06 December 2018

Beatus Vir

What’s lost when you start "fixing" the Scriptures to avoid "offending"? Maybe Jesus?

Consider this example:

From the version of the Psalter used in the latest American Book of Common Prayer and borrowed by Lutheran Book of Worship and used in For All the Saints, Psalm 1 begins: "Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked." This in place of the classic Beatus Vir: "Blessed is the man who..." 

Happy??? Images of the Be Happy Attitudes by Schaller! This happyizing loses the connection to the promise to Abraham: "and in your Seed all the families of the earth will be blessed." And even worse, the plural loses the reference to Christ. For there is only ONE man who is so blessed. Augustine begins his enarration on the first psalm with the observation:

Blessed is the man that has not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly Psalm 1:1. This is to be understood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Man.

The Doctor of Grace nails it. But the version attentive to modern sensitivies simply misses the boat, or rather, the Christ, which is far worse.


Unknown said...

I think you're making a mountain out of a mole hill here. The Greek word in both the Psalm as well as in the Sermon on the Mount is μακαριος. It is not ευλογητος which does mean blessed and refers strictly to God. There is nothing theologically wrong with saying that one can be happy following the Lord's commandments or suffering for his name's sake, etc. It's what the word means. Nor does it detract from the Psalms as referring to the Θεανθροπος as happy in walking in the way of his Father's commandments. Happiness does not have to be merely understood as putting a smile on one's face. It can be joyful which should be the essence of any Christian's life as Christ has come in the flesh to die and rise, taking that flesh with Him into Heaven. That should make anyone happy or μακαριος.

William Weedon said...

I think the problem is with the freight of happiness in English, at least as we hear it now. Though it is striking that the earlier English versions went with the Vulgate “beatus” and thus “blessed” in both Psalm 1 and the Beatitudes. But the point about the singluar vs. the plural stands regardless, no?

Unknown said...

Beatus in Latin means happy, too. It is the calque for μακαριος.