anglican bias in historical translations
#1
sorry if this is in the wrong place but it says history. I have been reading a pile of old books which are translations of medieval writings not widely available. They are from victorian england (bohn's antiquarian library) and I have noticed a few fishy things in what they have done with the words of the medievals. I would just like to ask if I am reading too much into this or if these are obviously anglican biases unfaithful to the original sources. every other medieval document I see refers to simply "The Church" as obviously there was no notion of another. but these always say things like "the roman church" or "the romish priesthood" etc. They always call regional churches the "church of insert place here". They also refer to practices around relics or images as "worship" for example they "worshiped" the relics before going into battle etc. they refer to shrines and other things as "temples". Now is it just me or are these translators 1. attempting to put forward the idea that the medievals had some notion of localized churches rather than one unified church. is this a protestant projection of their values onto the distant past? and 2. attempting to present Catholics as idolatrous with words such as "worship" and "temple". I cannot get ahold of the latin originals but it seems mighty fishy to me. I ask this as it seems to be everywhere now that I think about it. The same with this myth of the "celtic church". As somebody who wants to write history in the future how would I go about saying this? should I always use phrases like "the Church in the celtic fringe" or "the Church in England" etc. or is it alright to use phrases such as "the English Church" with the assumption that I mean merely the diocesan structure within that political unit? There is a game of words going on and I just want to be on the right side of it. These are the subtle areas in which misinformation and bias flourish under the radar. Can anybody give me some pointers on proper form for a faithful Catholic history enthusiast? or tell me if this is an overreaction?
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#2
I think a phrase such as "the English church" is entirely acceptable in the given context. While Catholics in the Middle Ages certainly did believe in the universal Church, there was also obviously a great deal of decentralization and independence, and the ecclesiastical cultures of various places could differ from each other quite a bit. Bishops were not simply bureaucrats subject directly to the Pope as they are today.

On some of the other examples, I do not think it improper to refer to the "worship" of saints or relics, and references to the "Roman church" might be authentic assuming they are referring merely to the church at Rome. However, I would be suspicious of references to "the Roman priesthood" or to "temples." It is hard to say without access to the primary sources.

By the way, for a very interesting work written in medieval England that hits on the structure of the Church (and reveals just how much controversy there could be about these matters) check out the Norman Anonymous. I am not sure if there is a full translation out there, but there is a partial one in Oliver O'Donovan's From Irenaeus to Grotius
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#3
(07-16-2015, 04:37 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: I think a phrase such as "the English church" is entirely acceptable in the given context. While Catholics in the Middle Ages certainly did believe in the universal Church, there was also obviously a great deal of decentralization and independence, and the ecclesiastical cultures of various places could differ from each other quite a bit. Bishops were not simply bureaucrats subject directly to the Pope as they are today.

On some of the other examples, I do not think it improper to refer to the "worship" of saints or relics, and references to the "Roman church" might be authentic assuming they are referring merely to the church at Rome. However, I would be suspicious of references to "the Roman priesthood" or to "temples." It is hard to say without access to the primary sources.

By the way, for a very interesting work written in medieval England that hits on the structure of the Church (and reveals just how much controversy there could be about these matters) check out the Norman Anonymous. I am not sure if there is a full translation out there, but there is a partial one in Oliver O'Donovan's From Irenaeus to Grotius.

Despite the predictable melancholy of some trads I don't think the local character of the church has been totally lost. I notice difference even between cities, even more so between nations.
I suppose you need to get out more, CP Sticking tongue out at you

As to the terms, its hard to say without knowing the work, much less the original, but they look suspicious. Romish priesthood kinda gives it away—so the other terms are put in suspicion automatically.
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#4
(07-16-2015, 04:58 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Despite the predictable melancholy of some trads I don't think the local character of the church has been totally lost. I notice difference even between cities, even more so between nations.
I suppose you need to get out more, CP Sticking tongue out at you
Well, I need to make sure that I'm at home when the Three Days of Darkness arrive. Anyway, there are obviously cultural differences, but I think we have lost a strong conception of the bishop as the center of the local church. One can see this in the fact that Vatican officials are routinely made bishops simply to inflate their vanity.
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#5
Temple is likely a slavishly literal translation of Latin templum, which was used by many authors to mean church, beginning perhaps with St. Ambrose. (There are earlier Christian uses of templum by way of analogy or metaphor, but I am talking about using the word to refer to an actual, physical house of worship.) Also bear in mind that, in former times, Latin education was universal lot of schoolboys from good families, so the prose of Victorian authors, especially those educated in the old British way, tends toward extravagant Ciceronian periods (employing a profusion of subordinate clauses) and certain patterns in vocabulary and usage. When translating from Latin, this tendency is all the more exaggerated and stilted, often yielding awkward schoolboy translationese. Old habits die hard, I suppose. It is awfully tempting to just translate ablative absolute clauses into those funny clauses beginning "with..."

To impose upon you some frightful translationese, a brief excerpt from Edward Riley's translation of Lucan's Pharsalia (1896):
Quote:But in the distant regions of the earth,
Fierce Caesar warring, though in fight he dealt
No baneful slaughter, hastened on the doom
To swift fulfillment.

I don't imagine these translators of obscure medieval chronicles and saints' lives were first-rate stylists, at any rate. Translating churchy medieval stuff was more than a peg or two down from the proper classics (which attracted the real talent) so I would imagine the translations you are wading through are the fruits of some country parson's recreational labor and scholastic pretension.

Back to the matter at hand. Niermeyer's Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus tells us that templum can mean church and is used especially with reference to cathedrals and collegiate churches. The workmanlike translator likely encountered the Latin word and, rather than regularizing it for the benefit of an English reader unacquainted with the minutiae of medievalisms, simply pressed an English cognate into service in spite of its narrower semantic range in our tongue.
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#6
alright thanks very much. This is why I ask these questions because of always jumping to conclusions. some of the thoughts on this matter provided by your answers did cross my mind. I am just on the lookout all of the time especially since so many books on the middle ages from that particular era can tend to be "whiggish" shall we say. it is good to hear this because so much more these days the translations bother my ears a bit. that nice flowery old language is just so much more pleasing to read. hopefully my latin will improve getting back to class. I will still steer clear of the phrase "celtic church" though there are too many problems with that. articles etc. about how that has been most definately used to support silly notions to no end.
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