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illam in toto corde meo.
The New Testament appeared in 1582 with the annexed title-page:-The topics treated in the
THE preface are stated at the commencement to be these; NEVV TESTAMENT " the translation of Holy
OF IESUS Scriptures into the vulgar
CHRIST, TRANStongues, and, namely, into LATED FAITHFVLLY INTO ENGLISH, English: the causes why
out of the authentical Latin, according to the best cor.
rected copies of the same, diligently conferred vvith this New Testament is the Greeke and othereditions in diuers languages: Vvith
ARGVMENTS of bookes and chapters, ANNOTAtranslated according to the TIONS, and other necessarie helpes, for the better vnder
standing of the text, and specially for the discouerie of the ancient vulgar Latin text : CORRVPTIONS of diuers late translations, and for and the manner of trans
cleering the CONTROVERSIES in religion, of these daies :
IN THE ENGLISH COLLEGE OF RHEMES. lating the same." In dis
Da mihi intellectum, & scrutabor legem tuam, & custodiam cussing these points the editors enter upon a long
Glue me vnderstanding, and I wil searche thy lavv, and and elaborate argument,
vvill koepe it vvith my vyhole hart.
S. Aug. tract. 2. in Epist. Ioan. not without learning and omnia quae leguntur in seripturis sanctis, ad instructionem & salutem nostram intente ingenuity. They begin by valent plurimùm: quorum insidiwe, infirmiores quosque & negligentiores circumuenire carefully guarding against
Al things that are readde in holy Scriptures, vve must heare vvith great attention, the idea that the Scriptures to our instruction and saluation: but those things specially must be commended
to memorie, vvhich make most against Heretikes : whose deceites cease not to should always be in our
circumuent and beguile al the vveaker sort and the more negligent persons. mother tongue, or that
PRINTED AT RHEMES. they ought, or were or
by Iohn Fogny. dained by God, to be read
1582. indifferently of all. For
CVM PRIVILEGIO. no such cause do they translate this sacred book, but upon special consideration of the present time, state, and condition of our country. They eulogise the wisdom and moderation of the church respecting vulgar translations, in neither absolutely forbidding, nor authoritatively commanding them. Then, after reciting that various Catholic translations had been made in ancient times, by Chrysostom, George the Patriarch, St. Jerome, Vulpilas, James Archbishop of Genoa, and others—that, by the Constitution of Archbishop Arundel, all English translations were forbidden which were not allowed by the diocesan—and that, since Luther's time, divers learned Catholics had published the Bible, in order to abolish a number of false and impious translations put forth by sundry sects—they solemnly introduce the order and determination of the Church respecting the reading of the translations allowed. “Wherevpon, the order which many a wise man wished for before, was taken by the Deputies of the late famous Councel of Trent in this behalfe, and confirmed by supreme authoritie, that the holy Scriptures, though truely and Catholikely translated into vulgar tonges, yet may not be indifferētly readde of all men, nor of any other then such as haue express licence therevnto of their lawful Ordinaries, with good testimonie from their Curates or Confessors, that they be humble, discrete and deuout persons, and like to take much good, and no harme thereby. Which prescript, though in these daies of ours it can not be so precisely obserued, as in other times & places, where there is more due respecte of the Churches authoritie, rule, and discipline: yet we trust all wise and godly persons will vse the matter in the meane while, with such moderation, meekenes, and subiection of hart, as the handling of so sacred a booke, the sincere senses of Gods truth therein, & the holy Canons, Councels, reason, and religion do require.” They warmly deny that our forefathers“ suffered euery schole-maister, scholer, or Grammarian that had a little Greeke or Latin straight to take in hand the holy Testament: or that the translated Bibles into the vulgar tonges, were in the handes of euery husbandman, artificer, prentice, boies, girles, mistresse, maide, man : that they were sung, plaied, alleaged, of euery tinker, tauerner, rimer, minstrel: that they were for table talke, for alebenches, for boates and barges, and for euery prophane person and companie. No, in those better times men were neither so ill, nor so curious of them selues, so to abuse the blessed booke of Christ: neither was there any such easy meanes before printing was inuented, to disperse the copies into the hands of euery man, as now there is."
The Scriptures, they add, were then in monasteries, colleges, churches; in bishops', priests', and some other devout principal laymen's houses and hands—and curiously remark that, “the poore ploughman could then, in labouring the ground, sing the hymns and psalms, either in knowen or vnknowen languages, as they heard them in the holy church, though they could neither reade nor know the sense, meaning, and mysteries of the same.” Under cover of the authority of Augustine and Chrysostom, they deprecate, as an abuse, the practice of all indifferently reading, expounding, and talking of the Scripture; and urge, that some are to learn, and some to teach ; that the people went not up to talk with God in the mountain, but Moses, Aaron, and Eleazer. They repudiate the idea that it is from envy that the priests keep the holy book from the people, and ascribe the wholesome restriction to the wisdom and mercy of the Church. “She would haue the vnworthy repelled, the curious repressed, the simple measured, the learned humbled, and all sortes so to vse them or absteine from them, as is most conuenient for euery ones saluation : with this general admonition, that none can vnderstand the meaning of God in the Scriptures (Luca 24,) except Christ open their sense, and make them partakers of his holy Spirit in the vnitie of his mystical bodie: and for the rest, she committeth it to the Pastor of every prouince and people, according to the difference of time, place, and persons, how and in what sort the reading of the Scriptures is more or lesse to be procured or permitted.” They explain away the sanction that Chrysostom gives to the popular reading of the Bible; allege that the people were fonder of the mysteries than of the morals of Christianity; and remark, that every heretic quotes Scripture for his heresy. They then charge the Protestants with falsely translating the word of God, and set forth, in contrast, their own religious care and sincerity. The reason for introducing the annotations follows; and, in a few lines, the great principle of their Church is developed. “We haue also set forth reasonable large ANNOTATIONS, thereby to shew the studious reader in most places perteining to the controuersies of this time, both the heretical corruptions and false deductions, & also the Apostolike tradition, the expositions of the holy fathers, the decrees of the Catholike Church and most ancient Coucels: which meanes whosoeuer trusteth not, for the sense of holy Scriptures, but had rather folow his priuate iudgemēt or the arrogāt spirit of these Sectaries, he shal worthily through his owne wilfulnes be deceiued, beseeching all men to looke with diligence, sinceritie, and indifferencie, into the case that concerneth no lesse then euery ones eternal saluation or damnation."
They afterwards exhibit in array the reasons for their preferring the Vulgate text. It is most ancient; was corrected by Jerome; commended by Augustine; used by the Fathers; defined as exclusively authentic by the Council of Trent; is most grave; least partial; precise in following the Greek; preferred by Beza ;' superior to all the rest, wherein there is much diversity and dissension; and not only better than all other Latin translations, but than the vulgar Greek text itself, in those places where they disagree. They then give two or three instances in which the Fathers thought that the true reading of the passage was to be found in the Latin text, and that the Greek was corrupted; and, as a still more decisive proof of the superiority of the Latin vulgate, they state the fact, that“ the Calvinists” had often preferred it to the Greek.
Advancing to critical grounds, they argue that the Latin commonly agrees with the Greek text; that if it differs from the usual readings of
They remark, that Beza's translation was translators employed in the version of 1560, 80 esteemed in this country, that the Genevan there can be no doubt;, but they certainly English Testaments were translated according could not be said to translate from his version, to it. They seem here to refer to Tomson's as they adopted, with some alterations, the edition of the Genevan Testament. That version of 1557, which was made before Beza's the criticisms of Beza influenced the Genevan was published.
the Greek text, it coincides with some copy specified in the margin, of which examples may be seen in Stephens's Greek Testament; that the adversaries admit some of these marginal readings to be preferable; that when Greek copies fail, quotations in the Greek Fathers may be found consonant with the Vulgate; that in default of authority there, recourse may be had to conjectural emendation, to bring the Greek into harmony with the Latin; that if neither Greek Fathers nor conjectures help us, the Latin Fathers, with great consent, will easily justify the old Vulgar translation; and, lastly, if some Latin Fathers of ancient time read otherwise, the cause is to be found in the great diversity and multitude of Latin copies which then existed. On these very convenient principles of criticism they prove, to their own satisfaction, that the old Vulgar translation is as good, and even better, than the Greek text itself.
They further maintain that the Latin does not make more for them than the Greek, but in some instances assists their cause even less; and candour must admit, that in the examples they cite this is the fact.
The manner of translating is then defended; and they attempt a vindication of certain untranslated terms, such as parasceue,” “pasche,” “azymes,
,” “neophyte." In hard places they presume not "to mollify the speech, but keep to it word for word;" as, “The spirituals of wickedness in the celestials,” Eph. vi. 12, and, "What to me and thee, woman?" John ii. 11. They sometimes add the Greek, and sometimes the Latin, in the margin. They thus conclude their production :—“Thus we haue endeauoured by al meanes to satisfie the indifferent reader, and to helpe his vnderstanding euery way, both in the text, and by Annotations : and withal to deale most sincerely before God and man, in translating and expounding the most sacred text of the holy Testament. Fare wel good Reader, and if we profit the any whit by our poore paines, let vs for Gods sake be partakers of thy deuout praiers, & together with humble and contrite hart call vpā our Sauiour Christ to cease these troubles & stormes of his derest spouse: in the meane time comforting our selues with this saying of S. Augustine: That Heretikes, when they receiue power corporally to afflict the Church, doe exercise her patience : but when they oppugne her onely by their euil doctrine or opinion, then they exercise her wisedom. De ciuit. Dei, li. 18. ca. 51."
The notes introduced in the margin throughout the volume are chiefly controversial, and are intended to guard the reader against the adoption of any view of a passage inconsistent with the authoritative teaching of the church. In fact, the translators sent forth the Scriptures as explained by tradition, treating them as dubious oracles, whose utterances were not to be properly understood without the aid of an interpreting priesthood.
That the Rhemish translators were men of learning there can be no question. Indeed, they might be said to be more than qualified for their task, for to translate correctly from the Vulgate required no very great erudition. They scrupulously adhered to the principles laid down in their preface; and often, at the expense of English idiom and of common sense, refused to “mollify” the Latin, and strictly followed it word for word. The following version affords an instance; “Do I minde according to the flesh that there be with me, It is and It is not? But God is faithful, because our preaching which was to you there is not in it, It is, and It is not. For the Sonne of God Jesus Christ, who by us was preached among you, by me and Syluanus and Timothee, was not, It is, and It is not, but, It is, was in him for al the promises of God that are, in him It is, therefore also by him, Amen to God, vnto our glorie.” (2 Cor. i. 17—20.)
It would be unfair to charge the Rhemish translators with a dishonest perversion of Scripture; it is sufficient condemnation, and one which they deserve-indeed, one which, in their preface, they seem almost to court—to affirm, that they produced a version in many parts quite unintelligible—“a translation,” to use the quaint phrase of Fuller, "needing to be translated.”. The words “pasche," "azymes,” “neophyte,” &c., remind us of Gardiner's “majestic words,” and the whole work was executed in such a manner as would have met his views. To leave them untranslated, and then give the explanation of them in the annotations, was to veil the Scriptures, that the Church might come forward and disclose her mysteries,--to silence the voice of inspiration that she might speak herself. In short, the motto of the Rhemists was not, “Search the Scriptures,” but, “Hear the Church," and they had honesty enough to avow it. The Chief importance and interest connected with this version, arise from the veneration with which it is regarded by our Roman Catholic countrymen; and it may be remarked that, disguised as are many of the renderings, and notwithstanding the formidable array of annotations,
In a work of such length, it would be strange superior to any other that has been ever given. indeed if they did not sometimes hit on a good It avoids the ambiguity which makes the other rendering; and it must be admitted that their English readings of the verse appear incon. translation of Hebrews xii. 18, “ You are not sistent with the context. come to a palpable mountain,” is greatly