Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ACNA BCP: The Summary of the Law


Now I will nitpick make further comments on the working ACNA Book of Common Prayer.  (You will recall that I began by commending its revised treatment of the filioque.)  Again, downloads of the new BCP may be found here.

In looking at the Holy Eucharist, the first thing that stood out to me was . . . an article, in the Summary of the Law which reads as follows:

Jesus said: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40

Leaving aside, at least for now, the issue of modern language, “a second” struck me as odd.  Now I looked and did notice that good Bible translations differ on whether to render Jesus’ words “the second” or “a second.”  I’m no Greek scholar, but I suspect that is because the original Greek implies articles more than spells them out as in English.  But “a second” is a legitimate translation.

But the traditional Book of Common Prayer renders it “the second,” and I think that much preferable.  The context of Jesus words clearly indicates he was not talking about merely a second commandment in numerical order or a commandment among several secondary commandments.  He was stating that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is the second most important commandment.  “The second” better reflects that than “a second”.

Plus “the second commandment” parallels and sounds better paired with “the great and first commandment”.  And the sound and structure of liturgical language should always be a consideration if a secondary one.

I was not privy to the discussions behind the working ACNA BCP, but I see little good reason to depart from the traditional BCP rendering, “the second commandment.”

4 comments:

Dr.D said...

We do not need a revision of the BCP. The last such attempt was a trick, a fraud, and a disaster (called BCP 1979, even though it is not a part of the Common Prayer tradition, as the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon showed very clearly). There is no one, I repeat, no one, to be trusted with this task at the present, highly divided moment.

Stay with the BCP 1928 or BCP 1662. They have a few problems, but they are not heretical.

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest

The Rev Canon David Wilson said...

I was told the Summary is taken directly from the ESV version of the Bible.

I say "the" not "a" by force of habit. In addition, the 1979 book had "the first and great commandment" rather than the now "great and first". We have been using the ACNA liturgy for 15 months and I stumble through it every week.

Anonymous said...

speaking about that, check the article change in 1Ti 3:15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, A pillar and buttress of the truth.(ESV)
All other translations have THE pillar...of the truth

I tend to dislike ESV more and more

Anonymous said...

I'd rather do without thee and thou and thither.