Translation is a difficult business with religion and it’s something I spend a great deal of time thinking about. The words we use in English are only pale translations of the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, or Latin originals. We trust that great scholars put together these translations and yet what we are left with is many approximations of the original source texts. As scholarship continues, these translations get better and better in some ways, but choices are always made: do you keep the meter of the poetry or the meaning? Wordplay is lost. Balances must be struck between technical accuracy and understandable English. Do you use an exact uncommon word? Or a close-enough common one?
This weekend, this challenge will be understood first-hand by English speaking Roman Catholics in the United States. For the first time, a new translation of the liturgy will be used in services. This new Third Edition of the Roman Missal, first established by Pope Paul IV in 1970, includes many changes which are intended to bring the words closer to their meaning in the original Latin.
The downside? More difficult vocabulary. Do you know what “consubstantial” means? Me, neither. Read on for more!