ἀλλὰ τῷ ὕψει τῶν θείων ἐντολῶν σου -> but by the sublimity of thy divine commandments

damaskinos

  • Newbie
  • *
    • Posts: 13
    • Gender:Male
Dear friends:

to give more context, the full sentence is "ἀλλὰ τῷ ὕψει τῶν θείων ἐντολῶν σου, συντήρησον Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, πρεσβείαις τῆς Θεοτόκου, καὶ ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς", and it is part of the Hypakoe for the Feast of the Theophany as it appears in the Greek Menaion for January 6. For more context, the full hymn is as follows:

  • Ὅτε τῇ Ἐπιφανείᾳ σου ἐφώτισας τὰ σύμπαντα, τότε ἡ ἁλμυρὰ τῆς ἀπιστίας θάλασσα ἔφυγε, καὶ ὁ Ἰορδάνης κάτω ῥέων ἐστράφη, πρὸς οὐρανὸν ἀνυψῶν ἡμᾶς, ἀλλὰ τῷ ὕψει τῶν θείων ἐντολῶν σου, συντήρησον Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, πρεσβείαις τῆς Θεοτόκου, καὶ ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.

My doubt is about the power of the dative in τῷ ὕψει τῶν θείων ἐντολῶν σου, and that depends from the meaning attributed to the postponed Imperative verb συντηρέω (συντήρησον). It seems me that the object of the verb is ἡμᾶς, right at the end of the hymn, due to the parallelism: both ἐλέησον and συντήρησον are in exactly the same tense and mood, Aorist Imperative, Active voice, 2nd person, singular.

There are, broadly speaking, two sense of συντηρέω that might be considered: 1. keeping, preserving, maintaining, watching over, protecting (us); or 2. observing strictly (the divine commandments, mentioned elsewhere).

Syntactically, only the first broad meaning seems to make sense, if I did not loose any relevant possibility.

Now (as regards the power of the dative), translating "protect/keep/watch us to Thy divine commandments" doesn't make sense, logically.

The instrumental sense of dative makes some more sense: "protect/keep/watch us by, by means of Thy divine commandments". However, logically, it does not hold too much water, for the divine commandments are to be actively followed and practiced by men in order to acquire grace from God, and are not active means by which God saves us, once they are already revealed to us.

That brings the question whether this dative might be understood in a (metaphorical) locative sense, like "keep/preserve us in Thy divine commandments". This last one seems me to make more sense, logically, but I am not sure how much the text grammar might support this interpretation.

Thank you for any insight, and please have a blessed and happy new year of 2021.

« Last Edit: 12 Jan, 2021, 08:59:29 by spiros »


billberg23

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 6136
    • Gender:Male
  • Words ail me.
And may you likewise find many blessings in the New Year, Damaskinos.
Interesting hymn. Here's my interpretation, for what it's worth:
When by thy manifestation thou enlightened the world, then the salty sea of disbelief was dispersed, and the Jordan turned as it flowed downward, and elevated us toward the heights of heaven.  But by the sublimity of thy divine commandments, O God the Anointed King, sustain us there, through the intercession of the Mother of God, and have mercy on us.
As you see, (a) I sense a period rather than a comma before ἀλλὰ, and (b) I find in ὕψει a definite echo of, and connection with, ἀνυψῶν. The Christian's upward progress toward heaven is sustained by the lofty nature of the commandments.



damaskinos

  • Newbie
  • *
    • Posts: 13
    • Gender:Male
Thank you very much for your translation and insights, Billberg.

I had noted the parallelism or echo you mentioned, about ὕψει and ἀνυψῶν - and upon further reflection, after reading your answer, I have found one parallelism more, by opposition, with κάτω, which reinforces your reading. The text is short but full of such rich relations!

In a tangent, I would note that the hymn echoes Psalm Psalm 114, in its personification of the waters and the mountains (suggesting a literal rendering of ἔφυγε and ἐστράφη, as to not weaken the figure of speech):

“When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.  The sea saw it and fled; Jordan was driven back.  The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.  What ailed you, O you sea, that you fled? You Jordan, that you were driven back?  You mountains, that you skipped like rams; and you little hills, like lambs?  Tremble, you earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.”

The Byzantine icon of the feast is very pictoric in that (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Bogojavlenie.jpg), usually depicting Jordan as an old man and Thalassas sometimes as a woman on the back of a sea monster, fleeing from Christ. I just noted how, in the best icons, the impetuous flow of the waters is represented vertically, top down, and that illustrates the same parallelisms in the text about the descending waters and their elevation.

Otherwise, your take removed some scruples I had about the instrumental sense of that dative. Upon further study (remembering some basics), I have confirmed that the locative sense of Greek dative usually needs a preposition like εν, and short of a preposition, only in a few special cases does the Greek dative bear a locative force (though reading a locative there is tempting and some translations actually do so, which is probably a pious eisogesis).

Thank you again, and sorry for the tangent.


billberg23

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 6136
    • Gender:Male
  • Words ail me.
Thanks so much for that amazing icon, and for referring us to that beautiful passage from Psalms 114.  In the Septuagint, it's Psalm 113.
Since your hymnographer must have had access to his Bible through the Septuagint, I'll post it here, together with the NETS translation, in hopes you'll find more echoes:
Ἐν ἐξόδῳ Ισραηλ ἐξ Αἰγύπτου,
οἴκου Ιακωβ ἐκ λαοῦ βαρβάρου
ἐγενήθη Ιουδαία ἁγίασμα αὐτοῦ,
Ισραηλ ἐξουσία αὐτοῦ.

ἡ θάλασσα εἶδεν καὶ ἔφυγεν,
ὁ Ιορδάνης ἐστράφη εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω·
τὰ ὄρη ἐσκίρτησαν ὡσεὶ κριοὶ
καὶ οἱ βουνοὶ ὡς ἀρνία προβάτων.

τί σοί ἐστιν, θάλασσα, ὅτι ἔφυγες,
καὶ σοί, Ιορδάνη, ὅτι ἀνεχώρησας εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω;
τὰ ὄρη, ὅτι ἐσκιρτήσατε ὡσεὶ κριοί,
καὶ οἱ βουνοὶ ὡς ἀρνία προβάτων;

ἀπὸ προσώπου κυρίου ἐσαλεύθη ἡ γῆ,
ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ θεοῦ Ιακωβ
τοῦ στρέψαντος τὴν πέτραν εἰς λίμνας ὑδάτων
καὶ τὴν ἀκρότομον εἰς πηγὰς ὑδάτων.

At Israel’s exodus from Egypt,
Of Iakob’s house from a barbarian people,
Judea became his holy precinct,
Israel his seat of authority.

The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan was turned backwards.
The mountains skipped like rams,
And the hills like lambs of sheep.

Why was it, O sea, that you fled?
And why was it, O Jordan, that you withdrew backwards?
O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O hills, like lambs of sheep?

From before the Lord, the earth was shaken,
From before the God of Iakob,
Who turned the rock into pools of water
And the flint into springs of water.




 

Search Tools