Friday, April 10, 2009

sounds of Good Friday

Reb Joshua ben Joseph speaks Greek. At least, his students have him speaking Hellene - a translating of his Hebrew Aramaic. (He, of course, to English speaking Christians today is "Jesus").

Mark, a student recording his last days, comments and says he says the following on that good Friday in the garden he calls Oil-Press (גת שמנא Gethsemane):

καὶ ἤρξατο ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι καὶ ἀδημονεῖν.
καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου ἕως θανάτου·

Greek scholar Richmond Lattimore renders Mark's rendering as this:

"and then he began to be shaken and distressed
and he said: My soul is in anguish to the point of death."

But maybe Mark is just talking around what he said more or less directly. Maybe there were things he said too painful to record in Greek letters.

Maybe there are ways the Greeks in pain would say it differently. Like this; listen:

ὀτοτοτοῖ πόποι δᾶ!

"Oh shame upon the earth!" renders Lattimore. And he goes on to identify who's speaking to whom (Cassandra to Apollo): Ὦπολλον Ὦπολλον. "Apollo Apollo!"

but one who seems to hear, to hear and feel the excruciating pain of abandonment and its anticipation, has no good words, no wordy translation of the utterances the gutterances. Here's Anne Carson's rendering, her Englishing of the cries, the expressions of profound distresses. (Carson, of course, is also a Greek language expert with some difference to listen to; and hers "isn't your parents'" translation, says Kat Balkoski). Listen:

"OTOTOI POPOI DA! Apollo! O!pollo! Woepollo! O!"

We're left wondering, then, what if on that good Friday he'd taken (instead of men) with him to the garden the women close to him. First, would they have abandoned him the way the men, and his father, do? Second, would they have heard him differently? And would Anne Carson translate for us (either Joshua/Jesus or Mark or that woman hearing, feeling, and translating with Joshua)? And would we hear?

ὀτοτοτοῖ πόποι δᾶ!

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