By Ann Marie Foley - 28 July, 2020
Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have decided to introduce a new Lectionary (book of readings used at Mass). They plan to replace the Jerusalem Bible version with a Lectionary based on the Catholic Edition of the English Standard Version (ESV). The latter, published in 2018, has been accepted by the Bishops of England and Wales as the basis for their Lectionary, although an article in The Tablet has stated that this was “a controversial decision that took place among heated debate”.
The Scottish Bishops’ Conference and its National Liturgy Commission say that the new Lectionary will benefit from the considerable progress that has been made in biblical scholarship since the early 1960s. The three-volume Lectionary which has been in use in the dioceses of England and Wales, as well as in Scotland and Ireland, up until now was first published in 1981 using the Jerusalem Bible (1966) and the Grail Psalms (1963).
In Ireland, Fr Roy Donovan, a member of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), responded to the news, asking: “How many of these scholars who are contributing to this new Lectionary and the Abbey Psalms are women? I suspect none. There are now a lot of women biblical scholars and theologians – were they consulted?”
He went on to emphasise the importance of the language in liturgy being inclusive.
“Inclusive language is not a priority, it is not even a consideration (in this Lectionary),” he told Catholicireland.net. “In our world today of inclusive language it is very important, so this is unfortunate. Personally, I find it very difficult to have a Bible where it is all-male language – it is very exclusive. It is sad really when it costs so much (to prepare and publish the new Lectionary) and yet they cannot take on board that women and men are equal.”
The Tablet has reported that the Jerusalem Bible, first published in 1966 and updated in 1985 (as the New Jerusalem Bible) and 2018 (as the Revised New Jerusalem Bible), has been used in the Lectionary since 1981 and is praised for its inclusive language and up-to-date scholarship, while the ESV text is considered more accurate, with a more literal translation.
Commenting on the new Lectionary, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “In reaching a decision about a translation for the Lectionary, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland itself considered the values they would most expect a Lectionary to embody, for example, accuracy, dignity, facility of proclamation, and accessibility.”
The Scottish Bishops stated that it makes “practical and pastoral good sense” for the same translation to be used in Scotland, England and Wales.
“The National Liturgy Commission has looked closely at the issue of a new Lectionary and hope that its publication will keep the biblical word alive and active for the holy People of God and shape thought and culture in our changing world,” Bishop Gilbert added.
The work of editing and publishing the new Lectionary is expected to take several years.
The National Liturgy Commission (NLC) stated that the scripture translation to be used as the basis for a new Lectionary has been discussed in detail by the Scottish bishops during this past year. Having studied the ESV-CE, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland voted at their July 2020 meeting in favour of this translation to form the basis of a new Lectionary. The Psalms to be used in the Lectionary are from ‘The Abbey Psalms’ translation.
The NLC referred to widespread approval for the new translation of the Book of Psalms – ‘The Abbey Psalms’ – for the Liturgy of the Hours which “seeks to translate the Hebrew texts based on an updated scholarly understanding of the literary genres and patterns of thought found in the Psalms”.
It said that in order to maintain consistency between the translation of the Psalms for the Liturgy of the Hours and for the Lectionary, a re-publication of the latter is required.
The re-publication of the Lectionary provides an opportunity to benefit from new scholarship, according to the NLC. In addition, readings relating to many new celebrations of saints, which have been added to the General Roman Calendar since the publication of the 1981 Lectionary, can be included in a new publication.