Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Orthodox?

St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), the eponym ...Image via Wikipedia
One thing that happened over the weekend that I didn’t note down yesterday, is that I searched the web (I hate the verb Google) for some material on lectio divina, for no particular reason, and came across a website by obviously zealous Catholics. On there they included a little write up on Bible versions to use for lectio. In that discussion, they wrote that the NAB Bible was heretical, citing the example of the translation of 1 Corinthians 9:5. This verse reads, in the NAB, “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and cCephas? The reason they say that passage is heretically translated is that it seems influenced by “Catholics” who are attacking celibacy, the word used for wife is translated “sister” in the Douey Rheims version. Well, a couple of obvious problems with that idea. One is that the notes to the NAB fully acknowledge that it’s possible to translate the word as “sister”, rather than wife. Another is that heresy is defined by St Thomas Aquinas thus, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
". . . a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas". "The right Christian faith consists in giving one's voluntary assent to Christ in all that truly belongs to His teaching. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics.”

Further, the Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to say,
"Before turning to the history of this observance it will be convenient to deal in the first place with certain general principles involved. The law of celibacy has repeatedly been made the object of attack, especially of recent years, and it is important at the outset to correct certain prejudices thus created.”
The practice of celibacy is not a doctrine, it is a law, or regulation of the Church, it can, quite legitimately be overturned at any time. I’m not saying that is a good idea, but to clarify that I think we should be careful flinging about the term “heresy”, where none can be found. I also don’t say the NAB is my preferred text of the Scriptures, it isn’t, although the NABRE does represent a considerable improvement over the old version. No, it’s a bad translation, but it’s not heretical. 

Also, I sometimes wonder, even though I wish to be a very orthodox Catholic, if orthodoxy can’t be taken too far, at the expense of charity. We don’t after all place our faith in the Church, rather in the person of Christ. I firmly believe doctrine must be protected, but not in a way that becomes judgmental and lacks charity and patience.  As St Paul says, we are to speak the truth in love.

Oh, by the way, I think any translation accepted by the Church can be used for lectio, including the NIV. My favorite is the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. It translates the verse in question this way, Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

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