right in my own conviction that our Lord normally spoke Greek, by him too). For your information: the traditional Vulgate had a reading similar to that of the Septuagint: "ad orientem". ["orientem" means the East.]

Now go on reading Origen's exposition, reflecting on its significance for the direction of Christian Eucharistic worship.

[A subsidiary point: this does also raise the question of the propriety of providing new translations, such as the Neo-Vulgate, which may be closer to what philologists and Rabbinic Judaism agree the Hebrew means, but which close off from us Patristic understandings of Scripture. I suspect that when the Neo-Vulgate was substituted for the Vulgate in LH, nobody quite noticed that this rendered Origen's exegesis rather mysterious.]

4 comments:

fieldofdreams2010 said...

Being rather "modern" I have been using the new two-year scheme for the Office readings (this year from Hebrews, so the responsories this week have not been inappropriate), so I had not noticed the frontem/orientem discrepancy. The point is good, but I assume that since the Temple faced east, and the high priest therefore entered the Holy of Holies from that direction, the "front" of the hilasterion would in fact have been the east side.

fieldofdreams2010 said...

Oh, yes- and the high priest would have been facing west...

fieldofdreams2010 said...

By the way- what is the Annotine Easter you refer to in your Ordo for April 4?

Christopher said...

Fr Hunwicke must be referring to the anniversary of Easter, 'Pascha annotina' in Latin. It seems to have been important in the days when great number of people were baptised at the Easter Vigil; it would have marked the completion of a year since their baptism. It was still included in medieval calendars such as that of Sarum, but was not commemorated liturgically in years, like this one, when it occurred during Lent.