illustrates the fact that you should always take off 50 IQ points whenever the MSM deals with religion. To wit:
With several new English-language Bible translations that have been published in recent years — including ones that use gender-neutral and conversational language — it might be said that Americans are tired of reading the King James-style Bible of yore. But a survey of Bible readers released Friday says that Americans largely prefer literal translations of the books’ original Greek and Hebrew texts as opposed to ones that try to convey the intent of the original words.
Where to begin? Where to begin? Does the author even know what “literal” means? I *think* what he means is something like “word-for-word” rather than “paraphrase”. It’s the “as opposed to” that really communicates illiteracy though, since it is a highly dubious proposition that rendering “Son of Man” as “Human Person” really communicates what the intent of the author. Quite obviously, what it is doing is communicating what a Corrector wishes he meant. Likewise, gender neutralizing Scripture can have all sorts of deleterious effects, particularly with the Psalms, which the Church has always read as prophetically referring to Christ.
However, at a more human level, I think what the renderers of Scripture into “common speech” are missing is that these are liturgical documents and that they are deliberately written to elevate the mind and heart with, if you will, artificial speech. Don’t be put off by the word “artificial” which is rooted in the highly artistic word “artifice”.
In short, as Orwell pointed out long ago, only a fool thinks that ordinary people would feel better and find it “easier to relate” to Scripture when a translator takes a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes 9:11:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to all of them.
… and then re-writes the passage with its life blood drained away and replaced by the embalming fluid of modern English:
Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
To be sure, “common English” Bible translators aren’t typically that tin-eared (though gender neutralizers can be pretty bloody awful sometimes). But they do suffer from a ruthless set of assumptions that “ordinary people” (meaning “people they imagine to be less intelligent than they are”) are clamoring for a dumbed-down Bible with all that fancy talk taken out of it.
The problem is: we aren’t. Nor were the Biblical authors interested in pandering to, if you will pardon the pun, Philistines. They wrote poetry, for cryin’ out loud! Half the Bible is filled with poetry. And not just any poetry, but some of the most exalted and beautiful poetry in the world. Running it through the meat grinder of “common English” translation is like imagining you have “improved” Hamlet and made it more “accessible” by having the Gloomy Dane say, “Should I kill myself or not? Tough call! Should I put up with all the crap life throws at me or just stab myself? Man, I wish God hadn’t made suicide a no no. And I might do it if I wasn’t so scared of what might happen after I kack myself.”
In short, the biblical authors wrote to lift our minds to God and the *way* they wrote was as important as *what* they wrote. And us schmoos in the pews *like* that it’s elevated and artificial for much the same reason we like celebrating a Mass in a beautiful sanctuary and not in a bare concrete room.
Dorothy Day once remarked to some Lefty who longed for the day that Churches could be stripped bare and the gorgeousness sold off “for the poor” that Churches were the only place the poor could go to experience beauty–for free!
Biblical language is much the same. Our whole culture has aggressively stripped the beauty and poetry out of all speech. Poetry is exclusively the province of dilettantes when it used to be the common bread and butter of ordinary normal people. The last thing we need is to dumb down Scripture because some condescending scholar thinks he is patting Homer Simpson on the head.