From a reader:
Would you consider doing a blog entry on the translation of “benedixit” as “said the blessing” in the new translation of the Roman Canon? I find this rendering a bit distracting as I can’t, with my basic knowledge of Latin, see how they got that translation. A good explanation of why it is okay would be really helpful (assuming there is one). Thank you.
Qui, pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas, et elevatis oculis in caelum ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis dicens: …
The question focuses on the translation of Latin benedico, a compound of bene + dico, which obviously means in the first place, “to speak well of any one, to commend, praise”. By extension it also used in later, eclessiastical Latin, as “to bless, praise, or adore” God. Sometimes the object, God, is in the accusative (benedico Deum) and sometimes the “object” is in the dative, as in “to speak well to God”, “to adore God” (benedico Deo). By even more extension, it means when in reference to created things (people, objects) “to bless, consecrate, hallow”.
So, “to speak the blessing” is not at all outside the pale when rendering benedico. But why not just say “bless”?
Perhaps the translators and those who approved it thought that they had to spin out the fact that the word is a compound, bene+dico. For my part, I think it should be simpler.