Bad Liturgical News, Folks

by Jimmy Akin

in Bible History, Liturgy

Nativity Okay, it's not too bad. I mean, it's actually pretty small in the overall sweep of things. But I was still disappointed to learn about it.

Here's what's up: I'm currently working on a project that involves the life of Christ, and I was writing part of it today regarding the year in which he was born. Now, we have multiple sources from the early Church that indicate he was born in 3/2 B.C. on the present calendar.

We know that because different individuals in the early Church identified the year using the dating systems that were employed at the time, such as what Olympiad he was born in, what year of the City of Rome, and what year of the reign of Augustus Caesar.

To help people relate these dating systems to their own experience, I thought I'd talk about the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ that is announced or sung toward the beginning of Midnight Mass on Christmas. That way people would be able to say to themselves, "Oh, yeah. I have heard of this stuff before," and they'd have the sense of discovering what all that means as I explain the dating systems.

So I looked up the text of the Christmas Proclamation, and (here comes the bad part) it turns out that the translation used here in the U.S. is lame. I mean, really lame. It's an example of contemporary liturgical translation at its worst.

So let's look at the current U.S. translation (warning: pdf!) in comparison to a more traditional translation.

First, the U.S. translation with the parts that are wrong in red:

Today, the twenty–fifth day of December,
unknown ages from the time when God [text omitted by translators] created the heavens and the earth
and then formed man and woman in his own image.
Several thousand years after the flood,
when God made the rainbow shine forth
as a sign of the covenant.
Twenty–one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah;
thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel
out of Egypt.
Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges;
one thousand [text omitted by translators] years from the anointing of David as king;
in the sixty–fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.
In the one hundred and ninety–fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty–second year from the foundation
of the city of Rome.
The forty–second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
[entire line omitted by translators!]
Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.
[another line omitted by translators!]
Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

And here's the traditional translation, with the parts that the above translation botched in blue:

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

If you compare the red parts to the blue parts, it's clear what the translators did. 

First and foremost, they wiped out all the specific time expressions in the first part of the proclamation, thus destroying it's character as a concatenation of different ways of expressing the same year. 

Not only do they fuzz out the clarity from these numbers ("untold ages," "several thousand years," referring only to centuries rather than years), they also change numbers (they've got the Exodus in the 13th century B.C. rather than the 15th century B.C.) and add stuff that isn't there in the original, and significant stuff, too:

  • "and then formed man and woman in his own image,"
  • "when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant,"
  • "and Sarah," 
  • "Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges"

Why these things got included is anybody's guess, though note we've worked women into an otherwise male narrative three times (Ruth even gets top billing, though her story comes after the book of Judges in canonical order, and she ordinarily isn't paired with them). They've also included a rainbow, which has not entirely the same significance today that it did in the past.

It's not hard to see a gender/sexual agenda shaping the translation here.

Then the translators go an omit stuff like the reference to the sixth age of the world (what's up with that?) and the mention of the Son being made flesh (the last is probably because the word "flesh" is repeated in the very next line).

I understand part of the motive to change the text of the Christmas Proclamation.

The text itself is part of the Roman Martyrology and is based on the Chronology of Eusebius of Caesarea (a.k.a. "the father of Church history"–he lived back in the 300s and attended the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in 325).

The dates he gives for the earlier events in the Chronology are probably not right, and in any event we wouldn't claim today to be able to establish these dates with the exact precision that he did. In one case–the date of the Exodus–modern biblical scholars have generally dated it a couple centuries after the traditional date.

So rather than confuse people with a bunch of dates that we aren't that confident of, or that are likely not right, I can understand the motive to revise the text.

And if the Vatican chose to make those changes to the Latin original in the Roman Martyrology, I would not have a problem with it.

My problem is with the translators deciding to make the changes on their own–as well as introducing other changes.

So thank God we're going to be getting a new, more faithful translation this Advent.

But here comes the badgood news, folks . . . 

The new translation is of the Roman Missal, not the Roman Martyrology. Since the Christmas Proclamation comes from the Martyrology, it probably hasn't been retranslated at this point and so come Midnight Mass at Christmas, smack in the middle of the glorious new translation, will be this execrable object.

Probably.

I'm still working to verify that.

UPDATE: I have been able to confirm that there is a new translation of the Christmas Proclamation that will be available for use this Christmas. Yahoo!

What do you think?

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{ 42 comments }

Tom May 3, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Jimmy, what I think is that I wish I could say it as well as you did.

The Pachyderminator May 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I think this is a case of too-sophisticated modern liturgists being embarrassed by the “unscientific” traditional dating of sacred history, similar to the way, in their eagerness not to argue with evolutionists, people fail to appreciate the beauty of Genesis even as myth or poetry. But the modern Christian self-image problem should not be planted in the liturgy, especially not when it messes up this beautiful proclamation. For this reason, I would be even more upset if it was the Latin text itself that was being mutilated.
Fortunately, some churches use the traditional translation. I am blessed to have a home parish which knows how to celebrate the new liturgy with traditional reverence. My reaction when I read the first translation above was of amazed horror.
(Remember in A Father Who Keeps His Promises, Scott Hahn speaks of the great impression this prayer made on him as a prospective Catholic, with its long view of salvation history? Would the phony translation have had that effect? Probably not so much.)

Dev Thakur May 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Or, this coming Christmas, it can be done in Latin, even in the OF.

Didymus May 3, 2011 at 8:04 pm

As Fr. Z would say – just use Latin! Then the people can follow along using whatever translation they please.

Mrs.J May 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Jimmy,
I don’t have the same knowledge of Liturgical form as you do, but I have to say I applaud you, and this post!
I am one of those who stopped being an active participant before all the gobbledygook happened. I remember when I went to my first Mass, my responses were not the same as the congregation. It was alarming.
A wonderful Priest helped me to be obedient to the present translations, however, I have to say I can’t wait until Advent!!!
This is a wonderful post, thank you!
I’m afraid there are agenda’s, some not so subtle. I am particularly annoyed with what I’ve read as new translations from the USCCB. Are they really going to remove the word virgin from Isaiah, and replace it with young maiden???? WHY???? The explanation that virgin means something different now is just plain stupid, it meant then what it means now!
I’m sick of the nonsense with the US translations, it is disgusting, and has been since I was a kid, and a now married priest tried to tell me we weren’t doing devotion to the Blessed Mother anymore. I knew he was nutty! Truth is truth, and it’s about time the generations that have been dealing with poor translations, and even worse catechesis are given the chance to know what they haven’t been taught.
Okay, that’s the end of my rant, LOL, thank you for a great post!

Mrs.J May 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Oh, and I’m a Catechist, LOL, my students don’t get watered down Catechesis!

Jonathan Aquino May 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Evidently the new translation of this has been around since 1994: http://catholic-resources.org/ChurchDocs/ChristmasProclamation.htm

Bill912 May 3, 2011 at 8:44 pm

“Now, we have multiple sources from the early Church that indicate he was born in 3/2 B.C. on the present calendar.”
“The one certain date on which all chronologies of the birth of John the Baptist and of Christ, and of the events of Jesus’ infancy, must be built is the death of Herod, which occurred at the end of March or in the beginning of April in 4 B.C…..The conclusive evidence for this dating, based on a precisely dateable lunar eclipse, proves Dionysius Exiguus’ calculation of the Christian era to have been in error by atleast four years, since Christ was born before Herod died.”–Warren Carroll, “A History of Christendom, vol 1, page 309. Dr. Carroll goes on to show that our Lord must have been born in 5 or 6 B.C.

Jimmy Akin May 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I would agree w/Dr. Carroll but he is (understandably) relying on an outdated identification of the relevant eclipse. More recent analyses point to Herod’s death occurring in 1 B.C., allowing Jesus to be born a year or two previously in 3/2 B.C.–in accord with the multiple early Church sources (including, as we shall soon see, St. Luke!) attesting this date. But as I said (in my not-yet published post), this is a subject for another post.

ExecutiveEditor May 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Jimmy, thanks for linking to the traditional translation on the About.com Catholicism GuideSite. If you’d like to avoid linking to the PDF for the current translation, I also have that one at http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/qt/Proclamation_RM.htm.
Great post. The current “translation” is a disgrace. Why it was approved by the Vatican for use in the U.S. Is beyond me.

The Pachyderminator May 4, 2011 at 1:59 am

If the “disgrageful” translation is the one approved by the Vatican, does that mean parishes that use the traditional translation are acting illicitly? I kind of thought the Roman Martyrology had a less “official” status than the Roman Missal and could be played with a bit more.

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 5:44 am

The major problem is that there is a total English translation, at all. If most people still studied Latin, as in the old days, there would have been a hue-in-cry against the idiocy in the English translation. Vatican II did not call for gutting Latin in the liturgy, but rather said that some vernacular could be used.
From Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 36 [note the irony in using an English translation of a Latin text, but this is directly from the Vatican, so...]:
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.
3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.
4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.
The USCCB and ICEL have gone way beyond the limits of what the Council Fathers envisioned would be the use of the vernacular in the liturgy. If people knew the extent to which the Liturgy were being played with (and, sadly, if they cared), they would rise up and petition Rome to end the whole debacle.
BRING BACK LATIN!! It’s not that hard a language to learn and would give ordinary folk access to wonderful ancient texts that might actually improve their impoverished language skills and ways of expressing themselves. Learning languages is good for the brain, good for society, and a way of expanding one’s connections to the rest of the world.
The Chicken

Titus May 4, 2011 at 6:02 am

Biblical chronologists do not agree on the year of Christ’s birth.
This is obviously the case—it’s also why the questionable historical accuracy of the dating is not, in and of itself, a real problem for concern. For one thing, and I’m surprised Jimmy omitted this, the periods referenced in the proclamation are based on dates from traditional Jewish dating systems (in a traditional Jewish calendar this is the year 7,000-something). And the length of the various periods line up with symbolically relevant numbers found in the genealogy of Christ. So the time periods are really there for symbolic purposes.
As for the translation itself, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I don’t find it that scandalous. Maybe I’ve just been desensitized by the ICEL translations of other texts. And I haven’t seen the Latin, so it’s hard to tell just how bonkers this one is. But it’s not nearly the same ghastly paraphrase as some texts. That said, the text clearly appears to be driven by the sort of political agenda Jimmy laments (see the link provided by J. Aquino): that is quite sad. And it appears to be a USCCB text, rather than an ICEL text. That both makes the agenda even more believable and makes it less likely that we’ll get a correction (since the responsibility of approving a translation has been delegated away from the office that has been engaged in correcting translations). Too bad.

Beadgirl May 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

“BRING BACK LATIN!! It’s not that hard a language to learn and would give ordinary folk access to wonderful ancient texts that might actually improve their impoverished language skills and ways of expressing themselves. Learning languages is good for the brain, good for society, and a way of expanding one’s connections to the rest of the world.”
Chicken, I understand your point, but a number of people in this country simply do not have access to schools that can teach Latin adequately, and do not have the resources and/or discipline to learn it themselves. Moreover, there are people for whom learning another language could be a real hardship, whether because of learning disabilities, or mental retardation, or just a lack of dexterity with verbal skills. Beadboy1 has D.S., and it is taking a team of experts just to teach him English (and it’s coming along nicely); he has enough struggles ahead of him in life that I don’t want to add more. I want him to understand what is said at Mass, and that would be near impossible if the Church no longer allowed the vernacular.

Steve Cavanaugh May 4, 2011 at 7:36 am

It’s worth considering that this text from the Martyrology is extra-liturgical. The martyrology was formerly read at the office of Prime, which the second Vatican Council suppressed; reading it before midnight Mass is a great custom, but it is in no way a required part of the liturgy.
So, is there any reason to use this particular translation, and not the more traditional one. At the Anglican Use parish I attend, we proclaim this before the processional hymn and introit, but we do use the more traditional translation.

Dan Hunter May 4, 2011 at 7:42 am

Go to the Traditional Latin Mass on Christmas.
You won’t have this problem.

JP May 4, 2011 at 8:14 am

I have to say that I was, and remain, entirely unfamiliar with the Proclamation, outside of reading it in, I think, OCP’s “Respond and Acclaim” some years back.
I have been to more than a few Midnight Masses and have never heard this done…in Canada.
Might be something to look into in the future. I wonder if it’s even IN our current missal.

Rick May 4, 2011 at 9:07 am

This why the vulgar is a mistake and Latin should never have been abrogated. Pius XII warned this would happen. This is a good example that typifies the whole liturgical and doctrinal revolution.

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

Chicken, I understand your point, but a number of people in this country simply do not have access to schools that can teach Latin adequately, and do not have the resources and/or discipline to learn it themselves.
But, but, before 1965, almost every Catholic learned at least some Latin and almost every college prep student learned it. It’s not that hard to pick up at least some phrases. Also, the pre-Vatican II missals were printed in two columns: the Latin original and the English translation next to it. Perhaps publishers have stopped making these, not because they were unnecessary given the use of the vernacular, but because if they had make them, people would have quickly found out how poor the translations were and revolted. It’s a plot, I tell, ya, a plot :)
Then again, given how badly liturgical music has been screwed up in the US, there would have been rioting in the streets had people known they were entitled to BOTH beautiful music and a beautiful liturgy according to Vatican II. Chant is still the preferred music for the Liturgy. When is the last time you heard (much less sung) chant at Mass?
BRING BACK THE BEAUTY.
Tell me, just how hard was it to translate the New Roman Missal back in 1972?
Enough ranting (boy, did that feel good). One wonders if such rants are just anger and sinless or self-indulgent whining.
Regarding the translation issue, a few random notes:
if the older translation had been left in place, given the rise of Fundamentalist Christianity, the opening line:
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
might have made it look as if the Church were supporting and affirming the notion that the world is 6000 years old, although it sounds really cool when chanted (and I have heard it chanted from the choir loft by a Dominican friar before the beginning of the Christmas Liturgy – very impressive), but it might have been problematic.
The stuff about the undefinable time of the flood in the current translation might have been made for similar reasons. The stuff about the rainbow is a little too vague. Why is it there when it is not in the original Latin text in the Martyrology? God did not make the covenant with man, specifically, then, but rather obligated himself not to destroy the world by flood.
Gen 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
Gen 9:13 I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

The first personal and individual covenant was made with Abraham. The original sounds much more personal and action-oriented to man. The new text sounds a bit more passive.
The old translation also includes the phrase: The sixth age of the world, which is a nice touch – very Babylon V-ish
The new translation does not use a consistent measure of time, so it screws up the parallelism that would add beauty to the text. That is my main criticism. The older text is more consistent and more mature in its translation style.
For those who want to see exactly how badly the translation was messed up, here is the original Latin from the Roman Martyrology:
ANNO a creatióne mundi,
quando in princípio Deus creávit cœlum et terram, quínquies millésimo centésimo nonagésimo nono:
A dilúvio autem, anno bis millésimo nongentésimo quinquagésimo séptimo:
A nativitáte Abrahæ, anno bis millésimo quintodécimo:
A Moyse et egréssu pópuli Israel de Ægypto, anno millésimo quingentésimo décimo:
Ab unctióne David in Regem, anno millésimo trigésimo secúndo;
Hebdómada sexagésima quinta, juxta Daniélis prophetíam:
Olympíade centésima nonagésima quarta:
Ab urbe Roma cóndita, anno septingentésimo quinquagésimo secúndo:
Anno Impérii Octaviáni Augústi quadragésimo secúndo,
toto Orbe in pace compósito, sexta mundi ætáte, -
Jesus Christus ætérnus Deus, æterníque Patris Fílius, mundum volens advéntu suo piíssimo consecráre,
de Spíritu Sancto concéptus, novémque post conceptiónem decúrsis ménsibus,
[HERE ALL KNEEL]
in Béthlehem Judæ náscitur ex María Vírgine factus Homo.
Natívitas Dómini nostri Jesu Christi secúndum carnem.

If I knew how to easily do side-by-side formating in the combox, I would do a word-for-word translation. The Translation Jimmy provided is good, however.
The Chicken

Mack May 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

This has been retranslated and will appear in the first appendix of the new missal. The new translation doesn’t address your numerological concerns (most of them anyway), but it is much more robust theologically and scripturally.

Beadgirl May 4, 2011 at 9:29 am

“But, but, before 1965, almost every Catholic learned at least some Latin and almost every college prep student learned it.”
Yes, but that is certainly not the case now, and it would take a major change (and a lot of money) in education at all levels to get back to that.
“Also, the pre-Vatican II missals were printed in two columns: the Latin original and the English translation next to it.”
This would certainly be helpful for most, but not for people who are illiterate, or who have severe dyslexia or other learning disabilities, or mental/developmental issues. Again, Beadboy1 is learning to read (I’m so proud of him), but it is slow-going. On the other hand, I take him to Mass with me and he is already reciting some of the prayers and other responses, and beginning to understand a tiny bit of what’s being said by the priest.
Should the Church make more of an effort to have Latin Masses more widely available? Sure, why not! Could Masses incorporate a little more Latin into the ordinary form? I’d like that. In fact, my very ordinary and nondescript parish had the choir singing Dona Nobis Pacem after the Eucharist was distributed, a welcome and pleasant surprise. But getting rid of the vernacular would, in my opinion, be a disaster — a hardship for many, and alienating for many more. I think the real solution is better translations.

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

I think the real solution is better translations.
With computer pads becoming more popular, the day may come where many different options might be available for reading/listening to the Mass. I have the 1962 missal on my iPad and it will read itbto me.
The Chicken

Dan Hunter May 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

I think the real solution to this confusion and many others is to unite the Latin Catholic world under one missal.
The 1962 Missal.
“That all may be one”

Brad May 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I too spotted the insertion of those four items and was glad to see that was where you were going, Mr. Akin:
“and then formed man and woman in his own image,”
“when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant,”
“and Sarah,”
“Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges”
I’m sorry but the rainbow? LOL how naked could we be?
What sprang to my mind is how my female-led RCIA catechists greatly preferred creation of man and woman in Gen 1 rather than the following chapter.

filiusdextris May 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I don’t like this scathing indictment against the translators without all the facts. What they came up with was subject to approval by many greater authorities and they may have had specific guidance in shaping it as they did. Let’s stick to judgment in rem and not in personam. Furthermore, the translation is wrong, and therefore, in and of itself, probably bad, but what was omitted takes nothing away from my appreciation of the text and what was added is not immoral or misinforming of any reality despite its appreciable change in character. The numerology is arguably a distraction. The scandal you derive from this may stem from your own possible arrogance. Someone may have not done a good job, but leave that to their bosses; hopefully they’ll fix it when the time for further revision comes. Let’s absorb this peacefully, humbly, and as charitably as possible and meanwhile focus on more important things.

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm

This is not arrogance. Canon Law provides for both a proper liturgy as well as the right of informed scholars to bring their concerns forward for the good of the Church. Let’s face it, this translation is a partial redaction of a moderately good original translation. No explanation is given for the changes. They appear ad hoc. Do the same changes appear in other foreign language translations or are they idiosyncratic to the English version? Such questions have a right to be asked and answered. In the Liturgy of the Hours, for instance, the psalm prayers are entirely an American invention, existing nowhere else in any other language translation and in my opinion, in the wrong place, according to the liturgical documents. Such prayers are permitted, but their placement goes against historical precedence as best I know and the liturgical documents as I read them.
Yes, things get passed up the chain of command, but given the state of Mass music in the US, one could not presume arrogance to complain that someone dropped the ball. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, as the saying goes. It turns out that only recently has the Vatican given someone the right to review liturgical music from other countries.
Who knows the provenance of the Christmas Proclamation in English? The English language translation of parts of the Mass was so bad that the Vatican, essentially, disbanded ICEL and reformed it.
Arrogance? Even the Vatican has had problems with the translations. It is no more of a scathing indictment than the Vatican’s action have shown. I say, again, people have a right to a correct liturgy. This is not arrogance. It is the Law of the Church.

Brad May 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm

“The numerology is arguably a distraction”: perhaps for a child. For the faithful present it is entirely illuminating in revealing context, scale and scope of salvation history. satan wants to keep our minds away from that since it all leads the minds of the faithful to the awesome reality of the Incarnation. Full stop.
“For I say to you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear, and have not heard them.”

filiusdextris May 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Satan wants to keep our minds from that? Avoiding the numbers is an act of Satan? Please develop this argument. I can understand arguments about poor judgment (and some may argue good judgment), but where does Satan come in on the numerology issue? I still cry hyperbole over this whole thread :/

filiusdextris May 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Chicken, re: arrogance… One can ask questions and not be arrogant, agreed. But one can also ask them in an arrogant way as well, right? Surely you can imagine such a way. Therefore, the Vatican’s attitude or anyone else’s is largely irrelevant to the alleged possible arrogance here. The textual translation is called: “lame”, “really lame”, “bad”, “contemporary liturgical translation at its worst”, “wrong”, “fuzz[y]“, “made up”, and “agenda”-driven. He further appears mock the translators with “What’s up with that?”
There are different views of translation. I happen to agree with Jimmy’s view as what is best, but I don’t like the pointless disparagement of another view, perhaps honestly held, when we don’t know the facts, especially if the translators may have been given certain instructions regarding their approach that we don’t know about. Maybe someone translated this for his girlfriend with only good intentions, and someone else picked it up and negligently used it as a quasi-official translation. Who knows? Why stick our neck out to judge others?
As I suggested, it’s best to be humble about it and let things sort themselves out…as they apparently have. Now we have done a lot of grumbling for nothing. I’m happy for you, Jimmy!

The Pachyderminator May 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Can anyone provide a link to the new translation?

Lostcatholicwonder.blogspot.com May 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I”m just glad theres finally been a change, long time coming! WOOP WOOP!

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Maybe someone translated this for his girlfriend with only good intentions, and someone else picked it up and negligently used it as a quasi-official translation.
Except that it is precisely spelled out who has the final say-so on these translations. As I quoted from Sacrosanctum Concilium, above:
Article 36
4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

That means the USCCB (or its ancestor). This was not a haphazard translation done by a set of incompetent individuals. How hard is it to translate the original text? I put the thing into Google Translate and it gave me a near perfect translation (syntax needs a bit of tweeking):
Year from the creation of the world,
when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety in the ninth:
From the flood, in the year two thousand and nine hundred and fifty on the seventh:
From the birth of Abraham, in the year two thousand and fifteen:
From Moses and the people going out, Israel out of Egypt, in the year one thousand five hundred and ten:
, From his anointing David to be king, in the year one thousand and thirty second time;
Week, and sixty-five, according to the prophecy of Daniel:
One hundred and ninety fourth Olympiad:
From the City, the founding of Rome, in the year seven hundred and fifty second time:
In the year reign of Octavian Augustus the forty-second,
the whole world was decked out in peace, the sixth age of the world, -
Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and eternal, the Son of the Father, that the world, willing to consecrate the coming of his most pious,
was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months after the conception,
[Here all kneel]
in Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary and became man.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

The text seems to have been mistranslating, or worse, interpolated. This was done in plain sight of the Bishop’s conference. It had to have been or else it would be an illegal translation.
Given the chronic frustration with weird (as in strange, inexplicable) translations of relatively clear Latin texts of the Mass, resulting in the Vatican mandating a re-translation, is it any wonder that some people in the pews are frustrated (if they know the Latin original)? Yes, one ought to keep that frustration in check, but Jimmy’s analysis is basically correct: things regarding this particular translation require an explanation. The Latin original does not support the translation. Did the Vatican vet the translation of this text? I am not sure – I know they vetted the new Mass translation and I hope they vetted the new version of the Proclamation.
I was a trusting lamb as far as liturgical matters go until I actually started reading the Latin typical edition, the official Latin text on which the translations are based. Then, I started to get very angry.
In the area of music for Mass, things are even worse. I won’t go into that for the sake of brevity and to keep myself from getting angry. I know something about the historical richness of music for the Mass vs. the modern mess (I have a doctorate in music with backgrounds in performance, musicology, and acoustics). I try to be charitable, but there have been plenty of times I have had to grit my teeth. I will happily supply a good overview article and leave it at that. The person who wrote it, Monsignor Richard Schuler, was a Ph.D musicologist who was present at the meeting that started the change. His article is indicting.
Is Jimmy being arrogant to call the translation weird, when even a machine can do better? Even if people were given instructions for what to put in the translation of this text, it had to be vetted by a Bishop’s group within the Conference of Bishops. They bear the responsibility for the text in its current form.
There simply are things in the American English text that are not in the Latin. This demands an explanation. Is that not fair? Not even a bishop’s conference has the authority to change the text of a liturgical setting without Vatican approval. Now, the Martyrology Proclamation in itself is extra-liturgical for the Mass, but it has a long-standing provenance which derives from its use in a valid liturgical text, the Divine Office. As such, a good argument can be made that the Bishop’s conference cannot make changes to the text without Vatican approval, even if the office which originally contained it, Prime, were suppressed (the Acclamation is no longer a part of the current, Liturgy of the Hours). It is an historical document of long-standing tradition.
One may, for a good reason, correct even a bishop, as long as it is done charitably. Jimmy’s comments about the lameness, etc., of the translation may be due to frustration or simply shock over how a relatively simple text could be so modified. It is within his right to call attention to it and ask for clarification. His analysis of the changes in the text are correct. Whether or not his rhetorical comments have gone beyond polite decorum, I suppose, depends on one’s views.
Yes, even fraternal correction should be done charitably. I don’t disagree. Trying to write an article about the year of Christ’s birth only to find such an odd translation in the process can be frustrating and shocking. Perhaps some of that is reflected in Jimmy’s comments. I don’t know.
I would like to know how this translation made it into liturgical use. That is something I am entitled to know, I believe. That is not arrogance. It is the regard that anyone, Bishop, priest, or laity, should have for Tradition.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Pachy,
Here is a link to the next-to-last version of the new translation. The Vatican did some additional tweeking late last year/this year. I am told that the USCCB has the translation up, but I can’t find it.
The CHicken

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm

The USCCB site had the translation up, but I remember reading that it was taken off.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken May 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Sorry, I have been writing so much about this. I apologize, filiusdextris, if my comments, above, were too heated or passionate to the point of giving offense. That was not my intention. I realize that you were making a plea for propriety and good order. That is a good thing. I often make the same plea. I guess I am just in a mood today. I have been frustrated by the translation issue for some time and I don’t often make comments about it. I guess some of my own frustration made its way into my comments. I will be so glad when the first Sunday in Advent comes around.
The Chicken

Rosemarie May 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

+J.M.J+
Titus writes:
>>>(in a traditional Jewish calendar this is the year 7,000-something)
Actually, the current Jewish Year is 5771 AM (Anno Mundi). It’s based on a calculation of the alleged creation year made by a rabbi in the second century A.D, though not all Jews accept his exact calculation.
The Masked Chicken writes:
>>>if the older translation had been left in place, given the rise of Fundamentalist Christianity, the opening line:
>
>>>In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
>
>>>might have made it look as if the Church were supporting and affirming the notion that the world is 6000 years old
Though the world would then be over 7000 years old. If Our Lord was born around 3/2 B.C, that was approx. 2013 years ago. If that year was 5199 years after the Creation of the world, then 5199 + 2013 = 7212 years since the Creation, give or take a year or so.
FWIW. I just find it interesting that neither the Jewish year calculation nor the Roman Martyrology one match Ussher’s calculation, by which the world would be about 6015 years old.

Brad May 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Filiusdextris, hi.
“Satan wants to keep our minds from that? Avoiding the numbers is an act of Satan?” Yes.
“Please develop this argument” No thanks, I said it how I wanted to. :-) Verbosity doesn’t necessarily convince others. But on the other hand succinctness doesn’t necessarily evince weakness of argument.

freddy May 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

FREDDY HAS ALREADY BEEN DISINVITED FROM PARTICIPATION IN THE BLOG AND SO HIS CONTENT HAS BEEN DELETED.

Steven May 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I say, Jimmy: you da man!!!

Kevin F. Keiser May 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Great point, Jimmy, on the reticence of modern Catholics regarding traditional dating of these events, but I think your diagnosis is off. This isn’t the English translators’ fault this time. Rather, it’s the New Roman Martyrology. The new edition seems to be afraid to continue using the traditional dates. Take a look here:
http://www.cantualeantonianum.com/2009/12/le-variazioni-alla-cronologia.html

Mike May 6, 2011 at 8:45 am

Hey, the good news is at least they didn’t say “twenty one centuries from the time of that homophobic arson incident over in Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Mike May 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

The translation seems to be PC:
-it gives equal recognition to women
-it balances the punishment of the flood with hope
-it steers clear of the taint of fundamentalism
It is still an inspiring paraphrase, I suppose, with embellishments, but it is not really a translation. It reminds me of the children’s versions of the scriptures we would hear at mass sometimes, at a children’s liturgy. Sappy and dumbed down.
It would go nice with a liturgical dance with drums thrown in, to drown out the words.

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