Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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

First reading

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

Acts 9:26-31 (additions to Biblical text in Lectionary are underlined)

26 When Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. 27 Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. 29 But after he had spoken to the Hellenists, and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. 30 When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.
            31 The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Acts 9:26-31 (additions to Biblical text to match the original JB Lectionary are underlined)
26 When Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 Barnabas, however, took charge of him, brought him to the apostles, and explained how on the road he had seen the Lord and spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 Saul now started to go in and out with them in Jerusalem, speaking fearlessly in the name of the Lord. 29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists, and they determined to kill him. 30 When the brothers got to know of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
            31 The church throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria had peace; being built up and progressing in the fear of the Lord; encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase in numbers.

Both versions are very alike and we continue to see how the RNJB is more accurate than the original JB. Barnabas “brings” Paul to the apostles and how Paul goes “in and out” In Jerusalem as opposed to “go round.” In V. 31 note that the RNJB concludes with “it continued to increase in numbers” whereas the original JB doesn’t have this phrase (wither in the Lectionary or in the DTS version that I have). I am not a biblical scholar, but they seem to have omitted any translation of the word “ἐπληθύνετο.” This might be due to the manuscript version that was followed. The JB followed the French selection of manuscripts, whereas Dom Wansbrough follows the more mainstream selection of the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament.


Second reading

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


1 John 3:18-24 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

18 My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
19 only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
20 whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.
21 My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence,
22 and whatever we ask him,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
23 His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
24 Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

1 John 3:18-24
18 Children,
let us love not in word and speech,
but in action and truth.
19 By this we shall know that we belong to the truth
and it will reassure us in his presence,
20 even if our own hearts condemn us,
that God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.
21 My dear friends,
if our own hearts do not condemn us,
we can be fearless before God,
22 and whatever we ask
we shall receive from him,
because we keep his commandments
and do what is pleasing to him.
23 His commandment is this,
that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we should love one another
as he commanded us.
24 Whoever keeps his commandments
abides in God, and God in that person.
And by this we know that he abides in us,
by the Spirit that he has given us.

Note the new nuances in the translation of V. 18. The JB had “our love is not to be just words or mere talk,” whereas the RNJB has “let us love not in word and speech.” It is a very minor change, but it is clearer, particularly if the text is being listened to as opposed to being read by an individual. In V.20/21 “καρδία” [kardia as in the English word cardiac] is now translated as “heart” as opposed to “conscience.” In V.24 the RNJB uses the word “abide” rather than the JB’s translation of “μένει” as “live.” Personally I think it is a better translation and sounds more biblical, even if it could also be translated as “remains,” which I think retains some of the original Greek word menei (although I have not had the chance to research the philological roots of the English word “remain”)



Gospel

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


John 15:1-8 (additions to Biblical text in Lectionary are underlined)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

John 15:1-8 (additions to Biblical text to match the original JB Lectionary are underlined)

Jesus said to his disciples:
1 ‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vine-grower.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes
to make it bear more fruit.
You are clean already,
through the word that I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, and I in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it remains part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, and I in that person,
bears fruit in plenty;
for apart from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is thrown away like a branch and withers.
These branches are collected, thrown on the fire and burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask for whatever you please
and it will be done for you.
In this my Father is glorified,
that you should bear much fruit
and be my disciples.

Here the JB translated the Greek “μείνατε” as “remain” (although in V.4 it initially translates it as “make your home”). So the RNJB is more consistent as it translates the same word that appears in both the second and third readings in the same way, whereas the JB translates it differently. It is also worth noting that throughout the RNJB translation is more precise and easier to proclaim. It is also more inclusive, avoiding the unnecessary use of the words he/him in V.5/6.

Overall, I don’t think this week’s readings add much to our discussion, although it readers want to add their comments they are more than welcome. In my opinion I think this week’s comparison simply strengthens the case that the RNJB is a more crisp translation, that is sensitive to modern linguistic concerns and has been prepared with an eye to proclamation as opposed to private reading. 

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.

3 comments:

Alan J Munday said...

Re the reading from Acts - I think that the translation of verse 28 would have been better left as it is in the original JB, because unless there is some technical meaning for "going in and out around Jerusalem", it doesn't seem to make much sense, unless is were to suggest that the work they did led them a merry dance around Jerusalem. if the implication was that they went in and out of homes around Jerusalem, then it might have been better to actually say that, even though the original Greek may only have alluded to that by its phraseology.

While I understand the desire to be as true as possible to the original Greek, in some cases I think that a bit of dynamic equivalence cannot be avoided if original concepts are to not be lost on readers of a translation.

Devin Rice said...

I just want to again thank Fr. Neil again for preparing this series and all the commentary he provides. I really appreciate it.

Paul W said...

Thank you again Father Neil for the analysis and commentary. These readings again illustrate for me Henry Wansbrough’s efforts to bring the Jerusalem Bible tradition into conformity with the tradition of English Bible translations stretching back to William Tyndale. David Daniell says in his huge book on the history of the Bible in English that Wansbrough is an admirer of Tyndale’s achievement.