“these gifts, these offerings, these holy and undefiled sacrifices.” This is the pleonastic style of ancient pagan Roman ritual. It sounds fine in Latin but has no function in English. The 1970 translators were well aware of this, but the new translators are in the thrall of a literalistic theory of translation which they believe to be revolutionary but which was already refuted by St Jerome in the 4th century.
Actually, they do have a function in English. Is not the Eucharist a gift? Is it not a "sin offering", is it not a holy and undefiled sacrifice? Saying the 1970 translators were aware this formula had no meaning is on par with admitting their understanding of the Eucharist was one of profound ignorance.
I know that when I kneel at the altar I certainly am offering, interiorly, my good and my bad. I offer the good things I "bring" for thanksgiving (gifts) and my sufferings (sacrifices) to unite with Christ, the holy and undefiled. It is a threefold offering. What is so difficult here?
Pope Benedict’s book on Jesus, as analyzed in the current issue of Recherches de science religieuse, is in thrall to a set of misunderstandings of biblical exegesis that descend from Bossuet’s reaction to Richard Simon and the royal condemnation he got issued against Simon in 1678.
I share Cardinal Martini’s fear that the forthcoming Synod will give teeth to this obscurantism and bring to an end a golden age of Catholic biblical scholarship.
Maybe that era needs to end. If you read Pope Benedict's book, it is obvious he doesn't throw out all of the modern exegesis. In fact he uses it throughout the book. What he is seeking to do is take information which is reliable and apply it to our Faith. If ripping the Scriptures up and reducing them to a merely man made effort is the goal of the "Golden Era of Catholic Scripture Scholarship" then good riddance. Pope Benedict knows this cannot continue. People are already losing their faith over purely speculative theories about scriptural science. Like I've said here before, some of that stuff is useful but it has a limit. A merging is needed to protect the integrity of Scripture.
It is the solemn command of Our Lord that the Church is to safeguard the faith and lead people to heaven. It is not here to fulfill people's desires to pick apart every line of Scripture and speculate it origin.
The "thrall of literalistic translation theory" is not revolutionary. Who said it was? The East has always had the Liturgy in the vernacular and you can bet they took great care to translate it properly. The Roman Catholic Church has a long standing tradition of protecting scripture translations. (I'll point everyone in the direction of Rev. Graham's book.) Let's take another word literally.
The word "thrall" means the state of being enslaved. This image brings to mind a person who is unable to act of free will because they are so taken by their own desires. Their attraction to this literalistic translations theory is so compelling it makes them completely blinded to the glorious dynamism of relativistic paraphrase. I think they are quite aware of the more dynamic translations. How can one not be? The current Mass translations offer very little else. Christ said "By their fruits you shall know them." If we apply this to the fruits of the 1970s translation it becomes quickly apparent that the fruits are small. I make no comment here regarding the potential fruits of the new Mass in general, only the translation.
Fr.Z is known to use this faux prayer to make the point:
"God you are big.
Make us big like you."
That is not too far off from what we have right now but some of you are probably laughing right now. I do everytime I read that. In every joke there is a bit of truth they say. Well? Exactly.
I'll leave this with a literal translation of this week's Sunday Collect (7th Sunday after Pentecost) from the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This is wholey appropriate to the topic.
"O God, Whose providence in the ordering of all things never fails, we humbly beseech Thee to put away from us all harmful things, and to give us those things which are profitable to us. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ your son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, until the ages of ages."