Thanks to the Surly Hermit for passing this First Things article along to me. It is in the November edition and available online. Thus Saith the Lord by Nathaniel Peters
One Sunday in high school, we went to the Anglo-Catholic parish where my headmaster served as an assistant priest. Catechized by evangelical Episcopalians and Presbyterians, I believed that the Bible was divinely inspired by God. But I had never seen it treated as such in a physical or ritual way. Down Mr. Jarvis came, robed in damask and the smoke of incense, into the congregation to sing and kiss the Word of God. He spoke the words of the King James Bible, a language steeped in the same reverence for Scripture that the liturgy made manifest.
My thoughts drifted to that day on seeing the news that Pope Francis has appointed a commission to review Liturgiam Authenticam, the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 2001 instruction governing translations of the Mass and sacramental rites into vernacular languages. More recently, he issued a decree giving local bishops’ conferences greater control over such translations. The conflict is partly over jurisdiction: Who should decide what is an acceptable Japanese translation of the liturgy, a committee in Japan or in Rome? Continue on here.
Let me note here that the main point of this essay would be in conflict with Msgr. Ronald Knox. When Peters quotes Nicholson, in his work God’s Secretaries, saying that the KJV translators considered it more important “to make English godly than to make the words of God unto the sort of prose that any Englishman would have written” he is in direct contrast to what Knox thought, in regards to translation. Knox, in his book On Englishing the Bible, references the great Hilaire Belloc, saying, “The great principle he there lays down is that the business of a translator is not to ask, ‘How shall I make this foreigner talk English’ but ‘What would an Englishman have said to express this?‘“ I am eager to read your thoughts on this, as always, let’s engage in this topic with great charity.