translations of texts for Conversion of St. Paul
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    Having this situation which will never happen again of celebrating the Conversion of St. Paul on a Sunday, I am having the difficulty of getting some sort of English translation for some of the Propers which are ordinarily sung, since I can't go to my usual source of the Gregorian Missal for this feast.

    I finally figured out that the Introit (Scio cui credidi) is the second half of 2 Timothy 1:12, but the Offertory is causing me a good deal of grief.

    It's supposedly Psalm 138:17, which in the English is something like, ""How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!!"
    But the Latin is: "Mihi autem nimis honorificati sunt amici tui, Deus: nimis confortatus est principatus eorum"
    and Latin translations are something like: "But to me, O God, your friends have been greatly honored. Their first ruler has been exceedingly strengthened."
    or ""But to me thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened."

    well, I guess that the translation of the Latin is what it is and that's what I'll use...but where did they come up with that English translation that most people are familiar with?
    The rest of the Psalm seems to be much more similar when comparing the Vulgate or Douay-Rheims....
    maybe I'm opening a can of worms here, but does anyone know where that standard English translation is derived from?
  • By some liturgical miracle, the Propers for the feast are virtually identical in the old and new Graduale (with the exception of the Communion), so the translations in my old Daily Missal should do:

    Introit: I know whom I have believed, and I am certain that He is able to guard the trust committed to me, against that day; being a just Judge.
    Ps: O Lord, You have probed me and You know me; You know when I sit and when I stand.
    Gradual: He who worked in Peter for the apostleship, worked also in me among the Gentiles: and they recognized the grace of God that was given to me.
    v: The grace of God in me has not been fruitless; but His grace always remains in me.
    Alleluia v: The great Saint Paul, the vessel of election, is truly worthy to be glorified; who also deserved to possess the twelfth throne.
    Offertory: To me, Your friends, O God, are made exceedingly honorable; their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

    And for the Communion: These signs shall follow them that believe: they shall cast out devils: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.

    As for the Offertory, which uses the old Vulgate, this is a great example of how the translation of the Psalter (both Latin and English) has changed over time. The new Vulgate has: "Mihi autem nimis pretiosae cogitationes tuae, Deus; nimis gravis summa earum," which the Grail renders as, "To me, how mysterious your thoughts, the sum of them not to be numbered." So, "honorable friends" has become "mysterious thoughts". There's probably some sort of sermon in there, for a linguistically minded priest.
  • urli
    Posts: 35
    Mara - is your psalm issue perhaps caused by the differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew numberings?
  • Peter Jeffery in "Translating Tradition: a Chant Historian Reads Liturgiam Authenticam" includes this text in his discussion of "The Bible in the Roman Rite." I must quote him at some length to convey his viewpoint.

    "LA declares that translators should refer to the Nova Vulgata Editio, the post-Vatican II 'in order to maintain the interpretation that is proper to the Latin liturgy'... No one who has actually studied the Nova Vulgata could possibly consider it a repository of traditional latin exegesis or interpretation... Indeed, its very purpose was to eliminate peculiarly Latin readings and interpretations for the sake of conformity to the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek... Anyone who tries to read Latin ecclesiastical writings with the help of the Nova Vulgata, as I have, will soon despair; but she will despair all the quicker if what she is trying to do is unravel the Roman liturgy--NOt only because the NV leaves out much of the Vulgate, but because the liturgty employs much more than the Vulgate.

    "For example, the Easter introit presents Psalm 138 [139] : 18 as a prophecy of the resurrection: "Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum = I have risen and still with you am I." This wording comes from the Psalterium Romanum or Old Roman Psalter, which is more ancient than the psalter of the Vulgate, called the Psalterium Gallicanum because of its popularity in Gallic regions. It is the Roman psalter that was the original psalm text of the Roman rite, the source of most texts in the core repertory of Gregorian chant, the source of much of the Roman church's liturgical exegesis. Those who think we know better than to perceive Christology in this verse, therefore, may be relieved that the Gallicanum reads: "exurrexi et adhuc sum tecum = I have stood up and still I am with you." But which reading better expresses the Latin tradition of interpretation? ...

    ... the previous verse of the same psalm (138 [139] 17), in both the Roman and Gallican psalters, reads "Mihi autem nimis honorati sunt amici tui, Deus; nimis confortatus est principatus eorum = But to me your friends are greatly honored, O God; greatly strengthened in their pre-eminence." The Latin fathers identified these honored princely friends of God with the apostles, and interpretation that was particularly valued in the see founded by Perter and Paul. As a result Psalm 138 was suyng at the office on every feast of an apostle, with verse 17 supplying either introit, gradual, or offertory (or more than one) at the Mass of the day.

    From NV, however, we larn that the original Hebrew verse was not about the friends of God, but about the thoughts of God: "Mihi autem nimis pretiosae cogitationes tuat, Deus; nimis gravis summa eorum = But to me your thoughts are extremely precious, O God, extremely weighty the sum of them> Hence this verse is no longer to be found in connection with the in the renewed liturgy [of the Hours] except the psalter for Week 4..."

    From the cover of the same book: "The Vatican instruction, Liturgiam authenticam, calls for a 'new era' of liturgical translation 'marked by sound doctrine' and 'exact in wording.' This, it is stated, will preserve the traditions of the Roman Rite and the exegesis of the church fathers. Though Jeffery favors more exact translations and doctrinalo clarity, he finds the instruction uninformed about the history of the Catholic liturgy: The Roman rite, with papal approval, has always made use of paraphrases, multiple translations, and multilayered exegesis. Jeffery proposes reviving the patristic and scholastic principle that Scripture and Catholic tradition are "diverse, not adverse"--that balancing alternative models enhances rather than threatens the unity of the Catholic Church."

    This books is worth reading.
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    urli- no, since the rest of the psalm is pretty much the same in all versions.

    Bruce- thanks! that is fascinating!
  • From what I have read in Peter Jeffery's book, it strikes me that he is "overinterprets" the document time after time. He seems to think that LA rigidly imposes the NV to the exclusion of any other tradition for liturgical texts based on Scripture. This is simply not the case.

    For instance, when he says "LA declares that translators should refer to the Nova Vulgata Editio" - by itself this could mean any number of things: (1) the strictest interpretation, that they must use the text of the NV regardless of the liturgical text, (2) that they should use it as a guide to the meaning of the original (Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic) text of the Bible, or simply (3) that it is the standard text for purposes of reference (given the different chapter and verse numberings in different versions of the Bible).

    For some reason, Jeffrey immediately goes for (1), the very strictest interpretation - and then proceeds to show how this is untenable. But in fact, LA does not say that the NV is to be used in the actual translation of liturgical texts:

    "24. Furthermore, it is not permissible that the translations be produced from other translations already made into other languages; rather, the new translations must be made directly from the original texts, namely the Latin, as regards the texts of ecclesiastical composition, or the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, as the case may be, as regards the texts of Sacred Scripture. Furthermore, in the preparation of these translations for liturgical use, the Nova Vulgata Editio, promulgated by the Apostolic See, is normally to be consulted as an auxiliary tool, in a manner described elsewhere in this Instruction, in order to maintain the tradition of interpretation that is proper to the Latin Liturgy."

    Now granted, this passage is indeed confusing, in that it seems that translation from the Latin is reserved for those texts which were originally in Latin (i.e. composed in Latin, such as hymns). If "texts of Sacred Scripture" is to be taken at face value, then verses such as those from the Easter Introit would be translated from the Hebrew, causing many of the problems Jeffrey discusses. But the NV is not the villain here; it is cited as "an auxiliary tool," not as the source for the text. This is to be done "in a manner described elsewhere" - namely in ##37, 41, and 43. None of these passages mandate that the NV is to be used as a direct source for translation - which would be contrary to #24 above anyway.

    (Oddly enough, Jeffrey says that there is a footnote in #24 referring to the Council of Trent, which is an error. This footnote is in #37.)

    #37 speaks of the lectionary - I have not read Jeffery's treatment of this.

    #41a) says that "it is advantageous to be guided by the Nova Vulgata wherever there is a need to choose, from among various possibilities [of translation], that one which is most suited for expressing the manner in which a text has traditionally been read and received within the Latin liturgical tradition." Again Jeffrey interprets this is the strictest manner possible - that the NV, in effect, is to be translated instead of the actual liturgical text. But this is not borne out by what LA actually says here ("it is advantageous" not absolutely required) as well as immediately after the quotation above: "41b) for the same purpose, other ancient versions of the Sacred Scriptures should also be consulted, such as the Greek version of the Old Testament commonly known as the “Septuagint”, which has been used by the Christian faithful from the earliest days of the Church." Further in #38 "38. It is often permissible that a variant reading of a verse be used, on the basis of critical editions and upon the recommendation of experts."

    In #43, the NV is given as an example of how to translate "Modes of speech by which heavenly realities and actions are depicted in human form." For some reason Jeffrey interprets this to mean that the NV is to be rigidly adhered to when translating terms referring to bodily parts or functions - and since the NV is inconsistent on this point, then this injunction doesn't make sense. But this is not what LA is saying here.

    I have to say that I read LA before I took up Jeffrey's book and barely recognized it in his treatment of it.