The editorial of the month

The editorial of the month by Léonie Caldecott

One of the great lost opportunities of Saint John Henry Newman’s long and productive life was the unrealised project to have him head up a new translation of Sacred Scripture. Imagine a translation from the pen of such a master of the English language, backed by meticulous scholarship and knowledge of the Church Fathers. It would have been quite something. It would certainly have been a valuable resource for our bishops today as they work to renew the Lectionary.

Newman was acutely aware of the benefits of ­knowing other languages. In The Idea of a University, he demonstrated why it is important to understand other cultures and other times, and to make an effort with translating these into our own language and time (one reason why we should teach classical languages).

Words, in service of the Word, matter a great deal. Somehow, the language of revelation needs to be ­conveyed in a living way to each new generation. The worst thing we could do is to kill it before it arrives in the ears of those to whom it is addressed. For this Word is, to use our Lord’s own image, like a living seed always ready to burst into new life, an image that Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa uses in his meditation on 26 October of this month’s Magnificat.

“Like the seed, the message hides unsuspected resources within itself, which after two thousand years we are far from having finished exploring. In the New Testament kerygma about Jesus Christ there are in-built pieces of information which allow it to burst into flower at any stage of history, to acclimatise itself in every culture, without ever belying itself or changing its nature.”