New Translations: Got It Down Yet?

So I went 5 for 5 with the “And with your spirit” line this week. At our student mass, I thought they did a great job as well as I heard very little mistakes. At other masses with larger crowds obviously it’s still a bit more challenging.

People are even saying that it’s even getting silly in stages when people mess up, and that distracts from the mass. The opposite purpose that the new translations intend.

A good treatise on this is at Papal Bull today.

I have no problems with this more faithful translation. Indeed I prefer the King James Bible to recent translations that attempt to help readers by translating the meaning rather than the actual text. The new translation, by sticking close to the original Scripture, often has a poetry missing from the dynamic equivalent we were used to.

My favorite example of how modern translations miss the genius of the original occurs throughout the book of 2Kings. After each evil king God punishes his people and kills, “every one who pisseth against the wall.” Modern translations go for something like, “all the men.” So we give up color for blandness. No wonder we can’t recognize the genius of the Scriptures when they are reduced to pablum.

But Rome has taken this faithfulness too far. “Consubstantial” and “oblation” may be found in an English dictionary. But when was the last time you used these words outside church or a theology class? In no way does “consubtantial” have the poetry and grace of “one in being.” It’s just not English.

My point exactly. Here’s what I can’t understand at all:

Why would we want to translate the exact word from the Latin as opposed to the exact meaning? Do we not want people to understand our theology and be confused? Do we want to keep people in the dark? Or is it that we want people to dive into the liturgy and actually study it a bit more so that they do understand? While perhaps well intentioned, it also seems a bit inhospitable. If you came to my house I don’t think I’d be talking in code with others who are “in the know?”

So what went on in your parish? How are you doing with the translations after 2 weeks? Where do you think we’ll be after Christmas? All is good for the fodder here–both positive and negative alike.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve experienced differently. In smaller groups, we stumble all over the place. In larger groups, things seem to run smoothly. I think the worship aids our parish is using have been quite helpful.

    I have found mess ups to be distracting, but kind of funny. Maybe the humility of messing up makes the Mass seem closer to my experiences in my daily life. It’s also brought some solidarity to the people I celebrate with at Mass. We mess up, shake our heads, look at each other, and say “Next time”.

    I could see how this is frustrating to some, so I’m happy that I was graced to just chuckle and let it ride.

    Like

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