The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

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Changing the biblical text

Canisius | 04 April, 2006 02:04

Today's Old Testament reading in Gueranger is from Jonah (VI, 121-2). In the very last line of the reading, as Dom Gueranger points out, the Church actually changes the biblical text: where the original text has "God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it", the Church's lectionary reads instead, "and the Lord our God had mercy on his people." As Dom Gueranger points out, this change implicitly identifies the Gentiles (in this case the Ninevites) as God's people! By doing this, it applies the text to the liturgical situation in which the Church (composed of Gentiles) begs for God's mercy during Lent.

It may seem surprising to find the Church changing the biblical text this way, but in fact such changes have gone on for a long, long time--long before the canon of Scripture was closed. My favorite example of this is Psalm 51, which David composed to express repentance for his sins of adultery and murder. It became a part of Israel's prayer book, and continued to be used even after the destruction of the Temple many hundreds of years later. The Jews of that time made a small addition to the end of the psalm that applied it to their situation. That's why the last two verses of Psalm 51 say, "Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then wilt thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar." The walls of Jerusalem were doing fine in David's day, and needed no rebuilding; bulls were offered daily. This prayer for the rebuilding of the walls and the restoration of the Temple sacrifices comes from the post-exilic era.

The little tweak the Church makes at the end of our reading from Jonah has a precedent that is not only good, but inspired!


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