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'Erointe àúrpoolv tos laq auron, Luke 1: 68, is rendered “ Fecit redemptionem plebis suæ.” Sometimes the most unmeaning barbarisms are adopted merely to represent the etymology of the original term. Τον άρτον ημών τον επιούσιον δος ημίν σήμερον, is rendered “ Panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie,” Matt. 6: 11. Panis supersubstantialis is just as barbarous Latin as supersubstantial bread would be English, and equally unintelligible. There is an additional evil resulting from this manner of treating holy writ, that the solecisms, barbarisms, and nonsensical expressions which it gives rise to, prove a fund of materials to the visionary, out of wbich his imagination frames a thousand mysteries.
5. I would not, however, be understood by these remarks as passing a general censure on this version, which, though not to be followed implicitly, may, I am convinced, be of great service to the critic. It ought to weigh with us, that even the latest part of this translation was made about fourteen hundred years ago, and is consequently many centuries prior to all the Latin translations now current, none of which can claim an earlier daie than the revival of letters in the West. I do not use this argument from an immoderate regard to antiquity, or from the notion that age can give a sanction to error. But there are two things in this circumstance, which ought to recommend the work in question to the attentive examination of the critic. First, that having been made from manuscripts older than most, perhaps than any now extant, it serves in some degree to supply the place of those manuscripts, and furnish us with the probable means of discovering what the readings were which Jerom found in the copies which he so caresully collated. Another reason is, that being finished long before those controversies arose which are the foundation of most of the sects pow subsisting, we may rest assured, that, in regard to these, there will be no bias from party zeal to either side of the question. We cannot say so much for the translations which have been made since the rise of Protestantism, either by Protestants or by Papists. And these are, in my opinion, two not inconsiderable advantages.
6. I take notice of the last the rather, because many Protestants, on account of the declaration of its authenticity solemnly pronounced by the council of Trent, cannot avoid considering it as a popish Bible, calculated for supporting the Roman Catholic cause. Now this is an illiberal conclusion, the offspring of ignorance, which I think it of some consequence to refute. It is no further back than the sixteenth century since that judgment was given in approbation of this version, the first authoritative declaration made in its favor. Yet the estimation in which it was universally held throughout the western churches, was, to say the least, not inferior, before that period, to what it is at present. And we may say with truth, that though no judicious Protestant will think more favorably of this tic,
translation on account of their verdict, neither will he, on this account, think less favorably of it. It was not because this version was peculiarly adapted to the Romish system that it received the sanction of that synod, but because it was the only Bible with which the far greater part of the members had, from their infancy, had the least acquaintance. There were but few in that assembly who understood either Greek or Hebrew : they had heard that the Protestants, the new heretics, as they called them, had frequent recourse to the original, and were beginning to make versions from it; a practice of which their own ignorance of the original made them the more jealous. Their fears being thus alarmed, they were exceedingly anxious to interpose their authority, by the declaration above-mentioned, for preventing new translations being obtruded on the people. They knew what the Vulgate contained, and had been early accustomed to explain it in their own way: but they did not know what might be produced from new translations; therefore, to preoccupy men's minds, and prevent every true son of the church from reading other, especially inodern, translations, and from paying any regard to what might be urged from the original, the very indefinite sentence was pronounced in favor of the Vulgate,“ vetus et vulgata editio," that in all disputes it should be held for authen
authentica habeatur." 7. Now if, instead of this measure, that council had ordered a translation to be made by men nominated by them, in opposition to those published by Protestants, the case would have been very different; for we may justly say, that, amidst such a ferment as was then excited, there should have appeared, in a version so prepared, any thing like impartiality, candor, or discernment, would have been morally impossible. Yet even such a production would have been entiiled to a fair examination from the critic, who ought never to disdain to receive information from an adversary, and to judge impartially of what he offers. As that, however, was not the case, we ought not to consider the version in question as either the better or the worse for their verdict. It is but doing justice to say, that it is noway calculated to support Romish errors and corruptions. It had been in current use in the church for ages before the much greater part of those errors and corruptions was introduced. No doubt the schoolmen had acquired the knack of explaining it in such a way as favored their own prejudices. But is this any more than what we find the most discordant sects. acquire with regard to the original, or even to a translation which they use in common? For my own part, though it were my sole purpose, in recurring to a version, to refute the absurdities and corruptions of Popery, I should not desire other or better arguments than those I am supplied with by that very version which one of their own councils has declared authentical.
8. I am not ignorant that a few passages have been produced wherein the Vulgate and the original convey different meanings, and wherein the meaning of the Vulgate appears to favor the abuses established in that church. Some of these, but neither many nor of great moment, are no doubt corruptions in the text, probably not intentional but accidental, to which the originals in Hebrew and Greek have been in like manner liable, and from which no ancient book extant can be affirmed to be totally exempted. With respect to others of them, they will be found, upon a nearer inspection, as little favorable to Romanish superstition as the common reading in the Hebrew or the Greek. What is justly rendered in our version, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," Gen. 3: 15, is in such a manner translated in the Vulgate, as to afford some color for the extraordinary honor paid the virgin mother of our Lord : “ Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius. Ipsa conteret caput tuum, et tu insidiaberis calcaneo ejus." "She shall bruise thy head.' In this way it has been understood by some of their capital painters, who, in their pictures of the Virgin, have represented her treading on a serpent. It is however certain, that their best critics admit this to be an error, and recur to some ancient manuscripts of the Vulgate which read ipsum not ipsa.
A still grosser blunder, which seems to give countenance to the worship of relics, is in the passage thus rendered by our interpreters : "By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff,” Heb. 11: 21; in the Vulgate thus : “Fide Jacob moriens singulos filiorum Joseph benedixit, et adoravit fastigium virgæ ejus;" adored the top of his rod,' as the version made from the Vulgate by English Romanists, and published at Rheims, expresses it. But the best judges among Roman Catholics admit, that the Latin text is not entire in this place, and that there has been an accidental omission of the preposition, through the carelessness of transcribers : for they have not now a writer of any name who infers, from the declaration of authenticity, either the infallibility of the translator or the exactness of the copiers. Houbigant, a priest of the Oratory, has not been restrained by that sentence from making a new translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Latin, wherein he uses as much freedom with the Vulgate, in correcting what appeared to him faulty in it, as any reasonable Protestant in this country would do with the common English translation. Nay, which is more extraordinary, in the execution of this work he had the countenance of the then reigning pontiff. In his version he bas corrected the passage quoted from Genesis, and said " Illud" (not illa) “ conteret caput tuum.” I make no doubt that he would have corrected the other passage also, if he had made a version of the New Testament.
9. I know it has also been urged, that there are some things in the Vulgate which favor the style and doctrine of Rome, particularly what regards the sacraments; and that such things are to be found in places where there is no ground to suspect a various reading, or that the text of the Vulgate has undergone any alteration, either intentional or accidental. Could this point be evinced in a satisfactory manner, it would allow more to Popery, on the score of antiquity, than, in my opinion, she is entitled to. It is true that marriage appears, in one passage, to be called a sacrament. Paul, after recommending the duties of husbands and wives, and enforcing his recommendations by the resemblance which marriage bears to the relation subsisting between Christ and his church, having quoted these words from Moses, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh," adds, as it is expressed in the Vulgate, “ Sacramentum hoc magnum est, ego autem dico in Christo et in ecclesia ;" as expressed in the English translation, " This is a great mystery ; but I speak concerning Christ and the church," Eph 5: 32 ; that is, as I had occasion to observe in the preceding Dissertation,* to which I refer the reader, “ This is capable of an important and figurative interpretation, I mean as it relates to Christ and the church.”. Under the Mosaic economy, the relation wherein God stood to Israel is often represented under the figure of marriage; and it is common with the penmen of the New Testament to transfer those images, whereby the union between God and his people is illustrated in the Old, to that which subsists between Christ and his church. It is evident, that by the Latin word sacramentum the Greek uvornocov is frequently rendered in the New Testament; and it is no less evident, not only from the application of the word in that version, but from the general use of it in ecclesiastical writers in the primitive ages, that it often denoted no more than an allegorical or figurative meaning, which may be assigned to any narrative or injunction; a meaning more sublime than that which is at first suggested by the words. Thus, the moral conveyed under an apologue or parable was with them the sacrament, that is, the hidden meaning of the apologue or parable. In" ego dicam tibi sacramentum mulieris et bestiæ quæ portat eam,” “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast which carrieth her," Rev. 17: 7, it is indubitable, that uvornglov or sacramentum means the hidden meaning of that vision. It is very plain, that, in their use, the sense of the word sacramentum was totally different from that which it has at present, either among Protestants or among Papists.f At the same time there can be no question, that the misunderstanding of the passage quoted above from the Epistle to
* Diss. IX. Part i. sect. 7, 8.
+ Diss. IX. Part i.
the Ephesians, has given rise to the exaltation of matrimony into a sacrament. Such are the effects of the perversion of words, through the gradual change of customs; a perversion incident to every language, but which no translator can foresee.
No more is their doctrine of merit supported by the following expression : “ Talibus hostiis promeretur Deus ;" which, though faulty in point of purity, means no more than is expressed in the English translation in these words: “ With such sacrifices God is well pleased," Heb. 13: 16. It is by common use, and not by scholastic quibbles, that the language of the sacred writers ought to be interpreted. Again, the command which so often occurs in the Gospels, "pænitentiam agite," seems at first to favor the Popish doctrine of penance. In conformity to this idea, the Rhemish translators render it “do penance. But nothing is more evident than that this is a perversion of the phrase from its ancient meaning, occasioned by the corruptions which have insensibly crept into the church. That the words, as used by the Latin translator, meant originally as much at least as the English word repent, cannot admit a question ; and thus much is allowed by the critics of that communion. In this manner Maldonate, a learned Jesuit, in his Commentary on Matt. 7: 15, explains “ pænitentiam agite” as of the same import with “ parate vias Domini, rectas facite semitas ejus; and both as signifying “Relinquite errores, et sequimini veritatem ; discedite a malo, et facite bonum.” He understood no otherwise the
agite pænitentiam” of the Latin translator, than we understand the ustavočite of the evangelist. Accordingly, the same Greek word is in one place of that version rendered pænitemini, Mark 1:15. But the introduction of the doctrine of auricular confession, of the necessity for obtaining absolution, of submitting to the punishment prescribed by the priest for the sins confessed, which they have come to denominate pænitentia, and their styling the whole of this institution of theirs the “ sacrament of penance, which is of a much later date than that version, has diverted men's minds from attending to the primitive and only proper import of the phrase. “ Agite pænitentiam” was not, therefore, originally a mistranslation of the Greek ustavozīte, though not sufficiently expressive; but the abuse which has gradually taken place in the Latin church, and the misapplication of the term which it has occasioned, have in a manner justled out the original meaning, and rendered the words, in their present acceptation, totally improper. *
10. Several other words and expressions give scope for the like observations. But, after what has been said, it is not necessary to enter further into particulars. The Vulgate may reasonably be pronounced, upon the whole, a good and faithful version. That it
* For further illustration on this article, see Diss. XI. Part ji. sect. 4.