Monday, 18 April 2016

Three cheers! A new lectionary in the pipeline - using the RSV

Ten years ago, I reported the news that Ignatius Press had produced a lectionary using the text of the Revised Standard Version 2nd Catholic edition and that it had been approved for use - in the Antilles. I suggested then, that "It would be a very good thing if this version were approved for use in England."

In November 2015, there was some good news on this front which went largely unnoticed. In the Plenary session of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, one of the short resolutions was:
The Bishops’ Conference agrees to seek the approval of the Holy See for the use of the Revised Standard Version (2nd Catholic edition 2010) and the Revised Grail Psalter (2010) in the preparation of a Lectionary for use in England and Wales.
I don't think there are any major changes to the 2010 version, so I presume (and hope) that the approval of the Holy See would not present any problems.

Since there may be some questions regarding details, it would be well to clarify a few points.
  • The RSV Catholic edition of 1966 is still legitimate for use in England and Wales, though no new lectionaries using this version have been produced for many years. 
  • The 2006 (2nd Catholic edition) published by Ignatius, was brought into accord with Liturgiam Authenticam
  • The most noticeable change is the use of modern pronouns and verb forms. In the 1966, the form such as "Thou didst" were used in texts where God is addressed directly. 
  • Other changes relate particularly to favouring Catholic renderings of versions of disputed texts. The most famous of these is the translation "Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son" (Is 7.14) rather than "young woman." 
  • The RSV is very different from the New Revised Standard Version. The NRSV was strongly committed to inclusive language (see this page for information) and was rejected for liturgical use by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
To be honest, I don't know what differences, if any, there are between the 2006 and 2010 editions, but I would be surprised if there were any important ones.

For English Catholics, the change to using the RSV will be a vast improvement. We have been largely limited to the Jerusalem Bible version which is not a translation from the original texts but from a French translation. Worse than that, it is filled with laughable colloquialisms.

Off the top of my head, and therefore without references, but with a weary familiarity with an utterly undignified text, here are just a very few examples of what we may soon be able to say goodbye to:
"You make a fine king of Israel and no mistake!" [Jezebel to Ahab]
"Peter, who had practically nothing on ..."
"Simon, son of John, you are a happy man ..."
"and he began to feel the pinch" [the prodigal son]
"Leave off! That will do!" [Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane]
"You don't seem to have grasped the situation at all" [Caiaphas]
It would be worth publicising your favourite silly verses from the current Jerusalem Bible lectionary, because as sure as night follows day, we can expect a whingeing sub-marxist campaign against this sensible and long overdue resolution of the Bishops. Be prepared to be told how you, the people, are being oppressed by the fancy words and non-inclusive language of the inspired scriptures translated with reasonable accuracy.

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