The Latin Vulgate

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Clint Kritzer, Nov 1, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    This thread was inspired by this comment on the Mariology vs Mariolatry thread:
    In many of the threads of late the Catholics have been trying to lord over the Sola Scriptura crowd that the Bible in its present form exists because of the RCC. I think it's time we explore this notion a bit further so that this misconception is laid to rest once and for all.

    I am far from laying all my cards on the table in this starting post but let's begin with exactly how well the RCC has "preserved" the Scriptures.

    I started studying this issue when I stumbled across this statement in the Catholic Encyclopedia:
    Now, let's take this a bit further for our discussion. Poor old Jerome is blamed for these changes from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Is this an accurate accusation? Is Jerome totally accountable for this corruption of the original inspired word of God? In a letter to Pope Damasus, the man who commissioned Jerome to this task, we find this:

    Damascus disregarded this letter and instead, Jerome was forced to translate from already existing Latin Bibles with an addition here and an embellishment there to fit the agenda of the fifth century RCC.

    I await any response to this shakeable foundation of the credibilty of the Catholics being responsible for the current Bible and the distortion of the word of God originally preserved in the pre-Latin languages of Hebrew and Greek.

     
  2. GraceSaves

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    Clint,

    I only have time to make a few short posts, because my first class this morning was cancelled, but here's a start. It may confuse things more, though!

    I'm using the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, which is the official Catholic Bible for the US (the Mass readings are taken from it, etc). It does not say "she," but "he." In the footnotes, it says that since it speaks of the woman's "offspring," which, being Eve, would be plural (for all men and came from Adam and Eve), the more literal reading would be "they" and "theirs" in verse 15. But, of course, it states that this is referring to Jesus Christ specifically.

    I'm headed home for the weekend. When I get settled in tonight, I'll dig into the Catholic Encyclopedia stuff and see what I can come up with, and post later on.

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  3. suzanne

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    But IF the Roman Church fit scriptures to align with their theology, delving into RCC writings, commentaries would do nothing to disprove this idea.
     
  4. trying2understand

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    Wow, Clint, you really are mixing apples and oranges.

    To begin with, the arguements which you have seen here by Catholics concerning the Bible and the Church have been concerning what Books are in the Bible.

    I hope you get around to explaining why you accept the books of the New Testament and not other writings by the Apostles. Like I have pointed out to you before, you have no inspired table of contents.

    Opps. Jerome translated Genesis from the Hebrew, not existing Latin Bibles.

    Clint, are you trying to say that there is a perfectly preserved version of the Bible free from translation error?

    Catholics don't make such a claim. As far as I know the only ones making that claim are the KJV only crowd.

    Ron [​IMG]
     
  5. dumbox1

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    Hi Clint,

    Looking over your post, if you're trying to say what I think you're trying to say, I don't see any support for your conclusion in the material you've linked.

    After posting a quote talking about Jerome's translation of Genesis, and a partial quote from Jerome's 383 A.D. Preface to his Four Gospels (which you refer to, not incorrectly, as a letter to Pope Damasus), you make the following statement:
    I'm assuming that this is the main point you wish to make -- but where is the evidence for it?

    First, the article you linked (with the link name of "source"), immediately after the material you quoted, goes on to state that "Accordingly, he [i.e., Jerome] hands to the Pontiff the four Gospels to begin with after a careful comparison of old Greek manuscripts." So, your own source makes it clear that Jerome relied on the Greek, as he attempted to compile an accurate translation. He did this because the various Latin translations that were then floating around did not agree with one another, because they were done by lots of different folks with greater or lesser degrees of skill (which is what he's talking about in the material you quoted).

    Second, your article quotes only a portion of Jerome's 383 A.D. Preface. In a part that's omitted, Jerome makes it clear that his discussion of the problems with the Latin texts applies only to the New Testament -- so it has no relation to Jerome's translation of Genesis 3:15 at all. Other portions make it clear that Jerome relied upon early Greek manuscripts as well as the previous Latin ones. Here's a link to the entire Preface, in a slightly different translation from yours. Look, in particular, at the passage that begins "I am not discussing the Old Testament..." Link: Jerome's 383 A.D. Preface to the Four Gospels

    If you have a reliable source other than those you've posted that supports your accusation that Jerome was "forced" to translate only from existing Latin Bibles, I'd be happy to review it.

    God bless,

    Mark
     
  6. dumbox1

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    Clint,

    On a related topic, I think the discussions of the Roman Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Churches as well) "preserving" the Bible has less to do with the translation of the Vulgate, and more to do with the monasteries where the Scriptures were hand-copied down through the centuries until the printing press came along. (And the preservation of some of those early copies in their libraries).

    As Ron suggests, I suppose that the definition of the canon could also be considered part of the "preservation" -- although I'd be less inclined to do so myself.

    Take care,

    Mark
     
  7. Dualhunter

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    Not sure if Ron would be the one suggesting that. God is the one who preserves His word and has preserved the authentic books of the Bible, not a group of men in fancy clothing. If God did the preserving, the men in fancy clothing aren't much use which is why I'm not convinced that Ron is suggesting that the definition of the canon was part of the preservation.
     
  8. Carson Weber

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    God is the one who preserves His word and has preserved the authentic books of the Bible

    Wow Dualhunter. I didn't know that you thought so highly of the Catholic Church; equating it with God seems pretty close to blashphemy. [​IMG]

    Blessings,

    Carson
     
  9. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    AHA! Now we have something with which we can work!

    This is to what I was referring Mark H. I appreciate your scholarship in these matters. Being relatively new to these debates this may become very eye-opening to you. This is the attitude that inspired the starting topic of this thread (I am not saying Grant displays this, I was merely using his quote, just to clear up any confusion).

    I'll make a post in a short while to address the questions raised so far. In the mean time, the readers may want to meditate on this:
    Of course, some here will not think that 2Peter is a very credible source, so you may want to consider these instead:
    I have to wonder, Carson, have the Jewish people thanked the RCC for preserving God's word yet? ;)
     
  10. Dualhunter

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    Do you think that the Pope who preserved the Law, the Prophets and the Writings back in the days before Jesus was born, had a big fancy hat? [​IMG]
     
  11. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Ah, yes, Grant. You are using one of several more modern Catholic Bibles that came out in the past century. There are a few others as well such as the Revised Standard. I would be far more interested in what the preface of that Bible has to say than what the Catholic Encyclopedia does for this reason: the same council at Trent that affirmed the canonization of the Books of the Bible also had this to say:

    The Church was tight on sticking to the Vulgate and these modern versions, as well as various updates that have occured to the Vulgate, seem to counter this resolution.

    In fact, the whole notion of Catholics turning back to the Scriptures has caused a little discord in the Church. This article from catholic.net attests to this:
    I believe that we witness a little bit of this here in some of our debates, hence there is a need to address it.

    BTW, Grant, hope you're feeling better.

    I would be interested in these "other writings by the Apostles." Can you provide a link?

    As for the canonization of the Scriptures, I am not denying that the RCC brought that to pass. What I do contest, however, is the equality of authority given to the Scriptures and the Church. The Scriptures are consistent and do not contradict themselves.

    I will show you your "table of contents" in the next few days and I suspect that my reasoning behind it is very much like the men who originally compiled the Bible. There is a harmony present within the theology of the New Testament Scriptures that ties it to the Old Testament. If a text lacked this, this would cast serious doubt on its validity. This will take much time and many page turnings, but it is there, all one needs to do is look for it.

    You're a very informed individual and thank you for the clarification. I will review the link you sent.

    This DOES however run counter to the proposition I cited in the first post from the Catholic Encyclopedia's claim that "The second point of difference between the Hebrew text and our version concerns the agent who is to inflict the mortal wound on the servant: our version agrees with the present Vulgate text in reading "she" (ipsa) which refers to the woman, while the Hebrew text reads hu' (autos, ipse) which refers to the seed of the woman."

    Does this mean that Jerome had "help" with his Vulgate translation or was he merely a copyist? In light of the fact that Damascus wanted to "straighten out" the Bible errors I am very curious where such a blatant translation error originated.

    It is my understanding that Jerome started his endeavor with the Gospels but then moved on to other works.
    The council at Trent, "lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost," asserted that the Vulgate was to be the only version used. Was the "Old Latin" used for some of the Old Testament writings with no additions from Jerome? The Vulgate Bible upon it's completion contained all the Books of the present Catholic Bible. Who edited or "okayed" the Old Testament texts?

    Let me say here that I recognize Jerome as a brilliant scholar. The biographies I have read of him are not very complimentary of his personality, but they all bear witness to his scholarship.

    I used the term "forced" in light of Jerome's renowned knowledge yet obvious mistakes. It was a conjecture taken from the letter I cited. Scholars are usually quite proud and strive for accuracy. It is the politicians who alter their findings. Jerome was not a very popular fellow at the end of his stay in Rome so I am led to believe he wasn't doing this work to impress anyone, except perhaps Damascus. Your link may shed new light on this and, if so, I will retract what I see is in error in my initial post.

    I am not very familiar with ancient Jewish history, but we do find that the attire of the ancient priest was rather specific in some instances:

    ... But your point still stands (pun intended [​IMG] ).
     
  12. Ps104_33

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    Ron,
    What other writings from the Apostles are you referring to?
     
  13. suzanne

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    The Didache came to mind when refering to other writings of the apostles.

    A search under "apocryphal New Testament writings" gives you a list of early church writings.
     
  14. Candide

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    I don't enjoy getting involved in debates over early church history, so I provide this link only for informational purposes. Which are somewhat authentic and which are just fiction is not in my expertise:

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com

    [ November 02, 2002, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: Candide ]
     
  15. Bible-belted

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    One point of information which may be relevant:

    Kenneth Scott Latourette, a well respectd historian, points out in his "A History of Christianity, Vol. 1" (Harper Collins, 1975, p. 232, 233) that while Jerome worked from the "original tongues" in producing the vulgate, what actually became known as the vulgate, at least until a corrected version came out at Trent, was NOT purely Jerome's work.

    "However, the text which circulated under teh name Vulgate, namely the Latin vernacular versio of the Bible, di nt preserve the work of Jerome in its purity. It incorporated an older version of the Psalms, in part revised by Jerome, and some of its other sections were from older translations, partly unrevised, or partially revised. It was a late sixteenth century revision of the Vulgate which was eventually made standard by Papal decree."

    Noe Jerome died about 420. That means that for about 1000 years the Vulgate was not what it would be after Trent.

    What Latourette does not get into, unfortunately, is what the source of the corrected edition was. I am not inclined to say it was Jerome, though that is possible. If it is not Jerome however, then even the Vulgate made authoritative by Trent is not entirely Jerome's work.

    IOW, it may be that the Vulgate has NEVER been the pure translation it has often been made out to be.
     
  16. Ps104_33

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    Which Apostle wrote the Didache?
     
  17. Clint Kritzer

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    Hi Suzanne -

    I looked for some info on the Didache and found an interesting article.

    Link to Didache article

    It appears that even aside from the fact that the document was not found until 1873, there is little textual evidence to support an Apostolic origin for it.

    I'm a little disappointed that some of our more scholarly Catholic friends have not joined in this discussion. For those of us who are novice to this particular staudy it is quite eye opening. My sincere hope is that some of our guest spent some time clicking around the net and made some of the same discoveries I did.

    For example, as accurately noted by Mark, there were a number of Latin translations floating around by the time Damascus appointed Jerome the task of making a standard. The surprising thing about this is that those versions weren't, for the most part, Italian in origin, but rather they came from North Africa. The primary language for Christian Rome up through the third century was actually Greek!
    Now we know that the Septuagint existed long before the Latin Vulgate and in fact Jerome relied on this preservation in his translation. Unfortunately we can not say exactly what the origin of this important and valued work is. It is NOT, however, Catholic. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia gives a rather lengthy essay on the "tradition" of its origin and make no claim to the Church being involved.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13722a.htm

    So back to the subject at hand, we have found that Jerome is not alone responsible for the compilation of the Vulgate, that the Council at Trent "winked" at the use of these North African texts ("that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many years, has been approved of in the Church"), and that there was already an understandable Greek text in existence.

    So what of Jerome's interpretation lending itself to the preservation of God's word?

    Well, as Grant has hinted, the Vulgate translation has not really withstood the test of time. Oh, it did for a good many centuries while the Church had total control over the manuscripts and/or translators, but then during the Reformation, Tyndale got hold of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Note now, the Greek and Hebrew whose origin was NOT in the Church of Rome, but from the Greeks and Jews. Tyndale was closely followed by others and other English versions came out quickly behind his: Coverdale's Bible (1535); Matthews' Bible (1537); Cromwell's, or the "Great Bible" (1539), the second and subsequent editions of which were known as Cranmer's Bible; the Geneva Bible (1557-60); and the Bishop's Bible (1568). The Church was, of course, appalled. So much Protestantism, I think I need a shower. [​IMG]
    source

    Of course, as a side note, we know the fate of William Tyndale:
    http://www.williamtyndale.com/0deathwilliamtyndale.htm

    The Catholic Church eventually recognized the need to reform their vulgate into English and the first effort at this was the Douay-Rheims Version. This was pretty much a straightforward translation of the original Vulgate, which by the way, has "she" in Genesis 3:15 for anyone keeping score. You can see this translation on line:
    http://www.scriptours.com/bible/

    So, did the Catholic Church really preserve "God's word" or did they preserve something that put forth their own agenda? How many people in the world spoke Latin between the 5th century and 1609 when the RCC finally produced something in English?

    I found this of note while researching the mistranslations of the Vulgate:
    It's getting late and there is much more info on this issue, but I'll wait until tomorrow. I really hope one of our knowledgable Catholic friends will have something to add to this conversation. Us Sola Scripturalists need to be set straight on who really preserved God's word. Here's some interesting reading until then on the subject of the Vulgate:

    http://www.dtl.org/versions/article/vulgate.htm

    Oh, and Ron, I haven't forgotten your table of contents. ;)
     
  18. DojoGrant

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    Clint,

    I'm still not up enough in this area to accurately debate, so I won't, but I will restate something.

    You keep saying that the RCC is pushing it's own agenda, and that the Catholic version of the Bible is not really all that pure.

    If this is the case, why weren't much more significant changes made, as you like to put it, to keep its followers in check? Why not just throw in a verse in Revelation that says "Pray to Mary," or "Mary is the Queen of Heaven."

    Since, according to you and others, Catholics don't really read the Bible, it's not like they would bother checking it out, you know?

    Yes, there is much sarcasm in this post, but intentionally so. If our version is so corrupt, why weren't slightly more significant changes made so that the RCC would have a bit of an easier time defending its position?

    God bless,

    Grant
     
  19. Clint Kritzer

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    I can speculate on that more fully in a later post, Dojo, but for right now there is much more data to present on this matter. Perhaps it has something to do with all those other erroneous Latin versions floating around and the ability to speak and read Greek by so much of the membership of the budding and proselytizing RCC?

    Let me put it another way: why didn't the Jehovah's Witnesses just write in their version that the 144,000 converted Jews in Revelation would actually be Jehovah's Witnesses? They, too, were far more subtle.

    Also, have I said Catholics don't read the Bible? I did cite one link from catholic.net that said so, but the phrase is in quotes with a source cited. I, personally, encourage ALL people to read the Bible more. It is an inexhaustable resource for knowledge, wisdom, comfort, instruction, etc.

    Besides, the Mary issue is just one of the points that need to be addressed. I would recommend that you also click around for information on this subject. It is quite abundant on the web and very eye opening. [​IMG]
     
  20. dumbox1

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    Dear Clint and other friends,

    I've been busy over the weekend entertaining visiting relatives, so I haven't had a chance to read any of the more recent posts on this thread. If my work obligations permit, I'll try to get caught up with what y'all have posted, and post a few thoughts of my own, in the next day or so.

    (I envy those of you with time enough to keep up with all these various threads!)

    God bless,

    Mark H.
     

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