It was with astonishment and consternation that I read that the new translation of the Mass is to use the NRSV translation of the Bible, even if the excessive and inappropriate use of the "inclusive language" is to be moderated (July AD2000). Some claim the NRSV was written for oral reading. That may be so, but it hasn't worked.
As one who has been subjected for years to the "Canadian Lectionary" based on the NRSV, I have found it completely inappropriate. The translators have gone overboard in their translations, with the result that the sentence structures are very convoluted to listen to, thus creating a situation worse than any present one. Furthermore, the Psalms, as read in the "Canadian Lectionary", are completely unacceptable. They are too wordy and they lack any sense of the lyrical. It is a pity those formulating the new Mass had not consulted people in the pews who have already been subjected to the NRSV for many years.
Further, besides the distortions pointed out by Michael Gilchrist and Pastor Buck (August AD2000), I have noticed many instances where the meaning being given through the NRSV is completely different from the present Scriptures.
That is just looking at my experience. However, there are also points from scholars, more contentious than the theology of "happy" instead of "blessed".
Take an example recently highlighted in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review about 1 Corinthians 9:5. To quote Fr Zimmerman (November 2003): "We reasonably suspect an agenda", because in this passage, the Greek word "sister" is consistently rendered in recent translations as "wife". Notably, the Jerusalem Bible says "a Christian woman."
Certainly, what we pray expresses what we believe, but what we believe is always backed up by the Scriptures, so they must not he compromised either. It could be argued that the matter of the choice of Scriptures is more important than the translation of the Latin of the Liturgy, because it is in the Scriptures that we have a common point with our "separated brethren". There they can read for themselves what we believe.
One solution is to use the Monsignor Ronald Knox Bible, which expresses the truths and is "a translation from the Latin Vulgate in the light of the Hebrew and Greek originals" (title page). If the NRSV is being moderated regarding inclusiveness, then, equally, the Knox Bible could be appropriately altered to accommodate this.
M.A. ROSS (MRS)