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the english encyclical's bible

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jan 25, 2006

Last week, Sandro Magister mentioned the Holy See's dissatisfaction with its translators, and blamed the delay in publication of certain documents on the same problem. The very first sentence of the Pope's encyclical raises an interesting question: where do the Scripture quotations come from?

"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."

Right from the git-go -- gender-exclusive pronoun alert! -- you know you're not in Lectionary Land. That's 1 John 4:16, taken from the Revised Standard Version translation (identical in the traditional Protestant and the new Catholic editions). A check of the encyclical's other biblical citations shows that they're all taken from the RSV, with the exception of 2 Corinthians 5:14:

"The love of Christ urges us on."

That comes not from the old RSV -- which gives the somewhat stiff "the love of Christ controls us" but from the NRSV, the updated inclusive-language version. Happily, the passage is not one in which inclusive-language neuroses have a chance to make themselves felt, and the NRSV happens to recall the Latin of the encyclical (caritas Christi urget nos). Conspicuously and gratifyingly absent is that ugly duckling that grew into an even uglier duck, the (Revised) New American Bible. A very good sign.

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 30, 2006 8:14 PM ET USA

    "Lectionary Land." Thank you. I need to remember that one. Moldom