May 24, 2006

Poor Aaron

The psalter we use for Morning and Evening Prayer here in my fraternity is sometimes a little scrupulous about inclusive language.

This is the end of psalm 77:

You led your people like a flock
by the hands of Moses and Aaron.

But in our psalter it reads:

You led your people like a flock
by the hands of Moses and Miriam.

Now it's one thing to adjust syntax and pronouns so that each sex can feel included, or even to eliminate male pronouns for God so as to avoid the suggestions of theological patriarchy, but to change the Scripture itself in so bold a way is really something else.

Leaving aside the error of thinking we can just change the Scripture according to our taste, Miriam doesn't need our promotion anyway. Her song in Exodus 15 is said by some to the real historical beginning of Old Testament theological reflection. If you never noticed it in the breviary, that's because you've been forgetting to pray Morning Prayer on Saturday. So let's not expunge poor Aaron from psalm 77.


Jeff said...


You're right. That is really going too far. It's one thing to say the Creed with "for us and our salvation" instead of "for us men and our salvation", but to change the actual meaning of the scriptures in that fashion is way out of bounds.

When I was a Parish Council president, the most contentious things to deal with were inclusive language issues and music. Music most of all, because of all the ego issues surrounding it. I remember one particularly thorny episode that arose around the folk group and the congregants who complained that in one of their hymns they were singing about the Holy Spirit as "She who is wisdom and Grace".

Crescentius said...

I must say that I read this entry with some amusement...

from a "juridical" viewpoint, Chapter 3, of our most holy rule given to us by Father Francis states:
"Let the clerical brothers recite the Divine Office acording to the rite of the holy Roman Church..."

Merriam-Webster define 'rite' as:
1 a : a prescribed form or manner governing the words or actions for a ceremony.

+Crescentius of Iesi