Paraclete (and spelling of transliterated proper names)

Steve Puluka spuluka at
Sat Nov 20 07:03:07 EST 1999

>From: "N & RJ Hanscamp" <hanscamps at>
>But I am curious - Steve,  Does the application of the title "Comforter" or 
>"Accuser" with capitals mean that this is a title?
>- or seen as a title in the Eastern Churches?

Yes, they are seen as Titles and Capitalized as such.  I don't think the 
idea of translation and title are contradictory.  We do this all the time in 
English.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace, etc.  I have not seen Accuser used 
for the Paraclete, but I am not translating NT from Church Slavonic but 
prayer services, "Comforter" and "Advocate" are the most common titles.

I think this title in Greek did have meaning for the hearers primarily as an 
Advocate in opposition to DIABOLOS as the accuser.  The popular image of 
heaven as a law court with God as judge and DIABOLOS as the "prosecuting" 
attorney in apocholyptic writings might be the source of this title.  See 
Zechariah chapter 3 and Job chapter 2.  PARAKLHTOS becomes our defense 
attorney in this image.

See "The Religious World of Jesus: An Introduction to Second Temple 
Palestinian Judaism", Frederick Murphy Holy Cross University, Abington 
Press, 1991, Chapter 13 for a fuller discussion of this image.

>A wider question of translation (Joe, this one is for you too), is it
>helpful to translate the word in different ways (as Steve seems to indicate 
>that the Eastern churches do) depending on the context?
I think this is helpful.  The word does have some original meaning to the 
people who hear it in Greek, it would be a perfect world if the word has 
some meaning in translation as well.

I'm glad Jim mentioned Baptism as another example.  This is one of my 
favorite words in Old Church Slavonic and has passed this same way into 
Russian and the other Slavic tongues.  Again, the word is not transliterated 
but it is also not translated either.  In Greek we have the word meaning 
cleansing by immersion.  This is then given a  special twist by Christians.  
The translators to Old Church Slavonic render the word KRESHCHENIE or 
KRESTINI which uses the root word KREST, meaning cross.  They made up a new 
word meaning to put on the cross.

This would be the third option available to the translator.  build a new 
word based on existing words in the target language to carry the concept 
into the new tongue.

When we translated our services to English about 90 years ago they did 
choose to translate KRESHCHENIE as Baptism in English, but I think we lost 
something in doing so.

Steve Puluka
Adult Education Instructor
Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh

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