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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Saturday, August 18, 2007

70 or 70 x 7 - Part 2

For those who don't read comments, I thought this important enough to put in a post of it's own, so that my position as stated in my last post would be clarified. This is in response to Michael's comments on that post (also, please do check out Michael's blog too):

...It seems your main reason in doing so [posting these comments] is to defend the NAB as being a valid translation - ok. We agree. You see, while I agree with Fr. Neuhaus in my distaste for the NAB monopolyl, my commentary on this blog has very little to do with what the scholars of the day think of the NAB, much less of what the highly-esteemed Fr. Brown thinks. I have read Brown in two of my courses, including his "Introduction to the New Testament" text, and was not particularly impressed, Pontifical Biblical Commission seat and all. It is quite clear that he is very keen on the modern historical-critical method, to the detriment of any other method. As such, I do not see him or his opinions to be of much use to the average Catholic who seeks to be formed in the faith - namely, the majority of people who sit in the pews each day. Likewise, I don't think the NAB is really good for us to use to study either - the vague and banal language on it's own might be forgiven, but the often horrendous commentary in many of the NAB editions is what is most to blame for my dislike of it as a good Catholic study Bible.

The thing is, as far as my blog post was concerned, the key issue here is what Scriptural texts are used at Mass. This is a different kettle of fish than what you are discoursing on.

As far as the LITURGICAL use of Scripture is concerned, my understanding is it has to do with 1) the authentic proclaimation of the Word of God by an appropriate person (ordained man in terms of the Gospel), 2) in a way fitting to the dignity of worship and 3) by the use of a text that the Church, by the authority of Christ, has deemed to be an accurate expression of God's written Revelation to mankind.

As our Holy Father has said time and again, it is NOT just Scripture that we look to as authoritative - we look equally to Tradition. If all we cared about was having the perfect set of Scripture, we'd all have nervous breakdowns and none of us would ever be able to trust that we really knew what God was ACTUALLY saying (as is evidenced by the 20,000 + Protestant denominations today!). Or we'd all become Mormans, since at least they claim that God told Joseph Smith word-for-word exactly what he wanted to say; or Muslims, who are the most consistent of anyone by acknowledging that ALL translation is traitorous, as the saying goes, and ergo forbidding any translation from claiming authoritative status!

Fortunately, as Catholics, we don't just have Scripture, we have Tradition. Now, Tradition might not be enough for the scholars such as yourself - and indeed, perhaps it shouldn't be, as I do not deny that it is a good thing to always seek for more literally accurate manuscripts, or to constantly seek more anthropological and historical/cultural understanding. However, when it comes to eternal salvation, Tradition is inseparable from Scripture in terms of allowing us to be confident that we are indeed truly receiving the fullness of divine revelation. This touches most strongly on the latter half of your first comment, regarding the "errors" of the RSV due to it's source material.

To me, it is helpful to recall our Holy Father's words regarding the Mass. All vernacular missals are translations of the Latin Missal, which is normative, however, the Latin Missal is a sacred text in it's own right and is NOT subject to re-interpretation based on Scriptural studies. For example, it is my understanding that in the Scriptural texts pertaining to the Last Supper, there is incongruity between whether or not Jesus used "for all" or "for many". However, this argument is non-authoritative when it comes to the liturgy according to Pope Benedict. Why? Becuase the Latin Rite is itself a sacred text, and hence all translations of it need to be done SOLELY from it's own language, not from any source that it might be claimed that it is derived from. Ergo, the Holy Father decreed that all future translations of "multis" from the Latin missal MUST be "for many", and not "for all."

Now, moving from the Missal to the readings usesd in the contexxt of that Missal, Tradition has consistently taught that the Latin Vulgate - while you may find it inadequate for your use - does adequately express the Word of God, and the faithful will profit spiritually from their study and prayerful reflection on the text. Likewise, so does the RSV, the NJB, and yes, even the NAB (even with it's annoying inclusive language that offends my feminine intellect). All are approved translations. That's not my beef.

What I've said so far, and what you have stated, deals mostly with the third part of my little outline above. The first part, regarding the appropriateness of the person who is proclaiming the readings, doesn't really apply to this discussion either. So, let's move to the second part - the fittingness of the text for the sacred liturgy.

My beef is, first and foremost, that LITURGICALLY a translation should be used that contributes to, and does not detract from, the dignity of the liturgy and the active participation of the people. The NAB here fails, I think, and so do many others. In the first instance, by it's banality, and in the second by it's inconsistent grammar and unreadable style (downright confusing if you ask me, when I listen from the pews or read from the ambo). In the same ways, the RSV is, I feel, a much more dignified AND clear translation for public proclaimation. The ideas are conveyed more precisely (and literally, which is important particularly in the Psalms where neutering often damages both the cultural understanding and the typology), and the grammatical style is much easier for the average listener to follow - and contrary to the condescending complaints from certain liberals, the more specific vocabularly is by no means too difficult for us to follow easily.

One may argue that this is more of a subjective issue than the other two - and I agree, as you will note by my closing comment on this original post. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. At the same time, if you are a Catholic, then you must pay attention to the thinking and practice of the Church universally. It is quite clear that throughout the Church there has been and is continuing to be a trend towards ensuring that a more ecclestiastical tone be used in the sacred texts, whether they be prayers at Mass, or the Scriptural readings and citations. Likewise, simply by looking at the climate of the other English-speaking countries, you find that clearly the sensibility is of a different type of translation than the casual, banal style of the NAB. Finally, simply look at the coming re-translation of the Roman Missal - Vox Clara would agree with those of us who argue for more options in lectionaries here in the States, I'd wager.

Therefore, my opinion regarding all of this remains unchanged. I still believe that the NAB is an inferior translation to be used liturgically, and that the dictates of the USCCB that it be used solely are suspicious insofar as the USCCB stands to lose out on a lot of money if they were to actually let us choose between translations. Personally, I think there are only two ways in which this will happen - 1) the Pope decrees that RSV is a universally-approved liturgical translation, or 2) 10 years from now there's all new faces at the USCCB and someone bites the bullet and gives up the cash cow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Sorry about that, you're right, I don't know I posted a comment defending the NAB so vociferously, when your post had to do with the exclusivity of NAB in American Catholic liturgies. My mind is not working very well yet and I read Fr. Neuhaus' blog and then read yours, and somehow read them in the same spirit. On top of which, had I been more honest, I would actually have agreed with the Father on a few points, because while I appreciate the NAB, it does have limitations (as do all translations). Also, had I read your post more carefully, I would actually have agreed with you in the first place. Since officially there are three translations approved for English liturgy, it seems the options should be available, and that the liturgy would only be enriched.

Note to self, do not write about religion while taking pain killers! Had I taken that advice in the first place perhaps I could have avoided the confusion :)

August 18, 2007 11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I did have to laugh a little bit at your reference to me as a scholar :) I appreciate it, but it's far from the truth. I'm a wannabe scholar, and perhaps one day I'll live up to the name, but as it stands now you are far more learned in both Scripture and Tradition than am I. That's one of the reasons I read your blog. Indeed, one of my greatest spiritual problems is that I present myself as far more educated than I actually am. It's a most serious form of pride, and it continues to serve to my great detriment. But I'm working on it...

August 18, 2007 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for flooding your comments, but I just wanted to point out that our current Holy Father quotes from the RSV in Jesus of Nazareth. So he seems to agree with you, too. I think that counts for something :) Okay, I'm done commenting now...

August 18, 2007 11:51 PM  

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