Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Dikaion de Psychai en Cheiri Theou

 The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no tribulation will touch them. They seemed to the eyes of the imprudent to die, and their exit was believed evil, and their going away from us to be shattering; but they are in peace. And though they are to human eyes punished, still their hope is full of immortality, and having been slightly disciplined, they are greatly benefited, because God assayed them and found them worthy for himself. He tested them like gold in the furnace and he received them as a burnt offering. And in the time of their examination, they shall shine and run across like sparks on a reed. They shall judge the nations and rule the people, and their Lord will reign for always. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and those who are faithful in love will continue with him, for grace and mercy are to his holy ones and he examines his chosen. But the impious shall suffer punishment according to their own thought, those who have neglected the just and departed from the Lord. For whoever despises wisdom and discipline suffers hardship, and their hope is empty, and their deeds are pointless, Their women are witless and their children are wicked, their stock is cursed. For blessed is the barren one who is pure, who has not known the bed of transgression, who shall bear fruit in the examination of souls, and the eunuch who has done no lawlessness with his hands, nor imagined wickedness against the Lord, for he is given the chosen gift of faith and an inheritance in the temple of the Lord more to his mind. For the fruit of good labor is glorious and the root of prudence is unfailing. The children of adulteries shall be unfulfilled and the seed of the transgressive bed shall vanish, for if they happen to live long, they shall be accounted as nothing, and their old age shall be honorless, and if they end quickly, they shall have no hope, not even in the day of discernment. For unbearable is the end of the unjust generation.

[Wisdom 3:1-19, my very rough translation.I have translated episkope and like words by words indicating 'examination', which seems to fit best; literally, it means supervision or oversight. The last several sentences are heavy with different telos-related words, which can mean the ending or fufillment or completion of something. I find the emphasis on one's own thought interesting: the difference between the end of the just and of the unjust is that the unjust are punished even by their own lights, whereas the just are not. While some of the last part is obscure, I'm fairly sure the point is less a claim about the actual progeny of adulterers and more a comment that even the apparent blessings of the unjust (of which wife and children and descendants are an especially great kind) will not really be blessings -- however the unjust may seem to flourish, they are not in fact doing so. It's unsurprising, I think, that parts of this passage are often read in commemorations of martyrs, who end badly in the eyes of the world but have great reward, in contrast to many who seem to do well but in reality are building toward disaster.]