Updates: the Ordinariate lectionary and Fr Paul Gunter

Two small updates on recent topics.

The first is that Fr Paul Gunter OSB has a new short essay out on Zenit, on the Church’s liturgy as being located in the life and activity of the economic Trinity. In other words, it is first and foremost God’s work for us and in us, more than it is our work. Or put another way, the liturgy is our work insofar as God is at work in us as we perform it. The implications are clear if you dwell on it. If God works through his Church to establish a liturgy that, in giving Him worthy worship, furthers the work of our salvation, then we tamper with it at our peril. When it ceases to be identifiably the liturgy of the Church, I would venture, then it ceases to be a liturgy that contributes to our salvation. God works through his Church and not through cliques of the self-enlightened. But I am going way beyond what Fr Paul writes, which you can read on Zenit right now.

The second update concerns the Ordinariate’s newly-approved RSV lectionary which was mentioned yesterday. The question was raised as to whether the Ordinariate had negotiated their way through the copyright minefield to the point where they could publish anew a RSV lectionary. The answer is, no. Instead one of the other possibilities mentioned was closer to the mark. Monsignor Burnham has confirmed to me that the remaining stock of the Ignatius Press edition of the RSV Lectionary has been bought up in America on their behalf, and each Ordinariate group has been given a set. If the demand proves heavy enough, consideration will be given to trying to get a hand-missal produced for the faithful. But for now, each Ordinariate church having an Ignatius RSV lectionary is sufficient to get the liturgical ball rolling. Strength to their arm!

So it seems the wider anglophone Church will be getting the ESV as originally announced. Soon I will post some examples of ESV passages of scripture as we will find them in the new Lectionary when it comes.


16 thoughts on “Updates: the Ordinariate lectionary and Fr Paul Gunter

  1. I think you are totally incorrect. ESV ? This is an ‘evangelical protestant’ translation that does not include the extra books of OT scripture. Don’t know where you are getting this info but it would be rediculous to use and anti-Catholic bible in any part of the Catholic Church!


    1. I am not incorrect. There is at least one Catholic on the translation board; the board is not anti-Catholic but it is conservative Protestant; I have myself a copy of the ESV with the deutero-canonical books that are in the Catholic Bible; the Catholic preferences in translation are already clearly marked in the footnotes of the the ESV; and the Archbishop of Canberra, the chairman of the Lectionary Committee, has announced that the ESV is to be the translation used. All facts. Sorry to disappoint you.


      1. Father Sommerville-Knapman:

        I am unable to confirm several of your statements.

        Sommerville-Knapman: There is at least one Catholic on the translation board

        There is no organization called “ESV translation board.” The members of the “ESV Translation Oversight Committee” are listed here. The twelve voting members listed here are all prominent Protestants. The two adjunct members both work for Crossway, and appear to be Protestant ministers.

        Sommerville-Knapman: the Catholic preferences in translation are already clearly marked in the footnotes of the the ESV

        Assuming you are referring to the Oxford English Standard Version with Apocrypha, the New Testament footnotes reflects the ESV, not the RSV-CE. To demonstrate this, it suffices to review the very first change in the RSV-CE (it is easy to do this since the RSV-CE prints the changes in an appendix.) The first change is at Matthew 1:19, where the RSV-CE changed “divorce” to “send her away.” The Oxford ESV with Apocrypha prints “divorce”; there is no footnote indicating “send her away.”


      2. “ESV translation board” is a generic term I used, thus the lack of capitals for the two words. Please do not be so unnecessarily literal. It does not help. The Translation Oversight Committee, as the name suggests, are not the sum total of the translators involved, but those who, a the name implies, oversee the work of other translators. Two names stick out from that list, Mounce and Wenham, two excellent and noted Greek scholars. That should give us confidence in the standards of this translation.

        Granted the above, I concede I was sloppy with what I posted in haste. My reference was to the ESV Study Bible from Crossway, one of the articles in which is by Mark Futato, who did his doctorate at the Catholic University of America.

        But to address both your points, it needs to remembered that the RSV itself was the product of a Protestant group of translators, with the copyright held (still) by the Churches of Christ. When the time came for a Catholic usable version, Catholic scholars (not least Bernard Orchard OSB from memory) were commissioned to revise the translation along Catholic lines. This is the same process that would be employed for the ESV version to be used in our lectionary. To become overly exercised about the ESV being the work of evangelical Protestants would demand the same level of concern to be directed at the RSV. I will try to get in touch with the new Lectionary committee and confirm this, though I think common sense is enough here for now given the precedent of the RSV. As it is I think we have far more in common with evangelical Christians than mainstream liberal Protestants. Of course, if the copyright holders for the RSV were not so reluctant to renew a concession for our new Lectionary, and given the Jerusalem version is considered in adequate to the task, the ESV was a sensible alternative. in Short, as the Protestant RSV was catholicized, so too will the ESV be catholicized.

        As to your specific example, I am not sure what capital is to be gained from Matthew 1:19. Divorce was, as a matter of fact, allowed in Judaism in Jesus’ day, and Joseph would have been within his rights to divorce/put her away Mary given his initial confusion at her apparent infidelity. Even though the ceremony of marriage had not been performed, in Jewish law betrothal gave the same rights as marriage so divorce is not an illogical translation. I suspect the RSV-CE was nervous about the use of “divorce” and rested on the fact that in Christian cultures betrothals require no formal process for their termination: ‘divorce’ has the air of formal process about it. The notes in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible in dealing with the three main theories for why Joseph was thinking as he did here, state that “Joseph thus intended to pursue a divorce in accord with Deut 14:1-4”. There is no real cause for concern here.

        As I said, I shall attempt to contact the committee for confirmation.



      3. Father:

        Thanks for the further clarification.

        FYI, I know Mark Futato personally. Although he did study at Catholic University of America, he is not Catholic. (As you may know, there is a large non-Catholic population there). Mark Futato used to belong to Presbyterian Church of America and teach at its Westminster Theological Seminary, but was forced to leave after he endorsed a women involved with alternative medicine who taught new age beliefs.. He now teaches at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and belongs to an independent church.

        Please do not misunderstand my example: I was simply arguing that the ESV was different from the RSV-CE (and did not have the RSV-CE differences in footnotes), not that one was better. To the degree that ICPEL chose the ESV rather than the NRSV or RSV-CE or RSV-2CE, I believe that reflects difficulties in copyright; as you said (the National Council of Churches controls copyright for the RSV, RSV-2CE, and NRSV, but Crossway bought full rights to the ESV.)

        You appear to reference the Oxford ESV with Apocrypha above, but note that the Deuterocanonicals in those volumes would have to be retranslated to conform with paragraph 37 of Liturgiam Authenticam:

        Thus, in the translation of the deuterocanonical books and wherever else there may exist varying manuscript traditions, the liturgical translation must be prepared in accordance with the same manuscript tradition that the Nova Vulgata has followed. If a previously prepared translation reflects a choice that departs from that which is found in the Nova Vulgata Editio as regards the underlying textual tradition, the order of verses, or similar factors, the discrepancy needs to be remedied in the preparation of any Lectionary so that conformity with the Latin liturgical text may be maintained.

        Consider, for example, Sirach 24:1-16 in in the Nova Vulgata (which is called Sirach 24:1-12 in the RSV):

        1 Laus sapientiae.
        Sapientia laudabit animam suam et in Deo honorabitur
        et in medio populi sui gloriabitur
        2 et in ecclesia Altissimi aperiet os suum
        et in conspectu virtutis illius gloriabitur
        3 et in medio populi sui exaltabitur
        et in plenitudine sancta admirabitur
        4 et in multitudine electorum habebit laudem
        et inter benedictos benedicetur dicens:
        5 “ Ego ex ore Altissimi prodivi,
        primogenita ante omnem creaturam.
        6 Ego feci in caelis, ut oriretur lumen indeficiens,
        et sicut nebula texi omnem terram.
        7 Ego in altissimis habitavi,
        et thronus meus in columna nubis.
        8 Gyrum caeli circuivi sola
        et in profundum abyssi ambulavi,
        9 in fluctibus maris et in omni terra steti
        10 et in omni populo et in omni gente primatum habui
        11 et omnium excellentium et humilium corda virtute calcavi.
        In his omnibus requiem quaesivi:
        cuius in hereditate morabor?
        12 Tunc praecepit et dixit mihi Creator omnium,
        et, qui creavit me, quietem dedit tabernaculo meo
        13 et dixit mihi: “In Iacob inhabita et in Israel hereditare
        et in electis meis mitte radices”.
        14 Ab initio ante saecula creata sum
        et usque ad futurum saeculum non desinam.
        15 Et in tabernaculo sancto coram ipso ministravi,
        et sic in Sion firmata sum
        et in civitate similiter dilecta requievi,
        et in Ierusalem potestas mea.
        16 Et radicavi in populo honorificato
        et in parte Domini, in hereditate illius,
        et in plenitudine sanctorum detentio mea.

        A quick glance at your RSV (or ESV) will show that extensive changes are required. And Archbishop Coleridge claimed that the lectionary would consist of the ESV in “modified form” anyway.

        The bottom line is that when this process is complete, residents of ICPEL countries, like those of the US and Anglophones of Canada, will not be able to buy a Bible that matches the text in their lectionary.


      4. Salve! Clearly you have done your homework on this, and are probably far more clued up (pardon the slang) on the ESV in detail than I am. This much I will say; at times the ESV is different to, and sometimes better than, the RSV. And you are certainly right that any version would have to adapted to accord with L.A. and whatever other guidelines might be imposed by Rome. Given that in the revised Missal L.A. was quite closely adhered to, we should have confidence that the revised Lectionary will be similarly faithful to the requirements. No doubt this is the major work of ICPEL at this time.

        If I read you right, your underlying issue you express at the very end of your comment: that Catholics will not have a complete Bible that is in accord with the Lectionary. That is a valid concern, and cannot be lightly dismissed, and I will not attempt to do so. Let me just offer two observations if I may, the first of which is nothing more than an observation and I raise it merely to offer something for meditation. The second is conjecture.

        First, for the ordinary Catholic, having a Bible in the home is a fairly recent phenomenon, and it has come about in part due to advances in printing technology and the mass production of books, and in part due to the vastly improved education of the ordinary person in the last century or so. Previously, the ordinary Catholic heard his scripture, if at all, in the Church’s liturgy, and relatively recently this was with the assistance of a hand missal (which the Liturgical Movement made into wonderful resources). Thus the ordinary Catholic for most of the Church’s history became acquainted with scripture in the church building, liturgically, and of course, architecturally (eg stained glass). Furthermore, practical issues in making available the Bible in vast numbers left aside for our purposes (and they are not insignificant), there has been a reticence on the part of the Church in making available the Bible to the person in the pew due to the danger that it will be misinterpreted and misused, and the Reformation is compelling evidence of this, as is the proliferation of Protestant and Reformed denominations ever since. The Catholic position is, of course, that the Bible can only be read and correctly understood under the guidance of the Church. All her teachings are, in effect, the Bible and its correct interpretation filtered through to her children. Thus one could argue, in this context, that the Lectionary, which now covers far more of the Bible than the liturgy did prior to the post-conciliar reforms, is all the scripture a Catholic needs to know.

        The objections to that argument in the modern context come readily to mind, given the above-mentioned facts that Bibles can be now obtained cheaply and easily, and that the ordinary person is literate and far better educated than ever before. That, of course, is part of the problem we see too often today – every man feels he can become his own interpreter of scripture (please excuse the gender exclusivity). Anyway, I raise this point only as a matter of interest, and to suggest that having a Bible that matches the Lectionary is a very recent concern. It is but an observation.

        Secondly, I suspect that it would become an economically viable prospect for the publisher to commission a fully-Catholic edition of the ESV. The Catholic Lectionary would in effect create a market for it. Much as with the RSV Catholic edition, a team of Catholic scholars could prepare such an edition, if in fact ICPEL do not themselves finish off the work they have begun for the Lectionary. I wish I had raised this in the email enquiry I sent off this morning! If this conjecture is correct, there indeed could be a number of years when we would not have a complete Bible to complement the Lectionary, but it would not be for too long a period.

        As I said, I raise these points merely for reflection; they are in no way an argument against anything you have written (for I agree with you). Should, however, an ESV-CE come to pass, would that satisfy your reservations?


        [PS – I forgot to acknowledge what you said about Mark Futato. Thank you for clarifying the relevant details about him. I did consider that he might not be Catholic, but assumed that, if so, he would at least be Catholic-friendly, as it were, given his study at CUA. From what you say about him, it sounds like he might be friendlier to more than just Catholicism!]


      5. Father:

        Thank you for your patience and for so clearly explaining your position.

        An ESV-CE (which I consider unlikely — but perhaps is possible) would be very welcome; not only would it be of interest in and of itself, but it would also meet the recommendation of the Congregation for Divine Worship (Liturgiam Authenticam, 36) that

        The Conferences of Bishops are strongly encouraged to provide for the commissioning and publication in their territories of an integral translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for the private study and reading of the faithful, which corresponds in every part to the text that is used in the Sacred Liturgy.

        For various reasons, neither the US nor the Canadian Conferences have satisfied this request to date.


  2. Sorry, I’m back again !

    Many thanks to Fr. Hugh for the update re the Ordinariate lectionary. So Father was right ! The Ordinariate have acquired copies of the old RSV lectionary. Someone must have been quick off the mark to arrange this. I wonder what the Ordinariate in the USA will do. Perhaps they already have some copies stashed away They certainly won’t want to use the NAB.

    I’ve not yet read the article by Fr.Paul Gunter O.S.B I want to have time to read it carefully and savour it. I am sure I will agree with it. Liturgy is a given, not a human construct. We meddle with it at our peril.

    As to the “smorgasbord approach” to liturgy mentioned by Fr Hugh, it seems to me we are already there. Depending on where he lives, or how far he is prepared to travel, a Catholic layman has the following choices : Mass according to the 1962 Missal, the “novus ordo” mass either in Latin or in English, ad orientem or versus populum, and (when it is up and running) the Ordinariate Mass, not to mention the Byzantine Catholic liturgy (where it exists). Already, many Catholics “shop around” in this way, and I think this will increase. I have heard stories which I have no reason to disbelieve, of certain “Ecclesia Dei” communities (not in the U.K.) using at least some elements of the pre- 1955 Missal (specifically, the pre-1951 Holy Week rites). They are usually identifiable by their somewhat cavalier attitude to Ut sive sollicite. I am sure Rome knows about this, but appears to be turning a blind eye, so to speak. In this context, it is perhaps useful to recall the late Cardinal Basil Hume’s reminder (in 1990, was it ?) to converting Anglicans that Catholicism is not “a la carte”, but many would say “Oh, things have move on since then.” I’m not absolutely sure what they mean by that.

    And I’ve not ranted about concelebration yet ! I look forward to reading the Cardinal’s book. Goodness, there’s a lot of reading to do.

    Pax et bonum



    1. Don’t be sorry Peter! Glad to have you here, especially when your contributions are couched in such a polite and measured way.

      I am not sure about the USA Ordinariate but since it were they who bought up the stocks, I imagine they have made some provision for themselves. Not that they have permission yet for the RSV – only the English Ordinariate is covered by the decree. But the Americans’ decree may be already written and similar.

      To clarify things, by smorgasbord I meant picking and choosing, and omitting, within a particular rite. Picking between rites is less of a problem. If it is a rite that is celebrated in communion with the Church then it is a legitimate option for any Catholic. Such choice is quite defensible, though perhaps not totally ideal in a technical sense. And even within a rite there are at times legitimate options and it is acceptable to make use of them; eg the various Eucharistic prayers, the options for the penitential rite, solemn blessings, votive Masses. My beef is with illicit choosing, or choosing when there are really no other options available. That does violence to the rite, and is never acceptable.

      You seem to be more competent to speak on extraordinary form communities than me. I can only hope that the pastors stamp out this approach, for as I said, they are no better then than the liberals whose smorgasbording (!) they would be the first to descry. Ultimately they will only weaken their cause. We might all look to some other period as a golden age in the liturgy. The Sarum rite in its glory must have been wonderful. But we move on, things come and things go, under the legitimate governance of the Church, and we must use the liturgy that is granted to us now to use. It is, if nothing else, humility.

      As to concelebration, please note that the book is not by the Cardinal; he was launching it. The author is actually Monsignor Guillaume Derville. Forgive me for not making that clear.



      1. Thank you for letting us know about the ICKSP’s liturgical exceptions in their use of the Usus Antiquor. They obviously have an indult from Rome to do so (I suspect partly in order to use the old office of Tenebrae). This being so, it is not the sort of situation I was describing as “smorgasbord” liturgy: if it has the permission of the proper liturgical authority who can fault it?!



      2. Thanks, Conchur, for this most interesting information. I really had no idea that such permissions had been granted by Rome. This may explain the re-appearance in some quarters (not ICKSP) of the folded chasuble which I had thought was suppressed by John XIII. These are strange times indeed !


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