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«Христос воскресе!» [Christ is Risen!] Posted by on Apr 4, 2010 in Culture, News, Russian life, Traditions, when in Russia

Outside of the church closest to where I live in Yekaterinburg they put up the following poster a few days ago: «4 (четвёртого) апреля – светлое Христово Воскресение» [The 4th of April – the Bright Resurrection of Christ]. «Христос воскресе!» [Christ is risen!]. The following quote turned out too small for you to read on the picture so I’ll write it here for you instead: «Да укрепит Всесильный Господь нас в богопознании, во взаимной любви, в делах сострадания и милосердия» [Let the All-mighty Lord strengthen us in our perception of God, in mutual love, in works of compassion and charity]. «Кирилл, Патриарх Московский и Всея Руси» [Kirill, Patriarch over Moscow and all of Rus’]. And right down at the bottom it says: «Возродим Россию вместе [We will revive Russia together!]

Today, for the first time in many, many years it is «Пасха» [Easter] on one and the same day for Christians all over the world: «и для католиков, и для протестантов, и для православных» [both for Catholics and for Protestants and for Orthodox (Christians)]. Today we’re celebrating the «воскресение» [1) resurrection; 2) fig. revival] of Christ – He’s called «Христос» in Russian – in the first connotation of this noun: resurrection. In general this noun can be difficult to keep apart from another noun which is pronounced exactly the same but spelled differently: «воскресенье» [Sunday]. Christ’s resurrection – «воскресение Христово» – as we can all see clearly, is spelled with the modern Russian orthographic ending for neuter nouns: «-ие». But the last day of the week (in Russia) is spelled with the ‘older’ orthographic ending for neuter nouns: «-ье», thus replacing the «и» with «ь» [a soft sign]. But there’s really not much of a difference in pronuncing these two different ways of spelling (at least not when I’m pronouncing them, but I could be wrong), so my best advice to you all is to simply either «постараться запомнить» [pfv. to try pfv. to remember], «или продолжать делать ошибки, надеясь на милосердие русских» [or impfv. to continue impfv. making mistakes, impfv. hoping on the Russians’ mercy].

So what exactly was it that Jesus did today «тысячи две лет тому назад» [some 2000 years ago]? In Russia today everyone says to each other: «Христос воскресе!» [Christ is risen!], and answer each other with: «Воистину воскресе!» [In truth (He) is risen!]. But this verb is really spelled (in modern Russian orthography, that is) like this: «воскрес». That’s the male form in the past tense of the perfect verb «воскреснуть» [resurrect; revive; arise, rise]. As you can see, in the past tense for the male form this verb loses its ending completely. If Jesus had been a girl, then this verb would have looked liked «воскресла» [lit. (she has) risen] in the saying above. If Jesus would’ve have been resurrected together with a close friend, or just someone He met accidentally while in Hell, then it would have been necessary to use the plural form which is «воскресли» [lit. (they have) risen]. The perfect verb means that Jesus was resurrected only ONCE, and that He did receive a RESULT (as is how we usually tell when the perfect aspect should be put to use in Russian grammar). Had Jesus not been resurrected once, but TWICE – I know, this is «богохульство» [blasphemy], but since it is «в целях грамматики» [for grammar], I think «Бог простит» [God will forgive], don’t you? – then we would’ve have had to make use of this verb in its imperfect aspect: «воскресать» [to rise from the dead, come back to life; to regain one’s strength]. In the past tense this verb looks like this:

«Он воскресал два раза» – [He rose from the dead two times].

«Она воскресала три раза» – [She rose from the dead three times].

«Вместе они воскресали четыре раза – исключая те случаи, когда каждый по отдельности воскресал» – [Together they rose from the dead four times – excluding those times, when each of them rose from the dead on their own].

Okay, I might have crossed the line here. «Прошу прощения!» [I beg for forgiveness!] But how else to combine this kind of useful information on Russian grammar with such a cool verb as pfv. «воскреснуть», without mentioning also its impfv. «воскресать»? Anyway: «со светлим праздником Пасхи всех!»

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  1. Isaac:

    I’m an atheist and I celebrate Easter the same as the Christians here do: By eating chocolate. Easter is just another pagan festival than christianity decided to steal. It’s meaningless.

  2. Stephen Farrand:

    I for one am quite charmed by your mini-lesson on verbal aspect using воскресать and воскреснуть. A quick search on Google yields the somewhat less outlandish philosophical question Воскресал ли Иисус Христос?

    By the way, the Христос воскресе! Easter greeting is actually Church Slavonic, not Russian, which accounts for the different ending. It’s a quotation from the Orthodox Liturgy.

  3. peter parisius:

    Wow! It’s great that I’ve discovered your blog. In fact, I want to learn Russian… Till soon! (Bye from Germany/Italy, Europe, Planet Earth)

  4. Marcia Shehorn:

    For poor Isaac: I avoid chocolate on Resurrection Day for the very reason you say. I do it because the day has the utmost meaning for me, not because it is meaningless.
    The Greek tense makes the most sense to me. Does it work in Russian? We say. “He is risen [indeed],” in the Greek and English perfect tense: punctiliar action in the past with results continuing into the present. For another example, I do not say, “I was married,” but, “I am married,” unless I am telling someone the date of my wedding. In the case of Christ, He is still risen, and will remain so, unless we re-crucify Him.

  5. Stephen Farrand:

    Marcia, ἀνέστη in Gk is not perfect, but aorist. It occurs at for example Luke 8:55 και επεστρεψεν το πνευμα αυτης και ανεστη παραχρημα και διεταξεν αυτη δοθηναι φαγειν. The verbs here are all aorist, which is used for punctual events in the past–a sequence of events in a narrative. In Church Slavonic, воскресе (воскрес in Russian) is (I believe) also aorist, which usually become perfective forms in Modern Russian, if they survive. Bоскрес is definitely perfective in Russian. It’s much more like exclaiming “Christ (a)rose!” than “Christ is risen!”.

  6. Isaac:

    For poor Marcia Shehorn:

    You say: “I avoid chocolate on Resurrection Day for the very reason you say.”

    I didn’t mention a reason not to eat chocolate on Easter.

    “I do it because the day has the utmost meaning for me, not because it is meaningless.”

    Seriously? You’re a minority then. I can’t see how it could possibly have any meaning. A pagan festival celebrating fertility now eaten up by commercialism has little appeal to me.