See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tired of the incessant "NEW" translations?



The USCCB and the New American Bible.
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The newer translations very often confuse readers and diminish traditional understanding of Biblical texts.  Case in point, the USCCB 2011 translation:
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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said its 2011 translation of the Bible will omit the word "booty" from a verse and replace "virgin" with "young woman."
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The bishops group, based in Washington, said the latest edition of the New American Bible, due out March 9, will be more accurate and more accessible than previous versions, 
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Among the changes in the new version, which was compiled by a team of 50 scholars and translators assisted by language experts, theologians and bishops, is the replacing of the word "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 with "the young woman," explaining the original Hebrew word, almah, may or may not refer to a virgin.
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"We needed a new translation because English is a living language," said Richard Sklba, the retired auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee and part of the New American Bible's review and editing team. - Source 
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I think it is erroneous and ridiculous to replace the word 'virgin' with 'young woman' - especially in our day when virginity is so often scorned.  I wonder what else they skewed the meaning of.  I'll bet Sklba isn't all that happy with the new Roman Missal translation either.  Yet he praises the Anglican Book of Common Prayer for the elegance of  it's 500 year old English...  Hmmmmmmmmmmm.  500 year old English - shouldn't it be revised?
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I wonder if some church-people are not perhaps enriching themselves with these periodical revisions and new translations?
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H/T Pewsitters

11 comments:

  1. I don't get it. If the word can be translated as "virgin" or "young woman", and all Christians for 2000 years (no just Catholics) have seen this as a prophetic reference to the Virgin Birth, why not just leave it that way? If it can be both words, why not just stick with the translation that is more in line with tradition and doctrine?

    Granted, to deny that Isaiah specifically referred to the Blessed Mother as "virgin" is not the same as to deny the Virgin Birth, but why even mess with it?

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  2. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Terry - spot on. It is tiresome and your observation about today's culture is a very good reason NOT to mess with the word. I can just hear the high school religious discussions with that "young woman" opening ... vs "virgin".

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  3. Sometimes I get the unsettled feeling that this is an overcompensation of a projection of some sort. Kind of like a puritanical scrupulousness or swinging of the pendulum too far to the other extreme. Does that make sense?

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  4. I'll stick with my Douay-Rheims. Why? The language is more elegant.

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  5. They are right that the word itself in Hebrew is ambiguous, but they are ignoring that the New Testament and 2000 years of Church teaching make it abundantly clear. I suspect that this will not fly with the whole conference.

    (Richard Sklba, a gift from Weakland that keeps on giving.)

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  6. This is why, when reading on my own, I use the NRSV.

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  7. more accessible = dumbed down

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  8. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Among the changes in the new version ... is the replacing of the word "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 with "the young woman," explaining the original Hebrew word, almah, may or may not refer to a virgin.


    Frankly, the should have stayed with "virgin." Which is probably what the Jewish translators of the Septuagint had in mind when they chose the word "parthenos" as a translation of the word "almah."

    While some may dispute that, I think Philologos -- who writes for The Forward -- makes a good case for virgin being an acceptable rendering for Isaiah 7:14.

    "Because the translation of almah in Isaiah has been such a theologically loaded issue over the centuries, it is worth pursuing it a bit further — which I might begin doing by observing that, while I am no Greek scholar, my Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, which has served many generations of Greek students as a standard reference work, translates parthenos as “a maid, maiden, virgin,” and lists its adjectival meanings as “virgin, pure, chaste, unsullied.” Moreover, my Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary defines both “maid” and “maiden” as “1. A girl; a young (unmarried) woman; 2. A virgin.”

    It is certainly the case that there is an ambiguity in all these definitions, since even in sexually strict societies not every young unmarried woman is a virgin. Yet it is also the case that, had the translators of the Septuagint wished to be less ambiguous, they might have chosen words other than parthenos for Isaiah’s almah, such as koré, which can mean either “young woman” or “young wife” with no implication of virginity at all; pais, or neanis, which also means a young woman and is the Septuagint’s word for Ruth the Moabite when Boaz asks of her: “Who is this damsel?”

    ... and no less an authority than Rashi or Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (d. 1105), the most renowned of all Jewish biblical commentators, actually interprets almah as “virgin” in some places, as in his gloss on the phrase “therefore do the alamot love thee” in Song of Songs 1:3, where he explicitly states: “Alamot [the plural form of almah] are betulot.” [i.e. virgins]

    http://www.forward.com/articles/5221/

    http://www.forward.com/articles/5154/#ixzz1FYuFUjl3

    Peace,
    John

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  9. The Liberal Creed:

    "Everything is wrong, Everything must be changed"

    *

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  10. I always had trouble understanding Shakesphere and the King James Bible..

    I am currently plowing through Confessions of St Augustine--the formal stilted flowery language is not easy reading, so I am following it up with a video by a professor who TEACHES the book..

    For home and personal study give me a translation that is easy for me to read and understand, in language I can relate to....that I don't need cliff notes to get the meaning..not all of us have formal liberal arts education...

    I LUV my "The Way" Living Bible, also my Military Ministry New Testament published by american Bible Society..I believe it is the Good News translation. I got it when I was in Desert Storm. The NT is perfect size for me to put in my pocket and carry around with me when I was in the Air Force. Both Bibles well-worn, dog eared, marked up, highlighted, coffee and teas and soda stained, read over and over, a few cat hairs tucked in here and there, much comfort in those words. Loved.

    Sara

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  11. Ditto what Fr. Erik said: "Richard Sklba, a gift from Weakland that keeps on giving."

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