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Thursday, December 30, 2010

From missal translation to atonement theory

America magazine has an article on the Roman Missal translation - For You and Who Else? by Paul Philibert, O.P. ....

[...] Among the many infelicities that the new English text, slated to become normative in Advent 2011, holds in store for Catholics is the replacement of the translation of the Latin “pro vobis et pro multis” that we have known since 1973 as “for you and for all [men]” with the newly proposed “for you and for many.” ...... Do church leaders want to signal that the grace of Christ is available only to the regular, traditional churchgoer? Is their intention to leave out the rest? More and more it looks as if the covert message beneath the written text is one of effective exclusion rather than antecedent inclusion of all humanity in God’s will for salvation ...

There's a Wikipedia page on Pro multis ....

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy translated the phrase "qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum" as "which will be shed for you and for all men, so that sins may be forgiven". This was the version approved by the Episcopal Conferences of English-speaking countries in 1973 and confirmed by the Holy See. The word "men" was later omitted because of complaints that it could be understood as referring only to males.

This was confessedly a non-literal translation, and objections were raised against it not only for this reason but also on the grounds that it could be taken to mean that all are in fact saved, regardless of their relationship to Christ and his Church. Some even claimed that use of the "for all" translation made the consecration invalid. In response it was said that the literal translation, "for many", could now be taken to mean "not for all", contradicting the declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 that Christ died for all, though not all choose to avail of the redemption won for them by the shedding of Christ's blood.

The Wikipedia page goes on to discuss not only who Jesus died for (some or all ... I vote for "all") but also about the whole idea of Jesus dying for our sins ... atonement stuff. I'd just been thinking of atonement theory after having listened to the pope's recent Thought For The Day in which he said "Christ destroyed death forever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross." (see Richard Dawkins' response to it). I have some past posts on atonement theory and what these guys have said of it -- Gustav Aulen and David Bentley Hart ... Jeffrey John ...... James Alison ... N. T. Wright -- but speaking for myself, I hate atonement theory: I don't believe in original sin and I don't think Jesus came here to die for us, but instead to show us what God is like. Ken Overberg SJ can explain what I mean better than I can, so here's a bit of his article on the Incarnation at American Catholic (it's long and I left a lot out so best to read the whole thing) ....


The Incarnation: God's Gift of Love

by Kenneth R. Overberg, S.J.

[...] What was the purpose of Jesus' life? Or simply, why Jesus?

The answer most frequently handed on in everyday religion emphasizes redemption. This view returns to the creation story and sees in Adam and Eve's sin a fundamental alienation from God, a separation so profound that God must intervene to overcome it. The Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh, is considered God's action to right this original wrong.

How did this view develop? Just as we do when we face tragedy, especially innocent suffering, so the early followers of Jesus tried to make sense of his horrible death. They asked: Why? They sought insight from their Jewish practices like Temple sacrifices and from their Scriptures. Certain rites and passages (the suffering servant in Isaiah, psalms of lament, wisdom literature on the suffering righteous person) seemed to fit the terrible end of Jesus' life and so offered an answer to the why question. Understandably, these powerful images colored the entire story, including the meaning of Jesus' birth and life.

Throughout the centuries, Christian theology and piety have developed these interpretations of Jesus' execution. At times God has even been described as demanding Jesus' suffering and death as a means of atonement—to satisfy and appease an angry God.

An interpretation that highlights the Incarnation stands beside this dominant view with its emphasis on sin. The alternate view is also expressed in Scripture and tradition. Nevertheless, the emphasis on the Word made flesh has remained something of a "minority report," rarely gaining the same recognition and influence as the atonement view.

What, briefly, is the heart of this alternate interpretation? It holds that the whole purpose of creation is for the Incarnation, God's sharing of life and love in an unique and definitive way. God becoming human is not an afterthought, an event to make up for original sin and human sinfulness. Incarnation is God's first thought, the original design for all creation. The purpose of Jesus' life is the fulfillment of God's eternal longing to become human ......

John's meditation on God's supreme act of love in the Incarnation (also see 3:16) has led some theologians to consider that this event alone was sufficient to save the world. Indeed, John's gospel does not see Jesus' death as a ransom (unlike the Synoptic gospels, for example, Mark 10:45), nor does it use the language of sacrifice or atonement. There is instead emphasis on friendship, intimacy, mutuality, service, faithful love—revealing God's desire and gift for the full flourishing of humanity, or in other words, salvation (see the Farewell Address, John 13:1—17:26). Jesus' crucifixion (usually described as being "lifted up") is part of his "hour" of glorification, which also includes his resurrection and ascension. For John, this hour is not sacrifice but epiphany, the manifestation of God ......

Does this remarkable belief make any difference in our lives?

Absolutely, especially for those of us whose faith has been shaped by images of atonement and expiation. First, the creation-for-Incarnation perspective highlights the rich meaning of Jesus. He is not Plan B, sent simply to make up for sin. As Duns Scotus emphasized so well, God's masterpiece must result from something much greater and more positive (God's desire to share life and love). If some shadow of the cross remains over the crib, it comes from the fact of Jesus' execution, a fact that does not express the full meaning and purpose of his life. There is more light than shadow: Jesus is the culmination of God's self-gift to the world.

Second, the focus on the Word made flesh helps us to appreciate the depth of our humanness and the importance of our actions. Rahner's marvelous musings on our life in a world of grace give us renewed understanding of the biblical phrase, "created in God's image"—along with many implications for how we treat all our sisters and brothers in the human family. Teilhard's cosmic vision inspires us to see and take our part in the great evolutionary process, in a particular way (along with Francis of Assisi) in our care for the earth.

Third and most important, our "minority report" offers us a new and transformed image of God. Many people have had an intuitive sense that the dominant perspective of God demanding the suffering and death of the Son as atonement somehow missed the mark. Indeed, Rahner gently says that the idea of a sacrifice of blood offered to God may have been current at the time of Jesus, but is of little help today. Rahner offers other interpretations of how Jesus saves us, emphasizing that God's saving will for all people was fully realized in Jesus through the response of his whole life .....



Anonymous Victor said...

Dear crystal,

I could never express myself as well as Rahner or any other like him but I've been searching and praying for God to let me know what's right and wrong in His Eyes and like most as myself I could rample and rant in writing with my spelling mistakes non stop but still most people probably would not agree with me. Beleive "IT" or not God could speak to each and everyone of our hearts without saying a word at all. I say that because when Jesus was born "IT" was "HIS SACRED HEART" which was increasing and the rest of His Cells were Godly Cells gathered here and there from time to protect His Heart and when He told a large crowd when He was about thirty that The Kingdom of God was at hand and every soul should repent because the end was at hand, He was telling the truth and most were prepared to follow.

As Jesus continued "IT" just became too hard for humans to understand and accept that unless they eat of His Body and drank of His Blood ....well to make a long story short, let's just say that at the end when He was in the garden and was swetting blood because the sins that was compressed into His Body was more that He had expected and Satan would have had nothing left if his angels would have let Jesus get away and so to make a long story short, satan and his angels were left with no other choice but to extend their lives and crucify Jesus.

Believe "IT" or not some of "the evil trinity" still think they can't lose even today because they've caused two world wars and have con vinced humans like they did Adam and Eve into convincing most Humans to destroy at least six million Jews in hope that His Heavenly Father would continue to let them be in charge of U>S in a few dimension cause that's what some humans really want.

God would still forgive these so called gods if they asked for forgiveness but He will never leave them in charge of U>S unless we agree with Evil truly wanting to believe that we know "IT" to be right?

I could go on and on but what good would "IT" do cause each and every one of our hearts has a right to do what he or she wishes with "IT" but I'm happy to say that Jesus was able to look in the future and see us asking for His Help and because for His Father, two thousand plus years is but a moment for Him and from what I've been through, I believe that Jesus said in so many words, Father I love Crystal and Victor and I know YOU do to Dad so Your Will be done and not mine and I'm prepared to die if I must. :)

Not funny sinner vic.

OH Yes! By the way some of the sins who were hoarding Jesus in the garden didn't make "IT" to heaven and through the Body of Christ they were heard crying out in so many words, Father, Father why have You forsaken U>S. "IT" is just a matter of time.

Again, Happy New Year to you and your readers.

God Bless Peace

8:06 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Happy New Year, Victor.

11:06 PM  

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