Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Psalm 110 Neale

Glory be to the Father, who hath said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand; Glory be to the Son, My Lord, Who is a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; glory be to the Holy Ghost, the heavenly dew of our youth...
So ends a 15 page summary of the opinions of the fathers on Psalm 110. I am pleased to say that my suggestion that verse 7 of the Psalm is of death and resurrection is confirmed by Bellarmine among other witnesses, who describes the torrent as "the hurried, turbid, and noisy yet brief discourse of human life, to which the Lord bowed himself by his Incarnation, from His throne on the right hand of the Father; drinking of the troubles of our mortal condition, truly in the way, for He was a stranger and pilgrim on earth, far from his country; nay going down by His Passion into the lowest depths of the torrent..."

Verse 3 is the most varied of the versions. I asked a question on the Biblicalist but unfortunately, unicode troubles make it difficult to read the answer. Variations in Hebrew pointing and consonants may have produced significant differences and per the note from George Somsel on the list, it seems that the LXX translators began a trajectory of reading that magnified differences in later Latin versions.

Here is what Neale offers: [spread out for comparison]

First, his lead translation.
In the day of thy power shall the people offer thee free-will offerings with an holy worship : the dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning.
A.V. Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning [or, more than the dew of the morning,] Thou hast [or, shalt have] the dew of thy youth.
Modern critics take it thus, but with little deviation,
Thy people are ready volunteers in Thy battle-day [literally army-day] in holy vestments [or according to a variant here, on the holy hills; בְּהַרְרֵי instead of בְּהַדְרֵי] from the womb of the dawn Thou hast Thy young men [like] dew.
The LXX and Vulgate have
With Thee [is] the beginning [LXX, rule, arche] in the day of Thy power, in the splendours of the Saints, from the womb before the morning star have I begotten Thee [reading יְלּדְתּיךָ instead of יַלְדֻתֶיךָ]
and the Syriac, combining some of the peculiarities of all these, reads
Thy people shall be glorious in the day of power; in the beauties of holiness I have begotten thee, as a youth, from the womb of old time.
Now - what does it all mean? There are two pages of interpretation on this verse alone from Epiphanius, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom and a few others. In them I find opinions dependent on one reading. What do we make of so many readings? What would fit with the experience of the writers/editors of the Psalms?

Here is my own interpretation.

A straightforward application to those who are in Christ comes immediately from Romans 12:1 -
I beseech you, beloved, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice wholly acceptable to him, which is your reasonable service.
Here is the day of battle, our battle, and we are to be willing priests of our own bodies as sacrifice. Here is the beauty of holiness in that the individual is brought by that death into the Holy of Holies and in that life renews the dew of youth, sharing in the glorious nature of the One who is raised from the dead.

This too is a day of his power. Given the nature of his rest, it is also the day in which the Lord God created the earth and heaven (Genesis 2:4). The womb of old time is the black hole of the cross where time is slowed to nil and transcending radiation emerges in all lives forward and backward, redeeming the time. So it is in the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world that our birth in the Spirit is grounded. So it could be said that the Lord both precedes and follows this oracle of David.

1 comment:

Crutch said...

The idea of resurrection in Psalm 110 has been suggested by David Mitchell [_The Message of the Psalter_, JSOTS 252, Sheffield, 1997]. He cites as parallel evidence Isaiah 26:19, where a similar expression using "dew" occurs, clearly in a context of resurrection. Psalm 110 is a VERY interesting psalm.
Nice suggestion about Romans 12:1.