Book Review: Perspective...

Issuing the volume Perspective asupra textului și discursului religios, published in 2013 by Editura Universității „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” of Iași, meant a significant event for the scientific community reunited under the auspices of the National Conference “Text și discurs religios”. Ever since its initiation, this scientific event has enticed (and it still attracts) scientists from various university and cultural centres of the country, establishing a space of debate open to those “concerned with religious text and discourse analysis, carried out synchronically and diachronically, from linguistic, rhetoric, literary, theological, philosophical, historical perspective”. Held yearly, the Conference has gained more and more vigour and it established a real tradition passed on till present day.

The present volume edited by Ioan Milică, Emanuel Gafton and Sorin Guia is part of the collection “Text și discurs religios”, an annually issued publication. The edition of this volume was stimulated by an anniversary occasion—the celebration of the previous five editions of the Conference (2008–2012) and of the five conference volumes (2009–2013). Thus, the volume Perspective… is meant to pay tribute to participants of the Conference and to the whole scientific community concerned with the issues debated on during these conferences, say the editors in the Preface (Cuvînt înainte, p. 8).

The anniversary volume gathers studies published in the previous five volumes of the Conference in which religious text and discourse are discussed from various perspectives. The 25 articles included in this volume are written by renowned scientists and / or expert researchers soon to be acknowledged. The selection criteria taken into account when proceeding the volume are presented in the Preface (Cuvînt înainte). Thus, “the selection of studies belongs to the editors and it was made so as to cover most of the issues discussed with interest during the Conference, also taking into account how participants related to the discussion of these issues” (p. 8).

The papers selected for re-edition cover a wide range of scientific fields including Bible studies, translation, rhetoric, pragmatics, stylistics, also coming into contact with areas like history, philosophy or art. As a matter of fact, the studies of the volume may be grouped into five unequal sections: Greeting Speeches; The history of the word; Translation of the sacred text; Rhetoric of religious discourse and Literature and sacredness [The mentioned grouping of the studies follows the structure of the volumes 2008–2012 (see the titles in Romanian: Cuvinte de întîmpinare; Istoria cuvîntului; Traducerea textului sacru; Retorica discursului religios and Literatura și sacrul). Unlike the previous editions, in the anniversary volume the studies succeed one another, without any particular segmentation.}. The first section contains opening and welcome speeches held in various foregoing editions of the Conference. The second section was once an independent session of the Conference’s first edition which subsequently was disbanded and incorporated in other thematic fields. Finally, the last three sections represent constant sessions of the Conference which basically cover its thematic concerns\footnote{At the end of each study there are indicated the volume number, year of publication and pages from where it was reproduced. Some of the studies proposed for a second edition were published, at first, in other languages than Romanian (in French—see the papers of A. Chirilă & G. B. Țâra, of S. Ispas, of Gh. Chivu—or in English—those written by Al. Mihăilă and by I. Milică).}.

The anniversary volume resumes three Greeting Speeches published in the preceding editions of the publication “Text și discurs religios”: Ethos, Pathos și Logos în textul predicii, communication held by Rodica Zafiu (no. 2/2010), in which the linguist discusses the means of persuasion in contemporary sermons; Text și imagine în vechea civilizație a românilor, by Răzvan Theodorescu (din nr. 3/2011), in which the author insists on the fundamental cultural parallelism between writing and perception and on the epochs, in old Romanian civilization, of relating visuality to text; and Scrisul religios, componentă definitorie a culturii vechi românești, by Gheorghe Chivu (din nr. 4/2012), in which the author argues that religious writing has become a parallel variety of literary writing, an example of continuity and stability, a remarkable source of inspiration and of stylistic means, a rhetoric model often appreciated by refined writers.

From the section History of the word, included in the first volume of the Conference, the editors carefully selected and reproduced four studies: Adevărul, între cuvîntul biblic și cuvîntul poetic, signed by the late Dumitru Irimia; Discursul religios, model și normă de exprimare îngrijită în epoca veche, by Vasile D. Țâra; Eshatologie și secularizare în straie postmoderne, by Gheorghe Manolache and Discursul profetic între voința lui Dumnezeu și voia poporului, by Lucian Farcaș. These papers are of great value due to the fact that they provide relevant information related to the domains of lexicology, semiotics and philosophy of language, of history of language and stylistics.

Nine studies could be included in the section Translation of the sacred text. These are the following: Finalitatea textelor slavo-române intercalate din Evul Mediu românesc, written by Dragoș Moldovanu; Biblia de la 1688. Aspecte ale traducerii, by Alexandru Gafton; Două ipostaze ale libertății traducătorului biblic: sinonimizare și pia interpretatio. Studiu de caz: vechile traduceri românești ale cărților 1 și 2 Regi (Ms. 45 și Biblia de la 1688), by Adrian Muraru; Opțiuni și constrîngeri lexico-semantice în traducerile textului biblic, by Adina Chirilă and George Bogdan Țâra; Lecțiuni controversate în Sfînta Scriptură, by Dionisie Constantin Pîrvuloiu; Aspecte ale traducerii la Dosoftei, by Mădălina Andronic-Ungureanu; Elemente biblice în inscripțiile funerare în limba latină din țările române (1300–1800), by Doina Filimon Doroftei; Retorica judecății divine în Scriptura ebraică, by Cătălin Vatamanu and „Străinul… va fi pentru voi ca și băștinașul” (Lev. 19:34). Includere și excludere din comunitatea religioasă în Iehud by Alexandru Mihăilă. Beyond the fact that, in these papers, the authors discuss important aspects of translation theory, it is also significant the fact that they provide an extremely rich and fruitful linguistic material regarding Bible translation. The authors’ examples, selected with great care and competence, point out certain meanings and nuances of the Holy Scripture, thus facilitating its understanding and, at the same time, offering models of its interpretation.

The section Rhetoric of religious discourse from the previous volumes is also represented by a considerable number of studies, in the present volume being reproduced seven papers on this field of interest: Despre pregătirea în vederea lecturii unei pagini de teologie, signed by Ștefan Afloroaei; Retorica elogiului în „Didahiile” lui Antim Ivireanul, by Maria Cătănescu; Retorica blamului în predica lui Antim Ivireanul, by Laura Bădescu; Coerența discursului religios în „Didahiile” lui Antim Ivireanul, by Constantin Frâncu; Arta dialogului în Prefețele Mitropolitului Veniamin Costachi, by Sorin Guia; Modele retorice ale invocației în contextul religiozității populare, by Ioana Repciuc and Imaginarul creștin în denumirile populare românești de plante, by Ioan Milică. The studies grouped here explore a wide range of textual material regarded from a great variety of rhetorical means employed.

The least represented in the volume is the topic Literature and sacredness. Here may be included two of the re-edited studies: Ipostaze ale vegetalului în spiritualitatea românească, written by Sabina Ispas and Reprezentarea sacrului în folclorul religios românesc: influența discutabilă a dualismului oriental, by Lucia Afloroaei. Nevertheless, these papers are remarkable for their quality, for the pertinency and fineness of the observations made.

Overall, the merits of the present volume are manifold. In this edition, there are re-published some of the most distinguished philological, linguistic, theological etc. writings. The selection operated by the editors, very fruitful and well-thought-out, requiring quite a laborious research, allow us to unfold a universe intertwined with sacred and profane, which is perhaps less known to contemporary readers.

Imbued with a deep spirituality, the reading of religious text and discourse may raise certain difficulties for modern readers. Thus, the volume Perspective… facilitates the access to these texts and, at the same time, it is meant to draw the attention of both the specialists and of the wider public to the significance of old religious literature and of the contemporary ecclesiastical language. The selective bibliographies which accompany each study serve the purpose of encouraging and guiding the reader to further reading.

Last but not least, the publication of this volume also emphasizes the importance of the covered topics in contemporary exegesis. In other words, this elegant edition reaffirms the need for scientific gatherings and (annual) publications with concerns like those proposed by the National Conference “Text și discurs religios”.

The studies included in the volume Perspective… are accessible both by the present edition and on the Conference website,

(Review published in “Diacronia”, issue 1, January 2015, A15; doi:10.17684/i1A15en)

Dr. Enikő Pál
Faculty of Economic and Human Sciences
Sapientia University, Miercurea Ciuc