William Oddie is, to put it mildly, opinionated. After last Sunday’s Mass he posted at Catholic Herald,We are all used to the banality of the Jerusalem Bible readings at Mass: but on Sunday the translation of the gospel was simply impossible to bear.” (Yes, all that is the title of his article.)

The rest of us get the benefit of his idiosyncratic opinions from afar, via internet. His spouse gets the benefits up close, and during the liturgy:

My unfortunate wife has to sit next to a husband gently spluttering away — and occasionally quietly exploding (she says it’s not so quiet, and would I kindly contain myself) — during the readings. This Sunday, I fear, my explosion was not properly contained…

The most recent cause of his spluttering and uncontained exploding was this line of Jesus from the Gospel for the Baptism of the Lord, as the Jerusalem Bible has it: “Leave it like this for the time being” (Mt 3:15).

There are a few factual problems along the way with Oddie’s argument. He seems to think that Catholics in America have the RSV translation at liturgy –it’s the NABRE in the US and the NRSV in Canada; and he seems to think that the scripture readings in English are in the missal, 1962 or 2011 – but the 1962 missal only has Latin readings, and the 2011 Missal is for use with a separate book with Scripture readings which could be revised at any time, the lectionary.

Oddie’s argument is that the uncultured “philistines ” (you and I call them bishops) and their “creatures,” infected with the “spirit of Vatican II,” have “conceived an image of Our Lord which was in their own image.”

The better translation, we are given to understand, is the King James Version, which Oddie quotes: “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”

By using 17th century English, we avoid cultural influences causing us to remake the Lord in our own image. Today’s philistines are influenced by the culture of the day, but 17th century translators were not. Surely anyone who appreciates the King James Version can see that.

I dare say, the problem already began here before the argument was taken up. When the emotional response during Mass is that out of proportion, it’s a good indicator (I’ve been there enough myself to know) that one’s attachments are idolatrous.


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