Saturday, 23 July 2011

For Many - For All (part two)

So we got to the point of asking how we ever got to the point of saying ’for many’ should be translated as ‘for all’.

Well, it was all part of a bigger picture that was going on when the Mass was being translated into English. There were great arguments of how you should translate something. Should you do it exactly, following the Latin original text, or should you simply get at what the Latin means and then compose a prayer around that? The latter way won and, by the way, that is why we now have to go through all this rigmarole of a new translation. The new translation does not follow this composing a prayer around what the Latin means, and follows the original text.

So what’s all the hoo-hah? I hear you cry… well. If you and I read a Latin text, we can both come up with different ideas as to what it means, what the images are, what the inner workings of the text is trying to get at. If we then compose a prayer around that (not just off the top of our heads, but loosely based) then we can both come up with something totally different, and that is important because it then means something else. If I translate calix as cup then you can ask me why I am using a gold chalice at Mass and not a pottery beaker. If I translate it as Chalice, then I can say, I am using something made of gold, because that is what the word means.

Getting back to ‘for many’ ‘for all’. The theologians and translators who had to translate the Mass looked at both the Greek and the Latin texts (both of which mean ‘for many’) and wondered what our Lord would have said in Aramaic. Let me just say this now… we have no idea what He would have said in Aramaic! Anyway, they decided that He would have said ‘for all’. We don’t even know what language He was speaking at the time.

So they looked at the text and translated it according to what they thought Our Lord meant, even though it is clearly contrary to what it means. That is how we ended up with ‘for all’. We made an assumption what the words meant and we second-guessed what Our Lord said. When the call for the new translation came, and we returned to what the prayers actually said, an example was given as to why the translations had to be changed because bad choices had been made. 

Any they gave an example of who this had gone wrong. Do you know what it was?

You’ve guessed it … it was that ‘for many’ had been translated as ‘for all’.

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