Out of the question: Verbum Domini

10 November 2017

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below.


Your answers

Both the Old and the New Testaments are clear that “the word of the Lord” is something “out there”. . . [Answers, 3 November]

“The Word of the Lord” has multiple meanings: as well as the inspiration of the prophets, it may refer to holy scripture collectively, or to the Word made Flesh to which scripture testifies. Its pronouncement at the end of a scriptural reading surely does no more than assert that the reading is [part of] the written Word of God. The expression may be clunky, but the Latin Verbum Domini and its translation as “The Word of the Lord” is no better (the Latin could also be rendered “The Word is the Lord’s”). Maybe we could adapt BCP practice and conclude “Here ends the reading from God’s Word”.

Dr Austen-Baker denigrates “dynamic equivalence” in translation and advocates the revised 2011 Roman liturgy based on “formal equivalence”. This has not been universally appreciated; see Liturgical Language and Translation, edited by Thomas O’Loughlin (Joint Liturgical Studies 77) for a contrary view.

Dynamic equivalence is the approach to translation promoted by the linguist and translator Eugene Nida to which we owe the Good News Bible and similar translations in other languages, permitting the natural expression of the underlying meaning in the idioms of the target language. But the principle goes back before Nida: when I studied Classics in the 1950s, the justification given for our exercises in translation between Latin and English was precisely that the languages were so different structurally that it was impossible to translate literally, forcing us to take apart the ideas and re-express them in the idioms and structures of the other language.

It can also be seen in the contrast between William Tyndale’s translation and the later more literal King James Version: “Care not then for the morrow, but let the morrow care for itself: for the day present hath ever enough of his own trouble” v. “Take therefore no thought for for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6.34).

Michael Mann



Your questions

There has been a massive effort to maximise the potential of every woman priest, but nothing comparable for non-stipendiary priests. Why is this?

A. D. P.

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