Comme Le Prevoit 30-32: Scripture

The Consilium turns to “particular considerations” as we head into part II of the document. Scripture is a significant part of the translation picture, and forty years after the Council, English-speakers still have a rather unsatisfactory effort. And I hear that from both sides of the liturgy spectrum. When nobody’s happy, something’s likely wrong.

30. Among liturgical texts, sacred Scripture has always held a special place because the Church recognizes in the sacred books the written voice of God (DV 9). The divine word has been transmitted to us under different historical forms or literary genres and the revelation communicated by the documents cannot be entirely divorced from these forms or genres. In the case of biblical translations intended for liturgical readings, the characteristics of speech or writing are proper to different modes of communication in the sacred books and should be preserved with special accuracy This is particularly important in the translations of psalms and canticles.

So we have the principle of accounting for the mode of communication, especially parts of the Scripture that were sung in biblical times or are sung now.

31. Biblical translations in the Roman liturgy ought to conform “with the Latin liturgical text” (Instruction Inter Oecumenici, 26 September 1964, no. 40 a). In no way should there be a paraphrasing of the biblical text, even if it is difficult to understand. Nor should words or explanatory phrases be inserted. All this is the task of catechesis and the homily.

This principle was abrogated somewhat with the Lectionary for Masses with Children.

32. In some cases it will be necessary that “suitable and accurate translations be made into the different languages from the original texts of the sacred books. And if, given the opportunity and the approval of church authority, these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated (sisters and brothers) as well, all Christians will be able to use them” (DV 22). Translations approved for liturgical use should closely approximate the best versions in a particular language.

As the council bishops elucidated, concerns for common Christian translations were important enough to be added to the document, but the matter was not necessarily an overwhelming aim.

Thoughts and comments, anyone?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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