Friday, November 4, 2011

Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J. On The Very Very Literal Translation Of The Bible

If you've read my column at all over the last year or so you know I have little patience for the change in the eucharistic prayer from "for all" to "for many".  And if you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, it's during the prayer over the cup:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it.
This is my blood, given up for you and for all
so that sins may be forgiven. 
The reason they're changing it: the New Testament text from which it's taken literally says "for many", not "for all".  So, it's a correction. The problem is, it sounds like we're suddenly rolling back God's plan of salvation. You know how we used to say God loves everybody, is interested in everybody, regardless of what they believe or ever did or what not?  Well, now we're thinking, not so much. He'd settle with a good 30-50%.
Link (here) to the blog Gone Walk About, by Fr. 


Maria said...

Well, we thank God for small favors. Brokeback Mountain is no longer has a place in his top ten movies :)

D'Arcy said...

The Institution Narratives in both Matthew and Mark read as follows:

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many [περὶ πολλῶν] for the forgiveness of sins." - Matthew 26:28 (NIV)

"Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many [ὑπὲρ πολλῶν],” he said to them." - Mark 14: 23-24 (NIV)

The words of Institution in the Roman Missal (EP I) are: "qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum."

The “multis” in the Roman Missal translates “πολλῶν” in the biblical Greek. The translation of πολλῶν/multis as “for all” did not appear “in the 50s and 60s,” as you say, but rather in 1973 when the English translation of the 1970 Roman Missal was approved. Yet πολλῶν/mulis doesn’t translate to “all”. The use of “many” in the new English translation is, therefore, a more faithful translation of the passage.

The best model for the words of Institution is the words of the Institution Narrative in the Gospels. It is the surest guarantee that we are praying as Jesus prayed. There is no other, more authoritative source.

Arguing that πολλῶν/mulis should be translated as the more expansive “for all” evidences a fundamental epistemological error. It imposes a theological interpretation on the Gospel, rather than allow the literal words of the Gospel to form the basis for the words of Institution. For this reason, your argument fails.

For those priests who do not care for the new translation, they can always recite the words of Institution over the chalice (not the cup) in Latin. Consider it an exercise in bilingualism.

Mary Arnold said...

I just read your comment that sermons are best left to the pulpit. You may recall that St. Francis told his friars to go about preaching and use words only if necessary. Please, rethink your words before you write or speak them because you are a gifted writer and God expects very good things from you.
Mary Arnold
Mother and Catholic School Teacher