Fidelity to the Word
Our Lord and His Holy Apostles at the Last Supper

A blog dedicated to Christ Jesus our Lord and His True Presence in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist

But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-12

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Catholic Answers Forums: About “pro multis”

In the latest Catholic Answers thread on the words of consecration,

USMC wrote:
The pro multis mistranslation was not a small thing. In addition to not being the words our Lord used...

bear06 replied with just an URL:

Replying to the contents of the page, I wrote:

Despite the errors and evasions of the web page referenced above, if one reads the whole thing carefully, one will see:
(1) At the Last Supper, our Lord said that He was shedding His blood "for many", not "for all".
(2) The new Mass in its normative Latin form records that our Lord said He was shedding His Blood "for many", not "for all".
(3) The translators, nevertheless, claim that our Lord said He was shedding His blood "for all", not "for many".

The rest of the commentary on the page is erroneous, irrelevant, or absurd. Notice the claim that the Qumram community adopted the word "many" as a label ("almost a name") for their own small group. How is this an argument in favor of "many" meaning everyone in the world? If anything, using the word "many" to signify a very small group of people is an argument against using that same word to signify every single human being. A little group of people is not all people. Especially this little group. Google "Qumram" and read the first match. "The Qumram community has left a scroll which expresses the bitterest hatred of all that is not Jewish..." - I don't think they were identifying with the world at large.

The good news that Christ offers salvation to the whole world is worth repeating many times, but it doesn't address the question of what Christ actually said when bread and wine were first consecrated. Why couldn't He offer His sacrifice especially for those blessed souls who do enter into the new covenant? At the Last Supper our Lord said "I do not pray for the world, but for the ones you have given me".

The 1970 claim that the same "word" in Aramaic means both pro multis and pro omnibus is simply wrong, and the first 2004 article admits it -- in soft, fuzzy terms that may leave some with the impression that this is all a matter of nuance.

The second 2004 article admits that the "vast majority" of the "ancient Eucharistic Prayer texts" use "for many". It points out that a few omit these words, but neglects to mention that none of them substitute in "for all". I do have a bit more I could write, but I'll stop here with a note of agreement on one point. Fr. McNamara wrote:

In no way is the doctrine of the 'Roman Catechism' to be held outdated.
The Roman Catechism teaches that Jesus deliberately did say "for many" and deliberately did not say "for all". If this doctrine is in no way to be held outdated, why is there any argument? Just fix the translation. I truly thank God that the Holy Father is going to make sure it does get fixed.


Later in the thread, introibo wrote:

"What, then, should we make of the new translation? Both formulations, "for all" and "for many," are found in Scripture and in tradition. Each expresses one aspect of the matter: on one hand, the all-embracing salvation inherent in the death of Christ, which he suffered for all men; on the other hand, the freedom to refuse, as setting a limit to salvation. Neither of the two formulae can express the whole of this; each needs correct interpretation, which sets it in the context of the Christian gospel as a whole... There can be no question of misrepresentation here, since whichever of the formulations is allowed to stand, we must in any case listen to the whole of the gospel message: that the Lord truly loves everyone, and that he died for all. And the other aspect: that he does not, by some magic trick, set aside our freedom but allows us to choose to enter into his great mercy."

Ratzinger, Joseph A. God Is Near Us. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003.

I replied:

Both "for all" and "for many" express aspects of our Lord's sacrifice, but before the consecration of the Precious Blood, the priest says:

Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
Where in Scripture or Tradition is it recorded that our our Lord said at the Last Supper that He sheds His blood "for all"? Nowhere. Both attest that He said "for many". The translators confused translation with interpretation.


My last comment was phrased carefully to match the part of the quote from Cardinal Ratzinger which introibo skipped:

I leave open the question of whether it was sensible to choose the translation "for all" here and, thus to confuse translation with interpretation, at a point at which the process of interpretation remains in any case indispensible.

The translators put their interpretation of our Lord's words into the consecration, but considering the teaching of the Roman Catechism on this matter, I don't believe the interpretation offered by the translators, namely that "for many" means "for all", is correct. Jesus said "for many" because He meant "for many". If we were not talking about Jesus actual words (which we are) I think it could be fairly said that Jesus died for the whole world, but here He was speaking specifically of the elect.

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