Thursday, March 12, 2015

Knox on Translation

Haven't done one of these in a while, but I was re-reading On Englishing the Bible and came across this interesting quote.  It caused me to reflect on whether or not things are better or worse, in regards to Catholics reading the Bible, than in Knox's day.  All of this is of great importance, particularly as we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dei Verbum this year.

"And yet, is the Douay, as it has come down to us through Challoner, really so familiar to us, so universally beloved?  I understand that for several years, during and after the war, it was impossible, in England or Scotland, for a Catholic to buy a copy of the New Testament.  Would any other Christian denomination in the world have sat down under that?  In my experience, the laity's attitude towards the Bible is one of blank indifference, varied now and again by one of puzzled hostility.  The clergy, no doubt, search the Scriptures more eagerly.  And yet, when I used to go round preaching a good deal, and would ask the P.P. for a Bible to verify my text from, there was generally an ominous pause of twenty minutes or so before he returned, banging the leaves of the sacred volume and visibly blowing on the top.  The new wine of the gospel, you felt, was kept in strangely cobwebby bottles (On Englishing the Bible 11)."

This short quote is another reason why Msgr. Knox is the (un)official patron saint of this blog.  His insights into the Church, and ability to point out the obvious, is only matched by his wit.  We could use a few more Knox-like people in the Church today.  On Englishing the Bible is available through Baronius Press, but only if you purchase the Knox Bible.  It is not sold separately.  However, I have two brand new copies to give away.  So, if interested, just put your name in the comment section of this post by the end of the day on Sunday and you will be entered to win a copy of it.  This is open to everyone, no matter where you live.  And if you don't have the Knox Bible, go get one!


Patrick said...

Thanks for giving the book away

Russ said...

Whoever gets the copies is sure to love it. Knox has a wonderful wit. And if you can, get a copy of the translation and keep it in a somewhat safe place. Recently a pipe burst in our home and my Knox translation came about 18 inches from being drenched. There was water on and around the table it was sitting on, but there it sat, nice and dry. Hey, Tim, I think you have a new column, you can it straight from On Englishing The Bible.

Alejandro Sanchez said...

Alejandro "Alex" Sanchez

I own a Knox New Testament and a Knox Old Testament Volume 1. I'm trying to find the second volume by itself but that's like looking for a long lost shoe to match the pair. If anyone might know where I can find the second volume of Knox's Old Testament please let me know.


CarlHernz said...

Whether it is a curse or blessing, I was born to parents who both happened to be the black sheep of their respective families.

So during a period of attempting to save their marriage, my parents abandoned our Catholic and Jewish heritage for all sorts of religious experiments which ended up leaving me in the hands of the Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was but a teenager--and once they gave up on the experiment and each other.

While I managed to crawl out of that predicament on my own without assistance, I did learn something that matches this experience of the talented Knox. True, Bible reading and ownership is quite up these days among Catholics but not so when I was a youth and had to join everyone for the Jehovah’s Witnesses' earmark tradition of knocking on your door early come Saturday morning—whether I liked it or not.

I did come across some humorous examples not unlike the above-mentioned in doing so when speaking with a few Catholics. When asking people if they had a Bible in their home, some Catholics would point to the ornate Family Bible that sat unmoved on a shelf of importance in their living room. “Do you ever read it?” I would ask.

The answers were varied:
“That thing? Well, I can’t be sure that I even remember if I ever did.”
“Yes, every time someone in the family is born and someone dies when we can put their name down in the front pages.”
“Psalm 23…each time I need the extra $20 we stash there for emergencies.”
“Read it?”

And those who did have a Bible for personal use did not guarantee we had met a Catholic that was truly familiar with Church doctrine or Sacred Scripture. One lady told us that she knew Mary was in heaven because the Bible testifies that “Mary went to heaven on the Ball of Redemption.”

The friend who was with me was curious about the claim. “Can you show me in the Bible where that is?” she asked.

The Catholic woman turned to an illustration in the center of the Bible that showed Our Lady on what is supposed to be the Earth surrounded by rays of light coming down from heaven. “See,” she said. “It’s right here in the Bible. It shows Mary going up to heaven on the Ball of Redemption.”

While I did encounter a few other Catholics who knew their Bibles quite well, it was those that did not who stand out in my memory. I guess that is why I think the work Tim does with this blog and those of you who do similarly are doing such a great work. I know those people who don’t use their Bibles (or own one) are still out there. (Yes, there are people who don’t know that those glossy illustration in St. Joseph Editions of the NAB are not inspired of God like the written text!)

So God bless you all, all you Bible bloggers, collectors, those who question, review, analyze, and critique. It’s wonderful to see all this in my home religion upon returning (though I’ve been back now for about 20 years almost). God bless your wit and your talent and your thirst for the Word of God. May it be a like a contagious bug that gets passed on until it has spread to every single Catholic.

bmiller said...

Knox's translation is lovely, one of the best "dynamic" translations along with the Revised English Bible and the Jerusalem Bible. This post and CarlHernz's comment are a fascinating window into what Catholic biblical literacy looked like in past generations. That's been one of the best fruits of Vatican II: to instill a culture of biblical literacy among the laity. How Knox's heart would have been warmed if he were here today!

Anonymous said...

St. Jerome did the catchphrase for it Carl,

"Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."

Anonymous said...

Drashko Karadza,

Knox's writing are very inspiring. I have several that I purchased for Ignatius Press and read them over and over again. I am not familiar with his "englishing the Bible"I would be graet to own a copy. Thanks for the contest.

Drashko K.

rolf said...

I have bought many a used Catholic Bible on e-bay, and most of the are in 'pristine' condition inside which is probably a good indicator that they weren't read very often.

Timothy, go ahead and enter me in the giveaway, I bought my Knox Bible used and did not get a copy of 'On Englishing the Bible', Thanks.

Javier said...


I would love to enter the contest.


Unknown said...

Hello my brothers and sisters,

I have recently started to author a blog called . I am a Marian Catechist in formation, and part of my formation process involves an active participation in catechetical instruction. By the way, I love the Knox translated Edition of Holy Scripture. I am in my second year of advanced catechetics through the Marian Catechist Apostolate in Lacrosse Wisconsin. Our founder is Servant of God Father John Hardon, and our current Director is His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. I am trying to provide a blog site that is less geared towards another opinion, and more focussed on what The Catholic Church truly teaches. I will provide short, but thorough catechesis on all subjects Catholic, starting with The Apostles Creed. Working through all twelve articles in a systematic, ordered way. All material is available for reprint, to be copied, forwarded or used in anyway to help advance The Truth of The Church, please just give a mention if doing so. I welcome questions and comments also. Also part of my Catechetical activities are facilitating Holy Scripture study on Saturday nights at our families local Parish in Ontario Canada. So, it is not all Doctrine, I also study Holy Scripture. I believe it is essential today for Catholics to be very familiar with The Holy Bible as well as the timeless teachings of The Church. Last of all, my name is Lee Bastings, and all I hope for is the salvation of souls and conversion of sinners, myself included. May Jesus and His Holy Immaculate Mother, Bless us all.

in JMJ,


ps please pray for Our Holy Father Pope Francis and Priests everywhere

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Javier said...

Here in Argentina, the situation is still a lot like the one described by Msgr. Knox. Reading the Bible sistematically is still a very unusual thing for a catholic to do. There are many recent good bible translations. But I'm not aware of them being massively read.
Down here in this catholic country, bible reading is still something evangelicals and JWs do.

Unknown said...

I could use a copy of "On Englishing the Bible" :)

Russ said...

Hello Lee:
I like that picture. That is the Arabic "N" correct? In support of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Arab world who are being persecuted and killed?

Stephen said...

Would love to be considered.
Stephen Shine