Monthly Archives: April 2010

A Smoking Brazier in Gen 15:17

Once every three years, on the second Sunday of Lent in  Year C of the lectionary cycle, the story of Abraham’s covenant with the Lord is retold from Genesis 15. In the context of this important biblical story, we find one of the most hilarious translation problems in the New American Bible.  God speaks to Abraham and the patriarch prepares a covenant ceremony by slicing animals in two and separating the pieces. Verse 17 tells us that “When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking brazier and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces” (NAB).

While most lectors are highly educated and pronounce words correctly, many of them stumble on the word, “brazier.” The definition of a “brazier”  from Wiktionary: “An upright standing or hanging metal bowl used for holding burning coal for a source of light or heat.” The word in question should be pronounced with a “zh” sound in the middle and the accent on the first syllable. Unfortunately, many lectors are unfamiliar with the word and have pronounced it without the “zh” sound and with the accent on the second syllable, so it sounds like another word, perhaps more familiar: brassiere, which is pronounced with a regular “z” sound and the accent on the second syllable rather than the first. But I’ll let you look up the definition for that word on your own.

The point is that using a relatively rare word, which may be easily mis-pronounced as word that is inappropriate for liturgy, is not a good translation idea for liturgical texts. The NAB revisers should follow the more mundane translations of other versions: “fire pot” (NRSV, ESV) or “furnace” (JPS, KJV). I suppose though, the word makes for a good chuckle in the pew every now and again–at least once every three years. So, if you happen to be a lector on the Second Sunday of Lent, beware.

Changes to This Blog

Blogger changed the way they allow bloggers to publish, so I decided to switch to WordPress. Hence, the appearance of the blog has changed a bunch and it functions a little differently. If you subscribe to this blog by RSS feed, the new feed is:

So, you will want to make a note of it. All old URL’s go to their new-looking counterparts. I have not redirected the archives yet, but soon. As usual, I will keep writing on this blog about all things biblical, Catholic and studious.

Apostolic Exhortation on the Bible to Come Out After Easter

I do not know how I missed this headline from Catholic News Agency, but they reported on March 10 that the Pope’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Bible will come out soon, just after Easter. I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of it. Perhaps I’ll offer a up a few posts on it once I have given it a good read. So keep your eyes peeled for the document. I have a feeling it will be quite important.