Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Catholic Church Changing Before Our Eyes

When I have given Dawah to non-Muslims in the past, one of things I always make sure to highlight is that our prayers to God are in the original form he revealed them to us. I especially make this point to Christians because their texts have changed so many times in the past. Its no surprise when I read that Roman Catholic bishops in the United States voted yesterday to change the wording of many of the prayers and blessings that Catholics have recited at daily Mass for more than 35 years.

Some of the changes they did adopt are minor, but in other cases Catholics will have to learn longer and more awkward versions of familiar prayers. For example, instead of saying, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you," in the prayer before Communion, they will say, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof." […]

"This translation will affect the worship life of every Catholic in the United States and beyond," said Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., chairman of the bishops Committee on the Liturgy and a vocal critic of the Vatican's translation who insisted on amending it. […]

The Rev. Lawrence J. Madden, director of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy in Washington, said: "In hewing to the Latin more closely, it's making some of the English awkward. It isn't the English we speak. It's becoming more sacred English, rather than vernacular English."
Father Madden said, "That's one of the reasons why a large number of the bishops up to this point have been opposed to the translation, because they're afraid this is going to distance the liturgy from the people."

The unfortunate thing about all of this controversy about whether it should be more accessible English or Latin is the ignored fact that the original Bible is written in Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew; Not Latin! Hence, it makes me wonder what purpose this will serve since at the very best they are trying to match English to Latin, with the inherent assumption that the Latin is in perfect snyc with the original Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew.

I remember in a linguistics course I took, we actually used the Bible to examine language variation over time! For instance, The Lord’s Prayer , which is one of the most common and well know prayer amongst Christians and non-Christians (largely due to the pop culture of Thanksgiving & Christmas) has changed drastically over history. Below you will see examples of the Lord’s Prayer from Old English, Modern, and Late Modern English.

Old English
Lord's Prayer I (Exeter Book,10th c.)
1 [....]g fæder, þu þe on heofonum eardast,
2 geweorðad wuldres dreame. Sy þinum weorcum halgad
3 noma niþþa bearnum; þu eart nergend wera.
4 Cyme þin rice wide, ond þin rædfæst willa
5 aræred under rodores hrofe, eac þon on rumre foldan.
6 Syle us to dæge domfæstne blæd,
7 hlaf userne, helpend wera,
8 þone singalan, soðfæst meotod.
9 Ne læt usic costunga cnyssan to swiðe,
10 ac þu us freodom gief, folca waldend,
11 from yfla gewham, a to widan feore.

Modern English
The King James Bible (1611)
Our father which art in heauen, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdome come. Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heauen.
Giue vs this day our daily bread.
And forgiue vs our debts, as we forgiue our debters.
And lead vs not into temptation, but deliuer vs from euill: For thine is the kingdome, and the power, and the glory, for euer, Amen.

Late Modern English
The Alba House New Testament (1970, tr. Condon)
Our Father in Heaven,
let your holy name be known,
let your kingdom come,
and your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today the bread that we need,
and forgive us our wrongs,
as we forgive those
who have done wrong to us.
Do not lead us into trial,
but save us from evil.

It’s interesting to note the changes overtime, especially as a Muslim. Its not even as if this a Muslim or non-Christian scholar revealed this truth but something that has been documented by Christian scholars. I know others have blogged about the origins of Christianity recently with all the hype about the Da Vinci Code but I’ll just say that anyone who believes that the Bible is the infallible “word of God” should consider these historical changes.


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He should ask me, he's psycho.

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