Today, I encountered two jarring examples of translations of our Biblical texts, one in Morning Prayer, the other during Mass that make me dearly miss the King James Version, and keep my hope alive that somehow, someday, we can make a case for a KJV Catholic edition for Ordinariate use with good footnotes for the problematic areas.
First example, from Morning Prayer.
The First Lesson: Ezekiel 37:1-14
A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” Again he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done it, says the LORD.”
Prophecy to the breath? Arrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh! Here’s the KJV:
Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. (KJV)
Without knowing the KJV version, how will future generations get the resonance of T.S. Eliot’s poem Ash Wednesday?
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen
Then, during Mass today, the Epistle 1 John 5:1-7
Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child . . .
” . . . loves the parent loves the child?” That sounds like some Canadian social justice types did the translation to make the language “gender neutral.”
To say nothing of the clunkiness of the language.
Here is the King James Version:
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
A few of us ended up in a discussion about this during coffee hour, where I aired my lament, and a young man whipped out his phone to a site that does line by line translation comparing the Greek and so on.
Then Fr. Hayman joined us, and we discussed the way the word begetting refers to the father’s role in begetting offspring, and also to the special way in which Christ is begotten and thus has the same nature as God the Father, but we, who are not begotten, can also be called sons and daughters of God.
I’ve also been thinking of the King James Version in the recent remembrances of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the anniversary of his assassination, with many bringing to mind the cadences of a Gospel preacher in his famous speeches.
How much were those famous cadences resonating with the King James Version? I’m not sure whether he in fact used it, but I would not be surprised.