Friday, April 25, 2008

Translations of the Rule of St. Benedict


I like Leonard J. Doyle's 1948 translation of the Rule. I do not know Latin and cannot comment on the technical merits of the various translations. Doyle's translation comes in many less expensive bindings, but if you want Doyle's translation in one of its most beautiful and practical versions, I can do no better than pass along what was recommended to me as the "one to get": The book is titled: The Rule of Saint Benedict

However, applying a principle I heard from people who do know how to translate similar documents, I think there are several excellent translations of the Rule which each have their own strengths.

It is a good to become familiar with all of such translations and use each translation depending on the purpose.

And lastly, recognizing that there are many excellent translations I may use at different times, I may decide that there is one translation of the Rule that I carry around when I need to have the Rule handy.

When I speak about my favorite translation or the best translation, it is to describe the translation of the Rule I am carrying most often.

And, the reason I most often have Doyle's translation with me is based on my high admiration of Doyle's first line — it is filled with a grace that fills the entire Rule from its first line to the end.

The inclined ear toward God seems to be heart of monastic life in my view. But to others, Doyle will sound odd.

Here are examples of several translations of the Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict:

Doyle:

"Listen, my son, to your master's precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart."

Patrick Barry, OSB:

"Listen, child of God, to the guidance of your teacher. Attend to the
message you hear and make sure that it pierces to your heart ...."

Terrence G. Kardong:

"Listen, O my son, to the teachings of your master, and turn to them
with the ear of your heart."

RB 1980:

"Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend
to them with the ear of your heart."

Joan Chittister, O.S.B.:

Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them
with the ear of your heart."

Anthony C. Meisel and M.L. del Mastro:

"Listen, my son, and with your heart hear the principles of your
Master."


Everyone may use many translations and benefit from them all and still have that personal favorite we take along to read at the park on Saturday afternoon — and then go to the ice cream parlor and wonder with a friend about why strawberry isn't everyone's favorite flavor. :)

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