Thursday, April 16, 2015

Catholics get 'The Message' in new edition of Bible | NCR

Not sure if I ever posted this article from last summer about the Catholic/Ecumenical edition of The Message.

Catholics get 'The Message' in new edition of Bible | National Catholic Reporter


Russ said...

I splurged, I bought this edition. I'm making my way thru Acts. . .No comments, Owen!!

owen swain said...

Narry a word, Russ, not a jot nor a tittle.

CarlHernz said...

After taking some time to review the work for myself, I must applaud Peterson’s attempt. It is creative and even innovative. It’s is more than merely fresh and new, it is provoking and moves one to reconsideration of a text many might have let get stale in their own minds and hearts even with the best intentions to do otherwise.

However it is not a paraphrase. And it is not an actual representation of what the original sense of the text is saying in many places.

What it reads like is a homily or a sermon, as if someone is retelling the Bible using expressions of modern times to relate the preacher’s attempt to make the ancient text apply to us. This is where it is great. But Peterson does this mistakenly thinking that the Koine Greek is everyday street language, or that all the text was even written in Koine or a very laid-back vernacular. This isn't so. Often the Greek we have is obviously a translation.

Sections of the text are written in Septuagint Greek, notably the first two chapters of Luke, which make the Gospel read as if after the introduction to Theophilus a text written in NABRE style begins by reading the following two chapters in RSV-CE style.

The fact that Matthew comes from a sayings source originally penned in Hebrew and that the Gospel is just a translation of these oracles into Greek (with obvious Greek redactions) also makes the text read differently than the “common” speech of the day.

Hebrews is almost not Koine Greek. Using our previous example, it is like reading the New Testament in the NABRE rendition to suddenly be hit with the majestic Jerusalem or New Jerusalem Bible.

And as we discussed with the Mercy Sunday reading, the “paraphrase” of Peterson almost seems to forget that this is Koine Greek as used in Jewish culture, not Greek written by Gentiles. Many Jewish expressions get lost and never get turned into paraphrase as a result, and this translates to the reader who only gets further distanced from the New Testament’s Jewish roots (Except for Luke’s Gospel and his sequel of Acts, and ironically possible the so-called epistle to the Hebrews, the rest of the New Testament was written by Jews who quoted and relied heavily upon the Jewish Scriptures and language). James’ letter, especially, is very Jewish, written for a Jewish Christian audience, and therefore one would expect it to read more like the commentary in the NRSV Jewish Annotated New Testament that speech modern Western civilization would be immediately familiar with if it were truly a paraphrase.

These examples, especially James, show no hint of what you encounter in the original text in The Message. James is rendered quite "hip" like the rest of the work, even though the writer is constantly attempting to make his words remind his Jewish Christian audience of reading from the Hebrew Wisdom works of old. Paraphrase may be in modern terms and use different words, but Peterson recommends his work as something you place by the side of your official Catholic Bible to get a better sense of what is being said. This isn't exactly true.

This doesn’t mean, again, that Peterson hasn’t produced a volume of worth. He indeed has, but it isn’t paraphrase. It’s an interpretation of the text. An interesting interpretation, one that is often on spot with the original text and just as often not, and even off the Catholic path more than a few times. I would consider this a sermon of the Bible by Peterson more than anything else as a result.