Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Second Sunday of Easter: Liturgy of the Word Comparison (w/ Fr. Neil)


Second Sunday of Easter (Year B)

First reading

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary

Acts 4:32-35 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

32 The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.
33 The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all given great respect.
34 None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them, 35 to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any members who might be in need.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Acts 4:32-35

32 The whole group of believers was of one heart and mind; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
34 None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the sale, 35 and laid it at the feet of the apostles; it was then distributed to each as any had need.

Comparing these passages it is clear that the RNJB is fundamentally a revision of the JB and many phrases remain unchanged. Verse 32 in the RNJB uses “one” heart and mind which is a more literal reading of the Greek. The RNJB uses “private ownership,” which eliminates the need for “his” and is clearer. In Verse 33 the RNJB moves the phrase with great power” to the start of the verse, again in keeping with the Greek. The change from “respect” to “grace” is probably a better translation of the Greek “charis.”  In Verse 34 “proceeds” is a more literal translation that “money.” Again in verse 35 “laid it at the feet” is a more exact translation than “present it.”  The more literal translation continues with the RNJB’s use of “each.”


Second reading

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary


1 John 5:1-6 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
2 We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
3 this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
4 because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.
5 Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
6 Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood;
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018


1 John 5:1-6

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
is a child of God;
and whoever loves the Father
loves the son.
2 In this we know that we love God’s children,
Whenever we love God and keep his commandments,
3 for this is what the love of God is:
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not burdensome,
4 because whatever is born of God
conquers the world,
and this is the victory that has overcome the world –
our faith.
5 Who can overcome the world
But the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 He it is who came by water and blood,
Jesus Christ,
not with water alone,
but with water and blood,
And it is the Spirit that bears witness
since the Spirit is Truth.

In V.1 the RNJB replaces “is begotten by” with “is a child of.” In this case the original JB might actually be more literal (Gk: gegennetai). But the new translation is easier to understand. The removal of the “begottens” in the next sentence is, perhaps, less faithful to the Greek, but it is easier to understand (particular in a proclaimed text). V. 3 the “Burdensome” of the RNJB is probably a more literal translation than the “difficult” of the JB.  In v.5 “the one” of the RNJB is perhaps a better translation than “the man” of the JB (plus it is more sensitive to Gender-inclusivity).



Gospel

Original Jerusalem Bible 1966 as found in the Current JB edition of the Lectionary


John 20:19-31 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, 20 and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, 21 and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
22 After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ 26 Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. 27 Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
30 There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. 31 These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

John 20:19-31

19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, 20 and after this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced at seeing the Lord, 21 and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
22 After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins,
they are forgiven;
If you retain anyone’s sins,
they are retained.’
24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ but he answered, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ 26 Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were closed, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him:
‘Do you believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
30 Jesus did many other signs in the sight of the disciples, which are are not written in this book. 31 These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In v.20 the RNJB is more literal when it qualifies “and after this.”  In v.25 the RNJB is more faithful to the Greek when it translates typon (as in “type”) as “marks” rather than “holes.” V.27 has “doubt no longer but believe” in the JB, this is a translation that is very familiar from prayer, however, it must be admitted the RNJB is more literal when it translates the phrase “Do no doubt but believe.” In v.30 and v.31 “written” is a more literal translation than “recorded.”


Looking at the three readings together I would say that overall the new translation of the RNJB is more exact than the JB.  I think it is more than fair to say that that the translation has been improved to be true to the promise on the back cover of the RNJB NT to have a ‘Clear read style,’ formal equivalence and gender inclusion.  My Greek is far from perfect, but time and again, to my poor Greek, the new edition seems to be a more faithful and clearer translation.

One final thought that comes to mind is that no translation is perfect. It is very dangerous to build a serious theology on a translation. Every translation is imperfect. This is why it is important to have Scripture scholars who can explain the Word of God to us in a particular academic manner. However, more importantly, when Scripture is proclaimed in the liturgical assembly it becomes “alive” in this privileged place. It is proclaimed to bring us to meet the person of Christ. Therefore it is important to interpret Scripture within the tradition of the Church (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 115-119). Nonetheless as a liturgist, looking at these two translations, I consider the RNJB to be superior and more suited to liturgical use than the JB.

Please feel free to add any thoughts you might have in the comments.  I am particularly interested to hear from anyone living in a region where the JB is the current Lectionary, as I personally think the aspect of continuity (which is better judged by those who have been listening to this translation in the liturgy since Vatican II) is an important element in the argument for the desirability of replacing the JB with the RNJB in the Lectionary in these countries.

13 comments:

Timothy said...

Thank you, Fr. Neil, for this helpful comparison.

Dave Garcia said...

It’s interesting. Reading these side by side I much prefer the JB1966 renderings. While I understand the RNJB is “more literal”, I guess I feel there’s enough and very solid literal translations out there. I like literary renderings that move the heart. So if I was in a church where the JB is used, I would much rather hear the word proclaimed in the JB1966.

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree with Dave.

- Keith S.

Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue said...

Thanks Dave & Keith.

I understand where you are coming from. I am not proposing that the JB be done away with.

Indeed when the JB was “replaced” with the NJB in 1985 it never went out of print and may well have sold more copies than its “successor.”

However, the Bishops’ Conferences of Ireland, England & Wales, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, the regions that use the JB in the Lectionary, have all decided that it is no longer fit for purpose and that it should be replaced.

I am not privy to their discussions, but I would imagine that they are following the Vatican’s preference for more literal translations. In addition the JB is over 50 years old ad is somewhat dated in certain areas.

The bishops tried to prepare a new Lectionary using the NRSV, the ESV and the RSV, but these projects were never completed. I believe that this was mainly due to copyright reasons.

My main question in this debate is, given that the JB Lectionary will be replaced, would it be good to suggest the RNJB as a worthy successor to the JB?

Paul W said...

Thanks Father Neil, as you highlighted the bishops in my country - New Zealand - want a more literal translation as the basis for liturgy. Essentially for catechesis, and school-based religious education in Catholic secondary schools, we mainly use the NRSV but are stuck with the JB in our liturgy. The JB can often be brilliant in places, but in the judgment of biblical scholars and the Church hierarchy, it’s frequently not reliable as a translation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fr. Neil,

Thank you. Yes, while I prefer the JB (and the NJB), I do think the RNJB would prove a worthy successor for the lectionary. It is better than most translations (I certainly like it better than the NRSV), and I trust and appreciate the work of Dom Henry Wansbrough.

- Keith S.

rolf said...

As a lector, I think the RNJB is smoother to read at Mass! Just as the NAB OT is clunky to read at times and is inproved by the NABRE OT, I think the RNJB NT will due the same for the Jerusalem Bible if it replaces it in the Lectionary!

rolf said...

I started comparing the RSV to the RJB, and I am using Patrick Madrid’s book ‘150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know.’
These verses are in the RSV, then I compare the RNJB which makes it easy.
I have read through the first two chapters of the book, and I have to say, I really like this RNJB NT translation! I think it would do very well in a Catholic Lectionary!

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

Would the RJB ever be used in the US, or is the commitment to the NABRE too important?

rolf said...

Jerry - No, when the NT is complete, the NABRE text and revised Grail Psalms will be in use for a long time in the U.S.

Devin said...

Highly unkikely. Perhaps if Canada and all of the other English speaking conferences adopted it. Then Vatican pressure and at least one major advocate within the USCCB would be needed. I can't see that happening though.

Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue said...

Jerry,

regarding the possibility of use in the US, to be honest I doubt it.

In the 1990's when I was in seminary formation in the US we used a JB lectionary in the Seminary Chapel. But at that time 3 lectionary translations were approved for the US (NAB, RSV and JB). But after the Vatican's instruction on translation Liturgiam Authencticam, the official thinking of the Catholic Church was that there should be only one translation per area.

However, in practice, in the US the NAB reigned supreme before Liturgiam Authenticam. The one example of another use that I can think of on a popular level was that the first few editions of the MTF's popular hand missal for the use of the faithful used the JB before Liturgiam Authenticam. The current editions obviously conform to the current liturgical legislation that only allows the NAB.

Since then a new NAB Lectionary was prepared for the US and that is the only approved English translation of the Lectionary in use in the US (apart from those parishes of the Ordinariate that use the RSV and those celebrations that take place in the Extraordinary Form).

I believe that there is a value in having a familiar Biblical translation that is standard in an area. This helps familiarity and prayer. However, there is also a value in looking at different translations of the same text and comparing and contrasting them. Obviously, nothing beats knowledge of the original biblical languages. But as that is not widespread, the bishops have to choose to either allow the use of multiple translations to be used side by side in a region or to mandate the use of one preferred translation. Tha Vatican has advised them to use a single translation.

Today, with the relaxed liturgical translation policies of Pope Francis, it might be possible for a bishops' conference to change the Vatican's view that one translation is better and have more than one translation approved. But I can't see that happening.

However, as I examine the RNJB I am coming round to the idea that it might be the best way forward for those countries that currently use the JB in their lectionary. On a different note, it is commendable if individual Christians read the readings of the liturgy in various translations in their own prayer time. But given many factors, I cannot see the whole English speaking world adopting one biblical translation for use in the liturgy.

Devin Rice said...

While overall I like the new translation, I am a bit disappointed by the choice of child over begotten. Another choice I am disappointed with is in Hebrews 12:23. Both the JB and NJB translate "with the whole Church of first-born sons" while the RNJB replaces "Church" with "assembly" which is found in the RSV/NRSV/NABRE. I wonder if this is an issue with the underlying Greek not supporting "Church" or the translator's choice.

Also the RNJB retains the JB/NJB translation of 1 Tim 4:4 "Everything God has created is good, and no food is to be rejected..." whereas most more literal translations like the NRSV has "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected." I think you can make a reasonable argument that the intent of the verse is referring to creation in general and not specifically about food.