Urban Monastic Translation

The goal is to help people connect with God, themselves, and others. To achieve this we will follow a few guidelines. These considerations are for both translation work, and original writing.

All translations are copyright Urban Monasticism. You may freely distribute the Urban Monastic Translations, but you are not permitted to sell it on its own, either in print or electronic format. These translations are to be considered living documents and will change over time to better fulfill their intended purposes.

There is currently no intention to do a full translation of the Bible. Instead our focus is on translating the texts relevant to our monastic activities (specificially for Breviery, and Communion). For the sake of clarity you should reference the Urban Monastic Translation in the language being used.

Additionally we will be translating other texts. These translations beyond the scope of the breviary would be referrenced the following ways:

Translation Guidelines

  • Maintain the sentence structure and flow as best as possible with our other goals.
  • Prefer more direct and simple language.
  • Seek accessible reading levels for the language we’re translating into.
  • Adapt gendered language as outlined in our writing guidelines.
  • Avoid exclusionary language and use neutral group language.
  • Bring in the textural context.
  • Psalms, Antiphons, Prayers, and Canticles should focus on their use with plain-chant, chant-song and singing.
  • Not intended for academic study.
  • Reference contemporary translations for guidance.

Source Texts

Our breviary translations are based upon the following texts:

Writing Guidelines:

Keep Sentence Structure and Grammar Simple

We are not here to sound smart. We are not here to share complex ideas. We are here to connect with God, and to help others connect with God. While some may be well read, well educated, using our work in their native language, and fully able to read well, others are not as fortunate. Therefore we should seek to write and communicate in a way that is most accessible.

Language and Word Selection

Our intention is to choose language and words which invite people to see themselves in the texts we are translating. There are a few areas in which we need to give specific attention.

Exclusionary Language

There are many words, images, and ideas which to some people may appear harmless, and to others cause harm. The impact of this language would be to exclude those who experience the harm. Therefore we should give attention to avoid exclusionary language which may be racially, ethnically, appropriationally, or otherwise harmful. There is much offense in the high call the scriptures invite us to live into. We should therefore seek to avoid adding additional offense or barriers in our writing.

Gendered Language

Many of the terms, titles, and phrases we use all the time are focused on a specific gender – normally male. Since we are open to both sexes we should choose language that reflects that. In this way we help everyone see themselves present in the text in a similar way.

When we find ourselves in a narrative where pronouns are being used to directly reference an individual we should leave them.

Sometimes the gendered word can be removed without changing the meaning of the phrase. “Jesus was born a man” and “Jesus was born” are close enough to be equal for our purposes. We still understand that he shares our experience, that he was a baby, and grew up just like us.

When it is important to the narrative or concept to include a term we prefer to use a non-gendered term. The goal is to ensure that the impact and scope of the text would be the same today as the author had intended. This would bring about a change like the following example.

“Therefore, just as through one man person sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”

Romans 5:12 [NASB]

The goal is to help everyone see themselves in the our writing more easily. By choosing language that is more accessible and inclusive we help achieve this goal.

Neutral Group Terminology

Similar to the intention of our Gendered stance, we seek to use neutral group terminology when appropriate. This should only be used where the expectation is that the author or speaker is addressing a mixed group (regardless of what the textual language is). To avoid issues of prioritization which comes with ordering the genders, and for inclusion of those who do not identify with the male/female genders. The following terms should be used instead.

  • Children: instead of daughters & sons, sons & daughters, daughters, sons and others.
  • Siblings: instead of brothers & sisters, sisters & brothers, brothers, sisters, and others.
  • Parents: instead of mothers & fathers, fathers & mothers, mothers, fathers, and others.
  • People: instead of men & women, women & men, men, women, and others.
  • Ancestors: instead of fathers, forefathers, forebearers, and others.
  • Descendants: instead of seed, offspring, & general term for future generations.
  • Les Enfants: au lieu du filles et fils, fils et filles, fils, filles, et autres.
  • Les Fratries: au lieu de frères et sœurs, sœurs et frères, frères, sœurs, et autres.
  • Les Parents: au lieu des mères et des pères, des pères et des mères, mères, pères, et autres.
  • Les Personnes: au lieu d’hommes et de femmes, de femmes et d’hommes, d’hommes, de femmes, et autres.
  • Les Ancêtres: au lieu des pères et autres.
  • Les Descendants: au lieu de postérité, progéniture, & terme général pour les générations futures.

When the author or speaker is talking about an explicit group, we should attempt to reflect the make up of that group. There are limited situations in the bible where this is the situation. Most of the time we should used the neutral group terms above.

Reading Level

By keeping our reading level lower, we ensure the widest accessibility to our writing. It is also a challenge to those of us writing to distill our ideas, phrases, and imagery down to more easily consumable bits.

Bring in the Textural Context

A breviary is mostly made up of passages of scripture. Some are presented in long form, as with the Psalms. Yet many texts are pulled out in small portions. This can leave the reader unsure what is being referred to. We should then replace language that has lost clarity when removed from its textual context with the words or terms they point to.

We can look to Revelations 22:4 to illustrate one situation where we have done this in the breviary. A more literally translation of the opening of this verse would be: “They will see his face….”. If someone is reading the full apocalypse of John on Patmos, this is clear enough for them. However, when this verse appears during Sunday Complines those pronouns are unclear. Who is “they”, or “he” in reference too? The previous verse is very helpful here as it reads:

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him.

Allowing the selected verses to retain more of their contextual meaning, we choose to translate verse 4 as:

His servants will see Gods face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Any texts which use unclear language but which lack enough contextual clarity should be left untouched. The point here is not to add or create meaning which would not be there in a more natural reading of the whole text itself.

Larger than Earth

Since the year 2000 CE people have continually lived in space. By 2100 CE humanity will likely be living on other planetary bodies in our solar system. This was beyond comprehension in 1900 before powered human flight.

In light of this dramatic change in our relationship with creation, we need to carefully expand the scope of our language. By doing so we are not saying that Jesus is not the Lord of the Earth, but that he is Lord of more than that.

During the expansive period during which the bible was written people would not have had the chance to see the curve of the earth with their own eyes. Most people never left their own nations (and this is still true today). Proclaiming that God was over all the Earth was a way to say that God was bigger than just us. We need to ensure that for the next two thousand years we use language that likewise reminds us of the lordship of God extends beyond all of the cosmos.

In Addition