Thursday, July 24, 2014

Psalm 138 pt 2 verses 3-6

The next set of verses deal with the creation of man, but can also be interpreted as speaking of the new man, the new Adam that is Christ.

Quia tu possedísti renes meos: * suscepísti me de útero matris meæ.
Quia tu formasti renes meos, contexuisti me in utero matris meae.
Quoniam tu possedisti renes meos, orsusque es me in utero matris meae.

ὅτι σὺ ἐκτήσω τοὺς νεφρούς μου κύριε ἀντελάβου μου ἐκ γαστρὸς μητρός μου

Quia (but) tu (you) possedisti (you have possessed) renes (the reins/mind) meos (my); suscepisti (you have supported/guarded) me (me) de (from) utero (the womb) matris (mother) meæ (my). 

Bird suggests that the proper sense of the Hebrew underlying possideo here is to create, form, as reflected in the translations offered by the MD, Knox, RSV and Grail.  'Reins' means innermost being - heart and mind.  The use of suscipio, to sustain or uphold, rather than contexo (to weave or entwine) possibly reflects a difference in the underlying text traditions, but also perhaps the underlying theology of the Septuagint (see notes on Ps 3, 45, 118:116). The Hebrew of the MT can be translated as to weave together, but Bird points out an alternative possible Hebrew origin word would be to overshadow, recalling  Lk 1:35.

possideo sedi sessum ere 2 to possess, get possession of, acquire; save, preserve; to inherit
ren, renis, m., pi. renes, renum lit:  the kidneys, reins. Mind, seat of perception, conscience
suscipio, cepi, ceptum, ereto guard, protect, uphold, support;  receive, accept; to seize.
venter, tris, m. lit., the belly, the body, the bowels, the breast, heart. Womb

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother' s womb.
For thou, O Lord, hast possessed my reins; thou hast helped me from my mother’s womb.
For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb.
For my reins are thine; thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
Author, thou, of my inmost being, didst thou not form me in my mother’s womb?
For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother's womb.

Cassiodorus provides us with the Christological interpretation of this verse:

Reins denotes physical strength...So he rightly says that His reins are possessed by the Father, who resides in the strength of heavenly justice and knows nothing of the sin lying in a frail body.  From my mother's womb means from the bounds of the synagogue, because through the flesh which he assumed he was begotten of the synagogue, for we know that he was circumcised on the eighth day according to the Jewish rite.  He relates that He was taken by the Father's divinity or by His own for the two are one.  If you were to interpret the phrase as meaning merely from the Virgin's womb, He is known to have been taken up by the Lord not only when he came forth, but also when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit...All this is understood as emanating from his human nature, and is recounted in honour of his holy Father.  As the words of the gospel show, it was his planned purpose to proclaim the Father, to fulfill His will, to drink the cup which he received from him, and in no sense to distance himself from the Father's dispensation.

But the verse can also be taken more literally, to also apply to the creation of each one of us, as Pope Benedict XVI explains:

After pondering on the gaze and presence of the Creator that sweeps across the whole cosmic horizon, in the second part of the Psalm on which we are meditating today God turns his loving gaze upon the human being, whose full and complete beginning is reflected upon. He is still an "unformed substance" in his mother's womb:  the Hebrew term used has been understood by several biblical experts as referring to an "embryo", described in that term as a small, oval, curled-up reality, but on which God has already turned his benevolent and loving eyes (cf. v. 16). To describe the divine action within the maternal womb, the Psalmist has recourse to classical biblical images, comparing the productive cavity of the mother to the "depths of the earth", that is, the constant vitality of great mother earth (cf. v. 15). First of all, there is the symbol of the potter and of the sculptor who "fashions" and moulds his artistic creation, his masterpiece, just as it is said about the creation of man in the Book of Genesis:  "the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground" (Gn 2: 7). Then there is a "textile" symbol that evokes the delicacy of the skin, the flesh, the nerves, "threaded" onto the bony skeleton. Job also recalled forcefully these and other images to exalt that masterpiece which the human being is, despite being battered and bruised by suffering:  "Your hands have formed me and fashioned me.... Remember that you fashioned me from clay...! Did you not pour me out as milk and thicken me like cheese? With skin and flesh you clothed me, with bones and sinews knit me together" (Jb 10: 8-11). The idea in our Psalm that God already sees the entire future of that embryo, still an "unformed substance", is extremely powerful. The days which that creature will live and fill with deeds throughout his earthly existence are already written in the Lord's book of life.  Thus, once again the transcendent greatness of divine knowledge emerges, embracing not only humanity's past and present but also the span, still hidden, of the future. However, the greatness of this little unborn human creature, formed by God's hands and surrounded by his love, also appears:  a biblical tribute to the human being from the first moment of his existence. 28 December 2005
Confitébor tibi quia terribíliter magnificátus es: * mirabília ópera tua, et ánima mea cognóscit nimis.
Confitebor tibi, quia mirabiliter plasmatus sum; mirabilia opera tua, et anima mea cognoscit nimis.
Confitebor tibi quoniam terribiliter magnificasti me : mirabilia opera tua, et anima mea nouit nimis.

ἐξομολογήσομαί σοι ὅτι φοβερῶς ἐθαυμαστώθην θαυμάσια τὰ ἔργα σου καὶ ἡ ψυχή μου γινώσκει σφόδρα

Confitebor (I will confess/give praise) tibi (to you), quia (for) terribiliter (fearfully) magnificatus es (you are magnified); mirabilia (marvellous) opera (the works) tua (your), et (and) anima (the soul) mea (my) cognoscit (it knows) nimis (exceedingly). 

terribiliter fearfully
magnifico, avi, atum, are to praise, glorify, extol, magnify
mirabilis, e wonderful, marvelous;  wonders, wonderful works, marvellous things.
cognosco, gnovi, gnitum, ere 3, to know, see, learn, perceive, be come acquainted with.
nimis, , exceedingly, greatly, beyond measure.

I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well. 
I will give thee thanks; for thou art fearfully wondrous; wondrous are thy works; and my soul knows it well.
I praise Thee for awful is Thy greatness, marvelous are Thy works, my soul knoweth it full well
I will give thanks unto thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
I praise thee for my wondrous fashioning, for all the wonders of thy creation. Of my soul thou hast full knowledge,
I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation. Already you knew my soul

Cassiodorus continues:

He passes to the third section, in which He praises the Father who has revealed such wonders to Him.  The Father became fearfully wonderful when following the Lord Christ's passion, darkness ensued, the earth shook, rocks split, tombs gaped open, the dead rejoiced in resurrection; and Christ Himself was again seen at the holy resurrection in the same body, when he passed into His disciples through closed doors, and mounted to the heavens before men's eyes.  Though he achieved these things by his own divinity, he attributed them after his fashion to the powers of the Father, to make clear the unity of their sacred cooperation...It was inevitable that he should recognise His Father as wonderful, for his human nature, filled with the brightness of divine light, beheld him as the most devoted distributor of great blessings.  As he says in the gospel: No one knows the Father except the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal to him....I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.  One who is externally distinct cannot have such knowledge.  This knowledge is beyond reckoning, unique, beyond understanding, for they are known to abide in each other.
Non est occultátum os meum a te, quod fecísti in occúlto: * et substántia mea in inferióribus terræ.
Non sunt abscondita ossa mea a te, cum factus sum in occulto, contextus in inferioribus terrae.
Non sunt operta ossa mea a te,  quibus factus sum in abscondito,
imaginatus sum in nouissimis terrae.

 οὐκ ἐκρύβη τὸ ὀστοῦν μου ἀπὸ σοῦ ὃ ἐποίησας ἐν κρυφῇ καὶ ἡ ὑπόστασίς μου ἐν τοῖς κατωτάτοις τῆς γῆς

Non (not) est occultátum (it is hidden) os (bone/frame) meum (my) a te (from you), quod (that/which) fecísti (you have made) in occúlto (in secret): * et (and) substántia (substance) mea (my) in inferióribus (the lower parts/depths) terræ (of the earth).

Britt suggests that inferioribus terrae refers to the womb of verse 3.

occulto are avi atum to hide, conceal
os, ossis, n., a bone,  a member of the body, or, the members, one’s whole being, one's spirit, strength
occultus, a. um  hidden, secret
subtantia ae f substance, being, existence
inferior, oris,  the nether world, the grave; depths, lower parts

My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth.
My bones, which thou madest in secret were not hidden from thee, nor my substance, in the lowest parts of the earth. 
My frame was not hid from Thee, which thou hast formed in darkness, or in the depths of the earth, my substance
My bones are not hid from thee, though I be made secretly, and fashioned beneath in the
and this mortal frame had no mysteries for thee, who didst contrive it in secret, devise its pattern, there in the dark recesses of the earth.
my body held no secret from you when I was being fashioned in secret and molded in the depths of the earth.

St Augustine focusing on the meaning of 'bone' here, suggesting it means spiritual backbone:

But because as Christians we are speaking in the Name of the Lord to Christians, now we find what bone is of this kind. It is a sort of inward strength; for strength and fortitude are understood to be in the bones. There is then a sort of inward strength of the soul, wherein it is not broken. Whatever tortures, whatever tribulations, whatever adversities rage around, that which God has made strong in secret in us, cannot be broken, yields not. For by God is made a certain strength of patience, of which is said in another Psalm, But my soul shall be subjected to God, for of Him is my patience.. ..Wherein do you glory? In tribulations, knowing that tribulation works patience. Romans 4:5 See how that strength is fashioned within in his heart: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. So is fashioned and made strong that hidden bone, that it makes us even to glory in tribulations. But to men we seem wretched, because that which we have within is hidden from them. And my substance is in the lower parts of the earth. Behold, in flesh is my substance, yet have I a bone within, which You have fashioned, such as to cause me never to yield to any persecutions of this lower region, where still my substance is. For what great matter is it, if an Angel be brave? This is a great matter, if flesh is brave. And whence is flesh brave, whence is an earthen vessel brave, save because in it is made a bone in secret?

Cassiodorus interprets it spiritually as a reference to the Church:

Who can see a man's bones when the flesh clothes them, and the skin is drawn over them?  spiritually:  When at the world's creation Eve was fashioned from Adam's rib, her husband said: This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.  When Paul speaks to married people, he explains the point of this mystery with the words: This is a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church.  So it is clear that here bone must be understood as the Lord's Church.  So that we can associate these words more fully to the illustration quoted, before the Lord's coming some of the sacraments of the Church were not visible, such as baptism, Christ's body and blood, and the others which became clear in the fullness of time.  He added: And my substance in the lower parts of the earth.  The lower parts of the earth were the foul religious practices of the Gentiles, which at that time differed greatly from the Jewish religion.  But the substance of the Lord saviour became known to them when they grasped the presence of the divine Word in Him, and with devoted minds accepted this through the apostles' teaching.  Though the different nations were the lower parts of the earth because of their superstitions, they were set higher than the Jews when they took to heart the salvific rules of the Christian religion.

Imperféctum meum vidérunt óculi tui, et in libro tuo omnes scribéntur: * dies formabúntur, et nemo in eis.
Imperfectum adhuc me viderunt oculi tui, et in libro tuo scripti erant omnes dies: ficti erant, et nondum erat unus ex eis.
Informem adhuc me uiderunt oculi tui, et in libro tuo omnes scribentur; dies formatae sunt, et non est una in eis.

τὸ ἀκατέργαστόν μου εἴδοσαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί σου καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ βιβλίον σου πάντες γραφήσονται ἡμέρας πλασθήσονται καὶ οὐθεὶς ἐν αὐτοῖς

Imperfectum (imperfect/incomplete/embryonic) meum (my) viderunt (they saw) oculi (the eyes) tui (your), et (and) in libro (the book) tuo (your) omnes (all) scribentur (it will be written). Dies (the days) formabuntur (they will be fashioned/formed/shaped), et (and) nemo (nobody) in eis (in them).  

imperfectum i n something imperfect, incomplete, unfinished
video, vidi, visum, ere 2,  to see, behold; consider; experience, undergo, suffer, realize; keep watch, look for, meditate on
oculus, i, the eye..
liber libri m a book, the book of life in which God inscribes the names of men
scribo ere scripsi scriptum to write, to write down, record; to enroll
dies, ei, m. and f fem.  a day, the natural day
formo are avi atum to give shape to something, to form or fashion
nemo neminis m no man, no one, nobody

Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them.
Thine eyes saw my unwrought substance, and all men shall be written in thy book; they shall be formed by day, though there should for a time be no one among them.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book were all my members written, which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
All my acts thy eyes have seen, all are set down already in thy record; my days were numbered before ever they came to be.
Your eyes saw all my actions, they were all of them written in your book; every one of my days was decreed before one of them came into being.

Cassiodorus comments: 

The human nature which in the gospel stated that He did not know this world's end, and which said: My soul is sorrowful even unto death and such things, attests that the Father has gazed on His imperfect being.  His being is indeed imperfect, because the Church continues to gather till the end of the world; not until that resurrection will He give the promised rewards to the blessed, and then He will be all in all.  But the godhead has already seen these events which are still reserved for the distant future; the next words make it clear that this is said with reference to the blessed, for he added: and in my book all will be enrolled, precisely those who will rejoice in eternal blessedness.  Just as what is written in a book is preserved because contained in writing, so what is kept in the Lord's memory remains fixed much more firmly.  Next follows...that is, the blessed ones mentioned earlier will be strengthened by daylight, filled with perfect radiance of light from the true Sun, so the words of Scripture are fulfilled: As star differs from star in glory, so also will be the resurrection of the dead.  Note that He did not say They shall be brightened by daylight but they shall be strengthened by daylight; if he had said brightened this could perhaps have been interpreted as merely for a short time, whereas by saying...he attests that the blessing will abide fore ever.  He adds further, And none among them - we must supply 'shall be weakened', for at that stage all our flesh's frailty will be expelled and will depart, and all our mortality will be consumed and disappear.

Psalm 138/2 (139) – Et dixi: forsitan 
1  Et dixi: Fórsitan ténebræ conculcábunt me: * et nox illuminátio mea in delíciis meis.
11 And I said: Perhaps darkness shall cover me: and night shall be my light in my pleasures.
2  Quia ténebræ non obscurabúntur a te, et nox sicut dies illuminábitur: * sicut ténebræ ejus, ita et lumen ejus.
12 But darkness shall not be dark to you, and night shall be light all the day: the darkness thereof, and the light thereof are alike to you.
3  Quia tu possedísti renes meos: * suscepísti me de útero matris meæ.
13 For you have possessed my reins: you have protected me from my mother's womb.
4  Confitébor tibi quia terribíliter magnificátus es: * mirabília ópera tua, et ánima mea cognóscit nimis.
14 I will praise you, for you are fearfully magnified: wonderful are your works, and my soul knows right well.
5  Non est occultátum os meum a te, quod fecísti in occúlto: * et substántia mea in inferióribus terræ.
15 My bone is not hidden from you, which you have made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth.
6  Imperféctum meum vidérunt óculi tui, et in libro tuo omnes scribéntur: * dies formabúntur, et nemo in eis.
16 Your eyes did see my imperfect being, and in your book all shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them.
7  Mihi autem nimis honorificáti sunt amíci tui, Deus: * nimis confortátus est principátus eórum.
17 But to me your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened.
8  Dinumerábo eos, et super arénam multiplicabúntur: * exsurréxi, et adhuc sum tecum.
18 I will number them, and they shall be multiplied above the sand, I rose up and am still with you.
9  Si occíderis, Deus, peccatóres: * viri sánguinum, declináte a me.
19 If you will kill the wicked, O God: you men of blood, depart from me:
10  Quia dícitis in cogitatióne: * Accípient in vanitáte civitátes tuas.
20 Because you say in thought: They shall receive your cities in vain.
11  Nonne qui odérunt te, Dómine, óderam? * et super inimícos tuos tabescébam?
21 Have I not hated them, O Lord, that hated you: and pined away because of your enemies?
12  Perfécto ódio óderam illos: * et inimíci facti sunt mihi.
22 I have hated them with a perfect hatred: and they have become enemies to me.
13  Proba me, Deus, et scito cor meum: * intérroga me, et cognósce sémitas meas.
23 Prove me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths.
14  Et vide, si via iniquitátis in me est: * et deduc me in via æterna.
24 And see if there be in me the way of iniquity: and lead me in the eternal way

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