Swedish translation

 In late August, the Swedish translaton of Consecrated Women? was published and presented to a day conference of clergy and laity. Sister Gerd Swensson explains the background to her work

In an introduction entitled, ‘The Deep Roots – An Introduction to the Swedish translation of Consecrated Women?’ Bishop Bertil Gärtner writes:

‘The ordination issue has been settled long ago. It is a matter of justice and equality and those in the Church who cannot accept this obvious state of affairs are not fit to serve as priests or bishops. That is the position of the majority and the dissidents’ arguments, founded on the Bible and on mainstream tradition, are simply not interesting and carry no weight whatsoever. Such thoughts are voiced in the Church of England also, where many now want to ordain women to the episcopate.’

However, a large group of both clergy and laity, does want to hold fast to the ancient tradition with its roots in the person of Christ himself, according to which only men carry the ministry forward.

Forward in Faith has produced a solid and impressive theological report, and they have even asked for help from experts from the other major churches… The theological part of this report delves deeply into issues that only very few Swedish priests have considered, although they are ‘fundamental to the life of the whole Church’ (the Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope).

Speaking personally, translating this book has been a great joy and privilege. At an early stage, I asked for the appointment of a small reference group, which I could use as a sounding-board, to make sure that the words and phrases of the translation hit the right note for the Swedish audience. In Fr Yngve Kalin, the chairman of Kyrklig Samling, on whose account the Swedish publication has come about, in Fr Dag Sandahl (probably not unfamiliar to readers of New Directions) and in Fr Björn Fyrlund, the current editor of Svensk Patoraltidskrift (SPT) I have had able and keen support all along.

Since I produced the first draft, soon after Christmas, we have met about three times to read the text together and to discuss the hot points and all the possible alternatives we could think of. ‘Just like a really stimulating theological seminar,’ was a comment after one of our sittings. That has been perhaps the most valuable side-effect, besides the production of as good a translation as our joint abilities could muster.

Translation is about trying to listen as closely and deeply as you can, in order to grasp what is being said in the original text, then finding words and phrases, which both focus the central point as accurately as possible and which, as far as possible, carry the same wider associations. Maybe this is not unlike what often happens when two people try to talk to one another – apparently – using the same ‘tongue’. They still do not always speak the same language!

On the other hand, it is a great relief that, although we do speak in different tongues, we can nevertheless really and truly speak the same language, simply because of the Word of the Father, made flesh in the Son, and brought alive in the Spirit. How often the translator has to trust that a sincere effort made by the use of letters, grammar and vocabulary will indeed be caught up in that mystery.

Having given this book a Swedish voice, I trust it will from now on continue to cry out in the wilderness of this country to prepare the way for the Lord and his people.

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