A Story the Interwebs Cannot Tell

We have been down this road before, on this silly weblog. And I had to eat my words.

GeorgiaBut I think I have a question which the internet simply cannot answer…

You might have thought that my favorite Scripture verse is

When I summon him, he shall approach Me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching Me? says the Lord. (Jeremiah 30:21)

since that verse adorned the little holy card published unto the world on the occasion of my ordination as a priest, lo these ten years past.

Or you might have thought that my favorite verse is

You knew I was a demanding man. (Luke 19:22)

or

The wedding day of the Lamb has come. (Revelation 19:7)

Dust Bowl farmsince I myself told you so last year.

But I fibbed. My real favorite verse is Sirach 7:15:

μὴ μισήσῃς ἐπίπονον ἐργασίαν καὶ γεωργίαν ὑπὸ ῾Υψίστου ἐκτισμένην

or

Non oderis laboriosa opera et rusticationem creatam ab Altissimo.

My question for the interwebs is this:

Why, dear interwebs–considering the fact that both γεωργίαν and rusticationem certainly refer to farming, to agriculture, to husbandry (as the names of two great farming states, one in the US and the other in central Europe, both bear witness, not to mention our delightful Anglicization of ‘rustic’) –why, pray tell, did the New-American-Bible rendering of this verse change from

Hate not laborious tasks, nor farming, which was ordained by the Most High.

to

Do not hate hard work; work was assigned by God.

when the Revised Edition of our beloved American Catholic NAB was published in 2011?

Of course there must be a reason for such a stupefying change. I am certainly no scholar. I vaguely know that Hebrew fragments of Sirach were found at the Dead Sea in the years between these two translations. The eminent, humble, and wise translators must have had a reason for rendering this verse in such a way that it makes a joke out of the way the neo-Vulgate renders it (i.e. with the word rusticationem prominently employed, as can easily be seen on the Vatican’s own website).

Only a reason of great moment, a compelling discovery in the bowels of the Qumran community–or some other place studied by diligent archaeologists and philologists–only such a solid reason could possibly induce the translators to change this verse and remove one of the key concepts of the sentence (i.e. farming).

Dear internet, can you disclose this reason to me? Doesn’t look like you can.

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