What We’ve Lost in Translation, by Anthony Esolen

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December 13, 2019
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December 13, 2019

By Anthony Esolen, Crisis Magazine, December 11, 2019

Anthony Esolen, a contributing editor at Crisis, is a professor and writer-in-residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. Dr Esolen has authored several books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008), Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013).

Anthony EsolenWord is that the USCCB is going to tweak the New American Bible but leave it in place as the basis for the lectionary. Please, your excellencies, give it up. The NAB is a train wreck. It cannot be salvaged. It is, by turns, drab, ungrammatical, clumsy, and stupid. It turns good verbs into verbal nouns. Unlike Hebrew and good English, it prefers the abstract to the concrete, the general to the specific, and the vague to the precise. It twists itself into semantic pretzels to avoid the masculine in pronouns, nouns, and metaphors; but it cannot avoid them altogether, so it merely adds inconsistency to its other many faults. Get rid of it. The English Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version are available. They aren’t perfect, but they are tolerable at least, and often very good.

“Surely, Dr. Esolen,” someone will object, “you must be exaggerating. It may be drab, but it can hardly be stupid.

“You’ve never read academic writing,” I reply. A ten-year-old boy writing about riding his bicycle around town will probably write naïvely, but he will be lively enough. He will not have acquired the academic habit of not considering what his words mean. The boy will write about real things—shops, hills, trees, dogs, bridges, brakes, and streets. The academic often must be rapped on the head with a beanbag to see things. ….

Read more here  crisismagazine.com/2019/what-weve-lost-in-translation