8 April 2018

God's Daughters

When ever does the learned and admirable Dr Peter Kwasniewski not write good theology, good liturgy, and good sense? I commend his recent characteristically brilliant piece at Onepeterfive to those who might otherwise  ... 'leave it for later' ... because it looks a bit technical. It is in fact extremely important and perfectly accessible even to those who think of themselves as non-academic. I would add just one point.

Dr K cites paragraph 9 of the CDF document Placuit Deo and criticises it for talking about "Sons and Daughters of God" when the Biblical logic, basically Pauline, of the passage requires the phrase "Sons of God". We are, indeed, Sons of God only because we share in the One Sonship of the One Son. Strictly speaking, the Father has only the one Son, whom the Johannine writings and the 'Nicene' Creed very pointedly call Monogenes, Unigenitus. So, strictly speaking, none of us is simpliciter God's Son; but all the Baptised, through the filiation, huiothesia ('Son-ification') of Baptism, are made members of Him and thus sharers of his unique Sonship. (Hence the common shorthand phrase 'sons of God'.)

So Archbishop Ladaria's CDF has got things wrong. Big black mark.

Or has it?

A trawl through the various languages in which the Vatican has so far published Placuit Deo reveals that, in the Romance languages, the phrase is given as "Sons of God". Only in the English and the German does "Sons and Daughters of God", a corruption of Biblical teaching and logic, make its appearance. (I still cannot find a Latin 'official version': if there is one, perhaps somebody could point me to it. Similarly, if anyone has evidence for which language this document was drafted in ... I suspect, Italian ...)

So we have here a very jolly example of the importance of Latin in expressing accurately and decisively and unitively the Church's teaching (see S John XXIII Veterum sapientia especially paragraphs 5-7 & 11). Once this essential safeguard slips away, we are well down the slippery slope to a fissiparous ex-Catholic religion in which every culture gallops along its own dodgy path and we are not really 'Catholics', members of a Universal Church, any more. That, of course, is precisely what the schismatically-minded German bishops crave. (Admiration is due to some brave Bavarian bishops who have recently broken ranks with the heterodox majority in the German Conference.) Bearing in mind Archbishop Ladaria's own high reputation, we should probably assume that this office-glitch results from the CDF being undermanned. I wonder why that might be.

The fact that the English-language version of Placuit is defective is particularly worrying. English is a widely employed global language, so much so that translators providing for Catholics who use other than mainstream European  languages very often do their translations from the English. This dangerous error is, therefore, likely to be disseminated via the English version. When you get your Swahili or Urdu or Mandarin version, I bet you will find  ...

Dr K points out that the (anti-biblical, anti-Pauline, anti-Catholic) mistranslation of 'sons' as 'sons and daughters' is also found in at least three places in our current English translation of the Pauline Missale Romanum. I wonder ... perhaps Dr K knows ... or perhaps somebody else does who can inform us under a pseudonym ... whether this mistake does represent the translation as put together by ICEL, or whether it resulted from the unfortunate and rather ragged fiddling around to which the ICEL draft was subjected under the auspices of Vox clara.

Eyebrow-raising, doncha think, that the German and English translations should alone share this nasty and presumably intentional mistake. It reminds me that when the English bishops, a couple of years ago, so thoroughly disgracefully attacked Pope Benedict's new Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, they did so (they more or less admitted) at the urging of the almighty German bishops. Some pretty shifty business afoot somewhere here. Or do I mean shady? Shabby, perhaps?

Heil Marx, indeed. Jawohl, mein Fuehrer! It's enough to make a simple man (and his daughter) wonder who won the war.


Victor said...

To be fair, it was not only Bavarian bishops (not even all of the Bavarian Lords Spiritual) but also His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, who seems to have had a change of heart at his predecessor Cardinal Meisner's grave. Although, given that for the most part of the 17th and 18th century this episcopal see was occupied by Princes of the Wittelsbach family, one could argue that Cologne is a Bavarian bishopric by honour and custom. So, three cheers for the Bavarian Bishops (of whom Joseph Ratzinger was one)!!!

Reader said...

I don't know German, but the difference you identify between the Romance languages and English is not hard to explain, at least in the case of Spanish. "Hijos" is the only way "children" can be expressed in Spanish -- "hijo" means both "son" and "child" and the plural masculine form is the only way to say children. So what you think is masculine "sons" in Spanish isn't really but actually "children" i.e. "sons and daughters." Not so in English; if I say "sons" in English I can only mean boys. Therefore if I want to include both sexes I HAVE to say "sons and daughters." In my opinion, Kwasniewski is getting carried away by a triviality.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Reader

For about fifty five years I have been aware that ... as the aged joke puts it ... the masculine embraces the feminine in some, if not all, latinate languages. My conviction is that a formula taken from Scripture which has a theological content or substratum should be reproduced in derivative formulae without the intrusion of tacit glosses which might, or might not, contradict an underlying doctrine.

This is what I would call 'playing fair' wth the reader. Liturgiam authenticam is very sound on the translator's duty to reproduce, rather than to paraphrase, texts, so that reader's options as interpreter are not narrowed.

I would add that the same embrace existed in English until comparatively recently. A useful test case is Galatians 4:6, where huioi is translated consistently in version after version as sons. (The version of the Novus Ordo as a hand-missal by the CTS happily retains this rendering.) The earliest perversion of this on my bookshelves is the 1989 NRSV, which by rendering huioi as children obscures S Paul's logic. (REB, of the same year, does not follow NRSV.)

I share another valuable perception of Liturgiam authenticam, that a liturgical dialect ought to form rather than slavishly to follow linguistic fashions.

E sapelion said...

I and you Father may know what we mean, but liturgical English has to be 'understanded of the people' in the backstreets of Johannesburg and Manila. That the US Constitution meant both sexes when it proclaimed that 'all men are created equal' is not obvious, it took many years before they even accepted that slaves were in fact equal, and even longer to extend the franchise to everybody. It was not 'obvious' to the Founding Fathers.

Luke Togni said...

On the other hand and in a somewhat different context, there were medieval writers who emphasize the covenantal aspect of salvation and apply the feminine to speak of gratia gratum faciens making us daughters of the Father and wives of Christ. Bonaventure uses this language with regularity but he is by no means alone.

So by a happy accident we might say that we are all in adoption at once sons and daughters of God.

Dad29 said...

Do you think it is merely co-incidence that Germany produced Luther, the 'vernacular Mass,' the ......ahhh.....fogginess in the documents of Vatican II, and the current Cardinals-Not-Too-Orthodox?

Nicolas Bellord said...

The Interpretation Acts declare that 'words importing the masculine gender shall include females'

Was this not generally accepted in common parlance in the past? Is is not the rise of militant feminism which has changed matters?

Jhayes said...

To expand Mr. Reader's comment to Italian, the text uses "figli" in the four places where it refers to the "figli di Adamo" and the "figli di Dio"

My Collins Italian dictionary confirms that "hanno 2 figli = they have 2 children (senza distinzione di sesso)"

"Sons of God" is not a proper English translation of "figli di Dio" It should be either "children of God" or, as it is, "sons and daughters of God."

I agree that it is likely that the Italian text is the original from which translations should be made.

leowalker said...

Here, across the pond, the once Roman Catholic Church is slipping more and more into the PC Catholic Church, of which this unfortunate 'sons and daughters' kerfuffle is symptomatic. This is reflected the New American Bible Revised Edition, the official version of the (sic) American Catholic Church required to be used in the Lectionary, which goes to painful lengths to de-masculinize the traditional biblical language. All in service, as I'm sure we all understand, to the fearful small minds that have taken to heart the feminist polemic that 'man', 'men', 'son' and 'sons' previously used in the generic sense is now understood to be exclusive of women. So this is just another opportunity to signal the new cardinal virtue of Holy Inclusivity and so crave the approval of those who will never love them, the Church or Christ. Eg. Jn 1:3b-4
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;

Matthew said...

I couldn't agree more about politically corrected versions of Scripture and liturgy. One of the most bathetic examples is the NRSV rendering of Matthew 4.19 = Mark 1.17 "Follow me and I will make you fish for people", which horror or its near equivalent in Luke 5.10 ("Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people") is now heard in every CofE church using the Revised Common Lectionary every year on a Sunday early in "ordinary time". On the subject of sons and daughters, however, let's not forget the distinction in "O filii et filiae", even if the daughters are probably only specified to make the first line scan.

William said...

Matthew: The RCL doesn’t specify which Bible translation to use – it just gives the references. Admittedly the NRSV seems to have become the “go-to” version, simply because it was early to market with off-the-shelf lectionary materials. My parish switched to the ESV some years ago, and it’s generally a lot more satisfactory (and in the passages to which you allude it speaks, as expected, of “fishers of men”).

Sir Watkin said...

which horror or its near equivalent in Luke 5.10 ("Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people") is now heard in every CofE church using the Revised Common Lectionary every year on a Sunday early in "ordinary time".

Not quite true. The Common Worship Lectionary (which is not the R.C.L., but an adaptation of it, the R.C.L. itself of course being an adaptation [How confusing life gets!]) does not specify which version is to be used. There are number of versions of the Bible that the Church of England has authorised for use in public worship. These (eheu!) include the N.R.S.V., but there is nothing to stop readings according to the new lectionary being taken from, say, the Authorised Version.

I think it is true that all the currently available lectionary *books* incorporate the N.R.S.V. but the choice of that version is solely one made of the publishers: it is not an official decision of the Church of England.

No doubt those publishers had a view of what version would find a ready market, but that is another matter ....

Matthew said...

Sir Watkin: you are of course quite right both about the name of the lectionary -- it's now many years since I had anything to do with it -- and the freedom accorded to churches using it to choose other versions than the NRSV, but as with the English RCs in their unfortunate relationship with the Jerusalem Bible it's probably uncommon for parishes to make the effort to do so. The sensitive Gospeller can of course always substitute the old words when confronted with these strange new renderings -- much as happens in my own (Orthodox) parish when its American-published Gospel book gives "rooster" for the good old-fashioned English cock(erel).