Just a Little Thought, From the Book of Corinthians


1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
4Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Comments

Edward Spalton said…
I have always thought it strange that "charity" in the King James version has been replaced by "love" because charity / caritas has a bad name whilst love aka the "lurve" of pop songs does not. That certainly was not what St. Paul, the author, was writing about!

Translation, of course, is never an exact science. Even from a closely related language like German, there are words which do not translate easily and directly without footnotes - like "Volk" (People, Nation) which carries a completely different set of biological/geopolitical baggage to "We the People" in English. But in some uses it can correspond exactly to "folk" , as in folk music, folk dance.
Martin Meenagh said…
I must confess that the version of Corinthians which I placed here was my own doctored (or, if you prefer, butchered) version--I mass-replaced 'charity' with 'love' as it fitted better with my clanging, post-Vatican II sensibility.

I do love most of the King James Version, and can appreciate exactly what you mean. There was a beauty and specificity to most of the Anglican texts which made the determination of the people at the top and in the middle management of that community to destroy it all constantly surprising to me. Not only were they removing a source of comfort to vast numbers of their own, living out their quiet lives in the parishes, and undermining the intellectual basis of their state, but they were deliberately limiting their resources. Why do the English establishment do that so many times in their history?

German is a language rich in untranslatable terms--'Reich', for instance, isn't quite Empire, isn't sodality, isn't realm, but all three. 'Gemeinschaft' for the 'common-making-science' gives a much better insight into what Europe means for Germany (and therefore the rest of us) than 'community' does, I think.
Martin Meenagh said…
On reflection, you raise an interesting point. 'Love' isn't 'lurve' to my ear. It comes from a discourse that was last heard in public life in the mid-twentieth century United States, when Lyndon Johnson could quote Auden and apply his views on loving one another or dying to the Atomic Age, and when Martin Luther King propagated the idea that love, nonviolence and social change were intimately linked. King got that from Gandhi; and I was impressed enough by Alex Boot a while ago to follow his point that Gandhi got it from Tolstoy, who deployed it in a colossally narcissistic and ultimately quite destructive way.

It's very seductive to talk and write of love, but on balance, you're right that 'caritas' is better from St Paul's point of view. I suppose that I was just looking at the text in the other way.
Edward Spalton said…
Martin,
I spent some considerable time in the Prayer Book Society, fighting the degradation of liturgical language which was being enforced from above on the poor old Church of England by clergy whose public mateyness was matched by private steely authoritarianism, This process also extended to familiar hymns with results beyond parody.

The worst atrocities to my ear so far were the replacement of
"We praise Thee O God, We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord" (1662 BCP) with
"You are God and we praise you"
(Alternative Service Book 1982) and, in the hymn "Eternal Father strong to save" where
"O hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea" became

"O hear us when we cry to you
For those who sail the ocean blue".

The same tin-eared barbarism applied to the Roman Novus Ordo though I see that some of the worst mistranslations and infelicities are being corrected in the vernacular - in particular the dignified "et cum spirto tuo"
"And with your spirit" now replaces the incorrect, semi comic "And also with you" which always seemed to be very close to the not entirely friendly "and you too mate!" of popular speech.
Martin Meenagh said…
Oh Good Grief.

Comical is the right word for some of that. You've made me think of the lyrics of 'Hail to the Chief'--a properly republican song, which contains lines like
'Hail to the Chief as we pledge cooperation' (not obedience)

and

'Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander (capish?)/This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief. (not yet proven knowledge, see)/Hail to the one we (sic) selected (sic sic) as commander,/Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief! (please note the implicit limitation conveyed by these terms for future reference)

The lyrics actually sounded like a mixture of threat, contract, and some modern iteration of 'tu es pulvis' or memento mori.

The Marine hymn in the US has never, as far as I know, been subjected to the treatment which you've noted that it got here. Ocean blue? Give me strength.

'You are God and we praise you' is presumptuous and somewhat self-righteous too, but then as a cradle Catholic I've never understood how bothering and eyeballing the CEO rather than charming the secretaries was a worthwhile strategy.

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