John Chrysostom: On the Priesthood 1.1

I realized awhile ago that I am not a philologist. I do, however, enjoy learning languages and I need to spend more time doing them. So I’ve devised this scheme to help my Greek. I’m going to translate St. John Chrysostom’s De Sacerdotio (On the Priesthood) and then post my “translation” here on my blog. You will see how bad I am at Greek and Notre Dame may rescind their offer and take back my MA. Posting my failures on the internet is not something I’m inclined to do, but I figure this will help me get better at Greek and maybe I’ll become more humble (sainthood, here I come!).

Without further ado, section 1.1 of Chrysostom’s “On the Priesthood”:

Greek Text:

Ἐμοὶ πολλοὶ μὲν ἐγένοντο φίλοι γνήσιοί τε καὶ  ἀληθεῖς, καὶ τοὺς τῆς φιλίας νόμους καὶ εἰδότες καὶ φυλάττοντες  ἀκριβῶς· εἷς δέ τις τουτωνὶ τῶν πολλῶν, ἅπαντας αὐτοὺς ὑπερβαλλόμενος τῇ πρὸς ἡμᾶς φιλίᾳ, τοσοῦτον ἐφιλονείκησεν ἀφεῖναι κατόπιν ἐκείνους ὅσον ἐκεῖνοι τοὺς ἁπλῶς πρὸς ἡμᾶς διακειμένους. Οὗτος τῶν τὸν ἅπαντά μοι χρόνον παρηκολουθηκότων ἦν· καὶ γὰρ μαθημάτων ἡψάμεθα τῶν αὐτῶν καὶ διδασκάλοις ἐχρησάμεθα τοῖς αὐτοῖς, ἦν δὲ ἡμῖν καὶ προθυμία καὶ σπουδὴ περὶ τοὺς λόγους οὓς ἐπονούμεθα μία, ἐπιθυμία τε ἴση καὶ ἐκ τῶν αὐτῶν τικτομένη πραγμάτων· οὐ γὰρ ὅτε εἰς διδασκάλους μόνον ἐφοιτῶμεν,  ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡνίκα ἐκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντας βουλεύεσθαι ἐχρῆν ὁποίαν ἑλέσθαι τοῦ βίου βέλτιον ἡμῖν ὁδόν, καὶ ἐνταῦθα ὁμογνωμονοῦντες ἐφαινόμεθα. Καὶ ἕτερα δὲ πρὸς τούτοις ἡμῖν τὴν ὁμόνοιαν ταύτην ἐφύλαττεν ἀρραγῆ καὶ βεβαίαν· οὔτε γὰρ ἐπὶ πατρίδος μεγέθει μᾶλλον ἕτερος ἑτέρου φρονεῖν εἶχεν, οὔτε ἐμοὶ μὲν πλοῦτος ὑπέρογκος ἦν, ἐκεῖνος δὲ ἐσχάτῃ συνέζη πενίᾳ, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ τῆς οὐσίας μέτρον τὸ τῆς προαιρέσεως ἰσοστάσιον ἐμιμεῖτο καὶ γένος δὲ ἡμῖν ὁμότιμον ἦν καὶ πάντα τῇ γνώμῃ συνέτρεχεν.

My translation:

I had many true and genuine friends , those who knew the laws of friendship and strictly cherished them.  There was one from among the many who exceeded all the rest in their friendship with us, he was eager to pass by those who were absolutely disposed toward us.  Out of those who were keeping company with me, he was with me all the time.  We availed ourselves of the same lessons and we consulted the same teachers. There was for us a singular eagerness and desire for those studies at which we both worked, and an equal desire was born out of those affairs.  For not only when we were resorting to our teachers, but also thereafter when we left, when it was necessary to deliberate what manner of life seemed better for us to choose, then we showed ourselves to be in agreement.  And there were other things which kept safe for us this unbroken and firm concord.  With respect to the greatness of the fatherland, neither of us had reason to believe one greater than another, nor did I have excessive riches and he excessive poverty, but the proportion of our nature represented the equality of our choices, even our kin were of the same rank and everything agreed with our dispositions.

Some issues I had with this:

ἀφεῖναι (Aor Act Inf ἀφίημι) means something like “let go” or “discharge.” There’s a meaning of “pass by”, but it means to neglect, not as I’m using it here. It was the closest thing that made sense to me. Any suggestions?

οὔτε γὰρ ἐπὶ πατρίδος μεγέθει μᾶλλον ἕτερος ἑτέρου φρονεῖν εἶχεν (With respect to the greatness of the fatherland, neither of us had reason to believe one greater than another) – I feel like I’ve got the sense of this, but maybe I’m way off.

So there’s the first installment in this little humility project. I’ll post 1.2 soon. My goal is to post one of these a week, if not more. If I slack off and don’t hold to this schedule, yell at me in the comments or something.


Second installment.

Third installment. 


Filed under Patristics

3 responses to “John Chrysostom: On the Priesthood 1.1

  1. I’m looking forward to following this series! Your puzzles are puzzling to me too. On the second, it might be something like, “Neither could take pride in the greatness of the city more than the other.” I saw φρονέω + ἐπι could mean something like “take pride in,” or “be conceited about,” but that still leaves me unsure what the sentence means.

    At any rate, bonne chance! I look forward to reading more.

  2. Joshua McManaway


    Thanks for the comment and your suggestion. I like that use of φρονέω, but it’s still sort of puzzling what he means. And I was inspired to do this after our talk the other night, so thanks for that!

  3. Pingback: Around the Blogosphere (07.20.2012) | Near Emmaus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s