The following classroom resource
is offered to teachers who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger
in the classroom. This resource is prepared with high school students
in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature
one article for classroom use each month. Back issues, beginning
in May 1997, contain a Teachers Guide. Teachers with access
to computer labs should encourage students to access the article
directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy
of the article for classroom use. We encourage you and your students
to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger,
where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you
might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how
we can improve this service by sending feedback to StAnthony@franciscanmedia.org.
St. Jerome: The Perils of
a Bible Translator
The following are two ideas for discussion. The Internet is a
virtual treasure trove of information on Bible study and Scripture
topics. Taking some time to research these topics on the Internet
may be a good way to introduce your students to the wide variety
of approaches to Gods revealed word.
Achieve an appreciation for St. Jerome, his efforts and accomplishments,
and the place he filled in the Churchs development.
Create a time line with your students to show the Bibles
process of development and change over the centuries, and the
Churchs response to the needs of its people. You can assign
the time line as a research project before class discussion, or
you may be able to brainstorm most parts of the time line in a
Scriptures or Church History class. See Is the Bible Fact
or Fiction?, Time, December 18, 1995, pages 66-67
for a biblical time line from 2000 B.C. to 300 A.D.
In the early centuries following the death and resurrection of
Jesus, the original Bible languages were Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
By the fourth century, the pastoral need of the Church was for
a Bible accessible to people who did not speak or read the original
Pope St. Damasus I commissioned Jerome to translate the Gospels
into Latin, the spoken language of the western Church. (For a
brief biography of Pope Damasus, see http://www.catholic.org,
the site of Catholic Online, and use the Catholic Search Engine
on that site with the words Saint Jerome Vulgate Bible
to locate the information. The same source will give you more
information on Jerome as well.)
By the ninth century, the Latin Vulgate was extensively in use.
The Vulgate is a compilation of Jeromes and others
work, all in Latin.
By the 16th and 17th centuries, the Church faced another pastoral
need for the Bible in English. The result was the Douay-Rheims
Today, there are several literal translations of the original
language Scriptures, including the New American Bible and
the New Revised Standard Version. The Church awaits approval
of The Liturgical Psalter (see article) , a dynamic
equivalence English translation. Approval for the translation
has already faced a five-year delay. Change often comes slowly,
and with resistance, as Jerome experienced. Another example of
dynamic equivalence is the Todays English
Version, which is used in the Good News Bible.
Research or discussion points:
What are the emotional reactions to changes in beloved books or
How many translations of the Bible exist today? How many churches/religions
use the Bible, or parts of it? Does Judaism use an English translation
of the Hebrew Scriptures? (Search the Internet on keywords such
as Judaism or Jewish Scriptures.) Internet research can also be
done on the Gospel Communications Network, http://www.gospelcom.net.
More historical and biographical information can be found on St.
For example, St. Jerome is the patron of librarians. You will
find other links to Catholic and Christian sites on this Web site
linked from the "About American Catholic Online" section (the
St. Francis image on our homepage).
Other Scripture articles:
Mary, the First
Disciple by Raymond Brown. This article, with its own
teachers guide, can be found in the May 1997 issue of St.Anthony
Objective: Appreciation for the difficulties and challenges
of translating the Scriptures.
Some translations favor a literal approach, translating word for
word wherever possible. Others favor the dynamic equivalence
approach, used by Jerome. This renders a meaning for meaning translation:
the words differ but the meaning does not.
Your class may have several bilingual students. Certainly, most
high school groups will have spent time studying a foreign language.
They can appreciate the differences in languages.
Take the Lords Prayer from the Gospels, as the author suggests
in his article. Lay out different versions.
Research an older English biblical translation, then a translation
from the Revised Standard Version and the New American
Bible. Look at how it is phrased in the Liturgy as
well. What are the differences? Do they change the meaning? Locate
a Spanish or French translation. Or try to translate it into Spanish
or Tagalog. Have the students compare the words used, the meanings,
the phraseology. Again, do meanings change? Do some languages
have difficulty rendering certain concepts or words?
Further Net research will yield a side-by-side comparison of the
King James Version and the Revised Standard Version.
Or take another brief passage from the Gospels. Compare it in
different translations and languages, as you did with the Lords
Prayer. Again, many of the translations can be found on the Net.
You can find references to, and maybe access to, the Latin Vulgate
text and the Douay-Rheims text on the Web site: http://www.gospelcom.net.
Look there for The Bible Gateway, maintained by Calvin College.
Youll learn, for example, that the Douay-Rheims version
was the British Isles first knowledge of the Bible.
A discussion of dynamic equivalence might include the Psalms as
poetry. Translating poetry can be a challenge. What would your
students think of translating e.e. cummings into another language?
Or what would it be like to try to reword Shakespeare into contemporary
English? Does a free-form retelling of a story change its meaning?
For example, compare Leonard Bernsteins West Side Story
to Romeo and Juliet.
Research on original documents:
Try the Library of Congress exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls
for further archaeological and historical reference. See http://sunsite.unc.edu/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibit/intro.html.
Also, see Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?, Time,
December 18, 1995, for archeological data supporting biblical
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for reference. Be
aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading
articles contained within the sites archives.
The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
This site will take you to a number of online publications
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
For further information on Bible study, check out these products,
available through reprints, from St. Anthony Messenger Press.
To order call 1-800-488-0488, or visit our online catalog at http://www.AmericanCatholic.org
by selecting products in the frame on the left
and searching for Scripture.
Y1296 Have You Met Jesus in the Gospels? (Virginia Smith)
Y0784 The Bible: Why Read It? (Carol Luebering)
Y1290 If I Can Find My Bible, What Do I Do Next? (Virginia Smith)
C0382 How to Understand the Bible: Examining the Tools of Todays
Scripture Scholars (Norman Langenbrunner)
C1284 A Popular Introduction to Reading the Bible (Macrina Scott,
C0489 The Whole Bible at a GlanceIts Golden Thread
of Meaning (Virginia Smith)
Scripture From Scratch
N0194 The Bible From Square One (Elizabeth McNamer)
N0695 Seeking the Language of God (Virginia Smith)
N0796 Where Did We Get Our Bible? (Elizabeth McNamer)
The links contained within this resource guide are functional
at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links
may become ineffective.
These links are provided solely as a convenience to you
and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan
Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony
Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the
content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations
regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web
sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do
so at your own risk.