Monday, May 21, 2018

Pentecost Sunday: Liturgy of the Word Comparison Final Edition (w./ Fr. Neil)


N.B there are many options for Pentecost.  For the purposes of this comparison, I have selected three readings from the Mass of the Day.  The Old Testament of the RNJB has not been published yet. These readings are simply for study and comment.



First reading

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

Acts 2:1-11 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

                        1 When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, 2 when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; 3 and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.
            5 Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, 6 and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? 8 How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – 11 Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Acts 2:1-11

                   1 When Pentecost day had come, they were all together, 2 when suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a rushing wind, filling the entire house in which they were sitting; 3 and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.
                        5 Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, 6 and at this sound they all assembled, and they were bewildered because each one heard them speaking his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 How is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, visitors from Rome – 11 Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs, we hear them speaking in our own languages about the marvels of God.’

There is not much to comment on here.  The translations are very alike.  The RNJB is a more precise translation. Note the use of “men” in V.5 for the Greek andres. Again this shows a moderate use of inclusive language. Wansbrough retains the exclusive word “men” as this is the more exact translation. Here St. Luke uses a word that means men to the exclusion of women. Historically it is probable that no men were in the assembly that St. Luke describes. Therefore


Second reading

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


Galatians 5:16-25 (no changes to Biblical text in Lectionary)

                        16 If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, 17 since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. 18 If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you. 19 When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; 20 idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, 21 envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. 24 You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.
            25 Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

Galatians 5:16-25

                        16 Be guided by the Spirit, and do not fulfil the desires of the flesh. 17 The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh: they are opposed to one another, so that you may not do whatever you please. 18 If you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. 19 The works of the flesh are obvious: sexual vice, impurity and sensuality; 20 idolatry and sorcery; antagonisms and rivalry, jealousy, bad temper, quarrels, disagreements, 21 factions and malice, drunkenness, orgies and all suchlike, about which, I tell you now as I have told you in the past, people who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 On the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with all its passions and desires.
                        25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behaviour be guided by the Spirit.

I think that an honest comparison of the two translations is perhaps the clearest argument in favour of adopting the RNJB to replace the JB in the Lectionary.  The JB is not bad, but its avoidance of the word “flesh” for the Greek sarx is a very significant fault. “Indulgence” kind of says the same thing, but it lacks the clarity and the poetry. Likewise the interplay between “Flesh,” “Spirit” and “Law” are much clearer in the RNJB.


Gospel

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

John 20:19-23 (words omitted from the Biblical text in the Lectionary are stricken through)

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.’


Revised New Jerusalem Bible 2018

John 20:19-23 (words omitted from the Biblical text in the Lectionary are stricken through)

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 saying 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 has 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.’

The translations are very similar.  The final instruction in V.23 is now conditional in the RNJB. This is the same translation as in the RSV/NRSV, the NAB and the KJV/DR are closer to the original JB translation. This is more an editorial decision.


With this comparison, our series is complete.  Next week there are Old Testament readings and we will have to wait the publication of the full RNJB later this year to compare those readings. Obviously it is essential to see the Old Testament before making a final decision, but I believe that these 8 sets of readings that we have compared since Easter have shown what a RNJB lectionary would look like. I commented already on the issue of Rome preferring a single Biblical translation for use in each region  Given this preference, I personally believe that the interest of the faithful in the countries where the Jerusalem Bible is currently in use would be best served if their bishops adopted a new Lectionary using the Revised New Jerusalem Bible. The bishops have already decided that the current Jerusalem Bible Lectionary is no longer fit for purpose.  Not only is this new translation a much more exact and faithful translation that its predecessor, it also has the great advantage of pastoral continuity as it does not sound radically different to its predecessor.  Adopting it would help maintain what St. Augustine described as the tranquillitas ordinis or tranquillity of order in the Church. I think this is particularly important given the radical manner in which the translation of the Roman Missal was changed a few years ago. Pastorally I do not think that it would be good to adopt a totally new translation of the Bible as the basis of a new Lectionary in those countries where the Jerusalem Bible Lectionary is already in use.


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.

7 comments:

Timothy said...

Thank you Fr Neil for each of these weekly comparisons. I agree that tranquility is something that should be the key motivating factor when choosing a new bible for the lectionary, and having seen how the RNJB stacks up with the JB, I think it would be a much better option right now. But, hey, I am an American so we have what we have.

Red Baron said...

We seem to be going out of our way to vouch for the RNJB for Lectionary use, but I believe this is the right thing to do, since, IMHO, the 1966 JB was way-y-y-y-y too colloquial in most areas. (I purchased a used hardbound 1966 JB with full study notes, etc. about 15 years ago - and shortly thereafter gave it away.) Could someone please explain how one could translate the date given in the book of Tobit, whether from Hebrew or Aramaic or Greek as "March the seventh"? And there are scores of other places where the renderings are too breezy and free. The Pentecost readings are good examples. I do wish, however, that when making the pitch to have the RNJB replace the JB for Lectionary use, we'd stop saying that the former is not much different than the latter. It certainly is - and for the better!

Even the 1985 NJB is more sober in its renderings than the JB. For whatever reason, though, this edition never caught on. Anyone care to speculate as to why? It can't be the inclusive language; the NJB's use is quite sparing and relatively mild compared to the much-ballyhooed NRSV or RNAB.

And as for the recent revision of the Roman Missal: it was darned well needed! There was little traceability in the ICEL translation back to the Latin, especially for Eucharistic Prayer I. "O Happy Day" when the earlier ICEL translation was deep-sixed.

Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue said...

Dear Red Baron,

thanks for the comment. Regarding the NJB, to my knowledge, nobody ever suggested using it in an official liturgical book, and given that that RNJB is now available, the question is moot. In many areas, the NJB is clearly an improvement on the JB, but it does have some funny readings. It doesn't use the word church ("you are Peter and on this rock I will build my community") or flesh ("the spirit is willing but human nature is weak"). There were a good number of such unusual readings (they weren't wrong, but they were kind of jarring on the ear. In the end I simply think that the RNJB builds on all the improvements of the NJB, but doesn't have the unusual translation choices that it used. Therefore it is a better choice for the liturgy.

Timothy O'Keefe said...

For a couple of years, the New Jerusalem Bible was my favorite version. It was the obvious alternative to the sterile New American Bible (1986 NT), but I eventually found the NJB to be too clunky. The examples given above are typical, but I also found the inclusive language of the Psalter to be equally unnatural and disturbing. Among other issues, it can obscure the Messianic prophecy that is found throughout the Psalms.

I found Red Baron's comments to be interesting, especially regarding the RNAB. I'm presuming this abbreviation refers to the current Revised New American Bible. Comparing this Bible with the NJB, I would say the RNAB's inclusive language is milder, especially regarding the Psalms.

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

I've been comparing these selections to those in the NABRE and I noticed that with the selection from Acts, the Holy in Holy Spirit isn't capitalized in the NABRE. Does anyone here know why that is?

Fr. Neil Xavier O'Donoghue said...

Jerry, capitalization is a matter of style and English usage. The original Greek manuscripts are in BLOCK CAPITALS with no spaces or punctuation (reading was an art back then). So capitalization is a matter for the editors of the individual translations to decide. Years ago there was a tendency to capitalize lots of words, today less so.

Liturgy said...

Thanks.

I'm interested in a deeper look at Acts 2:5
"5 Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven,"
You say: "Note the use of “men” in V.5 for the Greek andres. ...Wansbrough retains the exclusive word “men” as this is the more exact translation. Here St. Luke uses a word that means men to the exclusion of women." [You go on to say, "Historically it is probable that no men were in the assembly that St. Luke describes. Therefore" - I presume this is a typo & you mean "no WOmen were in the assembly" - and I don't know what you mean by ending with "Therefore".]

But I have two primary points:
1) In Strong's G435 ἀνδρός is "used generically of a group of both men and women"
2) what has happened to "Ἰουδαῖοι" in Luke's sentence? Why has it been dropped completely?!
These weren't simply "devout men living in Jerusalem" - Luke is explicit these were Ἰουδαῖοι ("Jews" NRSV, for example) living in Jerusalem. We can debate about if they were only males (my first point) but the best textual argument is for the inclusion of Ἰουδαῖοι in the original...

Looking forward to your reflection

Blessings

Bosco
liturgy.co.nz

Bosco