Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday's Message: Pentecost

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday's Message.  Here, I will reproduce the readings for Mass from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition.  (I want to thank Greg Pierce at ACTA for giving me permission to do this weekly post.)  While this is not an "official" Catholic edition, one of my hopes for doing this new series is to have a lively discussion on the renderings, compared to the more formal ones we are use to reading and hearing at Mass.  Is there a place for a translation like this?  Could this be a good Bible to give to a Catholic "seeker" or young adult? I have used it while teaching my high school theology classes, along with the NRSV and NABRE, and have had positive results.  

I would like to also propose a question each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message:Reflecting on the readings for this holy feast of Pentecost, where do we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us in our everyday lives?  Do we utilizes the charisms that we have received as adopted sons and daughters of our heavenly Father?

Acts 2:1-1
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.
There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

Psalm 104
O my soul, bless God!
God, my God, how great you are!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine.
What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
If you turned your back,
the creatures would die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.
The glory of God—let it last forever!
Let God enjoy his creation!
Oh, let my song please him;
I’m so pleased to be singing to God.

1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
By using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

John 20:19-23
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”


CarlHernz said...

This is where I, as a Catholic of Jewish heritage, part ways with "The Message." Granted there is evidence of very good and heartfelt work with great intentions. But it also shows a lack of appreciatiom for the heritage and culture of the people who created the Scriptures, repeatedly so, and this gets so readily transferred in its paraphrase that it is also insulting.

Pentecost, the day my people call Shavaout, is the day God assembled physical Israel at the foot of Sinai with a theophany of fire. A similar theophany, the presence of the Holy Spirit, was likewise made known through the appearance of fire at the assembling of spiritual Israel. Here "The Message" demolishes both theophanies and reduces them to claiming the Spirit did not manifest itself but merely spread "like a wildfire."

The reading from Corinthians actually brings hurt with its altering the meaning behind "being baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks," to stating that Paul was teaching that our cultural identitiy was merely a label that needed to be supplanted now that we are Christian.

This last paraphrase goes against what the Pontifical Biblical Commission has written in "The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible," not to mention current doctrinal teaching in the Catholic Church. Absolutely nowhere in Scripture is the term "Jew" ever treated as a mere label that "needs" to be supplanted now that the Messiah has come. All peoples and cultures get saved through the Messiah, none get wiped away by name or otherwise, especially not the people from whom the concept of "Mesiach" comes from. Not only is Peterson way off in his offering here, it is incompatible with Catholic teaching and insulting to me as someone of Sephardic Jewish heritage.

I have already discussed previously when Peterson's offering of the "little Pentecost" of John 20:23 seems to deny the power of the Sacrament of Penance by its refusal to include a reference to retaining the forgiveness of sins. It would be a denial of the charisms given me by the Spirit not to point out such discrepancies.

My suggestion is that this version needs great revision. I also cannot begin to describe how painful it is to read Peterson's paraphrase of Corinthians offered here, today on Shavout of all days.

CarlHernz said...

Because someone asked that I clarify something in my last comments, I am adding the following: I think Peterson is very well-equipped both by means of his credentials and natural talent that clearly comes through in “The Message.” I think a lot of the work of this version is very, very good. With revision I think that a lot can be done to make it useful for study.

My views on his work are limited to what I expect a paraphrase to be, and that is a rendering of the Bible’s original words into idiomatic speech including the use of well-understood colloquialisms in doing so. Whereas a dynamic-equivalence approach limits itself to idiom, paraphrase would include colloquial speech as a means of rendering into the target language. That might not be what Peterson has in mind when he states his work is a paraphrase. Therefore what he has done and what I expect seem to be two different things.

My last comment may seem to be an exercise in oversensitivity to some, and I understand this. However I don’t see in the original text of 1 Corinthians 12 any suggestion that one’s lineage or culture is viewed as a mere label that now searches to be replaced by something else due to being made obsolete in Christ. It seems as if the author of “The Message” went out of his way to suggest a lean toward superssionism in the rendering offered here by Peterson. While I’m not stating that Peterson definitely means to imply this, he has chosen words which imply uniformity in Christ, whereas the original verse is speaking of unity in Christ. Uniformity suggests all shed their differences and become the same whereas unity means all become as one despite their differences.

Replacement theology or superssionism has been employed as tools by ideologies that, I don’t need to remind anyone, have not merely asked Jews to dispense with their ethnic identity but have endeavored to destroy that culture and the people to whom it belongs. Both Catholics and Protestants have admitted to their failures in these areas, even very recently (see Sadly the Scriptures are still being read by some in a manner that supports the mistaken view that Christ came to end Jewish culture based and built upon the Mosaic Law.

The way Peterson renders 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, with a statement that terms like “Jew” are “no longer useful” and “need something” else, anything else, is a bit disturbing for Jews, especially since the original text is not discussing the “usefulness” and replacement of differences among people. Would anyone who is of Greek heritage or of the Orthodox Church feel at ease with the suggestion that their ethnic identity was a mere label that was no longer ‘useful’? Again despite this argument, the question still remains is why did Peterson see such discussion of replacement in a text that does not originally introduce the subject?

There are many merits to Peterson’s work. I believe he truly and sincerely follows the guidance of the Spirit, and I know that in the end our differences of ethnicity mean nothing when compared to our unity in Christ by means of the Spirit. But I caution that a need to reevaluate what we see in Scripture in reference to the children of Abraham may still be lacking with some, and that the Good News to all nations, for all nations did not mean an end of or need to replace that of anyone’s ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Thank you again Timothy for another challenging question.Have not found it easy to answer in my own mind and heart I must say.
But thanks anyway for the trouble you take in posing these questions.