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Appendix B: Background and Editorial Philosophy$ 

Appendix B: Background and Editorial Philosophy

 

As related in the Introduction, accurate translation of the meaning of the original text of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is a vital and important goal. Nonetheless, however accurate the translation may be, if it is not accessible to the reader all is lost. Thus, readability is a paramount and overriding consideration. For this purpose, the following changes have been made during translation:

  • Spelling and punctuation are modernized.
  • Obsolete words are replaced with contemporary synonyms.
  • Words that may not be obsolete, but whose common or contemporary meaning is often unknown or differs from that of the text, are likewise replaced with contemporary synonyms or defined.
  • Similarly, words with a precise theological meaning are explained in footnotes.
  • Overly long and run-on sentences (by contemporary standards) are broken up into multiple sentences.
  • Embedded lists are sometimes bulleted, particularly where the structure is complex, the list long, or the list items are complex phrases, clauses, or sentences.
  • In some cases the order of phrases is altered for clarification or ease of reading.
  • Other small changes are often made that make the text easier to read, such as substituting the antecedent for a pronoun.
  • Occasionally, footnotes give longer explanations of terms or concepts so that the reader may more fully understand the WSC text.
  • The contemporary text generally follows American usage per the Chicago Manual of Style.[1]
  • The Westminster Divines thoroughly and equally included women with men as human beings made in the image of God. They understood references to “men,” “mankind,” and so on, as completely including both sexes. This understanding and usage is also that of the Holy Scriptures. The editor therefore sees no reason to do violence to the text for the sake of “gender inclusiveness,” particularly when standards of English usage on this matter are currently in flux, to say nothing of frequently resulting in awkward constructions.

 

            The original WSC has a certain majestic terseness and style which is, as is common in translations, greatly diminished by the editor’s current work. This is regrettable, but not so nearly regrettable as when a person is denied access to these eternal truths due to difficulties in reading comprehension. In particular, the frequent use of bulleted lists may surprise or irritate some readers. But quoting from Grammar-Quizzes.com:

Block text visually runs text together. It is wordy

but saves space. Using more than three or four

lines on a web page causes the reader to skip over

the last few lines. Did you actually read this last

line?

 

A bulleted or numbered list:

·       Visually emphasizes information

·       Capsulizes a concept

·       Facilitates reading comprehension.[2]

The quoted block text, particularly the last line, may shock the highly educated, but the editor wishes to serve as many readers as possible.

 

            The editor used the Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America[3] as the source text. The editor also downloaded three different web sources claiming to be the original WSC with the original Scripture proof texts.[4] These were electronically compared and merged, then used as a second-source check text for proofreading and alignment of Scripture proof texts. Reference was also made to other published WSC texts such as in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom, [5] as well as primary and secondary historical sources where necessary to ascertain the meaning of a word or phrase.

           

            The editor welcomes constructive feedback and corrections at the email address given below. (The address is a graphic to foil harvesting by spammers.) The editor will particularly appreciate notice of errors that cause the translation to fail to faithfully convey the original meaning of the text of the WSC.

 

  $enddocument$ 

 

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[1] Chicago University Press, The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 2010.

[2] Grammar-Quizzes.com, http://www.grammar-quizzes.com/punc-lists.html (accessed November 29, 2014).

[3] Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, C-1, http://reformedpresbyterian.org/downloads/constitution2010.pdf (accessed September 30, 2014).

[4] The three were: http://www.semperreformanda.com/creeds/westminster-shorter-catechism/, http://www.westminsterconfession.org/confessional-standards/the-westminster-shorter-catechism.php, and http://www.grace4families.org/index.php/doctrine/shorter-catechism (accessed January 3, 2015).

[5] Schaff, Philip, ed., The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes, vol. 3, Revised by David Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 598.