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Lectionary readings

The Anglican Church of Or opts for New Living Translation

Last Saturday I looked in our NZ Anglican lectionary booklet for the readings for the Feast of St Matthew:

CW is the abbreviation for mummy Church of England’s Common Worship readings. Surely, we have our own readings. And, checking A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (ANZPB/HKMOA) – yep, we do:

Saint Matthew, Apostle, Evangelist
21 September

So, why do we have “CW” in our NZ Anglican lectionary booklet? Page 2 of the lectionary booklet lets us know that:

On a few occasions where provision is not made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA, material has been included from Common Worship, an adaptation of the Revised Common Lectionary for use in the Church of England (CW).

Lectionary 2019 page 2

But… we’ve already established that this is NOT one of those “few occasions” – we have perfectly good readings ourselves for Matthew’s Feast Day.

But, wait! Through all this I’ve discovered MORE!!! Our online NZ Anglican Prayer Book has now got links to the actual readings. I don’t know when they were put in, but this is the first time I’ve spotted them. And look at what version our church is recommending: NLT – the New Living Translation. What’s so special about NLT??!! Why not, for example, NRSV?!!! NRSV has a perfectly good online presence. Here’s, for example, the NRSV version of the First Testament reading for Matthew’s feast day: Proverbs 3:13–18:

Happy are those who find wisdom,
   and those who get understanding,
for her income is better than silver,
   and her revenue better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
   and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
   in her left hand are riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
   and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
   those who hold her fast are called happy.

But, wait – there’s even more! So, next, this led me to looking at (aside from the KJV) which English-language versions the Anglican Church of Or allows to be used in services:

1966 The Revised Version.
1966 The Revised Standard Version.
1966 The New English Bible.
1966 The Revised Psalter 1964.
1970 The Psalms. A new translation arranged for singing from the Psalmody of Joseph Gelineau.
1970 The Jerusalem Bible.
1982 The Bible in Today’s English Version.
1982 Psalms for Worship.
1990 The New Jerusalem Bible
1990 The New International Version
1990 The Grail Psalms an inclusive language version
1992 The Revised English Bible
1994 The New Revised Standard Version Bible
1996 Bible for Today’s Family – New Testament – Contemporary English Version.
1998 The Holy Bible – Contemporary English Version.
2008 The Holy Bible – English Standard Version
2008 Today’s New International Version (TNIV)
2010 The New Living Translation (NLT)

Title G; Canon V

Well – there’s lots I don’t understand about this list! What are these dates on the left? Surely, these are not the dates when these translations were passed by General Synod Te Hinota Whanui, such information is normally in small type in the column on the right – as it is elsewhere in this particular canon also.

But, just as one example, there is no “1990 The New International Version” – so, yes, for some reason, the passing-General-Synod date appears to be in the canon preceding each of the versions.

Now, to stay with The New International Version, NIV is not really a translation, it is a family of translations, each different one distinguished by its publication date: 1978; 1984; 2011. From this, I have to deduce, that you may not read publicly from the 2011 The New International Version! I take it from the above dated list – although it is certainly not clear – that you may use any of The New International Versions produced prior to but not after 1990.

Oh – and I don’t think I’ve ever spotted that for anything but the King James Version, the permission of the diocesan bishop is required! Nor can I ever recall this being pointed out in my seminary training or at any stage whatsoever.

The translations authorised by the last preceding Clause hereof may be used in a Diocese only with the approval of the Bishop of the Diocese

Title G; Canon V2.

Has any reader ever seen this in action?! Do our bishops even know that this is one of the actions they are required to do?! I have served as a priest under three diocesan bishops – I cannot recall ever receiving approval by my diocesan bishop to read publicly from the NRSV – as the communities in which I have served have done.

So, to draw this to some sort of conclusion: (1) The NZ Anglican lectionary booklet claims that it will go running back to mother England only on the “few occasions where provision is not made in RCL or in ANZPB/HKMOA” and yet, it does so even when such provisions are clearly made. (2) The online version of ANZPB/HKMOA now has a single link provided for each reading and that is to the The New Living Translation. (3) You may, however, not use The New Living Translation (its presence as the only link giving the false impression that you may) unless your diocesan bishop has given approval for its use. And (4) you may not use anything but the King James Version without your diocesan bishop’s approval.

Here are the headlines:

Archdeacon on church trial for using CofE readings rather than NZ ones.

Archdeacon on church trial for using NZ Prayer Book readings rather than the CofE ones in the NZ Lectionary booklet.

Chaplain sacked for allowing NRSV to be used in Chapel without diocesan bishop’s permission.

Curate disciplined for using the New Living Translation of the Bible as per her church’s online version of its prayer book.

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4 thoughts on “The Anglican Church of Or opts for New Living Translation”

  1. Oddly I was looking at this same Canon just yesterday.

    I like that the bible links have been added, albeit with a translation that I have not used. (But as the newest member of the family, I guess it receives special recognition.)

    Who gets the fun job of creating the lectionary every year? Are the open to suggestion?
    What would it take to do a proper cleanup of the canons to bring them in line with the active operation of the church? (How do I, in all integrity as a priest, vow to follow the formularies of the church when the church has no intention that I should?)

    1. Thanks, Chris. What on earth were you looking at this canon for? And what did you make of it?

      As far as I know, the Mosaic Bible edition of the New Living Bible is the only printed Bible that mentions me and also this website – so that should/could make me biased in its favour.

      As for sorting and clarifying our church’s rules – I’ve long attempted to get traction on that, you probably realise. Time for someone else to put energy into that – it needs a critical mass of people, I think. And I fear we have for so long had confusion and disconnection that we are way past the tipping point to sort this.

      Anglicanism used to be a community of shared spiritual disciplines – something our world sorely yearns for. Now we live in the church where “all the people do what is right in their own eyes” (cf Judges 17:6; 21:25).


  2. What, really, is the use of such a long list of “authorised” versions of the Bible? My view is that General Synod should simply declare the NRSV, Anglicised Version, to be the officially recognised version of scripture for liturgical use in this province. That would not stop the use of other versions – people are going to use them anyway – but it would make a clear statement (shock, horror – is that allowed?) of what is officially accepted and agreed. Bishop Tom Wright, in one of his books (I think it is his book on Justification), makes a strong case for the use of the RSV rather than the NIV on the grounds that the NIV comes out of, and expresses to some extent the doctrinal views of, one segment of the Christian Church. Our liturgical use of scripture has become very casual; we must be careful not to replace the Word with our words.

    1. Thanks, David.
      I would fully support your suggestion – but, in the Anglican Church of Or, it’s just not going to happen!
      I have read Bishop Tom Wright saying that those using the NIV will never understand Paul’s teaching.

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