The Holy Bible: Volume III, The Sapiential Books — Job to Sirach, and: The Psalms Fides translation. Introduction and notes by Mary Perkins Ryan (review)
- Franciscan Studies
- Franciscan Institute Publications
- Volume 15, Number 3, December 1955
- pp. 416-417
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS The Holy Bible: Volume III, The Sapiential Books — Job to Sirach. Sponsored by the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Paterson: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1955. Pp. viii—710. $ 5.00. The Psalms. Fides translation. Introduction and notes by Mary Perkins Ryan. Chicago: Fides Publishers Association, 1955. Pp. xxxvii—306.« 3-95Since "Divino afilante" Scriptural translation has flourished. The variety thus introduced impels choice based on principle. This writer prefers the English Bible in contemporary prose, intelligibly literal, unshackled by memories of Douay, undeceptive where the text is obscure. The Psalms — the common ground of these two new books — have garnered eleven English versions in as many years, eight from the new Latin Psalter, the rest from the Hebrew. Confraternity, familiar from its separate publication in 1950 and scarcely changed in the new edition, belongs to the latter group but has elected the new Psalter's rendition in various difficult passages, specified its departures in footnotes. Fides, asserting its origin in the new Psalter, frequently evidences independent scholarship, borrowing a phrase from Confraternity in Ps 78:8, departing from both in Ps 57:10. The prose, contemporary in both, will not gratify one who must address God by a pronoun lacking in modern English; Confraternity preserves a flavor of tradition, nonetheless, while Fides exhibits a tilt of song discernible elsewhere only in the paraphrastic versions. Both translations demonstrate that a literal version need not be less intelligible than a paraphrase. Neither one will remind of Douay. Fides smooths over textual obscurities of the original which Confraternity lays bare by bracket and footnote. As for competing versions, Kleist's modern English is the poetic sort, rendering the thought opaque; the euphony he sought can be had in Fides without his sacrifice of clarity, his inverted word order, his baleful "'tis" and "o'er." On the other hand, for one who prefers paraphrase, Kleist supersedes Knox, which was a hasty and inadequate adaptation to the new Psalter of a translation made from the Vulgate; the latter is striking, original, but illuminating rather in the manner of a commentary than of a good translation; some parts of the Knox Bible are far more successful than his Psalms. Kissane, neither modern in diction nor yet too archaic, bolstered by critical apparatus and lengthy commentary, is the most individual of all because his textual criticism is the most radical and his strophe divisions — never identical in two versions anyway — are seemingly arbitrary if always elucidating. Callan, 416 Book Reviews417 disappointing, is literal and archaic; it could be mistaken for Douay. Benziger and Frey, both very widely circulated, are as inadequate as they are popular, for their mutual sin is the cardinal one of inexactitude. Either Fides or Confraternity would be surpassing, lacking the other. For comprehension of the new Psalter, Fides is peerless. As part of a complete Bible, Confraternity brooks no cavil. The scholar will want both, should not lack Kissane, and may find Kleist intriguing. But considering the Confraternity volume as a whole, the other six books — Job and the Wisdom books — are the elements which assure full value to its owner. One volume of the complete Confraternity Bible, Genesis to Ruth preceded it and the Prophets are due shortly; the remaining historical books and the New Testament are scheduled after that. Modern in diction against the antique Westminster and the compromise Knox, Confraternity has no real competitor among complete English Bibles. The first two tried to clarify Job, but did they succeed like this ? The Wisdom books, like Job and Psalms, in the original are poetry, a quality not lost here. Whether Canticle is a drama, however, might have been settled with less finality; the more common theory — that it is a collection of songs — might have been at least acknowledged. The typography of both volumes is superb beyond all earlier works. Fides, lacking the fine notes and critical apparatus of Confraternity, supplies a thirty-page introduction directed to laymen, marred by an unsatisfactory explanation of the pseudo-word "Jehovah." Its English is not enhanced by "sheol" untranslated, and some may miss the omitted verse numbers, but these do not disable a splendid work. ^, . , „. „ . JEROME F.WEBER Christ...