Monday, May 9, 2016

Cool is no longer so important. . . I was a teenage rebel, I grew my hair very long, wore little round wire rim glasses, grew a beard (which I have had since 1972 though now trimmed), and listened to loud music (ok, I still listen to music with the volume turned up -- once Moody Blues and CCR et al but now mostly classical and opera).  I purchased and wore clothing that changed as often as the fad or trend (bell bottoms or nehru jackets, anyone).

The Bibles I read were as contemporary as the rest of me.  The Jerusalem Bible and New English being my favs.  But somewhere along the way I consigned those to my shelf and returned to the RSV before gravitating to the ESV.  Especially on Sunday morning, they read better.  It seems that the American Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church are still in the 1970s.  They approved the use of the Jerusalem Bible for mass and it is still the most commonly used translation heard there on Sunday morning and Saturday afternoon (at least in the US), along with the rather wooden sounding New American Bible.  The Jerusalem Bible is an English translation of a French version.  A rather curious fact that seemed cool to me once but not so much anymore.

The Roman Catholic Bishops of England are poised to put in place the Revised Standard (2010 edition) for mass.  I, for one, would hope that the American bishops would follow their lead and make it the only lectionary edition approved for the mass.  But that may not happen. 

One author wrote: 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]
I am sure you could come up with your own list of curious phrases from the JB (or any other translation rather fixed in time amid the trend of the day).  My point is this.  The choice of translation to use in worship is a somewhat different question than the use of a translation for personal reading or study.  The version used in public worship needs to read well as well as to be accurate as a translation.  While many have said that there is no real crying need to change from the KJV, I grew up on the heels of the RSV and it remains my own go to translation.  It reads well (and does not destroy the favorite wording of such precious pericopes as the 23rd Psalm).  The ESV is almost as good and does not maintain even the minimal anachronisms preserved in the RSV. 

Note that I deliberately am excluding the NEW RSV (NRSV) which is unsuited because it has editorialized the text for the purposes of diversity, feminism, etc... and should not be used in worship by any conservative church.

Being cool was once very important to me.  Now not so much.  Soon it will be not at all.  The Church does not need to be judged cool.  She must be judged faithful.  Most often the two are in conflict.


John Joseph Flanagan said...

I read the NKJV, after many years of remaining with the KJV. I really believe, in spite of more learned opinions than mine, that the newer versions and especially the outrageous gender neutral versions preferred by feminists, do much damage to understanding the word of God in written form. Perhaps, some changes might have been linguistically more accurate based on the translations done, but for me personally, I cannot adopt having penciled in margin notes over the past 45 years. On the day I leave this earth, my NKJV should still be on the night table near my bed. I should like to dedicate my remaining time to knowing this old friend even more.

Kirk Skeptic said...

Pr P, for all your love of ritualistic fussbudgetry, your use of a Bible that reads like the National Enquirer is unusual, to say the least. You should be a KJV man; as the late Reformed theologian John Murray put it, if an antiquated word sends you to the dictionary, you will be a better man for having gone.