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Last time we talked about Orthodox books and now we will be talking about the Catholic sphere of Christianity. Today we will take a first look at the evolution of it’s language and history.
Christian books were originally written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. After the break of communion between what are now the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, many Orthodox Churches, like Russian, Greek and Serbian, translated all their work into their own languages, while Catholics insisted that those three original languages are the only sacred ones. No books of the Bible were originally written in Latin. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with some parts in Greek and Aramaic) while the New Testament in Greek. The Septuagint, still used in the Greek Orthodox Church, is a Jewish translation of the Old Testament into Koine Greek completed in the 1st century BC in Alexandria for Jews who spoke Greek as their normal language. The whole Christian Bible was therefore available in popular Greek by about 100 AD, but so were numerous apocryphal Gospels; deciding the Biblical canon by rejecting some of these took another two centuries or so, with some differences between churches remaining to the present day. In addition, the Septuagint included some books not in the Hebrew Bible which the church accepted. The Vulgate is a late fourth-century Latin translation of the Bible that became, during the 16th century, the Catholic Church’s officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible, and, for most Christians in Western Europe, it was the only version of the Bible ever encountered. Aside from its use in prayer, liturgy and private study, the Vulgate served as inspiration for ecclesiastical art and architecture, hymns and countless paintings. A well-known group of letters from Pope Innocent III to the diocese of Metz is sometimes taken as evidence that Bible translations into vernacular were forbidden by the church, especially since Innocent’s first letter was later incorporated into canon law. Another example is the ban of Wycliffite Bibles in England. Reason for the Catholic Church’s stance on translations into vernacular is the fear that those translations wouldn’t be accurate, would use vocabulary unacceptable to the church, and that it would also allow greater independence to those churches that did the translations. However, after Martin Luther translated the Bible in German, which started the Protestant Reformation, Roman Catholic Church realized the need to accept vernacular translations, and put it onto itself to do it properly.

This is one of the earliest works to address that subject, printed only three decades after Martin Luther’s protestant reformation. It is noteworthy that a book about the Holy Scripture in Vulgar languages was also written in Latin:

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De Vvlgari Sacrae Scriptvrae, Paris 1558. On the Holy Scripture in vulgar language.

The other book is by Anthony of Padua, the second-most-quickly canonized saint, revered in his time for his knowledge of the scripture. He gained notice in his time for his eloquence as a public speaker, a preacher, and there is a story about his preaching beginnings. One day, in 1222, in the town of Forli, on the occasion of an ordination, a number of visiting friars were present, and there was some misunderstanding over who should preach. In this quandary, the head of the hermitage, who had no one among his own humble friars suitable for the occasion, called upon Anthony, whom he suspected was most qualified, and entreated him to speak whatever the Holy Spirit should put into his mouth. Not only his rich voice and arresting manner, but the entire theme and substance of his discourse and his moving eloquence, held the attention of his hearers. Everyone was impressed with his knowledge of Scripture. His written word is now held in highest of regards

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The divine words of Anthony of Padua (Antonii Patavani). Printed in Padua 1659.

 

 

Срђан Димитријевић
Srđan Dimitrijević

Book illustrations taken from listings active on Sigedon Books and Antiques store on Ebay

Srdjan Dimitrijević

Content Writer at Sigedon Ltd
Srdjan Dimitrijevic was born in Bor (Serbia) in 1989. His love for writing matches his love and passion for literature, art, and history. Besides his writing, Srdjan also works on developing WordPress solutions.
Srdjan Dimitrijević

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1 thought on “Translating the Scripture – Heresy or Populism?”

  • Jesuits - The Soldiers of God - Sigedon

    […] Coincidently, or was it fate, the year 1521, that same year that saw Luther expelled from the Catholic Church, a new hope arrived. A young Spanish aristocrat by the name of Íñigo López de Loyola was, during the Battle of Pamplona, struck by a cannonball, which wounded one of his legs and broke the other. He retreated to his home and had several surgical operations, which must have been very painful in the days before anesthetics. During this time he read the De Vita Christi, by Ludolph of Saxony, and in it he proposes to the reader that he place himself at the scene of the Gospel story, that he visualize the crib at the Nativity, and so on. This work influenced the Spanish nobleman to become Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder and Superior General of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic order whose members were called Jesuits. It may seem strange that a religious order would have someone with a title of Superior General, however, it makes complete sense when it is know that the Society was founded for “whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God”. Ignatius and his men gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius’s plan of the order’s organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. Since then, Jesuits have gone on to many missions to, officially, work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries) and to do intellectual research, however, it’s true purpose was to bring forth a new and sympathetic doctrine to 112 nations on six continents and repair the Catholic Churches reputation after the Martin Luther fiasco. […]