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Two telling glimpses of what the Episcopal Church (USA) is becoming, in front of our very eyes, appeared in General Convention commentaries today.
They form part of the unfolding disaster:
The first came up in the context of a proposal to authorize the use in church readings of the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible. The ESV is essentially a revision of the already-authorized Revised Standard Version of 1971, and has received scholarly approval, on the whole. (Your Curmudgeon has the Study Version on his desk, and consults it regularly to compare with other versions. Its complete text, like that of the New English Translation, is available free online.)
Let on-the-scene reporter Lauren Anderson tell the tale:
The House of Deputies is considering the authorization of new translations of the Bible, including the English Standard Version with the Apocrypha, for use in lectionary readings.
While discussing a proposed resolution to add the Contemporary English Version (1995) and The Contemporary English Version Global (2005) to the list of authorized translations, the English Standard Version was proposed as an additional translation option.
Proponents said the ESV is widely used and growing in popularity, and has the additional benefit of being available free on the web, making it an efficient option for preparing handouts and PowerPoint media.
“The English Standard Version is a wonderfully popular version. We’re trying to be relevant. We’re trying to be current. We’re trying to become more and more in touch with the world around us. This version is,” said the Ven. David Collum of the Diocese of Albany.
Others opposed the amendment, saying it is not within the purview of the House of Deputies to make a decision about authorizing Bible translations.
“I think for us as a body to micromanage the work of the theologians of the Episcopal Church is not our job,” said Denise Crenshaw of the Diocese of Michigan.
This is the Episcopal Church (USA) as it used to be—expressing viewpoints of wide diversity, from all over the map. But watch what happened next (pay close attention, now—I have added the bold to assist you):
Deputies voted in favor of the amendment to add the ESV translation to the resolution, but later reopened the discussion when the validity of the translation was called into question by a deputy who found a verse from the ESV that used the word homosexuality. The house ultimately decided to reconsider the amendment as its first order of business July 8.
Oh, my goodness—do you realize what happened here? According to the standard LGBTQI mantra, “homosexuality” is a term that cannot be used to translate any word or words in the Bible, because the Bible was written two thousand years ago, when no one could even conceive of, let alone depict or describe, what the term “homosexuality” covers. (See, for instance, the explanations of Resolutions D002 and D019 which passed the House of Bishops earlier today.)
So because of that one word appearing at one place in the ESV, that translation must be BANNED from ALL Episcopal lecterns and pulpits. All thanks to the diligent and quick work of one deputy, whose terrifying announcement was enough to cow the entire House of Deputies into reconsidering the matter.
Anyone care to guess how these paragons of political correctness will vote today, July 8?
Now let us turn to the second glimpse of ECUSA’s future. Cherie Wetzel of Anglicans United should need no introduction to SF readers, but she and her husband have been attending and covering General Conventions for nearly twenty years, and perhaps longer. She is a member of a “Prayer Warriors” team at this GC, and takes her duties very seriously, as a loyal, upstanding and orthodox Christian should at these affairs. But look what happened when she accidentally and innocently wandered into this (my bold emphasis):
To my surprise this morning I walked into the bathroom designated for transgendered people. The door was not labeled ( it is now) and I was clearly not welcome. Yes, transgendered people are making their presence known at this Convention and making the push for their place at the table.
Welcome to your future, O Episcopal Church!
Further comment, at this point, would be superfluous.
Here is some official clarification via Fr Somerville-Knapman:
Given the time we have devoted recently to the proposed new Lectionary based on the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, including a brief comparison of an ESV sample text with other translations, and given the lively and interesting comments it has elicited, I made so bold as to email directly to the Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, the Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn and Chairman of the International Commission for the Preparation of an English Language Lectionary (ICPEL), seeking some authoritative clarification on some of the questions raised in our discussions.
With admirable speed for a busy diocesan bishop, he very kindly sent a concise but richly informative reply which answers the questions I asked him, and also one I failed to ask him! Apart from chopping the head and the tail of the email which were brief and directed to me, I shall quote him in full:
… In answer to your questions, the facts are these. The ESV was chosen over the RSV because the ESV, in its 7% modification of the RSV, seeks to incorporate the fruit of more recent biblical scholarship, i.e. since the publication of the RSV. In other words, the RSV is out-of-date. We were looking for a more up-to-date version of the RSV; and when the NRSV proved impossible, we chose the ESV. Unlike the copyright holders of the NRSV, the copyright holders of the ESV have shown themselves quite open to the kind of changes we would need or want to make for Catholic lectionary purposes; and the copyright arrangements for the project are now in place. What will appear in the lectionary will be a modified form of the ESV. This may in time look to the production of a Catholic edition of the ESV, though that is not decided. I know too little of the permission given to the English ordinariate, but I doubt that it will have an effect on the lectionary we are producing. That would depend on the Holy See. It is very hard to say when the ESV lectionary will be ready for publication. We have all but finished work on the first volume (Sundays and Solemnities), and it may be that the first volume will appear before the others. But it depends on how quickly the bishops of the five Conferences get back to us within the process of consultation. Many of them are keen to have a new lectionary as soon as possible, so it may be that we will have the entire new lectionary by 2014…
So the rationale behind the choice of the ESV is made clear. The ESV is a revision of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) that takes into account the latest insights of biblical scholarship and textual criticism, and only 7% of the RSV is actually revised in the process. Moreover, using the NRSV (New RSV) was not a viable option due to the copyright holders not being open to the Church making the necessary modifications to the text for our use. The ESV’s copyright holders are amenable to our need to edit texts for the purposes of the Lectionary, and to bring certain passages into line with Catholic tradition.
Answering a question I wished I had asked (but didn’t!), given comments made by Theophrastus in another post here, it is conceivable that a full-blown, standalone Catholic edition of the ESV could be produced, though no decision has been made on that. As suggested yesterday, given the international, large-scale diffusion of the Catholic Lectionary, a Catholic ESV should be a viable proposition, at least economically. This would address the concerns raised over not having a Bible edition that matched the the texts of the Lectionary.
Archbishop Coleridge also kindly gave us some sort of ballpark figure for when the Lectionary might be implemented, given the variables of the time needed to revise the texts and for the necessary episcopal consultation process: 2014. This is sooner than I had expected, and is very heartening. Given that these processes often take longer than first envisaged, perhaps 2015 might be a safer bet, but still that is much sooner than I had expected. 2014 would be just wonderful, even if it were only the first volume…
So suggests Joel over as Unsettled Christianity.
… However, we struck problems with the copyright holders of the NRSV and have had some difficulties in our dealings with the Holy See. All of this so becalmed the project that there is now no hope that the Lectionary or any part of it will appear at the same time as the Missal. In fact, we have decided to move away from the NRSV and to prepare the Lectionary using a modified form of the English Standard Version (ESV), still with the revised Grail Psalter. (here) (HT)
What of the Deuterocanonical books I wonder?