An expression in the Prologue of St Benedict’s Rule struck me as interesting today. I had looked for my usual reading copy—Abbot Justin McCann’s bilingual edition—but not finding it and being in a hurry this morning, I brought along my little pocket-sized edition of Leonard Doyle’s translation. There I read a translation of RB Prologue 9 that I don’t believe I’d seen before:
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with attentive ears the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us... 
I had never before noticed the use of the word ‘deifying’ in any translation of this passage that I recalled, and of course, as an Orthodox Christian I immediately took notice. At school I found McCann’s edition, and looked up the passage in question. In the Latin, I saw that the passage read:
Et apertis oculis nostris ad deificum lumen, attonitis auribus audiamus divina cotidie clamans quid nos admonet vox... 
It certainly seemed to me, a rank amateur I admit, that deificum warranted the translation as ‘deifying’. But McCann had rendered the same words:
Let us open our eyes to the divine light, and let us hear with attentive ears the warning that the divine voice crieth daily to us... 
Furthermore, McCann had already defended his translation in an endnote on the passage in question. Of the words deificum and attonitis, he wrote:
It is characteristic of Late Latin that strong words have less than their full value. Thus these words are equivalennt respectively to divinus and attentus, and we must resist the temptation to translate ‘divinizing’ and ‘astonished’, or ‘deifying’ and ‘astounded’. We might find a parallel in our own language in the colloquial depreciation of such words as ‘awful’ and ‘terrible’. 
But an Internet search for the phrase deificum lumen yielded an argument opposed to McCann’s. Abbot Patrick Barry, formerly of the famous Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, UK, has written in the introduction to his own translation of the RB:
St Benedict wrote ‘apertis oculis nostris ad deificum lumen.’ Most modern scholars play down the meaning of deificum lumen as though the dramatic word deificum means for St Benedict no more than ‘divine’, and so they translate the phrase as ‘with our eyes open to the divine light.’ Others give it a more literal meaning, ‘the light that makes us like God.’ I think the latter translation is right. It may shock us into perceiving the astonishing, exhilarating meaning of our baptism into Christ.
The ‘shock value’, however, is not the only reason Barry advocates the more literal translation:
If we remember how through lectio St Benedict’s mind was saturated with Scripture, it is evident that he was referring to a passage from 2 Corinthians: ‘All of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory; this is the working of the Lord who is in the Spirit.’ Then a little later Paul sums up in this way: ‘It is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness” that has shone into our hearts to enlighten them with the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ.’ (II Corinthians 3:18 and 4:6) 
Accordingly, Barry renders the passage in question, giving a citation of II Cor. 3:18 in a footnote to suggest the allusion:
Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us into the likeness of God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring call of his voice crying to us every day... 
Unfortunately, consulting the other commentaries I possess does little to help either way. The infallible Adalbert de Vogüé does not seem to mention it in his magisterial Doctrinal & Spiritual Commentary,  and in his Reflections on the Rule written for novices, he identifies the deificum lumen with Scripture in a very brief reference: ‘Scripture thus enters the stage both explicitly and massively. Its importance is paramount in the monk’s life. It is both “light from God” and “voice from heaven”—one and the same element through which the Lord touches all our spiritual senses.’  While shedding no light on whether the light is ‘deifying’ or merely ‘divine’, Dom Paul Delatte makes the same identification in his commentary but then goes further:
We must open our eyes; for it is thus that one begins to shake off sleep and recover consciousness. We must open them to ‘the deifying light’, which phrase may be understood of the Scriptures, ‘Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths’ (Ps. cxviii. 105), or of faith, or better of Our Lord Himself, the true Light who walks before us and guides us: ‘He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life’ (John viii. 12). 
Note, however, the translation of the phrase. Surprisingly, the English translation of Dom Delatte's commentary was made by Abbot Justin McCann! While I do not know what French phrase Delatte himself used, however, ‘deifying’ here is the rendering of a much younger Justin McCann than the one who later (1951) translated the RB himself and gave us ‘divine light’ with such insistence. According to McCann’s preface to the Delatte commentary, the translation was made in 1920 at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford.  At that time, it seems, McCann was largely content to rely for the translation of the RB itself on the authority of what he calls ‘the excellent Rule of St Benedict of Abbot Hunter-Blair’,  the latter being Dom Oswald Hunter-Blair of Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland, who published his translation in 1886. Dom Hunter-Blair renders our passage:
And our eyes being open to the deifying light, let us hear with wondering ears what the Divine Voice admonisheth us, daily crying out... 
I for one find Barry’s defence of the more ‘shocking’ translation by means of the comparison with II Corinthians rather persuasive. Certainly, it strikes me as a valid move to note that the ‘divine light’ is spoken of by St Paul as transforming us ‘into the image that we reflect’, and the use of the stronger word deificum rather than merely divinum seems to me to suggest that St Benedict wanted to at least hint at this fuller understanding of God’s light.
 Leonard J. Doyle, tr., St Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1948), pp. 1-2.
 Abbot Justin McCann, OSB, tr. & ed., The Rule of Saint Benedict in English & Latin (Ft Collins, CO: Roman Catholic, n.d.), p. 6.
 Ibid., p. 7.
 Ibid., 165, n. 3. I do not know firsthand whether this generalisation about Late Latin is correct, but C.S. Lewis has suggested that it is a common occurrence in language generally. He calls it ‘inflation’, and considers it ‘one of the commonest’ species of ‘verbicide’—‘those who taught us to say awfully for “very”, tremendous for “great”, sadism for “cruelty”, and unthinkable for “undesirable” were verbicides’ (Studies in Words, 2nd ed. [Cambridge: Cambridge U, 2002], p. 7). Vizzini’s ‘inconceivable’ is of course a particularly famous example.
 Patrick Barry, OSB, Saint Benedict’s Rule, 2nd ed. (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 2004), p. 15.
Barry refers to St Benedict’s mind being ‘saturated’ in lectio divina. The latter is a subject I have addressed a limited way on one or two occasions, but I would like to say more at some point in the near future. In the meantime, I highly recommend the transcription of Armand Veilleux’s talk, ‘Lectio Divina as a school of prayer among the Fathers of the Desert’, here.
 Ibid., p. 46.
 See the chapter on the Prologue in Adalbert de Vogüé, OSB, The Rule of Saint Benedict: A Doctrinal & Spiritual Commentary, tr. John Baptist Hasbrouck (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1983), pp. 9-43.
 Adalbert de Vogüé, OSB, Reading Saint Benedict: Reflections on the Rule, tr. Colette Friedlander, OCSO (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1994), p. 25.
Sr Friedlander’s translation of this commentary uses the RB 1980 translation prepared by a committee of Benedictines, where the phrase in question is ‘the light that comes from God’—a choice seemingly reflected in her rendering of Pere Adalbert’s comments. See RB 1980: The Rule of St Benedict in English, ed. Timothy Fry, OSB, et al. (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1982), p. 16.
 Dom Paul Delatte, OSB, A Commentary on the Holy Rule of St Benedict, tr. & ed. Dom Justin McCann, OSB (Latrobe, PA: The Archabbey Press, 1959), p. 8.
 Ibid., p. vii.
 Ibid., p. vii.
 See the complete text here.