Donald Sheehan

For sample verses from the translation by Donald Sheehan, click here


Title: The Psalms of David • Translated from the Septuagint Greek / by Donald Sheehan. /
Xenia Sheehan and Hierodeacon Herman Majkrzak, Editors. / Foreword by Christopher Merrill. / Preface by the Very Rev. John Breck.
Date: Ⓒ 2013 Carol Xenia Sheehan
Publisher: Eugene, OR (U.S.A.): Wipf and Stock
Contents: Psalms 1 to 150, divided into 20 Kathismata. – Foreword, Preface, Translator's Preface, Acknowledgements, Introduction. Bibliography, Appendix: Numbering of Psalms and Praying the Kathismata.
Images: Cover, Greek Title, English Title
Location: Collection Bibelarchiv Birnbaum. Karlsruhe/ Baden.Germany
Comments: Softcover, large octavo, XL, 176 & (2) pp. Scripture text in single column, set verse-wise with numbering; Psalm–headings translated; b&w illustrations.

The "Foreword – O taste and see" (2 pp), written by Christopher Merrill, Director, International Writing Program, University of Iowa, lets the reader know, »Indeed his {D. Sheehan´s} version of the Psalms is at once faithful to the original text, richly musical, and marked by the sorts of ingenious solutions perhaps discoverable only in a life governed by poetry and prayer. (…) His psalter works as poetry, because it was born of humility and brought to perfection by dint of hard work and the grace of God. Call it providential – a marriage of translator and text, which reads as if it was made in heaven.«

Archbishop John Breck wrote the preface (2 pp); he mentions: »In rendering the Greek "Septuagint" version of the biblical Psalms into fresh and yet traditional English, Donald Sheehan has produced a translation that conveys the "literal" sense of the text with power and beauty. Yet his sensivity to the symbolic value of language has enabled him to use words in such a way as to move the reader beyond an intellectual grasp of the psalmist´s message to a level of understanding that represents a true sensus plenior. This is "translation" in the pure sense of the term. It represents the "intention of the biblical author", the original meaning of a psalm as it was initially composed, in its specific historical, sociological, and spiritual setting. At the same time, this translation – thoroughly faithful to that literal sense – conveys to the reader a new depth of perception through which the text itself can reveal a deeper, fuller meaning that speaks to the reader's own immediate circumstances.«

Sheehan, in his very informative Translator's Preface (7 pp), writes: »Working from the 1979 edition of Alfred Rahlfs´ Septuagint Psalter, my primary aim in making this translation was to create in English a body of poetry that, in employing the rich idioms of contemporary English poetics, would stand on its own in cadence and shape. (…) I soon discovered something of what Mother Maria had found in translating the Hebrew Psalter: that every psalm has a unique face; that is, each psalm possesses something very like personhood.«

The Appendix reveals the difference between the counting of the Hebrew and the LXX numbering of the Psalms and instructs the reader to the reciting of the Kathismatha in daily prayer.

Portions of this Psalms translation first appeared in Thomas Nelson, The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today´s World (2008). Psalms 102, 132, and 150 were previously published, in a different lineated version, in the St. Petersburg Review 4/5, 2011/12.

An illustrated biography of the Orthodox Theologian Dr. Donald "Donatos" Sheehan (1940 – 2010) can be read here:


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