2016. január 13., szerda

'Paul in translation': an archetype of mission (Gal 2)

'...When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter...'

It is worth paying attention to this 'dramatic self-confession' by Paul; how he struggled between his own 'old' Jewish and the 'new' pagan recipients of the Gospel. We see Peter in charge of proclaiming Jesus' good news within the Jewish tradition.

This is an important aspect of, and task for the Catholicity of the Church. This is the call to re-vitalise the Jewish roots of the Christian tradition.

Listening to the core of one's Tradition (its historical language, doctrine and piety) will necessarily set up a 'gap' between the present and the past. Tradition (the life of previous generations of we are part of!) will always confront the pluralisms of the present. Its weight will collide with the uncertainties of our very flexible age. It is necessary to be so as the difference between Tradition and present is that the latter is always open ended as a history. Tradition does not have to fight the challenges of our times; but its task is to be a useful resource in this task.

It is in this context, that Paul provides us with a blueprint of mission. 'For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.'

Paul, being caught up between two traditions, undertakes the pain of 'translation'. His is 'the self in Exodus'. It is the most fertile state that brings forth mission in a creative way. As such, Paul's translation of his Jewish faith is the archetype of mission. It is painful; we are torn apart between existing and non-existing vocabularies. (We are caught up between the Word of God and the missing human words.) It seems that this giving birth to missing words and sentences, which would bridge us with Christ's 'outside' world, is an essential part of the Catholic faith. Catholic, that is, being capable of self-translation and understanding.


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