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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 25 Jun 2002

Scrirture Translation QUESTION from Linda January 7, 1999 Here we go again!!! There's another translation of the Bible, inclusive, starting in our Parishes as of this new year. WHY? I have the NAB, The Douay, the Jerusalem Bible, and the Ignatius Bible. I love to read and study Scripture! I don't like it that the American Bishops have allowed another revision, as it were. I am a cradle Catholic, and I don't like to see the revisions. I went to a Mass in a Catholic Church in Canada that didn't have a crucifix! Only a cross painted white, out of wood. It was the barest Church I was ever in, and no one even knelt during the Consecration....there were no kneelers, but so what? My family and I were the only ones kneeling in the Chuch. I was overwhelmed by a sadness! My question? What Bible is the truest translation and faithful to the magisterium's teaching on Scripture? I'm sorry to seem frustrated...I guess I am. I was told the Ignatius Bible is the closest to the original languages, yet the Douay was translated by Saint Jerome in Latin. Help! God bless your work!
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on January 11, 1999 Dear Linda:
Thank you for your blessing. It is greatly appreciated.
As to the New Lectionary, the Vatican approved this revision that was implemented here recently. Thus the revision is okay. We must trust the Vatican in these matters for it is to the Pope and Magisterium that God Himself gave the authority to do things like translate the Bible. That authority is not given to individual bishops or even to bishops' conferences, but it is given to the Pope and Magisterium. And the Pope has at his disposal the experts in Biblical langauges and translations to advise him; but the Holy Spirit is the final judge and the Holy Spirit works through the Pope. So we must trust Rome.
Some of the changes made in the new revision are actually better translations than the NAB. The NAB really had some bad renderings of some words and phrases.
Also in the new translation is the use of appropriate inclusive language. By Appropriate I mean that no changes where made that changes theology. The inclusive language is used ONLY where it is appropriate to use.
I don't have the new Lectionary in front of me, so I may have this wrong, but I think the reading for December 20th from Isaiah 7:13 reads in the NAB:
Then he said: Listen, O house of David! It is not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God!? Since I don't have the Lectionary in hand I can't quote for you the actually rendering of that verse in the new Lectionary, but I can say, if I remember correctly, that the term men was changed to people.
There is nothing wrong with that rendering. In that verse men DOES refer to people, not the male of the species.
Personally, I don't like that change, but the change is an appropriate change technically.
Revisions are necessary to keep up with the development of language. It would be very difficult to read the original Douay-Rheims Bible. It uses conventions, spellings, and grammatical constructions that are unheard of today.
For example, in the original Douay-Rheims, Ephesians 6:12 reads:
For our wrestling is not against flesh and bloud: but against Princes and Potestats, against the rectors of the world of this darkenes, against the spirituals or wickednes in the celestials. There are no typos in that. That is what the original reads.
From 1749-1752 the Douay-Rheims was revised by Bishop Richard Challoner. It is THIS edition that most people are familiar with when they think of Douay-Rheims.
In the Challoner Revision of Douay-Rheims, Ephesians 6:12 reads:
For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. In another revision of the Douay-Rheims that MANY pre-Vatican II people are familiar with – the Confraternity Bible – the rendering of the verse is:
For our wrestling in not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness on high. Each of these renderings are different, but each says the same thing. The rendering we are going to like has largely to do with the version we used when learning our Scripture.
It is natural to favor the version that we learned from. But we need to be careful about assuming that any revisions after that are automatically tainted.
The Church has ALWAYS sought to make the Bible accessible to the people.
The original New Testament was written in Greek. If we had no new translations or revisions, we would all be using a Greek Bible.
St. Jerome translated the first modern language edition of the Bible. By the time of Jerome Greek was falling into disuse among the literate public. Latin was the primary language. So to make the Bible more accessible to the people, he translated the Bible into Latin.
But even Latin was not known by some and as early as the 8th century I think it was (I'd have to look it up), translations were being made into English, for example.
But even within a single language, the language changes. The Douay-Rheims from the 17th Century would be almost unreadable today for most people.
The Church desires to try to provide the best translations possible for the times of which we live, that is, to be consistent with the linguistic development of the language.
If the Church did not do this with English translations, for example, we would all be reading a Bible written in Old English which few English-speaking people today could even read, let alone understand.
So, revisions, in-and-of-themselves are not a bad thing AS LONG as they are approved by the Vatican. The new Lectionary is approved by the Vatican; it is not something the American Bishops pushed onto the American Catholics on their own.
I do believe that the push to change men to people is a result of political pressures rather than the natural evolution of the language, but if the Vatican approved the changes, we must accept them.
Remember, however, that the translation used in the Lectionary is for the Lectionary. You don't have to use that version for your personal studies and readings.
Until the new Lectionary came into effect, most parishes used the Lectionary with the NAB translation. I personally don't like the NAB translation and I never read it normally. In my personal studies I use the RSV-CE as the main Bible translation – and so do most loyal and orthodox apologists and scholars (along with the Challoner Edition of the Douay-Rheims).
The important thing to remember is that the Vatican approves the Lectionary. If the Lectionary is approved, then it is okay. But all we are talking about is the translation used in the Lectionary. The Douay-Rheims, Confraternity Bible, RSV-CE, NAB (not the Revised NAB), and Jerusalem Bible (not the Revised Jerusalam Bible) are all approved Bibles for Catholics to use. Use whichever version you can relate with and read.
As for the situation you described where there was no crucifix present during mass and no kneeling during the consecration, these are abuses and violations of law.
Liturgical law REQURIES the presence of a crucifix during the Mass, and the law also REQUIRES kneeling during the consecration. It is sad when bishops disobey the law.
As for which translation is the truest?
I would recommend the Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition has the primary Bible (This is the Ignatius Bible) and the Challoner Edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible (which if you have a Douay-Rheims, this edition is probably what you have).
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