Thursday, May 17, 2018

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


N.B there are a number of options for this Sunday (some places still celebrate it on the traditional 40th day). For the purposes of this comparison, I am simply commenting on the particular readings that I used when I celebrated Mass in County Armagh in Ireland.

First reading

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

Acts 1:1-11 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

1 In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning 2 until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. 3 He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. 4 When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: 5 John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
            6 Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, 8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’
            9 As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. 10 They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them 11 and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Acts 1:1-11

1 In my earlier work, Theophilus, I wrote about everything Jesus began to do and teach from the beginning 2 until the day when, after giving instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, he was taken up to heaven. 3 He had presented himself alive to them after his Passion by many proofs: for forty days he had continued to appear to them speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 While at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. He had said, ‘This is what you have heard me speak about: 5 for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’
6 Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time for you to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ 7 He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has laid down by his own authority, 8 but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’
9 As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him up out of their sight. 10 And while they were staring into the sky as he went, suddenly two men in white were standing beside them, 11 and they said, ‘Why are you Galileans standing here looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

In V.3 the word “presented” is a better translation that “showed” to show the nuance of the building up of the faith of the Apostles during the 40 days. Verse 5 is a good example of the RNJB’s decision to be a translation for proclamation in Church.  There is no significant difference in wording, but I think the newer version is easier for the listener to understand. This is a significant characteristic of the RNJB. The King James Bible was also conceived of as a bible to be read in churches. The modern achievement of universal literacy and the economic possibilities of so many people to actually own their own copy of the complete Bible (something that not even most bishops could aspire to before the printing press), has sometimes led us to undervalue the fact that for Christians the Bible is principally something that is proclaimed in the liturgical assembly. In V.11 the RNJB is more exact including the word “heaven” twice (as in the original Greek).


Second reading

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


Ephesians 1:17-23 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. 18 May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit 19 and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power 20 at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, 21 far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Ephesians 1:17-23 (words moved in the Biblical text are underlined)


17 May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in further knowledge of him; 18 that the eyes of your mind may be enlightened for you to see what the hope of his call is, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the overflowing greatness of his power to us believers, according to the working of the strength of his might 20 which he has put to work in Christ by raising him from the dead and enthroning him at his right hand, in the heavens, 21 far above every rule and authority and power and lordship and every title that is given, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 He has put all things under his feet and has given him as head above all things to the Church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

The original JB didn’t need manipulation for editing it for the Lectionary, Here the RNJB did. I think this is a neutral difference.  One would need to look at a complete Lectionary to make any inferences on this point. It should be noted that Scripture has always had to be slightly edited in order to be used in the Lectionary. As we do not read whole books, the start of a passage often needs to have a few words of contextualization added to make it understandable.



Gospel

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


Mark 16:15-20 (additions to Biblical text in Lectionary are underlined)

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:
15 ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. 16 He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
            19 And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, 20 while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Mark 16:15-20 (additions to Biblical text in Lectionary are underlined)

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:

15 ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 These are the signs that will follow believers: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands; should they drink deadly poison it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
19 And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; and sat down at the right hand of God, 20 while they, going out, proclaimed the good news everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

In V15 the RNJB uses “gospel” rather than “good news.” There are arguments for either translation. Note the inclusive language in V.16. Again I think this is a necessary improvement (see my comments at the end of last week’s post for more). A small note again on the attention for proclaiming the text. At Mass I found it challenging to proclaim V.18 “they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison.” Even though I prepared the readings beforehand, each time I was proclaiming the Gospel I tended to say “they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed” which breaks the sense of the reading. I think the new translation is better in this respect: “they will pick up snakes in their hands; should they drink deadly poison it will not harm them.” This is an improvement that will only be understood when the text is actually read aloud. In V. 20 the translation of ek─ôryssan is worth noting.  It is the root of the English word kerygma (used as a verb). The JB has “preached” the RNJB has “proclaimed the good news.” I can see arguments for both translations.



Neil Xavier O'Donoghue is a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. He currently ministers in the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, where he serves as vice rector at Redemptoris Mater Seminary. He has studied at Seton Hall University, the University of Notre Dame, and St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds a Doctorate in Theology from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

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