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pasting in the footnotes

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 25, 2005

Anybody else fouled out by the translation of this morning's first Mass reading? Here's the traditional RSV rendering of Genesis 18:11-12.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?

Here's what we heard at Mass today:

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself and said, Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?

The RNAB Lectionary is notorious for this kind of patronizing help to the hearer, using the idiom of a sophomore high school health teacher to expand what it regards as vague expressions in the Biblical text. Last Thursday we got "He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant" for the standard "And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived." Is anyone old enough to understand the situation in doubt about the meaning of the traditional literal translation?

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Novus744 - Jun. 27, 2005 3:23 PM ET USA

    I find the Vulgate to be the translation that seems to be the most accurate. Another remark brought an answer to a question I had before, about why the readings for Mass need to be in English. If a child were to hear (without reading) "reign of God", they might be confused; especially with the amount of teaching that they get from their parents these days. If the child were to read the word and didn't understand, he/she would ask mommy or daddy. Baddabing - no more confusion.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 27, 2005 2:02 PM ET USA

    What about "...Sarah dissembled". What was wrong with lied?

  • Posted by: - Jun. 26, 2005 3:07 PM ET USA

    What about "...Sarah dissembled, saying... "Lied" would do fine.

  • Posted by: Thomist - Jun. 26, 2005 9:00 AM ET USA

    At a talk a few years ago, Bishop Trautman actually explained that they (the ICEL, I think) were changing "the reign of God" to "the kingdom of God." Why? Because those of us in the pews hearing the reading might think it was about divine precipitation.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 25, 2005 4:42 PM ET USA

    Why not consign ICEL and ilk to the trash heap of history , send its member off to do some honest work for souls, take the money we save and give it to Mother Teresa's Sisters. And if they don't want to do some serious work instead of promoting their ideology, then maybe they ought to consider farming.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 25, 2005 4:37 PM ET USA

    There are so many of these instances I have ceased allowing myself to get upset. Making pandering translations worse are confused translations (based on earlier work) the awful punctuation and the bad English usage, which are often even syntactically wrong, or so it seems to me. Readability is often impossible. And yet have never found a single passage of Ronald Knox's that was anything but perfectly clear. It is more elegant, understandable and pure than anything I have read before or since.

  • Posted by: R. Spanier (Catholic Canadian) - Jun. 25, 2005 2:17 PM ET USA

    Examples from Canada's adapted NRSV: Isaiah Ch. 7:14, 'young woman' replaces 'virgin': “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Matthew 6:34, ‘trouble' replaces 'evil’: “So do not worry about tomorrow...Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 2:16 where it's no longer only the male children: "..Herod... killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under…” Wouldn't collegiality mean one English Catholic bible?

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jun. 25, 2005 1:40 PM ET USA

    funny, it would seem the new translation would be less "politically correct." Among other things though, with the new lectionary, at least we don't have to suffer "hail, o highly favored daughter." I Often use another translation to prepare homilies, so sometimes I'm surprised (and not pleasantly so) when I get up to proclaim the new translation...much of it is pretty gross. BTW, there are other groups seeking to stop of the insanity, here's one:

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