There has been a lot of blogging on translations (and the inaccuracy of ICEL) lately. This is something else I've noticed when reading The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori.
It seems as though every other sentence is from Scripture. (NOT a criticism, I hasten to add!) What is really weird is that I sort of recognise the scriptural quotes from praying the Divine Office, especially the ones from the Psalms... but the meanings are subtly different. And it's somewhat disconcerting to find that the version used by St. Alphonsus fits in perfectly with what he's trying to say, whereas, if I inserted the modern "translation," the meaning wouldn't fit as well.
For example, St. Alphonsus renders Proverbs 10:23 as "A fool worketh mischief as it were for sport" whereas the New Jerusalem Bible has "A fool takes pleasure in doing wrong" and the Good News Bible has "It is foolish to enjoy doing wrong." There isn't much in it, but there is a nuance there. And in Sermon XX (The Evil Effects of Bad Habits) there is an even clearer example:
"At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, they have slumbered." Even earthquakes, thunders and sudden deaths do not terrify an habitual sinner. Instead of waking him to a sense of his miserable state, they rather bring on that deadly sleep in which he slumbers and is lost.
The New Jerusalem Bible has the quote from Psalm 76 as "At your reproof, God of Jacob, chariot and horse stand stunned." The Good News Bible has "When you threatened them, O God of Jacob, the horses and their riders fell dead." Slumbered, stunned and dead are hardly synonyms...
Now, I'm no expert, but the clear sense in which St. Alphonsus is quoting the Scriptures indicates that there is something very wrong with the translations we have now... even though they may be technically more accurate translations from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, they are obviously not giving the sense of the Bible passages as used in the Church for centuries. The Scriptures are not supposed to be read outside the living Tradition of the Church - we seem to have forgotten this!