Thursday, June 8, 2017

Translations in Modern Languages

Decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

August 22, 1943 (AAS 35 [1943] 270; CR 23 [1943] 524)

To answer a question proposed to it concerning the use and authority of biblical translations in modern languages, especially those made from the original texts, and to give further clarification to its decree Concerning the Use of Translations of Holy Scripture in Churches of April 30, 1934, the Pontifical Biblical Commission has considered it opportune to publish and commend the following norms:

Since Pope Leo XIII, of happy memory, in the Encyclical Providentissimus Deus (Acta Leonis XIII, Vol. 13, p 342; EB 91), for the more intimate knowledge and more fruitful explanation of the divine word recommended the use of the original texts of the Bible and since that recommendation, which clearly was not made for the exclusive advantage of exegetes and theologians, has seemed and seems almost to advise that the same texts, of course under the vigilant care of the competent ecclesiastical authorities, should be translated in accordance with the approved principles of sacred and indeed of profane science into the vernacular languages known to the mass of the people;

Since, moreover, it is from the Vulgate translation, which alone and exclusively among the Latin versions then in circulation the ecumenical Council of Trent declared authoritative (Conc. Trid., sess. IV, decr. De editione et usu Ss. Librorum; EB 46) that the biblical passages in the liturgical books of the Latin Church to be read publicly at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office have for the most part been taken ; presupposing the observance of whatever should be observed:

1° Translations of Holy Scripture in modern languages whether made from the Vulgate or from the original texts, provided they have been published with the permission of the competent ecclesiastical authority in accordance with canon 1391, may be duly used and read by the faithful for their private devotion; moreover, if any translation, after a diligent examination both of the text and of the notes by men eminent in biblical and theological knowledge, is found to be more faithful and suitable, it may, if so desired, be especially recommended by the Bishops, either individually or in provincial or national meetings, to the faithful committed to their care.

2° The vernacular translation of the biblical passages which priests celebrating Mass are to read to the people, as custom or occasion demands, after the reading of the liturgical text, should, in accordance with the reply of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (Acta Ap. Sedis, 1934, p. 315), agree with the Latin liturgical text, though it remains permissible, if judged expedient, to give suitable explanation of the said translation by the help of the original text or of another clearer translation.

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