translations

new translation of adrienne's commentary on Mark

Transient

You need to read this commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Last fall, Ignatius Press released the translation of Adrienne von Speyr's commentary on Mark. For any theological study of her, this book is central to Adrienne's earlier thought and should belong to any Adrienne essential reading list, which must also include her commentary on John, Handmaid of the Lord, and Confession.

Mark: Meditations for a Community, translated by Michelle K. Borras, is special because of its time and method. When founding her secular institute, the Johannesgemeinshaft, Adrienne composed a series of foundational meditations on the Gospel of Mark to give the new community a a contemplative bedrock. Whereas Balthasar wrote the community's rule with his book Our Task: A Report and a Plan, Adrienne's meditations on Mark were to be the formal spiritual opening of the gate to the community's new life and mission. One of the members present at this gate opening was Frau Cornelia Capol who will tell you that this book is her favorite of all Adrienne's books.

The method of composition is special in that the vast majority of Adrienne works were dictated to Balthasar who later edited them (some more than others) into publishable books. We should remember that he founded the Johannesverlag for publishing these works. So unlike her other books, Mark was dictated to the community and these notes of the community (including Balthasar's initial notes as he tells us in the "Forward" of the book) became the text we now have before us. It appears too that Adrienne was involved in some of the initial editing of these notes. This information should give you an idea of these meditations' importance and also give you insight on how to read the commentary.

Let us think about that insight. Balthasar explained in the "Forward" that the "meditations are addressed to young people who have made a decision for the state of the evangelical counsels in a worldly profession, for a secular institute that was coming into being." In these meditates Adrienne will be using the Gospel of Mark to prepare the community for living in the world following the way of Jesus through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. While of course Adrienne is not intent on composing an academic commentary, her interpretation of the text is all within the dogma of the Catholic Church and comes from her own contemplation. It is also not a full commentary on the Gospel. The passion narratives of Mark were not offered because we are told the initial meditations were given during Eastertide. If you are familiar with Mark this could be read as a major oversight of a proper spiritual commentary, but like all of Adrienne's writings the passion of Christ is never absent. The loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the foundation for one's mission to be in the world through the evangelical counsels.

As I come back to this book now in English having read it in German, I am reminded of how the book gives you continually new openings toward new paths of contemplation. Like a lot of Adrienne's writings, this is a hard book to read quickly. So many doors open as you walk down the hallway of the book. I hope you will read the book and get distracted into deep contemplation.

You can find it at Ignatius Press paperback and ebook and at any other major online book seller.

As a closing, here is a picture I took of Lac-de-Neuchatel from the town of Estavayer-le-Lac where these meditations were given and where the founding of the Johannesgemeinshaft began.

View of Lac-de-Neuchatel from Estavayer-le-Lac

View of Lac-de-Neuchatel from Estavayer-le-Lac

what is your favorite adrienne von speyr book?

As a growing number of works by Adrienne von Speyr are being translated, a richer picture of her thought is being painted in the English-speaking world.  No matter how many books of Adrienne von Speyr you have read, what book of hers is your favorite?

Please post it in the comments section below.

For those of you wondering about me, my favorite is Handmaid of the Lord.  You can see my other favorite von Speyr books here.

What is your favorite Adrienne von Speyr book?

von speyr in spanish

For those of you interested in reading Adrienne von Speyr in Spanish, I am happy to tell you about a new publishing house called Ediciones San Juan.Ediciones San Juan  

Their purpose is mainly to publish von Speyr's works in Spanish.  The translators know well her theology and mysticism so they are able to provide good faithful translations.

At the time of this post, these editions are available:

  • Ancilla Domini
  • El cantar de los cantares
  • Elías
  • La confesión
  • La creación
  • La misión de los profetas
  • La Palabra se hace carne: Meditaciones sobre el Evangelio de Juan, 1-5
  • La santa misa
  • María en la redencion 
  • Palabras de la cruz y sacramentos

Thanks to Alberto Valero for alerting me to this important work.