Comments: Christmas opinion

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good morning from Virginia, where we enjoy a dusting [I hope] of snow.

Giles Fraser's piece on the KJV is excellent. I don't know if the pratice of printing the KJV with the words spoken by Jesus in red print is common elsewhere, but it's popular here. I have such a Bible = it was a gift when I was confirmed.

A friend of mine worked for a time in a local bookstore. One day a man came in, wanting a "King James Bible with the red words of Jesus." She found one for him and he bought it and went his way rejoicing.

Next week he came back, angry. "You said this had the red words of Jesus! But it only has them in this bitty part in the back!"

She refunded his money. He went his way, grumbling.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 1:30pm GMT

Perhaps Peter Mullen should read Giles Fraser's excellent piece on the Authorized Version (and its fetishists).

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 2:16pm GMT

"American fundamentalists who think it is the only acceptable translation – 'the Bible fell from heaven in 1611'" -- from the Giles Fraser KJV article

Any non-American who read this who thinks Fraser is exaggerating, I can assure you he's not. One fine Sunday a number of years ago, I heard an Assemblies of God -- a fundamentalist Christian denomination -- minister preach from the pulpit that God handed Moses the KJV on Mount Sinai.
How the befuddled Moses was supposed to read the thing, I have no idea.
I found Mr. Fraser’s article to be excellent. And while he is speaking of the KJV, I suspect virtually all bible translations have a point of view that has guided and informed the efforts of the translators. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a truly unbiased translation. With the Jewish Scriptures or Old Testament, I suspect that whether a translator is Jewish or Christian makes a strong impact on how s/he translates certain Hebrew phrases or texts, even if he or she is being diligent and sincere about wanting to ward off biases and beliefs.
A famous example, in my opinion, is the text from the Hebrew prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) talking about a young woman and a pregnancy. The prophecy was meant for a king of Judah or Israel of the time. My understanding is that a certain Hebrew word translates as "young woman". Luke or Matthew translates it as "virgin". Now, not all young women are virgins, and vice versa. Furthermore, there is controversy when the text is talking about the young woman’s pregnancy: Whether the pregnancy already exists and the prophecy is about what the woman shall call the child, or whether the prophecy is about the pregnancy itself.

Posted by peterpi at Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 4:57pm GMT

'From about 11.30, the organist would play quietly some of Bach's little Christmas pieces'. Really? I wonder what those are.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 6:30pm GMT

Peterpi - I may have posted this before but some years ago when I was working in the then SPCK bookshop in Bristol I came across an American Evangelical pamphlet about biblical translations which recommended the KJV as being the real word of God and castigated a modern translation because a known lesbian was amongst the scholarly translators.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 9:48pm GMT

What we forget is that these are stories, and to keep their truth and power then the stories need to be told afresh to each generation in new language by skilled story tellers. Old fetishised language dies.

For those that missed it, this morning's Christmas service from St Martins in the Fields, London (on BBC radio) showed exactly how the story should be told today, without a thee or a thou, but a lot of talking sheep.

Star at about 8 minutes in - enjoy

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00wqj4x/Christmas_Service/

Simon Dawson

Posted by Simon Dawson at Saturday, 25 December 2010 at 10:59pm GMT

Luke and Matthew were undoubtedly referring to the 3rd century BCE Greek translation of Hebrew scripture, which has long been known as the Septuagint,where the verse in Isaiah is indeed rendered virgin (but it could also be 'young woman'). And though I don't have the Greek texts in front of me right now I seem to remember that Gabriel's answer to Mary's question ('How can this be?') is a quotation of what the angel said to Sarah - not ?all things are possible with God', but 'no word of God is without fruit'.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 6:07am GMT

Richard Ashby: here's a quick list of Bach's organ pieces for Christmas off the top of my head.

There's roughly a dozen Christmas chorales in Orgelbuchlein, plus the canonic variations on Vom Himmel Hoch (From heav'n above I came), not to mention the fantasia on In Dulci Jubilo. You could add to these the partita on O Gott, du Frommer Gott.

Also, there's three lovely settings of Allein Gott in der hoh sei Ehr (To God on High be Glory) in the 18 chorales, and a further three in Clavierubung. The Schubler Chorales relate more directly to Advent, but a couple would be suitable for Christmas.

There are a few miscellaneous chorale settings for the Christmas season in the various Bach editions (Peters, Novello and Barenreiter). To these you can add some of the free pieces, depending on the skill level and enthusiasm of your organist.

Now, I don't know what Dr Mullen's organist would have played, but I'd bet the bells off a zimbelstern that something from this list would likely have came up.

Posted by kieran crichton at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 7:41am GMT

During my third time reading John's Prologue on Christmas Eve--and cringing once again at the NRSV's clumsy use of language--it struck me that all our translations these days are aimed at clarity for study: a laudable goal. But lost is the idea that Scripture was written to be heard (silent reading of Scripture is an early medieval invention) and, in a sense, tasted. I think we desperately need, if not the AV, at least some good translation that is conscious of elegance, rhetorical technique, and memorability.

But, Fraser's piece amused me greatly. He sees the goal of the AV as a performative text almost entirely in negative terms, as a means of control and conformity, as undoubtedly it was...along with the Articles of Religion, Book of Common Prayer, Book of Homilies and just about all the Anglican formularies. Such was the age in which they were composed. But isn't it interesting that by his own account, the AV's popularity soared and won the hearts of the nation during the very time when it could no longer be used as an instrument of conformity? What does that tell us?

Of course, today we need not worry about such things. After all, we have a multitude of translations appearing in lovely book jackets and aimed at all sorts of niche markets--teens, women, men, students, etc--and denominations and all earning a dependably tidy profit for their publishers. And this, of course, is far more acceptable to us than the few nutters congregated largely in the Deep South who believe the AV to have been translated by Divine fiat.

If there's a contemporary theme that ought to be heard next year as we celebrate or bemoan the AV, it is how blithely we have made the bible just another product to be marketed, sold, and consumed. What does that tell us about the instruments of control in our own age?

Posted by Mark Clavier at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 7:47am GMT

Keiran - the point I was trying to make is that they are hardly 'little Christmas pieces' which makes them sound like something out of 'The Village Organist' and underestimates the contribution and abilities of the organist too.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 9:20am GMT

I am fascinated by the comments on Jane Williams' piece. Apparently, in the UK, the strident atheists are the first and most vocal to jump on such an essay. Here, in the US, it would be the strident fundamentalists, excoriating her for not holding to an absolute literalism.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 11:35am GMT

"...the few nutters congregated largely in the Deep South who believe the AV to have been translated by Divine fiat."

Oh that you were right about the 'few nutters.' Let me tell you - they not just a few and not just in the Deep South. Look at a map of the US with that states with anti-gay marriage laws or constitutional amendments.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 2:01pm GMT

Pat O'Neill: "I am fascinated by the comments on Jane Williams' piece. Apparently, in the UK, the strident atheists are the first and most vocal to jump on such an essay."

Interesting comment, Pat. I wonder whether they are strident atheists so much as unchurched people who rather resent churchiness being pushed under their eyes in the newspapers all the time. Churchpeople's views do get much more column inches in the UK than in most of the rest of Europe, as far as I observe. Yet churchgoers in the UK are a small and ever-shrinking percentage of the population, so can we blame the unchurched for getting a bit fed up with all the church press coverage?

I think the key to religious decline in the UK actually may be the failure of the churchy in Britain to connect and communicate appropriately with the unchurched. It has been the case for the last century or so that the higher clergy in particular have been speaking a different language from ordinary Brits. The Bishop of Truro's risible logic and poor communication in his Telegraph article on marriage in a thread below this one is a case in point. Any intelligent youngish unchurched Brit would have soon told him not to spout such unjustifiable prejudices for a living, if he had been in ordinary conversation with one.

British church leaders do seem increasingly to operate in a parallel reality-denying world. I wonder whether the segregated nature of the UK education system has something to do with it. How many C of E bishops were educated along with the vast majority of the population in the state school system, for example, and how many were hived off into independent schools (which, pre-Mrs Thatcher, were only educating c.4% of British children)? That would certainly have given them a early block in terms of shared experience with the rest of society. Or maybe my hunch is wrong and there's some other obvious reason?

Posted by Fr Mark at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 5:25pm GMT

Re: Peterpi - I use the Isaiah 7.14 text as a means of separating translation wheat from chaff when anyone asks me what version of the Bible to buy. And I commend the site http://av1611.org - which has the most wonderfully outrageous defences of the KJV, including "The New International perVersion Did you know the New International Version (NIV) removes 17 complete verses, 64,576 words, contains blatant lies and that's just the beginning. . . Must reading for every Christian! "

HAppy CHristmas/St Stephen/Christmas I/Holy Family.....

Posted by david rowett at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 5:31pm GMT

For all her Sunday school credulity, Jane Williams does site the Hebrew scriptures in sixth century Babylon. The idea is beginning to take hold, that whatever went before, Jewish religion was codified about six hundred years before Jesus. The history they came up with at that time is mostly unattested, if not outright fanciful.

Posted by Murdoch at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 6:23pm GMT

Even Canada is not immune from the "nutters". After midnight Mass, the retired priest who concelebrated with me and read the Gospel got an earful from a parishioner who was very much upset at the use of the NRSV and the lack of the angelic greeting "good will toward men", which led into a long diatribe against modern translations.

(though I have to agree that the phrasing of the NRSV on that verse is rather clumsy)

Posted by Jim Pratt at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 6:24pm GMT

Fr Mark
"That would certainly have given them a early block in terms of shared experience with the rest of society. Or maybe my hunch is wrong and there's some other obvious reason?"

I only understand the German system reasonably well and I notice that the level of theological conversation in the public sphere is high. Die Zeit, a major weekly newspaper, has a whole section on faith and the articles there would not be out of place among the best collected here on TA.

One big difference I am aware of is that you cannot become a priest without having a 5 year theology degree, a prerequisite of which is a very good knowledge of Greek, Latin and Hebrew. There is therefore a much greater awareness of what his historic and what is linguistic, as well as of the various strands of theological thought throughout the ages.
This generally translates in the pulpit into far fewer polarised sermons and personal pet theologies elevated to Absolute Truth, and into less insistence that there is only one way of interpreting faith.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 7:39pm GMT

My standard Christmas sermon recalls a letter to the editor of the Canadian Churchman (which has long since become the Anglican Journal). A woman wrote to the paper to complain about the Moderator of the United Church of Canada. (Why one would write to the Anglican paper to complain about the Moderator of the United Church escaped me then and escapes me still.)

The letter concluded with a line to the effect that: "Doubtless the Moderator prefers the Good News Bible and those other modern translations of scripture that try to bring God down to our level."

The contrast of that sentence with John 1: 14 is the meat of the sermon.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 8:16pm GMT

I think that Mark Clavier makes a good point about the difference between a translation designed for study and a translation designed for being read aloud. While I find the NRSV to be better than most in this regard, it still has its challenges.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 8:21pm GMT

Fr Mark

Cif belief is a subsite of Comment is free in the Guardian online which deals specifically with religious and ethical issues. Those who are not interested in questions of religion and philosophy can easily visit other parts of Comment is free or a different section of the Guardian website and comment on articles on numerous other topics. However, contributors have to be able to write for readers some of whom have very little knowledge of the particular religious or philosophical tradition mentioned.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 8:50pm GMT

May i recomend the Jewish Publication Society's Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures? The first translation by jewish scholars directly from the Hebrew? It is readable and fascinating for a Christian reader whose eyes too easily slide over what it familiar. The very arrangement of the books is different and presents different thoughts for me.
Columba Gilliss

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 9:08pm GMT

Speaking of utter fundamentalistic belief in the literal inerrancy of the Bible: I remember the time when I, as parish priest, was challenged by a new parishioner who disagreed with my interpratation of a particular Bble passage. He said that, fterwards, he went to the local Baptist Pastor, who took down a heavy King James Bble from his stacks of large books and promptly stood on it! (Yes, it was a version big enough for both feet to be accommodated at once). "You can tell your Vicar", he said, "That this is where I stand!"

I say this, not to denigrate the KJV (which I still use at certain BCP Celebrations) but merely to remind us that absolute dedication ot any one version (or interpretation) of the Bible can, and sometimes does, lead to bibliolatry - rather than Bible-grounded Christian theology.

After all, what isost important ot us at this time of theChurch's Year, is that "The Word became Flesh, and dwelt among us" - God did not enshrine his whole Being in words in a book - no matter how holy.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 9:20pm GMT

@Richard Ashby - I've found very little Bach that I don't love, and all of it responds to good technique and devotion. I believe the 'little organ pieces' (likely from the "Little Organ Book"!) are such in comparison to the great toccatas and such, and there is no criticism implied of the organist's skill.

Posted by RobinD at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 10:49pm GMT

Re the KJV - I grew up in the Episcopal church so first encountered the KJV as a child, but have also studied and used a number of different English translations.

As a lay reader, I love to read from the KJV because it flows so beautifully. However, I also frequently wish that instead of NRSV which we use now, I could substitute a completely unfamiliar translation. We tend to get lost in the familiar beauty of something like the KJV, and stop hearing the full impact of the text. (This is particularly true for me, as a musician, with some of the texts which have been set to music in Messiah or other well-known choral works.) Hearing another version tends to generate a sequence of interest, puzzlement, and AHA, as the listener encounters new depths in a favorite passage.

Posted by RobinD at Sunday, 26 December 2010 at 11:04pm GMT

"For those thousands of people who queue up for services over Christ­mas, here and throughout the country — and the choir is obviously a huge part of the draw — the language of God is experienced as music." - Canon Giles Fraser, C.T. article -

As a one-time Franciscan brother, I learnt to go along with the idea of music within the Mass and Offices of the Church - as a gateway to beauty in worship. It has been said that 'a prayer sung, is twice prayed' - a sentiment with which I am inclined to agree, as long as the singer can keep in tune! At his most animated, St. Francis was known to sing, dance and play an imaginary violin - with a couple of sticks from the hedge - and all for the love of God and Creation.

Mind you, I still like - as Deacon of the Mass - to keep up the old tradition of a Sung Gospel.
Laus Deo!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 6:00am GMT

Savi H: "Cif belief is a subsite of Comment is free in the Guardian online which deals specifically with religious and ethical issues. Those who are not interested in questions of religion and philosophy can easily visit other parts of Comment is free..."

I'd be interested to read why you think it is that there are so many irritated atheists commenting there.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 10:10am GMT

I wept when read Canon Fraser's article about music.

Happy Christmas
Bradley Upham
Lakewood, Ohio USA
dba "CBFH" and "ESJ"

Posted by evensongjunkie at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 1:39pm GMT

I've been following the KJV vs other translation conversation with interest.

When I taught a college level course in the Bible as literature, I used an NRSV study edition, with excellent notes, background essays and maps. Since most of my students were largely innocent of familiarity with the Bible, this helped me devote class time to literary discussions rather than being a walking footnote.

The last time I taught the course, however, I found a paperback version of the KJV set out in paragraphs, like the modern translations. This makes it easier to follow narrative than the traditional KJV format. It was lightly annotated. Students had a terrible time with the vocabulary, and I ended up being the walking footnote.

Having grown up hearing the KJV in church, I do miss the majesty of lots of familiar [to me] passages. Many of our young adult members who grew up unchurched find the NRSV works well for them, and are not nostalgic for something they never heard or read.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 2:06pm GMT

Regarding Jane Williams' piece: Pat O'Neill: Yes! Fr. Mark: What I don't understand about the strident atheists or the unchurched or whoever they are is why they are bothering to read CIF Belief at all, much less take the time to submit comments. Hmm. Maybe the Holy Spirit is nibbling on their toes?

I really am okay with strident atheists who actually know what they don't believe. Most of the folks who write in all the snarky comments to CIF Belief really have no idea what they're talking about.

I see that comments are now closed on Dr. Williams' article. Deo gratias.

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 3:50pm GMT

It is always a joy to observe how some posters here prefer idle speculation, when knowledge of the facts, especially concerning a person's public ministry, would embarass the point they are struggling to make.

Of the half dozen bishops know to me personally, the Bishop of Truro is certainly one of the very best communicators. In particular he has been popular with young people for whom the clarity and simplicity of his language, and the unstuffy classlessness of his personal approach have been remarked upon positively for years. Many confirmation candidates from his years in Dorset still recall the pleasure of his company and the clarity and attractiveness of his theology.

That of course is knowledge easily accessible only to those of us who have observed his ministry, unlike the public record of his education which anyone with sufficient energy or care for accuracy could have reached in page one of Mr Google's results. He was educated at a state secondary school and like an increasing number of his colleagues has no problems with reaching the very widest social ranges of his communities.

Remember before pressing the ad hominem button that it is the season of goodwill.

Posted by John Waldsax at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 4:16pm GMT

As someone said to the priest after the service when the RSV was first used for the Lessons, "If King James English was good enough for Jesus, its good enough for me."

Posted by jnwall at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 5:24pm GMT

david rowett, I took a look at the av1611.org site -- and couldn't make it past the first page. I accept your word for whatever else is there, because on the first page, it has a display counter counting all the people who have died today and are going to Hell. I can't help but feel it does this gleefully. I almost felt ill.
My God! How I hate people who still believe in some sort of angry, vengeful, judgmental, merciless, Thor/Zeus God hurling thunderbolts and opening wide the gates of Hell, with no other outcome possible, for those other people who violate any infraction, even the teeniest. Themselves excluded, of course!
I hate fundamentalist Christians who forget their own Prophet-and-Teacher's teachings, and focus more tightly on every crossed "t" and dotted "i" of the Levitical Code, for example, than even the strictest pedantic stereotype of a Pharisee or Orthodox Jew ever would.
With these people, I always wonder: What happened to "God is Love"? To John 3:16? To John 1:12, 1:14? Even I, a highly secularized Jew, read those latter two verses 1,900 years after they were recorded and feel John's profound transformation by the life of Jesus of Nazareth, as if it happened yesterday. Why aren't they similarly transformed? Where is Jesus of Nazareth in their Christianity? Where is the Nativity? The Resurrection?

Posted by peterpi at Monday, 27 December 2010 at 6:10pm GMT

"In particular he has been popular with young people for whom the clarity and simplicity of his language, and the unstuffy classlessness of his personal approach have been remarked upon positively for years."

Good grief! Isn't it nice that he speaks in words [and apparently thoughts] of one syllable to condescend to the simple-minded young? Maybe you meant better than you wrote, but no wonder your churches are not full. "Hear - I'm going to say this very slowly and carefully so that your young and limited minds can understand.."

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 12:51am GMT

I've never found the KJV to be "flowing," just unnecessarily flowery. The Scripture *is* indeed read to be heard - and understood. KJV is a clanging cymbal of "thees", "thous", and sexual euphemism.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 7:13am GMT

Who engaged in "idle speculation" on Bp. Thornton? The only thing I've seen written here palpably *demonstrates* a simplistic (not simple) way of communicating that relies on everyone accepting the same worldview. That's fine if two people are talking, and you're saying "Well, I believe . . . ," but, if you go into a public media outlet, especially if you are teacher of the church, and post a ridiculous grammar-school essay in defense of "traditional" marriage, no one should be surprised if the writer is called on said ridiculous essay! My most charitable reading - which I gave - is that he is undermining the "traditionalists" by demonstrating how weak and silly their arguments are. Perhaps I missed the comment here, or perhaps Mr. Waldsax posted on the wrong thread, but the only comments on Thornton I've seen were on the thread concerning his newspaper article. Comments on such articles and what they indicate to a wider public are not speculation.

I expect Cynthia has it, though: bishops, especially in CofE, seem to think that the laity have their brains removed sometime after choosing *not* to attend seminary.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 9:19am GMT

John Waldsax: good for him, then. So what's yor explanation for him writing such a poorly argued piece that appears to show yet another church leader completely out of touch with the reality of modern Britain? There's obviously some reasonthat bishops keep doing this (Michael Scott-Joynt is in the news again at he moment for doing the same thing); I'm just trying to ask what it might be. Evidently we can discount educational/social segregation at an early age, after all.

Why do you think they do come out with things which are so out of touch? I'm asking as one genuinely puzzled by the poor quality of our churchleaders' public communication, rather than trying to make a particular point about a man whom I don't know. I merely read his written intervention in public debate, and found it both illogical and, actually rather offensive, as it seeks to deny equal rights to people merely on the basis of episcopal whim. If church leaders didn't repeatedly and obsessively churn out anti-gay articles in the press, I wouldn't criticise them for it. I'd like to know why they do it, if they are so well-attuned to British society: a number of those confirmands you refer to must have been gay (I was one once too!), and being sensitive to their legitimate expectations of fair treatment in life must be a part of appropriate ministry to them, surely.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 9:33am GMT

Cif belief is infested by anti-theist trolls because there is no policy against trolling or "crusading" as ship of fools calls it. This means that it will always be easier to be jeering and ignorant than the other way round.

This is not the result of editorial policy.

Posted by Andrew Brown at Tuesday, 28 December 2010 at 10:01am GMT

I dislike the efforts over the last century or so to dumb down the Bible. It may be necessary, but it's a necessary evil. The Bible ought to be presented in beautiful, stately, elevated language, and in language that is distinct from the everyday language that one might use at a baseball game or at the water cooler. The use of a distinct and somewhat archaic (though easily understandable) form of English, in itself, reminds us of the holiness and transcendence of God. Hence, I prefer the Authorized Version.


PeterPi,

Luke and Matthew didn't translate 'almah' as 'parthenos', the inspired translators of the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) did. If the Septuagint was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 3:06pm GMT

But it is not WRITTEN in stately and elevated language! Translation needs to be just that - an attempt to get somewhere near the original.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 5:04pm GMT

Hector_St_Clare,
The Greek Septuagint has entire books and chapters of books that the Hebrew Tanakh does not have. We have no way of knowing what version of scripture Jesus studied from or read from in the synagogue. A lot of scholars think Jesus probably spoke Aramaic, yet I know of no Aramaic language translation of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament.
I still feel my point was valid: That all translations carry a mindset and a point of view. If Luke and Matthew relied on the Septuagint, then English translations are now being influenced by the translators, Matthew and Luke, as well as the authors of the Septuagint.
As far as inspired translation, who is to say that the authors of the Jerusalem Bible, NRSV, NIV, NAS translations were also not being inspired?
While I would immediately throw into the rubbish bin any bible translation that used language along the lines of "Dude! Don't rip anyone off, it's bad karma!" for one of the Ten Commandments, at the same time, I feel the use of archaic English solely to signify authority or holiness is an artifice that is, well, artificial.
I bet that, at the time of its final redaction, the Hebrew Tanakh used the standard Hebrew of the day. How many modern editions of William Shakespeare's works or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales use unaltered 16th Century or Medieval English, for example? In either case, some words are probably re-spelled or updated to reflect and conform to modern understanding of the English text.
Since any English-language bible is a translation, and since we are called to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” Scripture, as a USA Episcopal Church collect instructs us, isn't that best done in a translation using proper modern English?

Posted by peterpi at Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 7:09pm GMT

A very interesting new vein of biblical study is the use of classical rhetoric in the NT, particularly in the case of Paul. While Scripture does not employ ornate language (some of the early Fathers like Augustine were embarrassed by the plain and uncouth language of Scripture) it often does employ rhetorical techniques. Again, it was written to be read (or chanted) aloud, to be received primarily through the ear rather than through the eyes. My argument is not so much for the Authorised Version per se as for a translation that recognises the underlying rhetoric and provides for Scripture's role as a performative text.

But do we have the wordsmiths for that task in an age when a rhetorical instinct is no longer encouraged?

Posted by Mark Clavier at Wednesday, 29 December 2010 at 8:10pm GMT

PeterPi,

Well, then, I
prefer the mindset of the King James translators, as opposed to the mindset of the NRSV translators
which holds that Jesus didn't sweat blood at Gethsemane, that the angel of healing didn't
descend into the pool at Bethesda, that Jesus didn't forgive the woman taken in adultery, that the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost do not 'bear witness in heaven', and that Isaiah did not prophecy the virgin birth of Jesus. Can you explain to me why the NRSV translaters thought it would be good idea to leave those passages out? and why they thought it would be a good idea to translate the scriptures into the sort of language better suited to a hockey game or a Ke$ha concert, instead of into the language of Milton, Shakespeare, and Blake?

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 2:53am GMT

Mark
"My argument is not so much for the Authorised Version per se as for a translation that recognises the underlying rhetoric and provides for Scripture's role as a performative text."

That would be of academic interest, but how useful would it be to emphasise the underlying rhetoric when that is simply no longer how we use the text today?

While translation has to be as faithful to the original as possible it has also to be as meaningful to the audience as it can be.


Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 8:17am GMT

". . why they thought it would be a good idea to translate the scriptures into the sort of language better suited to a hockey game or a Ke$ha concert, instead of into the language of Milton, Shakespeare, and Blake?"


Because the language of KJV *was* the language of games and concerts at the time? Yeah? Maybe?

It was written to be accessible to the people of that time. Tudor English is *not* the language of Blake, btw, as Tudor English was quite different from modern English, which is closer to the writing of Blake. We also know that there were *mis*translations in the KJV corrected by rigorous research and study - if you enjoy the little flourishes and such of an antiquated dialect, fine, but don't try to pretend that that is anything other than a aesthetic choice on your part. It certainly isn't more valuable for a serious study of the text!

Perhaps, if you take a basic course in language, syntax, and/or linguistics, you'll understand.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 9:22am GMT

Erika,

I think it could result in something only of interest to academics, though this is a charge to which some current translations are not entirely immune. But if you consider the use of traditional rhetorical techniques (often the same as found in Scripture) by, for example, Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., I think you can see how they might have a more universal appeal. Part of the purpose of classical rhetoric was to aid the memory, another aspect of Scriptural writing I think many translators miss.

Posted by Mark Clavier at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 10:25am GMT

"Because the language of KJV *was* the language of games and concerts at the time?"

That's about the style and there can certainly be different tastes.
The real question was one of substance, though, and about real material differences between the KJV and the NIV.

Is there anyone here who can shed light on which is, in fact, the more accurate translation as regard the examples given?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 10:27am GMT

Mark,

that's true, and I suppose with the increasing awareness of the power of Story and the rediscovery of the bible stories as more than sentences to be parsed, the time for something like that could just be right.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 10:52am GMT

"That's about the style and there can certainly be different tastes."

Funny. Thought I'd said that.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 11:46am GMT

The general answer to Hector St Clare would be that the best version of the Greek/Hebrew does not include these things either - notoriously, Isaiah does not use the word for 'virgin' but for 'young woman' in his prophecy. I would be perfectly happy to look at examples of the Greek text and its translation on here if he is interested in the particular, which is usually more useful, if he would care to nominate passages in contention.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 1:15pm GMT

The question of the textual attestation of Christ sweating drops of blood in Gethsemane is an interesting one, and depends in part on the reliability of the Western text, or if you prefer D. The fact it turns up in different places in different manuscripts is held against it - I am less than totally convinced by this argument (and I admit to being very conservative in the matter of scholarship) I can see good reasons why the redactors might have introduced it. I can see good reasons why it might have been left out. It is a case where no translator can be confident they have made the 'right' decision, and the only thing to do (IMHO)is to include the text in brackets or in a footnote.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 1:42pm GMT

"Funny. Thought I'd said that."

Yes, but that had only really been a sideline. The really important question had been about the accuracy of the respective translations:
"Well, then, I prefer the mindset of the King James translators, as opposed to the mindset of the NRSV translators which holds that Jesus didn't sweat blood at Gethsemane, that the angel of healing didn't descend into the pool at Bethesda, that Jesus didn't forgive the woman taken in adultery, that the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost do not 'bear witness in heaven', and that Isaiah did not prophecy the virgin birth of Jesus. Can you explain to me why the NRSV translators thought it would be good idea to leave those passages out?"

And whatever style we might like, the real issue here is whether either the KJV or the NIV is too far removed from the original.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 2:12pm GMT

"But do we have the wordsmiths for that task in an age when a rhetorical instinct is no longer encouraged?"

I'd dispute Mark's suggestion that rhetorical instinct is no longer encouraged. In part, aspects of rhetoric are debased by popular culture, yet our society still responds to effectively prepared and effectively delivered rhetoric.

That said, rhetoric is different from age to age, and today's rhetoric is sparer than even a century ago, and were a "read aloud" version of the Bible to adopt the manner of even a century ago (William Jennings Bryan's Cross of Gold speech) it would likely sound as overwrought to the modern ear.

I recall, during the debates on liturgical renewal half a generation ago, someone arguing that the (Canadian) BCP was in the language of the people. The now Bishop of British Columbia said he'd buy that if, on Hockey Night in Canada, he ever heard the announcer say, "Verily, Gretzky doth shoot! Lo! He scoreth!"

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 2:29pm GMT

Re: notoriously, Isaiah does not use the word for 'virgin' but for 'young woman' in his prophecy.

Who cares? The translators of the Septuagint decided that Isaiah's prophecy was best translated as 'parthenos', and I'm content to trust them. I certainly trust the Septuagint more than I do the Masoretic Hebrew text.

There's absolutely nothing unusual a 'young woman' conceiving a son called Emmanuel. It's the epitome of banality, and hardly seems a fit subject for prophecy. Why the h*ll would Isaiah have made such a banal 'prophecy'? On the other hand, a virgin conceiving a son, now there is something unusual and portentous, that might actually make sense as a meaningful prophecy.

Re: It is a case where no translator can be confident they have made the 'right' decision, and the only thing to do (IMHO)is to include the text in brackets or in a footnote.

No, the only thing to do is to trust that the church authorities that included this text in the Vulgate made the right decision, and that the heirs of the apostles, embodying the living tradition that derives from Jesus Christ himself, knew better than a bunch of politically correct literary critics in the Manhattan salons of the mid twentieth century.

Include a footnote, if you want, that the oldest manuscripts don't include it (although nobody really cares, except the aforementioned coffeehouse-salon literary critic types). The Bible derives its authority from tradition, because the Bible itself is simply the codification of tradition. The early church had no bible, what they had was Tradition. If tradition holds that the story of Jesus sweating blood is reliable- and it certainly seems to fulfil what the Apostle says, that 'he came not by water only, but by the water and the blood'- even if it took a while for that consensus of tradition to solidify, then that's good enough for me, and it should be good enough for anyone who thinks that tradition is at least somewhat reliable, which all Anglicans are supposed to believe.

The RSV certainly has its place (though I can't see any possible reason why it was 'updated' into the NRSV). There is room for more than one translation in the world. But all in all, the King James Version is, in my view, superior to all competitors, and the best of all English translations. It expresses the teaching of the church, it's reasonably accurate and faithful to the texts, and it is superlatively beautiful, stately, and poetic. The Bible is like an icon that points us to Christ: as an icon should be beautiful, so too should be the Bible. The NRSV is, in an academic sense, marginally superior in terms of being faithful to the original texts, but it is markedly inferior in terms of beauty, euphony, and orthodoxy.

Re: The Greek Septuagint has entire books and chapters of books that the Hebrew Tanakh does not have.

If you're referring to the Deuterocanonica (Extended Esther, Extended Daniel, Judith, Maccabees, and the like), you should be aware that I do consider those to be part of the Old Testament, and I disapprove of the tendency among most non-Anglican Protestant churches to jettison them completely. As I said, I consider the Septuagint to be the most reliable form of the Old Testament. And the Extended Esther, for example, is so much richer and more beautiful than the truncated, Hebrew version, that I think that alone gives us good reason to treat the extensions as scriptural.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 6:01pm GMT

"as opposed to the mindset of the NRSV translators which holds that Jesus didn't sweat blood at Gethsemane, that the angel of healing didn't descend into the pool at Bethesda, that Jesus didn't forgive the woman taken in adultery, that the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost do not 'bear witness in heaven', and that Isaiah did not prophecy the virgin birth of Jesus." -- Hector St. Clare

My response is two-fold:
Do the original Hebrew or Greek texts really say these things?
Regarding Isaiah, it has already been pointed out that the Hebrew more accurately translates as "young woman".
Jesus does not “forgive” the adulterous woman in either the KJV or the NRSV. Rather, in both he explicitly does not condemn her. There's a profound difference there.
Regarding Jesus and sweating blood, the NRSV is guilty as charged, but a very quick Google search showed that there is controversy about those two verses regarding whether Luke really wrote them or not, and even the KJV says Jesus sweated "as if" he was sweating drops of blood. It's a simile.
Regarding the pool at Bethesda, according to Wikipedia, not just the NRSV but the Vulgate and "many modern translations" also do not include it, because scholarship views the verse as suspect.
Second, do any of these changes really affect Christian belief and doctrine? Regardless of what Isaiah says, Luke and Matthew say Mary was a Virgin. Is Jesus’ agony at Gethsemene any less profound if his sweat wasn't as if it were blood? Is Jesus’ healing at the pool of Bethesda diminished if there wasn’t an angel who healed randomly?
Granted, modern translations can be awkward. I dislike, for example, the TEC BCP Rite II “Our Father”. But, just because something has familiarity and old usage doesn’t make it accurate.
Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool_of_Bethesda
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/r/rsv/
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/kjv/

Posted by peterpi at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 7:21pm GMT

Well, the answer to 'Why cares?' is, 'I care!' I believe in the Renaissance agenda. I believe in learning and scholarship and the original intent of the author and a whole load of other things.

The prophecy is remarkable - because the young woman (one presumes a wife or concubine of the King) is having a son, and before that son is anything like grown up the Lord with have brought peace, and destroyed the enemies of Judah. That is a remarkable thing to offer, in my book.

That the church later came to see that early deliverance as the precursor of a later, more remarkable deliverance is all perfectly right and good. Every good and perfect thing is of God, and the wonders he brings only grow in depth and in the joy they bring.

That does not mean we need to put scholarship in the bin.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 10:13pm GMT

But the point of the 'sweat like blood' passage is not, actually, that the oldest manuscripts don't have it - Aleph does have it, only the redactor stood in doubt of it, and then the next re- instated it (if memory recalls). The point is, among other things, that the church in the ancient world was undecided what to make of it. As I fear we must be.

I myself, if it fell to my poor scholarship to translate, would put it in the text. The original hand of Aleph? And D, with its history of 'Western non-interpolations'? To me, conservative that I am, that is a powerful witness. I'd go with it. I can also see terribly good reasons for leaving it out, you see (Jesus that scared? No, no, the Church needs him big and unafraid).

But I would not worry too much about ways of getting blood into the Passion. I imagine an ancient-world audience knew too bitterly well that scourging alone would produce plenty of blood.

But if you wanted to argue that on many occasions the NRSV itself was heavy and archaic I would be with you. Whenever did you last hear a woman say: 'It has ceased to be with me after the manner of women'. What Sarah means is either 'I am post menopausal' or 'I no longer have a menstrual cycle.' What she is made to say is not English, in any meaningful sense.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 30 December 2010 at 10:28pm GMT

Rosemary Hannah,

I like archaic language, so that's a good thing, in my book. As I said, the language of Scripture ought not to be the language we would use at a hockey game or a Katy Perry concert.

PeterPi,

Of course Christ sweating blood has doctrinal significance, that's why it was quoted against the Docetists. It also embodies the teaching of 1 John 5:6. The Litany refers to it, the iconography of the church refers to it, tradition refers to it throughout. It's important.

And of course the angelic healing has doctrinal significance. It demonstrates the way in which the angels are part of the divine economy, and the way in which God works through angels. These are not trivial questions. Too many Christians nowadays have allowed their faith to be corrupted by materialissm and by 19th century rationalism, and don't believe in angels, even though they're all throughout scripture. The story of the angelic healing is important, because it tells the rationalist, materialist, liberal Christians that they are flat-out wrong, and that they need to change their views. It also lends scriptural support to those of us who pray to the archangels.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Friday, 31 December 2010 at 3:36pm GMT

Peterpi:

Nerd mode 'on' - there are the Syriac versions (now available in a critical edition, eg by Tony Gelston on the Minor Prophets) - but my memory of studying the Peshitta a rather long time ago was that it was not felt to be more 'original' - rather that it represented the Western Text (Codex Bezae etc) in the NT and was a translation of the Greek. Not sure about the Aramaic Targums, of course, but they'd not be any great help.

Posted by david rowett at Friday, 31 December 2010 at 4:06pm GMT

HSC = 'The NRSV is, in an academic sense, marginally superior in terms of being faithful to the original texts, but it is markedly inferior in terms of beauty, euphony, and orthodoxy.'

Errrm, so the argument is that orthodoxy is incompatible with the best scriptural texts?

Bewildered of Barton

Posted by david rowett at Friday, 31 December 2010 at 4:12pm GMT

'I like archaic language, so that's a good thing, in my book. As I said, the language of Scripture ought not to be the language we would use at a hockey game or a Katy Perry concert. '

But then, in most cases, you don't have a translation at all. You have a rather lose version, which is making a point the original chose not to make.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 1 January 2011 at 2:04am GMT

"I certainly trust the Septuagint more than I do the Masoretic Hebrew text."

Well, the Septuagint *is* closer to the source by several centuries.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 1 January 2011 at 2:28am GMT

Soooo, basically, KJV is all kinds of crazy, but it's all pretty-pretty (to some - it sounds ridiculous, stilted and rather superstitious, to me, but I suppose there are people who like Precious Moments figurines, too), so that *entirely subjective opinion about something that has nothing to do with the deepest truths of faith* is supposed to bind everyone else to it's non-superior superiority.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Saturday, 1 January 2011 at 11:46am GMT


RE: But then, in most cases, you don't have a translation at all. You have a rather lose version, which is making a point the original chose not to make.

You have a translation into Jacobean English, which is a dialect that is generally comprehensible to modern English speakers, but is more beautiful, more reverent, more complex, and aesthetically superior to modern English. Some of us wish that Jacobean English was the liturgical language of the Anglican Churches, just as Slavonic (NOT Russian) is the language of the Russian Church, Syriac (NOT Arabic or Malayalam) is the language of the Jacobite Church, and Ge'ez (NOT Amharic) is the language of the Ethiopian Church. Those churches are smart enough to realise- as too many hip, liberal, 'progressive' Episcopalians do not- that the language of the everyday should not be the language of the sacred.

I do not believe that the kind of language one might use at the barbershop or at a football game, or in a corporate boardroom for that matter, is fit or appropriate for addressing God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, the saints, or other subjects one might address at church.

The church where I attend when I'm in my hometown (which is only for a few weeks a year, unfortunately) uses the Anglican Service Book, which is a translation of the entire BCP into Jacobean language (along with added features like Marian prayers, and so forth). I'm very glad that for at least a few weeks a year, we get to pray in a more reverent fashion.

And, of course, I dislike the fact that the NRSV leaves out some important episodes that I noted above- Christ sweating blood, the angelic healings at Bethesda, and the like.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Saturday, 1 January 2011 at 7:17pm GMT

Of course, at the time the Authorized Version was prepared, the "more reverent, more complex, and aesthetically superior" Jacobean language Hector so loves WAS "the language of the everyday."

In fact, while this references liturgy rather than scripture, the popular protests against the English liturgy in 1549 were principally about how pedestrian and secular the language was. "A circus play," they called it in Cornwall.

The fetishim of archaic language makes an idol of either liturgy or scripture and overthrows the essential purpose of both.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Saturday, 1 January 2011 at 8:28pm GMT

"because it tells the rationalist, materialist, liberal Christians that they are flat-out wrong"

HSC, a really rational rationalist materialist liberal would stop at this point, but I'm a sucker for a good argument.
Pray tell, how do angels tell rationalist materialist liberals, Jew or Christian, that we are flat out wrong?
From my perspective, the main people in the Gospels seemingly can't walk two stadia without an angelic intervention. I'd like to think Jesus, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the apostles, the people who came to Jesus for healing and teaching, the Pharisees, the priests, the scribes, Herod, Salome, Pontius Pilate, and the Roman centurions had free will in the actions they chose.
They had to. Otherwise, it's more than a carefully staged play with a pre-DeMille cast of thousands designed for the benefit of -- who?
But, please tell this unenlightened mostly rational, mainly materialistic (in the broad sense of the word) liberal who enjoys the profound beauty, grandeur, and scale of God's Creation, and who often ponders the mystery that God is, exactly how angels condemn me?

Posted by peterpi at Saturday, 1 January 2011 at 8:59pm GMT

"Of course, at the time the Authorized Version was prepared, the "more reverent, more complex, and aesthetically superior" Jacobean language Hector so loves WAS "the language of the everyday.""

Actually, from what I understand, this is not so. Much of the language of the AV was archaic even when it was written, and on purpose.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 2 January 2011 at 7:18am GMT

Re: But, please tell this unenlightened mostly rational, mainly materialistic (in the broad sense of the word) liberal who enjoys the profound beauty, grandeur, and scale of God's Creation, and who often ponders the mystery that God is, exactly how angels condemn me?

Many modernistic/liberal/rationalist Christians believe that angels don't exist. The more angels show up in scripture, the more this points out that the modernists are flat-out wrong.

The fact that you folks are made uncomfortable by scenes like the healing at Bethesda or the sweating blood at Gethsemane, because there were angels involved, is not a reason to dumb down Scripture to suit your tastes. Quite the opposite. It shows why we need tradition all the more.

Re: Actually, from what I understand, this is not so. Much of the language of the AV was archaic even when it was written, and on purpose.

Precisely. The translaters of the Authorised Version were smarter then the Manhattan coffeehouse crowd nowadays who wants to dumb down the Bible into the kind of English better suited for an elementary school classroom.

It's ironic that the AV-haters on this thread probably spend a lot of time talking about multiculturalism, yet fail to give any credence to the insight that people in so many other cultures have had- in Ethiopia, in Syria, in India, in Russia- that the language of liturgy ought not to be the language of the commonplace. Perhaps the Ethiopians and the Syrians are right, and you folks are wrong.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Sunday, 2 January 2011 at 2:37pm GMT

Hector would have us model oourselves after a few fossilized and insular churches of the east, I see.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Sunday, 2 January 2011 at 3:13pm GMT

PeterPi,

By the way, I was bored during the announcements at church this morning, so I took a look at John 5 in the pew bible (which is, of course, NRSV).

To their credit, the NRSV is nothing if not thorough, and though they've dropped the bit about the angel at Bethesda, they do include it in an italicised footnote. Guess what- the story, without that italicised footnote, makes _little sense_. It's unclear why the crowd of lame, paralyzed, and sick people is hanging around the pool, it's unclear what the sick man means when he refers to the water being stirred, and why it's important that he doesn't have anyone to lower him into the pool after the stirring of the waters. Who or what is supposed to be doing the stirring? The NRSV includes the entire story except for the one detail about the angel which the rest of the story depends on. It's really silly- if you are going to leave out the whole story then leave it out, but don't leave out one critical detail then leave the rest there with a big piece of the story missing.

The NRSV certainly has its place, and I'm not saying it's a bad translation. While I generally read the Authorised Version for private devotion and illumination, and quote from it when I'm writing, I also supplement that with the NRSV, the current Roman Catholic translation (NAB), and occasionally I'll check the Latin Vulgate. For some purposes, for example (like Matthew 5:21-22) I think the RC translations are closer to the genuine teachings of Jesus than any Protestant version.

The NRSV, the AV, the NAB, and other versions all have their advantages and disadvantages: my contention is just that on the whole and in general, the Authorised Version is the best.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Sunday, 2 January 2011 at 6:46pm GMT

Malcolm,

So much for the purported multiculturalism of the modernist Santa Monica hipster crowd. When it comes to non-Western churches doing something the way you disapprove of, suddenly they are 'fossilised' and 'insular'.

For the record, I'm South Indian (by descent), my roots are in the city where Thomas the Apostle are buried, and we had a thriving Christian community there before England did. I don't think they would think much of your burblings about being fossilised and insular, any more than they would think much of your idea that the language we use to address Christ should be the same language we use to buy a couple of mangoes at the market.

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Sunday, 2 January 2011 at 10:04pm GMT

Has our civilisation lost the concept of holiness, of reverence, of majesty, or what?

Posted by Hector_St_Clare at Sunday, 2 January 2011 at 10:05pm GMT

I'm afraid that I don't understand Mr. St Clare, or the apparent chip on his shoulder.

There is a huge difference between respecting the mysticism, or the reverence if you prefer, of some of the Eastern traditions, and blindly accepting what many would contend is their very bad theology.

For Mr. St. Clare to criticize -- as somehow dismissive of "holiness" or "reverence" -- any of those who believe that most Eastern traditions are not theologically correct, or who feel that they are culturally biased in their theological pronouncements, is simplistic and lacking in critical thinking.

As for the "Santa Monica hipster crowd", where does he get that bizarre comment?

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Monday, 3 January 2011 at 3:07am GMT

"The fetishim of archaic language makes an idol of either liturgy or scripture and overthrows the essential purpose of both."

Wow! That's a whole lot of truth there, Malcolm'
Words, in whatever language, are still just words. What excites me is when they are allowed to live: as in "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us'.

There are too many Christians whose total seeming knowledge of God lies in their assessment of the written word. This is how we get biblical fundamentalism, - while the Incarnation actually allowed in ineffable 'Word of God' to live among us - sharing with us all the good, the bad, and the indifference which is our as bearers of God's image and likeness.

However, as co-workers in the world with The Word Made Flesh, we ought rather to be concentrating on the Love that came through The Word, (Christ in us: the hoppe of glory) rather than arguing about the semantic nuances of the message.

Too often, great learning can mask the very charism that God has instilled instinctively within each one of us in our Baptism, and particularly when we compete with one another as to 'meaning' and striving to defend our own especial textual and scholastic judgement.

"Where are your wise men now?" is not really about the ability to interpret the esoteric languages of yesteryear, but rather; "Where are those of you who are open to the depth of understanding of the ways of Christ as you journey with him, today, along the way?"

True worship involves more than just the use of language, it is an attitude of thankfulness for what we have been given in Christ - and the willingness to share what we have learned, in charity and love.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 3 January 2011 at 5:37am GMT

Sorry, Hector. I've never been to Santa Monica and I'm the farthest thing from hip. Just a simple massing priest going about the work the Lord has given me.

The everpresent (and possibly inevitable) danger of fetishizing archaic forms is that the forms themselves become the idol. The very churches you point to often demonstrate the results of a marginalized and inaccessible approach.

There is a parish not far from me where the majority of Anglicans are descendents of Romanian immigrants. When the Romanian Orthodox priest refused to do services in anything but liturgical Romanian, the younger families (who mostly didn't even speak modern Romanian) became Anglicans. Neither scripture nor liturgy are about being beautiful (though they should exhibit beauty). They are about telling a story, which requires comprehensibility.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Monday, 3 January 2011 at 10:17pm GMT
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