Friday, November 9, 2012

Fr. Walsh on the Knox Bible

Thanks to reader Corey who pointed me to this review of the Knox Bible by Fr. Milton Walsh, author of Ronald Knox as Apologist and Second Friends: C. S. Lewis and Ronald Knox in Conversation.  


          "It is a great joy to see the entire Knox Bible back in print.  After more than fifty years during which this treasure lay hidden in the field of second-hand bookstores, Baronius Press has made this, the only English translation of the Vulgate Bible apart from the Douay-Rheims, available once again.  The edition itself is of the highest quality, as befits the word of God, and Knox’s Bible is accompanied by a collection of essays in which he describes his approach to translation, and some of the difficulties he faced – both from the text itself, and from his intended public. 

            Today we are awash in translations of the Bible, good, bad, and indifferent, but to appreciate the boldness of Ronald Knox’s endeavor, we must recall that until the mid-twentieth century there were, for all intents and purposes, two principal English versions: the Protestant Authorized Version and the Catholic Douay-Rheims.  While it may seem tame today, Knox’s translation was a pioneering effort.  Even apart from its intrinsic worth, this translation deserves to see the light of day again because it represents a milestone in Catholic biblical scholarship.  But what of its intrinsic worth?"

To continue reading the review, follow this link.

5 comments:

Biblical Catholic said...

He's right that translations done by committees can lack organic unity, but translations done by an individual often leave you a prisoner of one person's individual idiosyncrasies and biases.....

If you look at the translations done in just the last 100 years by a single individual.....

Moffat
Goodpseed
Knox
Beck....

And the translations of a part of the Bible by people like JB Phillips and NT Wright

All these translations have the problem that one person was making all the decisions, and often the decisions he made were rather bizarre....

Moffat famously felt free to re-order the chapters of the books of the Old Testament due to his personal theory of how the text was transmitted

Goodspeed was something of a Unitarian and this fact is reflected in his translation several points, most clearly in his translation of John 1:1 as 'the word was with God, the word was divine'...implying that Jesus was less than fully God....not a linguistic decision, but a theological one.

JB Phillips translation wasn't heretical or anything, but he made a lot of unconventional choices that would likely not have been made by a committee

Now, Knox had far too much respect for tradition and doctrinal orthodoxy to go as far as Moffat or Goodspeed....but still his translation often makes unusual translation choices that almost certainly would not have been made by a committee.


And I'm not sure 'organic unity' is necessarily a good thing....the books of the Bible were written over many centuries by many different writers, if there is something of a 'hodge podge' feel to it, I'm not sure that is necessarily a bad thing. The Bible is an anthology, maybe it should read like an anthology.

Timothy said...

Don't forget Eugene Peterson's The Message.

Biblical Catholic said...

While the publisher promotes The Message as a 'translation' it is clear from reading it for only a few minutes that it's really only a paraphrase, and a rather extreme one at that...

Or if we want to get equally bizarre...The Cotton Patch Gospel

Jason Engel said...

Personally, I recommend the LOL Cat Bible. Google it.

It's awesome.

CJA Mayo said...

I read part of the LOLCAT Translation. It's slightly more literal than Peterson and slightly less so than Knox.