Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Critiquing the new translation alongside earlier ones

I'm still reading Anscar Chupungco's critique of the official English translation of Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I:
ICEL2010 takes liberty with the Latin text in unum corpus congregentur in Christo, a quo omnis auferatur divisio, whose literal meaning is: “they may be gathered into one Body in Christ, from which may every division be {482} removed.” It is obvious that a quo refers to corpus, not to Christo. There can be no division in Christ in the first place. (A Commentary on the Order of Mass, pp. 481-482)
That is a good literal translation of the Latin provided by Fr. Chupungco (a Benedictine monk). The English text he is critiquing, from the new English translation of the Roman Missal, is "they may be gathered into one Body in Christ who heals every division." He goes on to say:
The Latin text does not say that Christ “heals” every division. The verb “to heal” is not a dynamic equivalent, much less a literal translation of auferatur. What is prayed for is that all division be eliminated from the community, the body gathered into one in Christ. (Ibid, p. 482)
He has a valid point here. The verb auferre means generally "to remove". It appears in a penitential prayer of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (commonly called the Tridentine Mass), aufer a nobis... ("Take away our iniquities from us...").

I wonder, though, why here in the commentary on translation, mention is not made of earlier translations (e.g. 1975 and 1998) of the same Latin text; comparing the 2010 text to earlier translations happens quite frequently in this particular commentary. The two earlier translations I have noted (1975 and 1998) employed dynamic equivalency, and yet they rendered the phrase in question as "healed of all division" and "in whom all divisions are healed". Perhaps this is why a comparison or remark is absent.

While Fr. Chupungco is correct that "healed" does not translate (literally or dynamically) auferatur, I would dare to suggest that "healed of all division(s)" does dynamically (though not quite literally) translate omnis auferatur divisio. For, in this case, the divisions are in a body, a body which is meant to be perfectly united, perfectly one, utterly undivided. The removal, therefore, of divisions in this body appropriately be called "healing".

Translating the Sanctus

The Adoremus Bulletin had an article nine years ago about the proper translation of Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. This article pointed out that while "Deus" is a noun in the nominative (subject of a verb) and vocative (direct address) cases, "Dominus" is only properly a nominative noun. The vocative form of "Dominus" is "Domine", as in Miserere, Domine.

This means the strictly literal translation of the first line of the Sanctus is really "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts," instead of what we're used to, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts."

So I was a bit surprised when reading Anscar Chupungco's analysis of the new English translation, wherein he writes:
In compliance with the norms of formal correspondence advocated by [Liturgiam Authenticam], the English Sanctus for [Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I] in ICEL2010 (“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts”) appropriately corrects its 2007 gray book translation of this prayer (Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts). (A Commentary on the Order of Mass, p. 478)
There are a number of other inaccuracies in the final translation of the Latin text which the numerous authors in the Commentary have pointed out, but I was surprised at this one.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Biblical exegesis and interfaith sensitivity

I'm reading a new massive commentary on the Roman Missal by the Liturgical Press. It's very helpful for my research on the new translations of the Eucharistic Prayers, but every now and then it rubs me the wrong way with statements like these (emphasis added):
A mystagogy of EP IV needs to point out that the early church or a patristic typological interpretation of OT passages can be problematic for contemporary interfaith sensibilities. Appreciation of the prayer does need to carry with it a certain note of caution concerning its appropriation of Jewish salvation history. In other words, contemporary exegesis of OT texts lets the Hebrew Scriptures stand on their own terms. That being said, the biblical approach of EP IV can be valued and appreciated on its own terms as long as one is aware of the contemporary critique. It is important to note that the NT texts themselves often approach the Hebrew Scriptures typologically. (A Commentary on the Order of Mass of The Roman Missal: A New English Translation, pp. 427-428)
While contemporary interfaith sensibilities might justly govern interfaith activities, there is no need to abandon the scriptural tradition of the Church in reading the Old Testament in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Yes, this is not just an "early church" tradition (as in going back to, say, St. Ignatius of Antioch), it is a scriptural Church tradition:  the evangelists did it, the apostles did it, John the Baptist did it, and Jesus Himself did it.  I see no reason to avoid typological interpretation of the Bible in a mystagogical context.

Perhaps this will come off sounding insensitive, but do we risk losing parts of our authentic Catholic identity, to use a Johannine phrase, "for fear of the Jews"?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Translation: Awkward wording in the doxology

While I am for the most part pleased with the new English translation of the Roman Missal — what I've read and heard of it — there are a few awkwardly worded sections.

In this post, I'd like to examine one example: the concluding doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer.  In the old translation, the priest said:
Through him, with him, in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
almighty Father,
forever and ever.
This is a decent (although not exact) translation of the Latin, which reads:
Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso,
est tibi Deo Patri omnipoténti,
in unitáte Spíritus Sancti,
omnis honor, et glória,
per ómnia sæcula sæculórum.
If you haven't noticed, I'm putting the prepositions in bold. Here is a strict word-for-word translation:
By him, and with him, and in him,
is to you God Father almighty,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honor and glory,
during all ages of ages.
And here's how it is rendered in the new translation:
Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
forever and ever.
As you can see, the individual lines of the prayer have been re-arranged to match their order in the Latin, but I think it ends up being a little anti-climactic. The order of the Latin phrases is not, in this case, necessary to the form of the prayer; this is not a collect, for example, where the prayer takes the form of "O God, who did X, we ask you, grant us Y."

There is another problem which exists in both the old and the new translation: a missing preposition. This may not seem like a big deal, but the Latin does not simply say that all glory and honor is the Father's; it specifically says that all glory and honor is (that is, it goes) to the Father by (through), in, and with the Son, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This small detail is not captured by either translation, and can be tricky to convey in natural-sounding English.