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Is this correct?: Noli te oblivisci puerum Dei.

I’m interested in the translation most conforming to Ecclesiastical Latin.

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2 Answers 2

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You're pretty close. Just a couple of suggestions:

  • This is a form of indirect speech, so I'm not sure you can omit the infinitive esse.
  • Also for being indirect speech, I'd put te after the verbal construction noli oblivisci and next to puerum but it's more of a matter of taste.
  • Now child and puer/puella both have the double meaning of kid & son/daughter. But in Latin the second meaning of puer comes as a rather secondary meaning. In turn, the most usual sense of 'Child of God' in the New Testament —either in uppercase applied to Jesus, or in lowercase to us by adoption— is specifically that of son/daughter, hence filius/filia fits better.¹ E.g., Ioh 1:12, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri / he gave [them] power to become children of God.

All said, my suggestion is,

Noli oblivisci te filium Dei esse


¹: A prominent example of children as kids is found in Mt 18:3, but there the VG uses parvuli, little ones, and note those are not immediately connected to God: Amen dico vobis: Nisi conversi fueritis et efiiciamini sicut parvuli, non intrabitis in regnum caelorum

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  • If this is indirect speech then "child" is being treated as a separate person from "you"; "child" is then the third party; "you", the second party; the writer/ speaker, the first. Is that correct?
    – tony
    Sep 11, 2022 at 8:38
  • I have to say, at the risk of refusing to answer the original question, that memento te filium Dei esse flows better, or even memento semper te filium esse Dei. But this is a question of “playing it by ear” and there is no reason to suppose my ears are better than someone else’s. Sep 11, 2022 at 21:39
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    @tony That is not correct. te is the subject of the indirect statement, and filium is the "predicate." In direct speech, you'd get: Tu es filius dei.
    – cmw
    Sep 13, 2022 at 15:34
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In this context, child is almost always normallly rendered as puer. For example, if we read Augustine's Confessions it says ...non erubuerit esse puer Christi tui... (he blushed not to be a child of thy Christ). So your translation is correct in this regard.

To order or command somebody not to forget is noli oblivisci. For example, Et pactum quod percussit vobiscum, nolite oblivisci: nec colatis deos alienos, (2 Kings 17:38). However, in your case it is more of a friendly reminder, not an angry command from a threatening God. So, instead you should use the subjunctive, ie, ne obliviscaris. For example, Proverbs 3:1 Fili mi, ne obliviscaris legis meae, et praecepta mea cor tuum custodiat (My son, pray not forget my law, but keep my commandments in your heart.) Verbs of remembering or forgetting take the genitive which is why we have legis meae here.

In this kind of construction, which is an abjuration of fact, you do not need to render the idea of "that" the way we do in English. You just state the fact right after the abjuration. For example, Dixitque mulier ad Eliam: Nunc in isto cognovi quoniam vir Dei es tu, et verbum Domini in ore tuo verum est. (1 kings 17:24). (Said the woman to Elijah: Now, by this I know that since you are a man of god, the word of God in your mouth is the truth.) We can render your statement exactly the same way, substituting puer for vir:

Ne obliviscaris puer Dei es tu.

Simple and straightforward ecclesiastical Latin. Essentially we are translating it as though it had a colon, "Do not forget: you are the child of God." Another example of this kind of construction can be found in Psalms 73:23, "Ne obliviscaris voces inimicorum tuorum... ascendit semper." (Never forget, the voices of your enemies always ascend.)

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    You actually do need to render the idea of "that", and in your example quoniam does that. Your translation is misleading; that line is more properly rendered "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and the word &c.", which is also how the KJV and the NIV have it. If the meaning were as in your translation, the es should be sis and there should be another conjunction in the second object sentence (or it should be an ACI).
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 10, 2022 at 20:08
  • @Cairnarvon I added to my answer gave another example of the appositive construction I am recommending from Psalms. As you can see, when a full sentence is the object of abjuration, it is treated as an independent clause, so "voces" for example is nominative plural, not genitive. Sep 10, 2022 at 22:16
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    Voces is an accusative plural, in fact, because it's the direct object of obliviscaris (obliviscor can go with acc. or gen. for the thing forgotten). Your ellipsis obscures an actual colon: "Ne obliviscaris voces inimicorum tuorum: superbia eorum qui te oderunt ascendit semper." That is to say, ascendit semper does not depend syntactically on obliviscaris at all, it's just two separate sentences.
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 10, 2022 at 22:32

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