The Translation

Intention of this Blog
The intention of this Lectionary blog is to provide a permanent resource for the Three-Year cycle of Mass readings. While it cannot be read at Mass in the US licitly, it may be helpful in preparation of a homily or for a layperson preparing for Mass. The translation differs slightly, but not greatly from the official text. Where it is most different, particularly in New Testament readings, it probably reflects a more strictly literal translation.

The Source of the Translation
The text of Daily Readings is a new translation, based on various editions of the Douay-Rhiems and/or the King James and American Standard Version bibles, all of which are in the public domain. Many of the readings begin with the World English Bible, which is a modern language update of the American Standard Version, generously released in the public domain.

First the language is updated to modern English, then the translation is corrected based on the Vulgate, the Septuagint, and the Greek New Testament. Reference is occasionally made to the Hebrew Old Testament, but, since I do not understand Hebrew very well, this is rare.

Gender Neutral Language
Throughout the text, "human" is used to translate άνθρωπος and when a verb includes no subject, a gender neutral one is employed. The text makes frequent use of "they" as a gender neutral singular pronoun with plural verbs, i.e. If someone is hungry, they should eat. ἀδελφοί is usually changed to "brothers and sisters" unless context suggests only "brothers" and "children" translates τέκνον while "sons and daughters" translates υἱοί. Any reference to God is in the masculine singular except references to Wisdom which are traditionally feminine singular.

Other Words
In order to assist the reader who wants to know what is actually written in the original text, consistent translation is used whenever possible, even when it hurts the flow of the text. The word chosen is whichever English word most directly conveys the idea behind the Greek word. The list of such words includes:
reconsider = μετάνοια (repent, convert, apologize).
martyrdom = μαρτύριον (testimony).
kind = γενεὰ (genus, generation).

Introduction to Readings
Pauline readings are introduced by the phrase "Brothers and Sisters:" unless he uses that phrase in the first verse of the reading. Gospels are introduced by "Jesus said to [whoever he is speaking to]:" unless the Gospel is not a quote from Jesus. Similar introductions precede other readings.

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Selection and Arrangement (and issues of copyright)
Selection and arrangement of public domain texts can be copyrighted. Since this would not be a very useful lectionary blog if the texts were not selected according to what will be read at Mass, this introduces problems that the actual text of Scripture does not. The question of what may be under copyright is complicated by the interaction of the various groups responsible for selecting what will be read at any given Mass. Additionally, much of the selection and arrangement has been used since originally come up with by the Catholic Church by various Protestant communities, particularly in the Revised Common Lectionary.

The readings are selected according to the selections made in the Lectionary of the Catholic Church, most of which selections were originally made for the 1969 edition of the Latin Editio Typica, and are universally used throughout the world. Some of the selections have histories dating back to the Extraordinary Form Missal of 1920, which is in the public domain. The selections which were new in 1969 or which have been changed since then may or may not be under copyright by the Holy See.

The arrangement of the readings, including punctuation and line breaks, is made at the whim of the translator without reference to any copyrighted English edition. Any similarities to other copyrighted works is coincidence or reflects the internal logic of the text (which is in the public domain). The selection and arrangement of the Responsorial Psalms usually reflects the current English translation of the Lectionary. The arrangement usually follows logical non-creative rules, but the selection is often very particular and may or may not reflect the editio typica which may or may not be based on the Missal of 1920. We will have to see if this is a problem.

A Note on "The Son of human"
I have been trying to consistently translate the Greek word for human as “human” and the Greek word for male human as “man”. ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου presents the greatest challenge for this kind of consistency. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus refers to himself as “the son of the human”. There is no doubt that this is what the Bible says in the original language: Greek. There can be doubt how Jesus said this in Aramaic, the language he spoke, and more importantly what Jesus meant.

Who is “the human”? Mary or Adam? The phrase calls to mind several uses in the Old Testament. It means, above all, simply “human” but calls to mind the “one like a son of a human” from the book of Daniel: the Messiah. It is both a humble and arrogant way to refer to oneself. With Jesus, it humbly refers to his identification with us and not arrogantly but truthfully conveys his position as Messiah.

So how to translate it in English? The tradition is “The son of man” which uses “man” in a gender-neutral sense, one that I oppose, not out of feminist tendencies, but because it is poor English. I believe that “human” can be rescued as our gender-neutral word for either a man or a woman, a word truly absent of any gender overtones.

Note that the phrase “the son of human” is still masculine, for Jesus is undoubtedly masculine. This is not “the child of the human”, but “human” emphasizes that Jesus is not identifying with males specifically. Strictly speaking, Jesus has no human father, so it would be truer to say that he is “the son of a woman” than “the son of a man”, but the phrase is also not supposed to be taken so literally as that.

So after reflection, I have decided to use “the son of human” in this translation. What is lost in traditional language (and I do feel this loss) is made up for in consistent translation and accurate language. I think I have a freedom to do this which the official translators of the Lectionary do not have because this translation will probably never be read in public. It does sound strange, but no stranger than “the son of man”, which is simply more familiar.