Naturales Deum confessi animam mortalem asserunt.

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Diadem, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Diadem Senior Member

    USA (English)
    This phrase is found on p. 154 of the Paris edition of the Pugio Fidei.

    It is one of the section headings for chapter one of part one.

    The text is available here via Google Books. Using the page selectors, just go to page 154. There's no need to download anything.

    What is the translation of this phrase?

    V. Naturales Deum confessi animam mortalem asserunt.

    The Naturalists assert .... God ... mortal soul ...
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  2. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    Are you sure that is all correctly copied and complete? It's a
    a bit cryptic on its own.

    It makes some sort of sense. My experience of these headings in
    books is that they are always tricky, and, if you have no idea what
    the book is about (as I have no idea since I do not have it in front of
    me, and, moreover, I don't really know the Latin of Christianity very well),
    they are nearly impossible to understand.

    Here's my guess (someone with greater knowledge of the author and context
    could do better, I'm sure). I assume that you know what you're doing when you say that
    "naturales" means "Naturalists."

    "While the Naturalists have acknowledged (confessi) God, they assert that the soul is mortal."

    (I have a nagging but probably unwarranted fear that there
    might be some reference here to the überfamous phrase
    of Vergil here, "confessa deam" [Aeneid 2.591]. Aeneas uses the phrase
    as he describes an epiphany of Venus. She usually hides her identity from him when
    she appears to him, but on this occasion, she manifests as a goddess, and he describes
    her as "confessa deam." The unusual phrase "confessa deam" here means
    something like "having revealed the goddess," that is, "revealing that she is a goddess.")
  3. Diadem Senior Member

    USA (English)
    Although I couldn't provide a screenshot, I linked you the book on Google Books. You don't need to download anything. Just use the page selector and/ or right scroll bar to move to p. 154.

    Regarding your translation, viz. "that the soul is mortal," is that possible despite the copula est or even esse not being present in the independent clause?
  4. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    Gosh, I'm so dumb. I didn't notice your link.

    Here goes.

    I think my translation is OK. It comports with the text as I read it.
    I might now render "Deum confessi" to mean
    "having admitted that God exists."

    Yes, "esse" can be left out. Latin often leaves out the infinitive and
    the present indicative forms of "sum" if they can be easily supplied.
    In this case, I think that the Latin has actually left out two instances of "esse."
    It is natural enough to leave out "esse" in a heading, which is meant
    to be telegraphic.

    In fuller forms, this quote would be"
    "Naturales Deum esse confessi, animam esse mortalem asserunt."
    = "The Naturalists, admitting that God exists, assert that the
    soul is mortal."

    (compare: the phrase at line 2 of p. 155:
    "Deum esse fateri compulsi sunt" = "they are forced to avow that God exists."
    the phrase in line 5 that follows:
    "omnimodam destructionem corporis et animae rationalis arbitrati sunt" = "They deduced [?]
    the complete destruction of the body and the rational soul.")
  5. Diadem Senior Member

    USA (English)
    I didn't have the link at first. Normally I use PDF format, which most people do not like to download. But I remembered that Google Books has that non-PDF version I supplied to you in the edit.

    You've been a great help. Thank you!
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Copular esse can be omitted, leaving behind just the predicative complement (as in animam esse mortalem asserunt), but I don't think this is possible for esse with no complement, meaning "exist". See, for example, in the previous heading: negando Deum esse. So in the first part of Diadem's example, I would analyze Deum simply as the accusative object of confessi, and I would translate "The Naturalists, who acknowledge (or have acknowledged) God, assert etc."
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  7. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    jrundin’s translation is fine.

    If you read through the text of this short chapter you will see that it consists mainly of quotations or summaries from Algazel (al-Ghazālī). For this reason I think the comparison with Vergil is not relevant.
  8. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    That's a very good point about an existential "esse" not being left out, CapnPrep., and I
    think you may be right.

    However, I think that "confiteor" here may be a special case. The heading is summarizing a passage
    that reads ""Deum esse fateri compulsi sunt," where the "esse" is clearly present and
    the "fateri" is the simple form of the compound verb "confiteor."

    It is true that "confiteor" can take a simple accusative if the object is a crime or injustice or defeat.
    But it seems a different thing to acknowledge a crime and to acknowledge God. But I'm probably
    splitting hairs. I don't think it really matters much whether one says "to acknowledge God" or
    "to acknowledge that God exists." So I'm just quibbling here.
  9. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    I agree, fdb. Once I saw the actual passage, all thoughts of Vergil were abandoned.
  10. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    And, actually, CapnPrep, I really enjoyed thinking about your comment about copular
    vs. existential esse. It's a weird puzzle. I was inclined to not take "Deum confessus"
    not at face value because I could find little precedent for the expression. But it
    really opens up a can of worms when I think about it.
  11. CapnPrep Senior Member

    There seem to plenty of examples in Christian Latin of Deum/Christum/Dominum confessus (sum) for which the context makes it clear that it's God or Christ's power/authority/divinity/etc. that is recognized, and not his mere existence. In other words, Deum can be the direct object of confiteor without an understood esse. So I think this is a possible analysis of Diadem's example. I actually believe it is the best/only analysis, but that is based on my (so far totally groundless :p) assumption that "exist" esse cannot normally be omitted.
  12. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    I think your point is quite reasonable, CapnPrep.

    I reasoned back to the suppressed "esse" from the text itself, which had "Deum esse fateri compulsi sunt." "fateri compellor" is actually what "confiteor" means more or less. When tackling something like this, I try to work from the text itself since it is the best witness to the writer's usage. Originally, I had said something like "acknowledge God." But a look at the text led me away from that initial interpetation towards "admitting that God exists."

    In fact, it's not clear to me that there is much difference, in the pre-modern mind, between saying God exists and acknowledging his power and efficacy.

    In classical Latin, pretty generally, confiteor takes some sort of indirect statement. Sometimes it is used with objects like "scelus" or whatever. What this discussion made me wonder was whether when one says something like "confiteor scelus" what is really implied is "confiteor scelus esse."

    I actually could only find one example of "Deum confiteor" when I did a brief search, and it was a medieval text from a backwater (England). And, even then God had a sort of predicate in the form of present active participles, which seemed like they might come from the vulgar language. Alas, I can't find it again. I wish I had bookmarked it. What examples did you find?

    I dunno.

    The only solution would to be read a lot of this author and get his style down. Alas, I have
    other projects.

    At any rate, thanks for making me think. I hear that wards off Alzheimers!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  13. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Here's a nice exmaple, from a letter by Cornelius to Cyprian (quoted by Cyprian):
    • Nec enim ignoramus unum Deum esse, unum Christum esse Dominum, quem confessi sumus, unum Spiritum Sanctum, unum episcopum in Catholica ecclesia esse debere. (source)
    We have esse all over the place in the various complement clauses, but not in the complement of confessus. I would translate this as "that there exists one God, one Christ the Lord, whom we recognize, one Holy Spirit, etc."

    • Et qui in Cristo confessus fuerit, Christum confitebitur. (Tertullian, Ad. Gn. Scorp.)
    The surrounding passage contains many other instances of aliquem confiteor, alongside in aliquo confiteor, and I'm not sure what sense distinction that corresponds to. Tertullian quotes a Bible verse:
    • Omnis igitur qui in me confessus fuerit coram hominibus, et ego confitebor in illo coram Patre meo qui in coelis est.
    which appears in the current (?) version of the Vulgate as:
    • omnis ergo qui confitebitur me coram hominibus confitebor et ego eum coram Patre meo qui est in caelis (Matthew 10:32)
    It looks like confiteor is one of those words that took on a new life within Christian Latin, and we can't necessarily understand its use by referring either to Classical Latin, or to its modern descendants. That said, English confess does/did allow this accusative construction meaning "To acknowledge or formally recognize (a person or thing) as having a certain character or certain claims; to own, avow, declare belief in or adhesion to" (OED):
    • Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. (NKJV translation of the same verse)
    • 1848 A. Jameson Sacred & Legendary Art II. 231 He, whom I confess and adore.
  14. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    Thanks, CapnPrep. I'm convinced. And that was a lot of effort.
  15. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Tertullian lived two centuries before Jerome, so obviously he did not use the Vulgata, but one of the versions of the Vetus Latina. Its use of the confiteor with the preposition in mirrors exactly the Greek original (Πᾶς οὖν ὅστις ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς).
  16. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    This is really fascinating. Alas, everytime I look at this thread, I become more and
    more confused about what "confiteor" or "ὁμολογέω" actually mean. What on earth
    can "confitebor et ego eum" and "ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ" mean?

    I wonder if this is some sort of Semitic calque. Such things in the scriptures often are.
  17. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    Here's the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the associated noun confessor. It'll tell you what the noun and verb mean in Christian Latin, and why they are used in these texts.
  18. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Unfortunately, it doesn't actually say anything about the verb, so it doesn't help us much here. :eek:
    Is this the normal construction in Greek? And do you have a sense of the distinction Tertullian has in mind when he contrasts the two constructions (in + abl vs. acc), for example in the sentence I quoted above? Or do you think they are interchangeable in (this stage of) Christian Latin?
  19. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    Two seconds thought will convince you that the noun and the verb are intimately connected.
  20. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Sure, but we were discussing details of the syntactic construction of the verb, and there is nothing about that in the linked article. We were also wondering about the meaning of confiteor in post-classical Latin, but it's clear that the specific concept of confessor is absent from many of the instances of the verb cited in this thread, beginning with Diadem's original example. The Naturalists in Martí's text are obviously not confessores. Christ himself in the verse from Matthew is not a confessor. Does your article help us understand the use of confiteor in these cases?
  21. jrundin Senior Member

    USA, English
    Actually, I can live with confessing God. Though I do agree that, in this context, as CapnPrep
    indicated, the Naturalists are not confessing God in a Christian sense. They are merely
    conceding His existence because of what I take to be an argument from design for God's existence (they
    see all the wonders of nature and conclude that there must be a God).

    My point in the above quote was why the heck will Jesus have to confess a person who
    confesses Him? I have no idea what that means.
  22. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    In classical Greek ὁμολογέω with the dative means “agree with s.o. or”, with the accusative “agree to”. With both cases together it means “agree with s.o. about something”. In the Q-pericope Mt 10:32 = Lc 12:8 ὁμολογέω + ἐν + dat. “appears to be an Aramaism” (thus LS s.v.).

    Latin confiteor “agree to, admit” takes the accusative in the classical language. The citation from Tertullian is a close calque on the Greek with in + abl. (me is here abl. not acc.) as the correct Latin equivalent of ἐν + dat.
  23. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    There is a very long article in the Theol. Wb. z. NT. s.v. ὁμολογέω, where all the semantic and theological niceties are discussed in fullest detail.
  24. CapnPrep Senior Member

    It's the polite thing to do :D
    The thing is, he uses both constructions (in + abl vs. simple accusative) and they appear to have different meanings for him. For example in the citation above, and even more clearly a few sentences earlier:
    • Porro, in Christo confitendo, Christum quoque confitetur []

    Update. This translation (S. Thelwall) takes the easy way out: "Besides, by confessing in Christ he confesses Christ too [] he who will deny in Christ, will deny Christ, and he who will confess in Christ will confess Christ." (The same strange alternation occurs with negare.) Maybe in Christo confiteri/negare should be read as [se] in Christo [esse] confiteri/negare?
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
  25. No soy especialista en nada, pero la expresión ὁμολογήσω κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ yo la traduciría al latín 'confitebor ipse in eo', y, en castellano, o 'yo confesaré lo mismo', o 'coincido en confesar lo mismo'. No veo por qué el 'αὐτῷ' griego se haya de personalizar, siendo que puede ser por igual neutro o masculino, y lo mismo podría afirmarse del latín 'eo'.

    Me es rara la construcción del verbo con la preposición ἐν (vertida al 'in' latino); pues más lógico sería un 'cum' latino, repítiendo el prefijo unido al 'fateor', que traduce la raíz griega 'λογ' sólo en uno de sus múltiples sentidos, afines a razonar, pensar, decir, y cercana aun a la de 'elegir'.

    Pero, como indiqué, ni soy especialista ni he leído de Tertuliano sino frases.., menos sé de quién es la cita griega, si lo es, pues el contexto precisaría el sentido del vocablo.

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