Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe und Friede auf Erden und den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen! (Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth and goodwill toward men!)
As I thought about this I turned to some Roman Catholic blogs dealing with the new translation, it brought up some questions about how we translate this very traditional phrase. Is it "on earth, peace, good will toward men" or "peace to His people on earth" or "on earth peace to people of good will?" Which one best translates the original text?
In Greek it is: Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία.
Translated: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all people.
In Latin it is: Glória in excélsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Translated: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.
Well, the translation is part of the issue, isn't it. The Orthodox Church in America has "good will among men." The Greeks say "good will to all people." The ICEL 2010 has "on earth peace to people of good will." Well, which is it? Or, even a better question, which translation best communicates the intent of those words?
Is the good will from God to men? Is it peace to HIS people on earth (as opposed, say, to those not His people -- for whom there is no peace)? Is it peace to people of good will (who have a gentle spirit and a loving heart)? OR people of good will (people who are willing to receive His gift)? It seems to me that what needs to be prominent is the idea that it is God's peace and God's good will and God's favor that is being shown and not the good will or peaceful hearts of the people that is the focus of this phrase. Now, how best to communicate it.
One Roman Catholic source says: Many commenters have pointed out the subtle theological difference
between, "peace to His people on earth," and "peace to people of good
will." The idea is that Christ came not to bring some world-wide peace
to everybody in the here and now, but rather to bring those who
have accepted him an internal peace in the midst of a troubled world.
Of course, in the heavenly afterlife, this internal peace become fully
manifested. The new text makes it clear that only to those "of good
will" is the offering of peace meaningful. The current text, with a bit
of stretching, could mean the same thing. Yet the ambiguous "peace on earth" is an entirely different matter, and not at all appropriate.
I am not so sure. It seems to me that both the 1662 BCP and ICET 1975 emphasize that the peace and good will are coming from God and, indeed, God's gifts while the newer RC mass translation makes it even more ambiguous. Who are these people of good will? It may be clear to those who live within the confines of the mass but it is not so clear and transparent as the other translations. On this point I am not convinced. In fact, I think more and more that the BCP 1662 got it best of all: and on earth, peace, good will toward men. Second on my list would be the ICET 1975 translation -- though I will admit that this translation seems designed for singing as one critic has noted (think of the opening to the Gloria: "GLO-ry to GOD in the
HIGH-est. And PEACE to his PEO-ple on EARTH" It's almost as if it was
written to fit with something like a 6/8 meter).
I get these things in my head and the only way to release me from them is to put it out here.... so what think ye common taters and specialists all???