New Changes in the Liturgy, or Equivalence in Difference

On November 27, 2011, there will be changes in the prayers and responses said during the Mass as the Catholic Church adopts the new English translation of the “Roman Missal,” or the book that contains the text for the celebration of the Mass.

Those changes will include:

In the Introductory Rites, the response of the faithful “And also with you” to the priest’s greeting “The Lord be with you” has been replaced with “And with your spirit.”

Similar changes have also been introduced in other parts of the Mass, such as the Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Concluding Rites.

In the Eucharistic prayer, the text “…cup of my blood” has been changed to “…chalice of my blood.”

The text “it will be shed for you and for all men” has been changed to “which will be poured out for you and for many.”

The rationale behind this is to get closer to the source documents aka as Latin. Let’s be clear Latin is the language of the Church that the medieval Church used. The Bible on the other hand was mainly written in Latin.

But why are there so many different English translations of the Bible?  And why can’t churches or scholars agree on just one translation?

  • No original manuscript of any biblical book has survived!  All of the texts written by the biblical authors themselves have been lost or destroyed over the centuries.  All we have are copies of copies of copies, most of them copied hundreds of years after the original texts were written.
  • The extant manuscripts contain numerous textual variations!  There are literally thousands of differences in the surviving biblical manuscripts, many of them minor (spelling variations, synonyms, different word orders), but some of them major (whole sections missing or added).
  • Important old manuscripts were found in the last 200 years!  Recent discoveries of older manuscripts (esp. the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Codex Sinaiticus) have helped scholars get closer to the original text of the Bible, so that modern translations can be more accurate than medieval ones.
  • The meanings of some biblical texts are unknown or uncertain!  Some Hebrew or Greek words occur only once in the Bible, but nowhere else in ancient literature, so their exact meanings are unknown; and some biblical phrases are ambiguous, with more than one possible meaning.
  • Ancient languages are very different from modern languages!  Not only do Ancient Hebrew and Greek use completely different alphabets and vocabularies, but their grammatical rules and structures (word order, prepositions, conjugations of verbs, etc.) are very different from modern English.
  • Every “translation” is already inevitably an “interpretation”!  Anyone who knows more than one modern language realizes that “translations” often have meanings that are slightly different from the original, and that different people inevitably translate the same texts in slightly different ways.
  • All living languages continually change and develop over time!  Not only is “Modern English” very different from 16th century English, but the language used in Great Britain, America, Australia, and other countries are slightly different from each other (in spelling, grammar, idioms, word meanings, etc.).
  • Cultural developments require new sensitivities in language!  Recent awareness of the evils of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of discrimination have shown have certain language is slanted or biased, with corresponding efforts to develop more “inclusive” language alternatives.

Thus, no translation is “perfect” (none of them can be completely “literal” or 100% identical to the original texts) and there is no “best” translation (all of them have some advantages and some drawbacks).  In general, however, the most recent translations (1980’s or 1990’s) are better than the older ones (esp. the KJV or the Douay-Rheims, both about 400 years old), not only since the English language has changed significantly over the centuries, but more importantly because of the ancient biblical manuscripts that have been discovered in the last 50 to 150 years which are much older (and thus closer to the originals) than the manuscripts that were available to the translators of previous centuries, and were the basis of the new English translation of the Roman Missal the book that was based a medieval translation of copies of the original biblical scriptures.

If no original of Holy Scriptures exists what than is the basis of this action by the Vatican?

Sue Smith
Rainbow Sash Movement

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