Origen on Ezekiel – thinking about bible versions

Four chapters of the immense sixteen-chapter first sermon on Ezekiel by Origen have now been translated, with copious footnotes; and I have the first draft here.  The translator has also discovered that Migne prints fragments of the original Greek preserved in the catenas, and is using these as a control.  It’s going to be very good.

One issue with any patristic work is whether to use an existing English bible translation for the biblical quotations, in order to avoid unnecessary unfamiliarity.  At the moment we’re using the RSV, except where Origen departs from the normal text.  We’re also trying to preserve a balance between undue literalness in translation and undue freedom.

But it occurs to me that non-academic readers might like a freer rendition, which is slightly less faithful to the word-by-word approach, and somewhat easier to read and understand.  If so, one might use a different bible version for the quotes.

Which one would one use?  Perhaps if a version of the Homilies was made, directed at a popular Catholic audience, we’d use… well, whatever version most Catholic use.  I don’t know what that is.

On the other hand any book aimed at US Christians in general would have to use the NIV, I would have thought.  I suppose one would need to get permission from someone to do so.

Is there any real reason not to target all three audiences; an academic version, a Catholic popular version, and a Christian popular version?


3 thoughts on “Origen on Ezekiel – thinking about bible versions

  1. I’m pretty sure that the Catholic Bible of choice in the states is the New American Bible. I’d think that if you wanted a happy medium between US and non-US, Catholic and Protestant, academic and non-academic, then the NRSV would be a good choice. It’s not as ‘free’ as the NIV or NLT but it’s still quite easy to read (it’s certainly better than the ESV that many Evangelicals like). Plus it was an ecumenical project so Catholics and Protestants alike could enjoy it.

  2. As a Catholic who is up on translation issues, I have to say that the NAB is often unsatisfactory. One of the original ideas of the NAB is to have a translation that people can read that matches what they would hear if they went to mass. Well the mass texts have all been revised, so now there is NO Bible translation published where people can read what they hear at mass. I would be in favor of seeing a revised NAB published, except the revised texts are also unsatisfactory. The English-speaking bishops have made a fine mess of things!

    The new translation of the liturgy (mass prayers) however is great, I have heard.

    As for this project on the Homilies of Origen, I would stick to the RSV or at least the NRSV.

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