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Behold How Good and How Pleasant

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When we were updating our document for Vocation Promotion, we were reminded that we should quote from the psalm that for Augustine best described the life and mission of his monks. He was referring to Psalm 132 which in our modern translations begins with “How good it is and how pleasant where the people dwell as one” (NAB). The text that he wanted was the one that Augustine had before him. Here it is, as taken from the Enarrations on Psalm 132

Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum
habitare fratres in unum
Sicut unguentum in capite
quod descendit in barbam, barbam Aaron;
quod descendit in oram vestimenti eius
Sicut ros Hermon
qui descendit super montes Sion
Quoniam ibi mandavit Dominus benedictionem
vitam in saeculum

Except for the last line “vitam in saeculum”, the version that Augustine used is not different from the Vulgate which has “et vitam usque in saeculum.” How does one render in English the first line: is it “Behold how good and what fun it is when brothers dwell as one (or “in unity“). “Iucundus,-a,um” is after all translatable into “fun”. But of course Augustine would not understand the word the way we do now.

I wrote an article about the above psalm in reaction to the way it was handled in a publication.

Originally posted 2008-03-10 20:18:01. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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