May 07, 2013

MJ of Logos Forum Fame

Occasionally I'll wander to the Logos Bible Forum and look for posts by the inimitable MJ Smith, she who stands amid the forum contents like a colossus of catholic civility. 

Here are a few of her recent thoughts/replies:
I have a basic preference for believing we constantly overestimate the quality of our [biblical] scholarship just as our predecessors did. Of course, my measure of language competency is that you don't know a language until it becomes bathroom reading. More seriously, as long as we use dual language dictionaries, I am uncomfortable saying we know a language. And, to the best of my knowledge, Logos is short of completely Hebrew (or Greek, Aramaic, Syriac, Latin, Ugaritic, Coptic ...) dictionaries. There is a big difference between reading a foreign language to translate it into your native tongue and reading a foreign language and understanding it in that language ... what we nicknamed the dream test.

I don't disagree that multiple translations serve as pointers towards the original language meaning as each translation gives us additional clues of the constraints on the original text. Another thread offered a link to a journal article that I find apropos - BaxterBiblicalWords.pdf

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My translation pet peeve is people having a pet peeve rather than recognizing translators have to make compromises in order to best meet the need of their ideal intended audience which I not me. I much prefer to have my pet translations such as Psalm 4 in the Jerusalem Bible ... I measure all other translations against it even though i know the grammatical argument against the translation.

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David A: Textual Criticism ASSUMES that all versions have the same chances of being found.

MJ Smith: Really? That is odd because it is so unlikely to be true. It could only be a simplifying assumption to make the data manageable. How many ancient manuscripts do we have from the Mar Thoma church in India? [Trick question - use of banana leaves as a writing surface has seriously limited the number of old manuscripts in a bug infested environment.]

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Dean053: ...with the moral brigade always trying to shut down legitimate questions or concerns about the product.
MJ Smith: While I have seen this accusation made frequently, I have seen the shutting down of legitimate questions only occasionally. As in a face-to-face community, there are particular people who by reasons of upbringing, culture, age or mental health need to be given a broader leeway than others.


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There are also many excellent graphics for the liturgical year. My (very simple) favorite also captures the sense of a spiral i.e. movement towards the end of time:


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I'd set two rules for myself when I offered to create the [following] list - non-Catholic Logos resources. As you can see, I ignored the Logos part when I tried to tailor the list to what L.S. seemed to need - enjoyable, non-confrontational reading that raises the important issues. Getting people to ask the question is more important than giving an answer to a question not asked.

  • Prayer by Richard Foster - a good introduction to liturgical prayer
  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster - a good introduction to spiritual disciplines
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - a good introduction to logic and what words mean
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - a study in social ethics
  • The Way of the Pilgrim by Olga Savin and Father Thomas Hopko - a study in Christian growth
  • The Psalms through Three Thousand Years by William Holliday - use of psalms in worship, Jewish and Christian
  • To Pray As A Jew: A Guide To The Prayer Book by Hayim H. Donin - liturgy as way of life
  • Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture and Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan- church history made enjoyable
  • Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality by Alan W. Jones - not really introductory but presents a very catholic spirituality in a contemporary way
and cheating to add one Catholic convert book:
  • The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn to explore the heavenly liturgy as described in Revelation

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