It's an interesting question, Peter, but one that's far beyond my realm of expertise.  As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, once things get later than 537 bce, they start to get fuzzy in my mind.  I an expert neither on the various early English versions nor on TSE.  I joined this list a couple of years ago to ask the folks here about a quotation I had heard attributed to him, but could not locate, since I wanted to use that quotation in a book I was writing.  I've stayed on the list ever since as a lurker because I found the badinage so quintessentially that of academe, and occasionally illuminating.

One thought occurs.  The KJV seems to have gone through several incarnations, all of which market themselves as the "KJV" (mine calls itself "conformable with" the 1611 edition), might TSE have been using the original text of the 1611, though many of us are unwittingly using a later revision that is only "conformable with" the 1611 AV?

I'll look forward to your off-list identification of NRSV solecisms.


From: Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wed, January 27, 2010 2:32:35 AM
Subject: Re: TS Eliot: "the heart of light" (by now, rather OT)

Well I haven't run into any lately, but I think, if 
memory serves,
I can dredge one up. When I get a good one, I will 
definitely take you up on your
offer of an off-list gabfest.
In the mean time, it would be of interest, and 
somewhat relevant, to discuss
which Bible (ie translation) influenced Eliot's 
early ingestion of the text. I am willing
to bet that it was not The King James version, 
which was also NOT the
text that influenced colonial and Revolutionary docs.
----- Original Message ----- 
>From: Jerome 
>  Walsh 
>To: [log in to unmask] 
>Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 8:58 
>  PM
>Subject: Re: TS Eliot: "the heart of 
>  light" (by now, rather OT)
>I would be interested in some examples of what you dub 
>  grammatical "inferiorities" in the NRSV.  (I think, though, that it's 
>  probably better to take this detailed a discussion offlist.  My 
>  e-address, in case it's not showing up on the posts you receive, is [log in to unmask])
>  certainly agree that the NRSV does not have the stylistic flair of, say, the KJV or the NJB 
>  (or, even more, the original JB), but I'd be a bit surprised to see real 
>  grammatical errors in it (unless, of 
>  course, they render equivalent errors in the original).  And, as I said 
>  in an earlier post, what is the faithful way for a translator to treat a 
>  stylistically (or even grammatically) substandard original?
>  Walsh
 From: Peter Montgomery 
>  <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Sent: Tue, January 26, 2010 1:46:46 
>  AM
>Subject: Re: TS Eliot: 
>  "the heart of light" (by now, rather OT)
> > 
>Well there is the fact that I have had a lot more 
>  education and training than some,
>and have a talent to recognise and communicate 
>  subtlties that others don't
>know about or try for, or at least so I am told. 
>  There is also the fact that I have
>deep respect for the liturgy. It has a depth, and 
>  breadth of resonance which are
>way beyiond my capacity to conceptualise. The 
>  point being that I don't meddle
>with the order of things if I can possibly help 
>  it. Indeed though, I have been known to
>make adjustments on the odd (very odd) occasion. 
>  It still rankles me, given my
>heavy reverence for the text, that the 
>  Church is using a grammatically inferior 
>  instance of it,
>for many good reasons I am sure... mostly 
>  ecumenical.
>>    Original Message ----- 
>>From: Jerome Walsh 
>>To: [log in to unmask] 
>>Sent: >>    Thursday, January 21, 2010 10:43 PM
>>Subject: >>    Re: TS Eliot: "the heart of light" (by now, rather OT)
>>As a proclaimer (which I have been), I would not hesitate 
>>    to put misplaced modifiers in their correct place (though, as a proclaimer, 
>>    I would not change the words or their intended [yeah, I know that's a dodge] 
>>    meaning).  There are two types of congregants, with some 
>>    subtypes.  There are those who are truly listening, liturgically.  
>>    They will not notice your rearrangement of modifiers.  There are those 
>>    who are reading along with you.  They are either will be tolerant of 
>>    your changes, because they are trying to "listen" with two senses, or they 
>>    will be intolerant, because they're only listening for errors, not for Truth 
>>    [please note the u.c.].  Then there may also be the liturgical 
>>    presider, to whom you may have to defend your 
>>    editorializing.
>>Finally, never forget that, as a proclaimer (and 
>>    please, TSE list, forgive the pastoral comments), you are not responsible for anything other 
>>    than communicating the meaning of the text.  The impact of that communication on the reader 
>>    rests in hands (or wings, if you prefer that imagery) higher than 
>>    yours.
 From: Peter Montgomery 
>>    <[log in to unmask]>
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Sent: Fri, January 22, 2010 12:20:42 
>>    AM
>>Subject: Re: TS Eliot: 
>>    "the heart of light" (by now, rather OT)
>> >> 
>>Excellent points. As a proclaimer I am not 
>>    necessarily looking for poetic or rhetorical resonance,
>>although I love it in Isaiah and Jeremiah. I do 
>>    think that coherent order of elements in a sentence
>>should be a preference. Missplaced modifiers 
>>    abound, but to what purpose? I'm just asking
>>for awording that works. Perhaps the NRSV just 
>>    isn't fit for liturgical purpose. I'm glad it works
>>for your purposes.
>>Thanks for the excellent 
>>    clarifications.
>>>      Original Message ----- 
>>>From: Jerome Walsh 
>>>To: [log in to unmask] 
>>>Sent: >>>      Thursday, January 21, 2010 9:44 PM
>>>Subject: >>>      Re: TS Eliot: "the heart of light" (by now, rather OT)
>>>Peter and Rick,
>>>In re: "the Holy Ghost" in Sirach (or in 
>>>      Wisdom).  "Secondary" in your commentary, Peter, probably does mean, 
>>>      more or less, "interpolation."  Certainly I have found no source for 
>>>      Jerome's inclusion of the words in his translation of Sirach.  And 
>>>      Wisdom 1:4-7 has to be stretched a very long way indeed to supply even the 
>>> words.  The concept, however, is clearly an example 
>>>      of erroneous translation.  The "Holy Ghost" is a uniquely Christian 
>>>      theological concept, and there is nothing in Israelite or Jewish thought 
>>>      that could remotely support reading that concept into a Jewish 
>>>      text.
>>>I don't want to open up the "translation theory" can of 
>>>      worms.  I'm an amateur in that regard, though I think I have a pretty 
>>>      decent practical ability to translate ancient Hebrew.  Let me simply 
>>>      raise a few questions as the sort of thing I think one must wrestle with 
>>>      in asking about (or making) translations.  (1) How does one translate 
>>>      a flat, pedestrian, perchance even borderline ungrammatical text (like 
>>>      Mark's Gospel)?  Does one render it in rich, euphonious, 
>>>      stylistically striking English because it is "Holy Writ"?  Or does 
>>>      one respect the way the text would have been perceived by its original 
>>>      audience, and render it in flat, pedestrian, borderline ungrammatical 
>>>      English? (2) What impact should one's intended audience have on one's 
>>>      translation choices?  Should one translate differently when the 
>>>      result is intended for liturgical proclamation versus when the result is 
>>>      intended for technical study by students innocent of the original 
>>>      languages?  (3) How does one handle issues like ambiguity?  
>>>      (This in particular should interest people whose metier is the 
>>>      interpretation of difficult poetry!)  Is it one's job to 
>>>      disambiguate, so that the translation's reader gets a clear understanding 
>>>      from the text (but is deprived of the experience of reading a text that is 
>>> not soclear)?  Or is it one's job to 
>>>      preserve, insofar as possible, the ambivalences of the original in 
>>>      translation, so that the reader of the translation, just like the reader 
>>>      of the original, is responsible for choosing among the ambiguities?  
>>>      (4) If one is translating poetry, which of its nature is as much an 
>>>      experience of verbal music as of lexemes, does one translate it 
>>>      "faithfully" if one's translation is prose?  Or would that reduce the 
>>>      three dimensions of syntax, semantics and style to two, and thereby 
>>>      deprive the poetry of precisely what makes it be what it is?  (Close 
>>>      to half of the Old Testament is poetry....)
>>>As to the NRSV, I find 
>>>      it quite satisfactory for classroom use.  It is, on the whole, an 
>>>      accurate rendering of the semantic meaning of the original Greek, Hebrew, 
>>>      and Aramaic.  On the other hand, the NRSV's commitment to 
>>>      gender-inclusive translation, while politically correct (and, in general, 
>>>      not entailing any betrayal of the original languages), makes it slightly 
>>>      more difficult to work with as a substitute for the original.  It is, 
>>>      I agree, not as mellifluous as the NJB (or, even more so, the earlier 
>>>      JB).  But the NJB (and, even more so, the earlier JB) sometimes makes 
>>>      translation choices that are not always the most accurate renderings of 
>>>      the original (in the opinions of many).  So how does one weigh the 
>>>      options?  How many semantic flaws counterbalance a superbly turned 
>>>      English phrase?  And vice versa.
>>>As for Eliot's comment about 
>>>      feeding pearls to pigs, I agree heartily that that phrase clunks, whereas 
>>>      "casting pearls before swine" has glorious resonance.  (Some [all?] 
>>>      of that resonance, of course, comes from our familiarity.  I note, 
>>>      for instance, that "feeding pearls to pigs" has an alliterative quality 
>>>      lacking in the other, which those who prefer the traditional version 
>>>      either overlook or consider of no value.  I think it would be very 
>>>      interesting to know precisely what those who consider the traditional 
>>>      rendering stylistically preferable would point to as its superior 
>>>      qualities.)  My questions, however, would be what Eliot means by "the 
>>>      meaning is quite destroyed."  I have no doubt at all that he was 
>>>      quite at home in Greek.  But is that what he means here?  Does 
>>>      he mean "the meaning [that the original author's word choices suggest he 
>>>      intended to communicate to his audience] is quite destroyed" or does he 
>>>      mean "the meaning [I am used to and love from the tradition] is quite 
>>>      destroyed"?
>>>Jerry Walsh
 From: Peter Montgomery 
>>>      <[log in to unmask]>
>>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>>Sent: Thu, January 21, 2010 9:02:53 
>>>      PM
>>>Subject: Re: TS Eliot: 
>>>      "the heart of light"
>>>Yes!! I have Eliot's article in the 
>>>      Times somewhere.
>>>A very thorough 
>>>      review.
>>>----- Original Message ----- 
>>>      "Rickard A. Parker" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>      <[log in to unmask]>
>>>      Thursday, January 21, 2010 4:19 PM
>>>Subject: Re: TS Eliot: "the heart of 
>>>      light"
>>>> Peter Montgomery wrote:
>>>> >
>>>> > 
>>>      As for the NRSV I would appreciate any general thoughts you have 
>>>      about
>>>its language quality.
>>>> > It has been adopted by the 
>>>      Catholic Church in Canada as THE official
>>>translation for use in 
>>>      liturgies. As a proclaimer of the word and an english
>>>teacher, I am 
>>>      astounded at the grammatical laxness especially in sentence
>>>      and paragraphing. In some cases
>>>> > I have found it nigh on 
>>>      impossible to proclaim in such a way that it
>>>makes real sense.
>>>      >
>>>> > I fear accuracy of translation has triumphed over all 
>>>      other values
>>>including the
>>>> > real meaning of the 
>>>      original.
>>>> >
>>>> > Frankly I'm appalled. The New 
>>>      Jerusalem Bible is sweet poetry in
>>>      An Eliot quote:
>>>>    After a few pleasantries, he asked me 
>>>      if I had read The New English
>>>>    Bible.  When I 
>>>      said I hadn't he said, "I think you will be dismayed by
>>>        it, as I am, William.  Not just stylistic losses, nuances 
>>>      gone,
>>>>    forced, but, for example, instead 
>>>      of being admonished not to cast
>>>>    before 
>>>      swine, we are now instructed, 'Do not feed your pearls to 
>>>      pigs'
>>>>    -- and so the meaning is quite 
>>>      destroyed."
>>>> William Turner Levy was an American 
>>>      Episcopal priest who, although much
>>>> younger than Eliot became 
>>>      friends with him. Turner wrote of Eliot and
>>>> their correspondence 
>>>      in the book:
>>>>      William Turner Levy and Victor 
>>>      Scherle,
>>>>      "Affectionately, T.S. 
>>>      Eliot"
>>>>      J.B. Lippincott, New York, 1968
>>>      The quote above was from page 127
>>>> Regards,
>>>          Rick 
>>>    Parker