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Question 85.

Dear Fr. Christopher Klitou
Thanks for your website on the Hieratikon.

I am sorry to trouble you with requests for info, but I cannot think where else to turn.

The typical translation of the Hieratikon says, as you say "He plundered Hades when He descended into Hades. He embittered it, when it tasted of His flesh, and this being foretold by Isaiah when he cried: Hades said it was embittered, when it encountered Thee below." Or says "Isaiah, foreseeing this did cry: 'Hell, said he, was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions."
The Hieratikon stands on its own, and needs no justification of any sort, and certainly none other than the authority of John Chrystostom, and the place that this Pascal Homily has been given in Orthodox liturgy and tradition. (And thanks again for having a page on it!!)

However, I am puzzled by this quotation, St John Chrystostom's quotation from Isaiah. I have searched and searched -- on Hell, Hades, Sheol, bitter, and various Hebrew words for bitter -- (in Bible search engines, and places that had the Septuagint on line as well, and in orthodox discussion loci) and cannot find any passage that seems to me (I am not a scholar in these things, and may well be missing the point) to be the passage in Isaiah that St. John Chrystostom is referring to here.

Can you tell me what passage in Isaiah St. John had in mind, or refer me to a source (preferably online) that discusses this matter?
Thank you very much, for your kindness in this matter, and for your many other contributions!


Answer to Question 85.

Dear David,

The difficulty is finding the passage is due to the mistranslation of the Greek word επικράνθη = embittered. Most English translations of the Old Testament, even modern translations, have all used the Old King James Translation of the Hebrew text as the bases of their translation. The Septuagint in English is no exception. Supposedly the translations are directly from the Greek, but again the KJV was used for the bases of these translations and we see that certain passages have kept the Hebrew rendering and thus losing the meaning as found in the Greek.
The passage John Chrysostom is referring to is Isaiah 14: 9.
The KJV has the translation "Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming:"
The Septuagint version by Sir Lancelot. C. L. Brenton has the passage as: "Hell from beneath is provoked to meet thee"
A better Septuagint translation can be found online from the Orthodox England website

Here the Greek επικράνθη is retained as embittered and the passage reads: "Hades from beneath is embittered to meet thee:"
There you can also read about how the Septuagint is older and therefore more authoritative than the Hebrew version that exists today.
On reading your email and where you say (And thanks again for having a page on it!!), I originally thought that you were referring to a talk I gave on St. John's Paschal Homily, but then realized this couldn't be because in the talk I give the reference Isaiah 14: 9. from where the word embittered is taken. The talk is on the Paschal Homily and its connection with Holy Communion, but it might help you understand the Orthodox interpretation of the Homily.

Hope this has been of some help.

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher