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Question 48.
Dear father Christopher,

I had not looked at your English translation of Proskomide until now, but due to the English translation of the Liturgy from the Slavonic Old [Ancient] Ritual [Rite] text which predates the 1666 imposition of the Reformed texts required by Patriarch Nikon, I did not yet have a complete English translation for me to see the tiny differences between the established Greek text, and what differences there are when one examines the Russian Old Slavonic text. This is how I noticed the English translation I received from America, and where the translator, in English, uses the word “Prosphoron”. I wrote to one of the priests stating that only in one Greek-English dictionary I have did I find, in Greek, “Prosphoron”, in addition to “Prosphora”. In the Hieratikon and/or Leitourgikon, only “Prosphora” is found in the Greek text.
This afternoon, I found “Prosphoron” in your English translation - which you know I greatly admire, so I wanted to ask you to tell me if this is used in Demotic Greek?
Until now I had never before seen “Prosphoron” but only “Prosphora” in English translations, so I thought is might be a Slavic eccentric way of putting into "English" such an established Greek word just as they do with their own English term “Ektania”, “Proskomidia” and “Litiya”.
The Greek-English dictionary of Divry and Collins Pocket Greek, both have prosphoron. Is this neuter form found in other books ?


With all respect and deep admiration,
J.

 

Answer to Question 48.

Dear J,

Prosphora or Prosphoron?
Both words are correct and both can be found in Katherevousa (Pure) Greek dictionaries and also in Greek/English dictionaries like the two volume dictionaries by Arnold Mandeson. Although both words are similar there is a difference in their meanings. Prosphora means the offering which is what we do at the Proskomide and Prosphoron is simply the shewbread or oblation bread that is used. You are absolutely correct in saying that in liturgical Greek the correct term is prosphorá, but when translating into English there is a small problem because English words are not accented and according to where the stress is placed the meaning of the word can change. In Greek the word Προσφορά / Prosphorá (with the stress on the last syllable) is singular and as already mentioned it refers to the offering. When the stress is placed on the first syllable - Πρόσφορα / Prósphora - the word becomes the plural for prosphoron and means many shewbreads. Another problem is that the word Prosphorá presumes that the bread has been offered by someone; it is someone’s offering, or to generalize, it is the people’s offering. This understanding is completely lost in English and the only correct translation would be not to call it the Prosphorá but “The Offering”. The English translation I use and which is on the website is not actually mine, but is the translation made and used by the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex. I use this translation for the Proskomide and the prayers of the Liturgy because they are the best example of Liturgical English I have as yet to see. I would assume that they used the word Prosphoron instead of Prosphorá because it simply means the oblation bread which is what the priest is asked to take in his hands to perform the oblation rite. A Greek priest reading Prosphora in English would certainly ask himself if he was to take one or many breads in his hand. I think that Prosphoron was also preferred because in common Greek use we always speak of the Prosphoron and not the Prosphorá e.g: if we are to choose which bread to use we would say  “which prosphoron shall I use?” and not “which prosphorá shall I use?”. Certainly in Demotic Greek the word Prosphorá has been replaced with Prosphoron and we use is as meaning both the shewbread and the offering. When women bring us the breads they have baked we do not say it is “Maria’s” prosphorá, but “Maria’s” prosphoron. As Prosphoron is used in Modern Greek usage with the double meaning then I would say that it justifies its use in English translations.

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher