complaints about my translation

Those among my fellow Catholics who complain about my translation do so, I think, for a few reasons.

1. Many don’t know how to evaluate a translation of the Bible, and they don’t understand the various considerations and principles involved. It is easier for them to dismiss a translation, than to learn what constitutes a good translation. Being unable to evaluate any translation of the Bible, even the one that they use the most, without much further study, they tend to reject any translation that is not well-accepted by other Catholics.

2. Some say that they do not accept my translation because it is not approved (by the USCCB or the Holy See). But many Catholics use one or another Protestant translation of the Bible as their main Bible for study and devotion, without any concern for what is approved. And, conversely, there are recently approved Bible translations, approved by the USCCB, which most Catholics do not use, have no interest in using, and perhaps have not heard of. So I don’t believe that approval is the real issue. If my translation were approved, I believe that the Catholics who complain about it would continue to do so, on some other basis.

3. Some Catholics have a tendency to treat the Faith as something subordinate to themselves. They want the Faith to be easy to understand, in every aspect; they want to ‘own’ the Faith by knowing everything about it, by having an answer for every question. But the Faith contains mysteries beyond complete human comprehension. And those truths that are not beyond our understanding are so great in number, complexity, and depth, than 100 lifetimes would not be sufficient to learn it all. Therefore, they tend to over-simply the Faith and to dismiss quickly whatever is beyond the current limited state of their knowledge. Anything new, whether a new translation of the Bible, or a new idea in speculative theology, or a new way of understanding some aspect of the Faith, is regarded with suspicion and disdain.

4. Some of my fellow Catholics disagree strongly with one conclusion or another in my theological writings (eschatology, moral theology, etc.), and so they denigrate my entire body of work. They act as if they cannot disagree on one point and agree on another point. They have an ‘all or nothing attitude’ — accept it all or reject it all. If they were to admit that my translation of the Bible is good and useful, it seems to them that this admission would undermine their rejection of certain portions of my work in theology. But Catholics should be able to agree on one point, and disagree on another point. So I find this approach unconvincing.

I see this ‘all or nothing attitude’ at work when some Catholics are evaluating the work of other theologians. They don’t know how to evaluate a theological work; they don’t know how to make or evaluate a theological argument. So they accept everything that a theologian says, or nothing. They praise him to the highest heavens, or they denigrate him severely. I’m not referring only to myself. This is a general and troubling tendency among Catholics today.

5. There is a tendency among Catholics today, which I call spiritual communism; it is a tendency to want all opinions on matters of faith and morals to be of equal value, and to want all Catholics to be considered the same in their roles. Like political communism, this false equality quickly becomes a means for particular persons to exalt themselves over others. The idea that all opinions are equal results in each person adhering to and exalting his own opinion over any other, regardless of the basis for each opinion. So, in disputes about Catholicism on matters of faith or morals, in the case of spiritual communism, they do not want to acknowledge that another Catholic understands an area of study better than they do.

If they admit that my translation of the Bible is good and useful, they are in effect admitting that I understand some aspects of the Faith better than they do. If they admit that my theological works are good and useful (without necessarily agreeing on every point), they are in effect admitting the same. But this runs contrary to the strong current of spiritual communism in the Church today. And so they tend to find disingenuous reasons to reject my translation, my theological works in general, and anything in my work that they do not understand or cannot refute.

The approval of Bible translations is a topic I will address further in later posts.

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