[Milton-L] Crucial punctuation in The Book of Common Prayer

Roy Flannagan roy at gwm.sc.edu
Fri Sep 14 09:57:59 EDT 2007


Perhaps the kind of ignorance of earlier prayer-book phrasing has caused
what may be the modern equivalent of the Joannine comma the list has
been discussing.  

Here is something I noticed in the 1977 Book of Common Prayer that
seems to indicate confusion about the Trinity: in the Nicene Creed,
recited in the Holy Eucharist Rite 1, the priest and congregation
together say "And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of
Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father
and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; . . . ."  

But in fact they don't say it as punctuated: they say "And I believe in
the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life," leaving me, at least,
confused about subdivisions of the Holy Ghost.  Is the Holy Ghost, the
third member of the Trinity, defined as "the Lord," separated from
"Giver of Life," or is the Holy Ghost supposed to be defined as "the
Lord and Giver of Life."  How is the Holy Ghost supposed to be a giver
of life: is that the dove that broods?  And, aren't all three of the
members of the Holy Trinity to be spoken of as one, the triune God?

The 1559 Book of Common Prayer agrees with the local South Carolina
congregation "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of
life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father
and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, . . . ." (Booty's
edition, which is collated and is not a facsimile, done in 1976; but
notice the lack of capitalization in "giver of life").

Would some theologian/Miltonists step up to the plate here and explain
how to subdivide the duties and responsibilities of the Holy Ghost? 
Perhaps Michael Bauman can tell us how Milton might have recited the
lines had he attended services at St. Giles Cripplegate?

Roy Flannagan


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