28 Dec New Testament: Extract from the First Letter of St. Paul to The Corinthians: Chapter 15, Verses 50-57
Introduction. This extract from St. Paul’s first letter (or epistle) to the Corinthians features the final part of the traditional reading laid down in the Book of Common Prayer for the Funeral Service. This magnificent and haunting passage is set out below in four versions. The first two versions are in English, the recent translation of the New English Bible preceding the words of the Authorised Version, in which the English language appears at its most majestic. Below are the Latin version of the Vulgate, used by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries, and, finally, the original, as written by St. Paul in ‘koine’ Greek.
A. THE NEW ENGLISH BIBLE (1961):
“What I mean, my brothers is this: flesh and blood can never possess the kingdom of God, and the perishable cannot possess immortality. Listen! I will unfold a mystery; we shall all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet-call. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will rise immortal, and we shall be changed. This perishable being must be clothed with the imperishable, and what is mortal must be clothed with immortality. And when our mortality has been clothed with immortality, then the saying of Scripture will come true: ‘Death is swallowed up; victory is won!’ ‘O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and sin gains its power from the law; but, God be praised, he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
B. THE HOLY BIBLE: AUTHORISED KING JAMES VERSION (1611):
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. / Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, / In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. / For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. / So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. / O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? / The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. / But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
C. ST. JEROME: VULGATE BIBLE (406):
“Hoc autem dico, fratres, quoniam caro et sanguis Regnum Dei possidere non possunt, neque corruptio incorruptelam possidebit. Ecce, mysterium vobis dico: omnes quidem resurgemus sed non omnes inmutabimur, in momento, in ictu oculi; in novissima tuba; canet enim et mortui resurgent incorrupti et nos inmutabimur. Oportet enim corruptibile hoc induere incorruptelam et mortale hoc induere inmortalitatem. Cum autem mortale hoc induerit inmortalitatem, tunc fiet sermo qui scriptus est absorta est mors in victoria. Ubi est mors in victoria tua? Ubi est mors stimula tuus? Stimulus autem mortis peccatum est, virtus vero peccati lex. Deo autem gratias qui dedit nobis victoriam per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum.”
D. THE NEW TESTAMENT IN THE ORIGINAL GREEK OF ST. PAUL (57):
Τοῦτο δέ φημι, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι σὰρξ καὶ αἷμα βασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομῆσαι οὐ δύναται, οὐδὲ ἡ φθορὰ τὴν ἀφθαρσίαν κληρονομεῖ. ἰδοῦ μυστήριον ὑμῖν λέγω· πάντες οὐ κοιμησηθόμεθα πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα, ἐν ἀτόμῳ, ἐν ῥιπῇ ὀφθαλμοῦ, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ σάλπιγγι· σαλπίσει γὰρ, καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐγερθήσονται ἄφθαρτοι, καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀλλαργησόμεθα. δεῖ γὰρ τὸ φθαρτὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσασθαι ἀφθαρσίαν καὶ τὸ θνητὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσασθαι ἀθανασίαν. ὅταν δὲ τὸ θνητὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσηται τὴν ἀθανασίαν, τότε γενήσεται ὁ λόγος ὁ γεγραμμένος “Κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος.” “ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ νῖκος; ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ κέντρον;” τὸ δὲ κέντρον τοῦ θάνατου ἡ ἁμαρτία, ἡ δὲ δύναμις τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ νόμος· τῷ δὲ θεῷ χάρις τῷ διδόντι ἡμῖν “τὸ νῖκος ” διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.