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Saturday, April 16, 2005
The word of God in translation
This other portion of this article mentions that Syriac services can take place in Aramaic and Hebrew (or Arabic) both. That reminded me of a story or two -
Once, my dad went to a church service in western Scotland. The pastor delivered his rant in Gaelic, which is a language we do not speak (nor do many Scots, it being as foreign to the land as is English). At the end of it, the man said, "and for our guests, I will repeat the sermon, in English!"
I bet the native parishioners were delighted to spend the extra time with God's word.
I have been to foreign-language services a few times. I've attended Mass in Mexico, and I've paid my respects at a Vietnamese funeral. I don't speak Spanish, but I could manage with the Mexican mass because it was in a Latin dialect interspersed with actual Latin. The Vietnamese service, though, totally lost me.
I can't exactly expect someone else's service to accommodate the pre-Vatican-II Catholics and/or classical scholars in attendance. But I will note that in Rome at this moment, the Cardinals are meeting to vote on the next Pope. This is a process much hampered by the lack of a common tongue.
I propose that the process take place in Greek, which is the language of the New Testament. How can a Cardinal argue from the Bible without understanding the language in which it was written? If the candidate cannot read Greek then the Church has no business bestowing the rank of Bishop upon him, let alone allowing him into a multiethnic conclave demanding a common frame of reference.
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