NZ and Australian bishops to cooperate new lectionary

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference will work with Australian bishops – and any other conference that wants to contribute – on a new translation of the lectionary used in Mass.

The Australian bishops are also planning to base their updated translation on the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB).

Bishop Stephen Lowe says New Zealand’s bishops have been discussing the “biblical choice of version for our lectionary” for some time now. The choice was between the RNJB and the English Standard Version-Catholic Edition (ESV-CE).

They have decided on the RNJB because it “uses inclusive language, and is based on the Jerusalem Bible translation, that is the current approved lectionary for New Zealand,” Lowe says. Furthermore, its language is familiar and more poetic than the ESV-CE.

UK priest and theologian Thomas O’Loughlin explains the lectionary provides a list of biblical texts arranged according to a plan.

“It is a means of bringing ancient texts that have been valued in liturgical gatherings before us in such a manner that they are an element in our liturgy.”

The ordering is based on our liturgical needs today.

“This means the plan of any lectionary is built upon the structures of the liturgy – most especially the liturgical year and the other needs being celebrated (e.g. a wedding), not upon any supposed ‘plan of the bible.”

One of Lowe’s roles sees him represent NZ bishops on the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). Lectionary translations were discussed at the ICEL February meeting this year.

Lowe says representatives from the Indian and the Scottish bishops’ conferences reported a lack of inclusive language in the ESV-CE the Bishops Conference of England and Wales had adapted.

Australian Jesuit priest Gerald O’Collins, who is a world-leading theologian and biblical scholar is critical of the ESV-CE. He says the translations lack of inclusive language is an “egregious example of inaccuracy.”

It uses masculine language, even though the text uses generic language.

“It renders into English the words of Jesus about the cost of discipleship: ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’ (Matthew 16:24–25).

“The implication is that Jesus envisages only men, and not women, as his followers. As John Barton put it: ‘The argument that ‘masculine language is meant to include women will not wash nowadays, whatever may have been the case in the not-so-distant-past’.”


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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