US bishops changing Mary's 'virgin' status in Bible

Mary the Virgin
Pope Benedict XVI, framed by the statue of the Virgin Mary, holds the pastoral staff as he celebrates a mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010, on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) | Zoom
By LISA BROOKS
KIRO Radio
Listen to Lisa's report

Every so often, the guys that update the Bible make some changes that raise eyebrows. It's happening now, with the updated edition of the New American Bible.

American Catholic Bishops decided to change a key passage in the book of Isaiah that calls the mother of the coming messiah, not a 'virgin,' but instead a 'young woman.'

So was she or wasn't she? Or was Mary just "technically" a virgin? Why did they do this?

"Their point in translating this reference to Mary as a 'young woman' rather than a 'virgin' is that the original Greek word doesn't mean what we in contemporary English mean by a 'virgin.' It simply means a young woman," John Allen, with the National Catholic Reporter in Rome, told CBS Radio.

Allen said he's a little surprised at all the outrage over this decision.

Mary Elizabeth Sperry, who helped facilitate this first new translation in 41-years, said changing the word 'virgin' to 'young woman' isn't changing the meaning. It's just more poetic.

"There's something about taking a familiar passage in a slightly different translation. It makes you hear it differently and you hear the words anew," she said.

The change is going to cause some problems, especially when it comes to music. What will it do to Christmas songs, like Silent Night? "Round yon 'young woman,' mother and child" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

'Young woman' is not the only change to this edition of the New American Bible. They've also taken out the word 'holocaust' and are replacing it with 'burnt offering.'

"The word is so now associated in people's minds with World War II. That's become solely to mean that action, and so there's natural negative reaction negative connotation," explained Sperry.

Probably the change most fifth grade boys will be upset with is the removal of the word 'booty' and replacing it with 'spoils,' as in 'plunder.' It's 'treasure,' not as in 'booty call.'


Lisa Brooks, KIRO Radio Anchor
You can hear Lisa Brooks every Saturday morning from 6-9 as host of Seattle's Morning News: Saturday edition. She also is a news anchor and regular feature contributor on KIRO. She joined KIRO in 2010 after 7 years with "the competition". She's now honored to contribute great stories to a fantastic team. Lisa's a big Mariner's fan, and has even had the opportunity to serve as a fill-in Public Address Announcer at the old Kingdome and Safeco Field for more than a dozen games. Biggest thrill, annoucing Ken Griffey Junior and Cal Ripken Junior's names as they came up to bat. Lisa loves volunteering in her community, and spending time with her two pooches, Dudley and Motley.
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