Comments: Opinion - 18 October 2017

Re: The Babylon Bee article on translations, funny.

Speaking of funny and biblical translation folks may be interested in this CBC interview with Sarah Ruden, "the author of The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible. She has published acclaimed translations of Virgil's Aeneid, Aristophanes' Lysistrata, and St. Augustine's Confessions, among others. She's also translating the New Testament Gospels for the Modern Library."

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 4:38pm BST

Bibles. OT scholar Dr Margaret Barker has a rule of thumb to take the temperature, as it were, of a translation. Look at Psalm 1, verse 1. If it begins "Blessed" you're probably on to a good thing. If not, you're not. Of Babylon Bee's selection, a fair number pass the Barker test: NIV, KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV. NRSV (not one of Bee's Bibles) does not, and neither does The Message, but I forgive Dr Peterson anything since his work is quite marvellous.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 6:06pm BST

Mark Hedley's paper is just one side of the coin. How many clergy are finding themselves on the wrong side of the CDM as a consequence of ill health generally, and mental health issues more specifically? The lawyers can easily pontificate about WHAT constitutes an offence under the CDM, and what the penalties should be. The question of WHY gets very little coverage or consideration - as an integral part of the Measure.

OK, you could argue that this is what a bishop does after representations have been made by the cleric who is the subject of a complaint. But can this be fully objective in a culture of episcopo-managers? And, in what way are bishops qualified to make medical and psychiatric judgements, even after seeking advice from the specialists?

The proposals in the recent paper before the General Synod should be given higher priority. Moreover, its proposals should be a key element of the loudly trumpeted Renewal & Reform programme. If more is being demanded of our clergy, in a frenetic culture where 'bums on seats' and growth targets are the new orthodoxy, the Church must have higher standards of care for its clergy to match the high standards expected of their behaviour and lifestyle. Until that happens, the CDM will be a blunt instrument and the insinuations of bullying will continue to stick, especially when it is used for relatively minor matters.

Posted by Henry Morton at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 11:04am BST

Re: Stanley Monkhouse, interesting post.

When I was an undergrad (forty-five years ago), I used the Jerusalem Bible. The orginal JB, if memory serves (?), was a "second hand" translation based on the French and produced by the good fathers from l'École Biblique. During Divinity school I used the old N.E.B. which one of my profs at the time said had some "very odd translations". ( :

In parish ministry I would look at several versions for comparison purposes, which most preachers and teachers probably do. However,The RSV and then the NRSV was the translation of choice.

These days I prefer the New Revised English Bible for reading scripture in English. I have a copy of the Novum Testamentum Graece (Nestle-Aland) given to me by one of my late Divinity School profs which I treasure and use for D.O. readings. The Analysis ( Max Zerwick & Mary Grosvenor) is a big help.

Got a kick out of the NIV as the "nearly inspired version". I have a four volume NIV Hebrew interlinear which I use by times. Alas, my Hebrew is just not good enough to read efficiently and effectively without the training wheels, despite dusting off grammatical studies in fits and starts.

At our diaconal ordination the Bishop gave us each a copy of J.B. Philips' NT. A year later when we were made presbyters the bishop have us a copy of the NEB. Signs of the times. ( :

I recommend Martin Hengel's book, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture. One gleans some interesting insights about the Canon and fluidity.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 2:23pm BST

Yes, exactly, Henry Morton.

Of course, we need a CDM - not least to deal with those who abuse their trust and prey on the vulnerable.

But I live and worship in a diocese that seems only too keen to deploy the provisions of the CDM, with little regard for the stress it causes the cleric concerned, particularly when it is a relatively minor matter. It encourages complaints from vindictive parishioners (and that IS a blunt weapon when there are no parallel processes to deal with toxic churchwardens and the like). Reading Sir Mark Hedley's paper, you would think that only the clergy are prone to inappropriate conduct, and that the laity in parishes are unquestionably paragons of virtue. What recourse does a priest have in the face of slanderous gossip, invasions of personal and family privacy, bullying, 'fake news' campaigns and a whole host of other 'conduct unbecoming' a baptized disciple of Christ?

Living close to a parish where a priest burned himself to death in his vicarage recently, after being suspended under the CDM, there needs to be far more thought given to how transparency is balanced by a proper regard for the cleric's privacy and dignity, especially during the stages where allegations are unproven. Rallying the diocesan communications people, and flying in to print with media statements at an early stage (which are always weighted in favour of the Church's institutional reputation) has proved fatal in at least one case - and that is too many.

The Church of England is awash with lawyers at senior level at the moment. Overworked clergy (the 'poor bloody infantry') are being put under too much duress. Employing the CDM, when it is a means of settling scores, is compounding the incidence of ill health. There are fewer prophets and pastors at the top of the food chain. Am I wrong in thinking that this trend will be the (only) harvest of Renewal and Reform?

Posted by David Gibson at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 2:32pm BST

CDM. As a Church of Ireland Rector 2011-2014 I found myself in the midst of conflict between diocese and parish over a merger of two Select Vestries (PCCs in CoE). Parishioners were split into those willing to cooperate, and those unwilling. There was bullying, intimidation, solicitors’ letters flying between one group and the other, one to me, complaints about me to Diocesan Council to which I had to insist on responding. You can imagine the worry for my wife and me. Early on, as soon as I sensed that this could run and run (and it has: my successor lasted only two years in post, now vacant), I began a detailed diary now with the Church of Ireland library for future historians. More pertinently, I kept the Bishop informed at all times, at the height of the unpleasantness with daily updates. In my present CoE post I keep records of events concerning people that cause my antennae to twitch. In all cases I inform Archdeacon and Bishop as soon as possible.

At the age of 67 I am realistic enough to know that church people can display the worst aspects of human behaviour. Was it not the infamous Michael Bland, Rector of Buckland with Snowshill (Gloucestershire) in the 1960s, who said when asked about the anger felt by some of his congregation: ‘Quite right. Get the violence off the street and into the Church where it belongs’? My advice to any clerk in Holy Orders is to keep a diary of all interactions that somehow don't feel quite right: parishioners who close the door when they come in, who sit too close, who make inappropriate remarks …. I was for 30 years a medical school teacher and some students were just the same.

I am sad to learn that retired clergy are vulnerable to CDM treatment. Judging from job adverts it seems that in the fairly near future parish ministry will be largely in the hands of House-for-Duty and retired clergy. I hear a rumour that one diocese in the extreme north west of England is tacitly adopting such a policy. Why give your services voluntarily to an institution that treats the vulnerable without compassion, some might say without justice?

Interesting times. I used to have a fairly thin skin. Parish ministry is a great thickener.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 7:13pm BST

Rod Gillis, thanks for the Hengel recommendation. My eyesight is such that I'd like it on Kindle, which it isn't, yet. As a late ordinand who studied on a part time non-residential course for two years, I know little Greek and no Hebrew. I feel the lack, so books like Hengel are a great blessing for me - as are unstuffy experts like Margaret Barker who lives close at hand.

Posted by Stanley Monkhouse at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 7:41pm BST

re: Stanley Monkhouse, "I know little Greek and no Hebrew. I feel the lack." Everything is relative I suppose. I have often thought about becoming more proficient. But, every one to his/her trade. While in parish ministry I was always grateful for the specialists who wrote biblical commentaries, including giants like Dodd, Brown, Childs, and the like.

In retirement, I have been trying to upgrade languages, ancient and modern, as a hobby.

At Catholic school we began Latin in junior high and it continued into high school.I studied Greek and Hebrew in Divinity school where Greek was required for Anglican postulants. However, for good or ill, I have always tended to focus on studies out of interest rather than necessity. As a theological student I would go the library and come back with a brief case full of books, none of which had anything to do with required courses. ( :

Parish ministry is indeed a thickener and also it requires one to prioritize. There were many late night calls over the years; but I cannot recall one three o'clock in the morning call where I was asked about a translation from Hebrew or Greek. Every one to his/her trade indeed. ( :

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 20 October 2017 at 2:22pm BST

Yup, I like Margaret Barker's rule of thumb (though I regard the NRSV as one of the better translations, it still causeth me to wince from time to time - but mine does translate the Hebrew as 'Blessed').

My dodginess detector, honed over many years, is to be suspicious of any translation whose rendition of Isaiah 7.14 includes the word 'virgin'.... Including, perhaps, the LXX!

Posted by David Rowett at Saturday, 21 October 2017 at 2:40pm BST
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