A favourite of some appreciative readers, reprinted by request with one or two tinkerings.
Literate and Latinate six-year-old: Papa, why, this morning, was the psalmody of the Mass in honour of St Pius X so odd? I mean, in the psalmus of the Introit, why did we have Gratias Domini in aeternum cantabo, rather than Misericordias ...? And why has ecclesia been replaced with coetus?
Papa: Well, my child, when that Mass was added to the Missal, the Holy See was rather keen on the Bea psalter.
Literate ...: What was the Bea, Papa?
Papa: It was an evil German Jesuit who ...
Literate ...: What, Papa, is 'Jesuit'?
Papa: I think you'd better ask your Mother ... not many people nowadays know the answer to that question ... I'm not sure I do ... but the Bea had acquired the confidence of Pius XII ...
Literate ... (fiercely): Ah, the pope who appointed Hasdrubal Bugnini who engineered the Great Liturgical Deformation of the twentieth century?
Papa: Exactly, best beloved, except that his name was Hannibal ... Hasdrubal was his brother ... sort of ... perhaps I have allowed you to read too much Livy ... and the Bea began its evil work by doing a new translation of the Psalter into Classical Latin and ...
Literate ...: But surely, Papa carissime, St Christine Mohrmann, the great Dutch Latinist and Doctrix of the Church, had just demonstrated that Liturgical Latin was an exquisite deeply Christian form of Latin expressly crafted to convey in all its transcendent beauty the Catholic Faith?
Papa: Indeed she had, but Pius XII, a weak and foolish pope, ignored her scholarship and allowed the Bea to do its worst. And ...
Literate ...: But, Papa, consider the rendering coetus. It is profoundly wrong. Because the Vulgate rendering ecclesia binds together the Church's appropriation of Scripture with the text of the Old Testament. Coetus elides that linkage. Be honest with me, pedantic Parent: Coetus also ruptures the link with the Septuagintal rendering ... ekklesia megale. Thus the harmony of the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Latin is rudely sundered! So why was today's Mass not subsequently corrected when St Benedict XVII completed the Great Liturgical and Doctrinal Restoration in 2031 by promulgating the Sixteen Definitive Anathemas against Bergoglianism?
Papa: Because the liturgy, learned offspring, bears within it marks of all the periods through which, in its triumphant march across the centuries, it has passed. These profoundly eccentric details provide a powerful incentive to historical research such as that upon which you, after your Seventh Birthday, will embark. Now run along and finish your doctoral thesis on the de Beatificatione et Canonizatione of St Benedict XIV. Then you can ask your Mother what 'Jesuit' means before I read you your bed-time story from the newly recovered papyrus text, Oxyrhynchus 26,091, of the Hecale of Callimachus.
Literate ...: Thank you, Papa. I warmly anticipate each of those three agenda.
3 September 2022
November 20 Anno Domini 2121: a family dialogue
A favourite of some appreciative readers, reprinted by request with one or two tinkerings.
Ah, Father, you have made my day! Or, perhaps I should say your little 'fierce' Literate has made my day. I have often thought of what would be fixed in such a "Great Restoration". Certainly the Holy Week changes of the 50's. Also the Breviary song changes of Clement and structural changes of Pius X. Sts Phillip and James need move to their rightful May 1st location. Assumption propers would fit, also...
My only regret here is I did not get to hear Mother's definition of Jesuit!
It trips me up every year, even though I know it's coming.
What a delightful post; thank you, Father!
In a somewhat related question: I seem to recall that the whole argument in favor of new translations such as the Bea or the new vulgate is that they are truer to the original texts.
Has anyone studied these various Latin psalters in light of the Dead Sea scrolls? I seem to recall reading that the Dead Sea psalm scrolls seem to match up better with the Septuagint psalter than with the extant Masoretic texts (a book by Peter Flint, as I recall). However, I don't know Greek or Hebrew, so all I can so is read the analyses and conclusions of others.
Just curious if you've done any studies or reading on the topic.
In reply, two years on, to "David", surely the whole point of the Vulgate is that the Tradition of Holy Mother Church has always regarded S Jerome as being divinely inspired, and thus the Vulgate Psalter as forming part of the deposit of Faith.
The academic argument of authenticity to earlier texts this misses this, and is thus inherently non-Catholic. This is not, of course to deny the value of the study of earlier texts, but the Divine Office is not an academic, but a spiritual, exercise.
Anyone can translate, but not everyone can interpret. The authentic interpretation of scriptural texts is the one handed down through Tradition and the liturgy i.e. what the Church has always understood and taught. That is why the Jerome version is regarded as sacrosanct. The problem with the Bea version of the Psalter, which is based on the Hebrew text, is that it departs from the original meaning in some instances.
Here is a typical example. In Psalm 46:9, the authentic Latin text found in the Vulgate Bible of St Jerome uses the future tense: “Regnabit Deus super nationes” (God will reign over the nations). This was a prophecy about the future establishment of the Church when Christ would confer on her His spiritual authority over all individuals and nations. The Bea translation, on the other hand, uses the Present tense “regnat” (He reigns), but this, as we shall see, is a falsification of the original text.
When we come to the Hebrew verb malakh (to reign), we must remember that the ancient Hebrews did not think of verbs as past, present or future, but simply as complete or incomplete. Whether it embraces the past, present or future is revealed from its context, which is interpreted by Tradition.
Thus, for example, in Psalm 92: 1 whose context is the foundation of the world by God, malakh is translated with reference to the past: “Dominus regnavit” (the Lord hath reigned). But in Psalm 46:9 malakh is translated by the future tense “regnabit” in the Latin Vulgate. This is appropriate to illustrate the Old Testament prophecy of Christ’s Kingship when He would found the Church in the New.
But this meaning was not made clear in the Pian Psalter, as the Bea translation took advantage of the Hebrew system to interpolate a different meaning into Psalm 46:9 – for reasons of ecumenism and opening to the world in preparation for Vatican II.
The principle that new translations should be faithful to the original text surely fails to allow for the fact that scriptural texts are generally of great antiquity and have from the start been subject to a continuous process of editing and improvement. Practically it is generally impossible to recover an original text, and where the written text is the product of a long period of oral transmission it is impossible even to decide what would qualify as the original text. The scribe who first copied it out at the dictation of the elder who knew it by heart hardly counts as an author. Scriptural texts are in this way quite unlike the majority of classical texts, with Homer as the obvious exception.
Malitia malitiam pariet. You deserve Traditionis Custodes.
"Whether it embraces the past, present or future is revealed from its context, which is interpreted by Tradition."
Not quite true.
In a main clause, the incomplete tense is typically present or future, revealed from its context, usually interpretable from simple grammatic context within the text?
Complete tense is typically past in a main clause, at least one introducing a new turn of the story.
In subsidiary clauses, incomplete is typically simultaneous or subsequent and complete typically previous action.
In narratives, it seems the intro is made by a complete and the continuation by adding ve + incomplete (ve-yiqtol) for as long as the scene continues.
The one major excetption for this is, when a prophet speaks about the future, he uses complete, since he already has certainty of the fact.
God shall reign over the nations: God sitteth on his holy throne.
King David or whoever wrote psalms "unto the end for the sons of Core" had complete certainty of judgement day.
where the written text is the product of a long period of oral transmission it is impossible even to decide what would qualify as the original text. The scribe who first copied it out at the dictation of the elder who knew it by heart hardly counts as an author. Scriptural texts are in this way quite unlike the majority of classical texts, with Homer as the obvious exception.
I'd rather say the one example of long oral transmission we have in the Bible is Genesis 1 - 11.
Hans said: "when a prophet speaks about the future, he uses complete, since he already has certainty of the fact." Agreed. That is why it is often referred to as the "Prophetic Perfect".
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