Comme Le Prevoit 33-34

“Integral” and “faithful” translation is recommended for certain prayers:

33. Some euchological and sacramental formularies like the consecratory prayers, the anaphoras, prefaces, exorcisms, and those prayers which accompany an action, such as the imposition of hands, the anointing, the signs of the cross, etc., should be translated integrally and faithfully, without variations, omissions, or insertions. These texts, whether ancient or modern, have a precise and studied theological elaboration.

Yet a certain flexibility may be needed in some cases:

If the text is ancient, certain Latin terms present difficulties of interpretation because of their use and meaning, which are much different from their corresponding terms in modern language. The translation will therefore demand an astute handling and sometimes a paraphrasing, in order to render accurately the original pregnant meaning. If the text is a more recent one, the difficulty will be reduced considerably, given the use of terms and a style of language which are closer to modern concepts.

The Church showed a more flexible approach in rendering other prayers, endorsing paraphrasing when necessary. There’s no theological agenda hinted at here. The main reasons given are to address particular pastoral needs of the present day.

34. The prayers (opening prayer, prayer over the gifts, prayer after communion, and prayer over the people) from the ancient Roman tradition are succinct and abstract. In translation they may need to be rendered somewhat more freely while conserving the original ideas. This can be done by moderately amplifying them or, if necessary, paraphrasing expressions in order to concretize them for the celebration and the needs of today In every case pompous and superfluous language should be avoided.

These sections of Comme Le Prevoit strike me as favoring an adaptive approach rather than a single way of approaching the texts. I haven’t ever read this document through, so I was expecting more along the lines of a singular endorsement of paraphrase and adaptation. What I’m seeing instead is a measured and reasonable Roman-style encouragement for translators to attend to the texts, yet be flexible as the need arises. It’s clear the modern slavish translators aren’t up on their post-conciliar documents as much as their Latin dictionaries.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Comme Le Prevoit 33-34

  1. Liam says:

    Yes, this is along the lines of what I noted before: more integral translation focus for Scripture and for man-made texts that touch closely upon dogmatic formulae, otherwise more flexibilility for texts outside those categories. It avoids fetishizing any particular translation approach. Which I think was a good choice, and would be my choice were I given authority to make the decision, but fortunately for the world I have not so been…

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