June 6, 2013

The Ambiguous Fate of the Fat

This morning I thought to practice the readings for the solemnity of the Sacred Heart tomorrow, knowing that I would be asked to proclaim one or another of them.

I soon found myself in an eschatological dubium.

The question is Ezekiel 34:16b.

The Italian lectionary has it like this:

 ...avrò cura della grassa e della forte; le pascerò con giustizia. "I will take care of the fat and the strong, I will shepherd them with justice."

But you folks in the United States will hear something quite different tomorrow:

...but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.

Which will it be, Lord?

My RSV, which I tend to trust more than most, says,

...and the fat and the strong I will watch over: I will feed them in justice.

Nevertheless, there is a note that seems to suggest that various ancient sources would prefer 'destroy' to 'watch over.'

So I guess there's a textual question here. Perhaps someone who knows more than me can offer a comment. But it is interesting to note that faced with the need to come down on one side or another, the lectionary editors in a fat country decided that God would destroy the fat, while the lectionary editors in a skinny country decided that God would take good care of them.


Helen said...

I am glad to hear that maybe God is protecting the fat and the strong; I always read that part with a bit of fear. I think that the idea of destroying them comes as a shock as the Good Shepherd loves each of his sheep, even the lost ones.

Anonymous said...

That is interesting that the "fat" countries would condemn themselves while the "skinny" ones would not.
You would think it would be the opposite. hmmmm.
I'm leaning toward the "fat and strong" being the bad shepherds in the beginning of the chapter who got that way at the expense of the sheep. As a mildly plump middle aged sheep this makes me feel better about both myself and my current (quite trim) shepherd.
Happy Sacred Heart day!

Eddie Fitz said...

I don't know, and am not an expert. Perhaps it is not :literal" perhaps it might mean Fat=Fed with the word and Grace of God?

Anonymous said...

I checked 7 dutch translations. 5 said 'kill' in a way or another and 2 said 'keep' or 'save'.
The oldest translation from 1477 says 'save'.

There's a small difference between keep and kill, no? I'm gonna ask around. Thanks for the riddle, i like!


Anonymous said...

Dear Friar,
my informant says translations based on the LXX use 'kill' and translations based on masoretic texts use 'keep'. Does this help?


Brother Charles said...


Anonymous said...

Dear Brother Charles, i've been looking for a way to contact you, but this seems to be the only way. Could be deliberate on your side, in which case i'm sorry to bother you with this. In october i'll be in Rome, first time in 20 years and i wondered i've you knew places to go, things to see that aren't in the guidebooks. You seem to have the same musical taste, 's why i ask. Thanks in advance.
(twitter: @plucia)

Brother Charles said...

@plucia I hope you have a lovely trip! Unfortunately, I don't get out much so I'm probably not much help with advice. As far as music, I do notice that good shows come to Rome. I regret missing Mastodon last year.