Church Translations

fr. earl Have you ever wondered why the Creed states that Christ “rose again” when he really only rose from the dead once? Me too. Fr. Earl Fernandes, Dean of the Athenaeum, answers this question and another on Church translations in the following article for The Catholic Telegraph.

Dear Father: Year after year and month after month, I have been wondering why does the creed we recite during Sunday Mass state that Christ “rose again”? When was the first time He rose? I checked my Lithuanian creed interpretation and it does not state “He rose again”. In Lithuanian, the text reads: “pagal Rasta, prisikele is numirusiu” The translation would be: pagal (according), Rasta (to the Scripture), prisikele (rose), is numirusiu (from the dead). In the Lithuanian translation there would be (ir vel) for the word “again”.

Dear Reader, Thank you for your question. It is an interesting one. I believe your Lithuanian translation is accurate and corresponds to the Greek text of the Nicene-Constantinople Creed which is recited each Sunday. In Greek, the word anastánta is used which means rising. The idea would be similar to when someone is lying down and gets up or falls off a bicycle and gets up after the fall. The word again does not really appear in Greek. Jesus rose from the dead.

I suspect you are going to a Roman Rite Church. The Creed was translated from Greek into Latin and from Latin into many languages like English. In the Latin, the text is Et resurrexit tertia die secundum scripturas. The Latin word resurrexit is used and not surrexit. One Latin scholar suggests that in resurrexit there is a compound of the prefix re and the verb surgo. “Re” might convey the idea of again, which often is a common interpretation but not the only one. “Again” in English can also mean “anew”. Jesus did not rise twice or more; He rose to life “anew”.

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Feature photo depicting Emperor Constantine and the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (325) holding the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 – courtesy of Creative Commons / Wikipedia.

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