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On the meaning of the AGE and UNTO AGES OF AGES

St. John of Damascus (+749 A.D.)

On the meaning of the AGE (aion/vek/vicie) and UNTO AGES OF AGES (eis tous ton aionas ton aionon/vo veki vekov/in vecii vecilor)

[NOTE: «Age» relates to the biblical concept of time. Age can have a «spatial» sense in addition to the time meaning, but this aspect should not be exaggerated in translation, (cf. OCA Text pp. 35 and 61, where three instances of aion are rendered «world’ after the fashion of Protestant hieratic English. The scholarly Jerusalem Bible, for instance, would say «age.»)

«Unto ages of ages» in characteristic of Scriptural doxologies: e.g., Ps. 83(84).5; 2Tim 4.18; Heb. 13.21; 1 Pet. 4.11; 5.11. The expression includes all the time to come, and in the English translations of the Scriptures it is obscured by a paraphrase (e.g., by many occurrences of «forever» in RSV, and in JB by ‘for ever and ever». Orthodox translators of liturgy, however, have consistently (and, in our opinion, correctly) preferred the familiar wording tethered to the biblical time concept.]

» Now one should note that the term age [aion] has several meanings, because it signifies a great many things. Thus, the span of life of every man is called an age. Again, in a period of one thousand years is called an age. Still again, this whole present life is called and age, and so is the age without end to come after the resurrection. And again, this is called an age which is neither time nor any division of time measured by the course and motion of the sun — that is to say, made up of days and nights — but which is so-extensive with eternal things after the fashion of some sort of temporal period and interval. This kind of age is so eternal things exactly what time is to temporal things… In this sense, there is one age in respect to which God is said to be of the ages, and indeed, before the ages, fro he made the very ages…

«We also speak of the ages of ages, inasmuch as the seven ages of the present world contain many ages, that is to say, generations of men…»

The Orthodox Faith, 15 «The fathers of the Church» Vol. 37 (CUA Press, 1958)

From the book «The Divine Liturgy of the Great Church» by Fr. Paul Harrilchak, Reston, Virginia. 1984

Special thanks to Fr George Kokhno from Saint Nicholas Cathedral of OCA, who posted this text to Kiev-orthodox.org

Дата публикации: 20.08.2004