Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Rome on the Vulgate

The Council of Trent makes this pretty extraordinary claim for the Latin Vulgate:

"Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,--considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the sacred books, is to be held as authentic,--ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many years, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever."

(Session 4)

I have been reading William Whitaker Disputation on Holy Scripture which attacks the Vulgate at length.

Now, as I understand it, the Roman Catholic church doesn't go in for repudiating its councils, but it is worth nothing that things have changed somewhat. As Tony Lane points out, Pope Pius XII's Divino afflante Spiritu (1943) talks of the duty of exegetes to make use of the Hebrew and Greek: "The original text... having been written by the inspired author himself, has more authority and greater weight than even the very best translation, whether ancient or modern" (section 16).

It is said that Trent's declarations about the Vulgate apply "only to the Latin Church and to the public use of the same Scriptures."

Lane summarises: "The Vulgate is "free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals" and so can be safely used for teaching and preaching. But when it comes to establishing the correct text of Scripture it is the original Hebrew and Greek that is normative." ('Roman Catholic Views of Biblical Authority from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present' in Carson, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, p299)

By the time of Vatican II's Dei verbum (1965) "the Vulgate is listed as one of a number of ancient translations to be held in honor. Vernacular translations should be made from the original texts." (Lane, p311)

No comments: