(Continued from page 333)
Tests used to support the 'Protestant' Canon come from two logical categories
Prefaces to Jerome's Early Works - Preface to the Chronicle of Eusebius
From historical arguments the test of canonicity is not based on Papal Rome's argument from usage, but from the true test of canonicity which is propheticity . God determined which books would be in the Bible by giving their message to a prophet, so only books written by a prophet or accredited spokesperson for God are inspired and belong in the canon of Scripture. The people of God had to discover which of these books were prophetic by testing the prophet by logical tests given by God so their inspired works were authenticated and they then accepted the writings as from God. Thus, Moses' books were accepted immediately and stored in a holy place (Deut. 31:26), Joshua's writing was immediately accepted and preserved along with Moses' Law (Joshua 24:26) and, in time, Samuel added to the collection (1 Sam. 10:25), and Daniel already had a copy of his prophetic contemporary Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2) and the law (Dan. 9:11, 13). The nature of some prophecy meant that, for example, Jeremiah's message may have been rejected by much of his generation, while the remnant accepted it and spread it, just as Paul encouraged the churches to circulate his inspired Epistles (Col. 4:16) and Peter came to have a collection of Paul's writings, equating them with the Old Testament as 'Scripture' (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Obviously the people of God contemporary to the writing of the Biblical books were actual eyewitnesses to the evidence, that is the canon, as it developed and only they were fully qualified to testify to the evidence of the propheticity which is the determinative factor of canonicity. The fulfilment of later prophecies outside of their lifetime is further evidence of the prophetic factor and can be recognised by any believer reading the prophetic record in the Word of God without any claim to 'Tradition' of the Papal kind. It is obvious that the later church is not an evidential witness for the canon and is only a discoverer and observer of the evidence that remains for original confirmation of the propheticity of the canonical books. Papal Rome, particularly at Trent, made the repeated mistake of assuming that the church itself is evidence and it resulted in the favouring of the canonicity of (part of!) the Apocrypha in a decision that displays a multitude of errors.
A prophet of God was sometimes confirmed supernaturally (Exodus 3-4; Acts 2:22; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4) through immediate confirmation by their authority over nature or the accuracy of their predictive prophecy, while false prophets were identified when their predictions failed to come true (Deut. 18:20-22) as well as when alleged revelations that contradicted previously revealed truths were also rejected (Deut. 13:1-3). Evidence that each prophet's contemporaries authenticated and added his books to a growing canon comes through citations from subsequent writings and Moses' works are cited through the Old Testament, beginning with his immediate successor, Joshua (Josh. 1:7; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chron. 17:9; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Jer. 8:8; Mal. 4:4). Later prophets cited earlier prophets (e.g., Jer. 26:18; Ezek. 14:14, 20; Dan. 9:2; Jonah 2:2-9; Micah 4:1-3) just as, in the New Testament, Paul cited Luke (1 Tim. 5:18), Peter recognized Paul's Epistles (2 Peter 3:15-16), and Jude (4-12) cited 2 Peter, and 'Revelation' is filled with images and ideas from previous Scripture, especially Daniel (e.g. Revelation 13).
The entire Jewish Old Testament was considered prophetic, following the example of Moses and the Pentateuch (Deut. 18:15), and was known for centuries as 'The Prophets' (Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:27) until divided into 'The Prophets' and 'The Writings'. The Old Testament up to the time of Christ was described as the twofold division of the 'The Law and The Prophets' so it was not unnatural that the 'apostles and prophets' (Ephesians 3:5) composed the New Testament, thus the whole Bible is a prophetic book, including the last book (q.v., Revelation 20) - but this cannot be said for the Apocryphal books.
The apocryphal books are not prophetic and, since propheticity is the test for canonicity, this fact alone eliminates them from the canon. No apocryphal books claim to be written by a prophet and Maccabees disclaims being prophetic (1 Macc. 9:27). There is also no supernatural confirmation of any of the writers of the apocryphal books, as there is for prophets who wrote canonical books. There is no predictive prophecy in the Apocrypha, as there is in some canonical books (e.g., Isaiah 53; Daniel 9; Micah 5:2) and also no new Messianic truth in the Apocrypha. Even the Jewish community who were responsible for these books, acknowledged that the prophetic gifts had ceased in Israel before the Apocrypha was written (see earlier). Apocryphal books were never listed in the Jewish Bible with the Prophets or in any other section and an apocryphal book is never cited authoritatively by a prophetic book written after it. The overwhelming evidence reveals that the Apocrypha are not prophetic and, therefore, should not be part of the canon of Scripture.
Further to the evidence for the propheticity of only the books of the Jewish (and 'Protestant') Old Testament, there is also an unbroken line of rejection of the Apocrypha as canon by Jewish, 'Protestant', and orthodox Christian teachers - only confused 'Church Fathers' who spawned Papal Roman Catholic Church leaders fell for the deceptions.
Unfortunately for Papal Rome the 'infallible pronouncement' by the Council of Trent that the apocryphal books are part of the inspired Word of God revealed something else: just how fallible an allegedly infallible statement can be, for the majority of students of the question of canonicity immediately recognised that the statement was historically unfounded and a polemical over-reaction (against Luther, et al) and an arbitrary decision involving a dogmatic exclusion. The fact that the world discovered that the top Papal scholars also disagreed with their pope meant that the Vatican's humiliation was complete!
Since, canonically, the grounds on which the Apocrypha was accepted undermine the true test for canonicity - propheticity - it is obvious that, if these works were to be accepted in the canon while lacking the characteristics that meet the true test of canonicity, then other non-canonical books could be accepted on the same grounds and a can of worms would be opened!
The 'methods' of Trent fall far short of the kind of initial, continual, and complete recognition of the canonical books of the Protestant Old Testament and Jewish Torah (which exclude the Apocrypha) by the orthodox Christian church. This exemplifies how the teaching 'magisterium' of Papal Rome proclaims one tradition infallible, while neglecting strong evidence in favour of an opposing tradition, because it seeks support for a false doctrine that lacks any real support in the canonical books. True judgement is made by examining the evidence, not creating it or trying to 'be' it. Evidence is weighed, not manufactured or constituted, and the verdict is found in accord with the evidence. As shown, this is what the orthodox Christian church did in coming to the conclusion that the Apocrypha is not part of sacred Scripture. The first-century church looked at the first-hand evidence for propheticity (miracles, etc.), and the subsequent historic church has reviewed the evidence for the authenticity of these prophetic books that were directly confirmed by God when they were written.
The true church 'judges' the canon in the same way all juries do by sifting and weighing the evidence and then rendering a verdict, but this is not what Papal Roman Catholics believe their 'teaching magisterium' does - and it is certainly not what it exercised at Trent and reaffirmed at Vatican I and II. The Papal Roman Catholic hierarchy is not a jury looking at evidence, but a judge determining what counts as evidence and what does not and, just as with all faulty judicial systems, this results in corrupt decisions. In this false role, Papal Rome chose to follow the wrong criterion: how widespread was the usage of the deuterocanon rather than the propheticity of the works. It also made the error of using the second-hand evidence of later writers rather than first-hand evidence for canonicity (divine confirmation of the author's propheticity). To compound this further it did not use immediate confirmation by contemporaries of the events but later statements by people often separated from the events by generations or centuries.
Trying to argue that the Jewish canon affirmed in AD 90 (at the 'Council of Jamnia') was a result of the Jews deliberately trying to remove books which Christians were using to effectively prove the Messianic claims of Jesus, forgets that they would also have needed to remove genuine canonical books, e.g. Isaiah, Micah, Zechariah, and the Psalms, for the evidence is clear (from the testimony of the early church from both the Bible and apostolic and post-apostolic patristic writers) of heavy reliance on books such as these to prove the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the testimony of the patristic writers, which will be investigated in much greater detail below, shows very little reliance upon the apocryphal works until at least two centuries AFTER Christ, and over a century after Jamnia. The sub-apostolic authors, who wrote at the time of Jamnia, and shortly afterwards, were almost completely silent regarding the Apocrypha, and the few places where they quote or allude to these books show no reliance upon them for actual teaching of doctrine or practice.
Doubtlessly you will refuse to accept the obvious fact that the Old Testament canon, under God, 'chose itself'. The Council of Jamnia that gathered at Jamnia was probably less formal than an official 'Council' and took place after the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 under the presidency of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who received permission from the Romans to call the Sanhedrin together for spiritual reasons rather than for political reasons. The reason for the Old Testament canon having been recognised, rather than having been chosen at Jamnia, was because its constituent books had already 'chosen themselves' in practice and were already in use. Specific books were discussed and their recognition confirmed (see later), but the canonicity of the other Old Testament books was not even questioned and the discussion on the few books involved ended in the firm acknowledgement of all these books as Holy Scripture.
As proven earlier, although ignored by you, the apocryphal books do not contain the mark of propheticity upon them but errors, internal contradictions, and contradictions when compared with canonical books! The one passage in an apocryphal book routinely relied upon by supporters of the Apocrypha as providing an 'important' Messianic prophecy (Wisdom 2:12-20) actually contradicts doctrine concerning the Lord Jesus taught in the Gospels:
Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-20 (KJVApocrypha): 12 Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. 13 He professeth to have the knowledge of God: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord. 14 He was made to reprove our thoughts. 15 He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men's, his ways are of another fashion. 16 We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his father. 17 Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. 18 For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. 19 Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. 20 Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.
The meeting at Jamnia was not a 'council' in the sense in which the word was used in the early church, or a body which gathered to issue authoritative findings on matter of faith, doctrine, or practice but, rather, a convention of learned rabbis who had escaped the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The exact purpose of the 'council' is still the subject of speculation but the agenda of the rabbis certainly included discussions on books which were considered canonically doubtful by some and which had not previously been unanimously accepted. Rabbinical literature is the only source we have for the deliberations at Jamnia and reveals that the discussion centred on 8 or 9 books:
Esther - Questioned by some because of the lack of reference to the name of God but doubts were dispelled by the fact that, though it lacks direct reference to God, the overriding providential hand of God is clearly seen throughout the book.
Song of Solomon - Doubted by some because of the 'erotic' nature of certain passages in the book, the book was cleared by the rabbis after they accepted a more allegorical interpretation.
Ecclesiastes - Questioned because it supposedly contained statements which contradicted other portions of Scriptures, careful cross-study of the Scriptures in question dispelled doubts.
Ruth, Proverbs, Ezekiel, and possibly Daniel and Ezra, were also discussed, but doubts which may have been entertained by certain rabbis were dispelled during the course of the discussions.
Having ruled that only the Hebrew Old Testament books of our present canon were canonical it is clear that citing the presence of the Apocrypha among the Jewish community Old Testament fragments proves little regarding inspiration, as numerous fragments of other non-Scriptural documents were also found and equally disregarded. Again, it cannot be over-emphasized that Papal Rome itself did not officially declare these books Holy Scripture until 1545-1563 at the Council of Trent - and we have revealed the problems with that decision. So, contrary to Roman Catholic claims, the 'Council of Jamnia' did not 'remove' the Apocryphal books from the Jewish canon but merely discussed a few 'questionable' books already in the canon and already accepted as such by all, although with varying degrees of surety. The Apocrypha was never (as we've seen above) in the canon, and hence it did not even enter into consideration at this time.
What the 'Council of Jamnia' implicitly fulfilled was to affirm something which Judaism had known since the days of the Maccabees and which we have repeatedly proven earlier, that the canon had closed during the time of Artaxerxes' reign and only those books accepted up to that time were rightfully in the canon. How the 'pseudo' books crept into collections is merely a subject of speculation. Jamnia's effect on the Old Testament canon could be compared to the effect of the 3rd Council of Carthage in 397 AD with regard to the New Testament canon: they merely affirmed what those who were led by the Holy Spirit - and who had already been using the Scriptures in question for hundreds of years - already knew!
We should not forget the significance of the fact that the language commonly spoken in Palestine in the days of Christ was not Hebrew, but Aramaic, that Greek was one of the spoken languages of Palestine at that time, that bilingual Christians who spoke both Aramaic and Greek probably were in the church from the first, and that Christ Himself probably could speak Greek as well as Aramaic. Furthermore, the New Testament books were written in Greek and in those books we find that, while some of the quotations from the Old Testament reflected the direct use of the Hebrew, the prevailing practice was to quote from the Greek of the Septuagint. Hence the writers showed familiarity with the Apocryphal books and undoubtedly would have made some quotations from them if they had been regarded as Scripture.
The existing evidence shows that at the time of Christ there were at least two versions of the Old Testament current in Palestine, the more liberal Alexandrian Septuagint which may have included the Apocryphal books, in Greek, and the more conservative Hebrew version which included only the canonical books of the Jews. By the time of the 'Council at Jamnia' this situation may have changed and necessitated their clarification.
We have also shown that Jerome was the language expert chosen by 'infallible popes' to produce the Vulgate and that he chose the Hebrew Old Testament to ensure the most accurate translation available in his day, rejecting the Septuagint and the Apocrypha. Papal Roman Catholics should seriously question why their leaders then chose to preferentially follow the Alexandrian work while allowing corruption of Jerome's work by poor copying so they finished with a 'Vulgate' which has legendary errors. By contrast, 'Protestants' produced Bible's following the most accurate manuscripts to ensure an unrivalled level of accuracy. That Papal Rome then chose to join liberal and apostate 'Protestants' in distributing 'New Bible Versions' is still further proof of the falseness of Papal claims.
Consider the views expressed by Jerome in his responses to discussion regarding his abilities as a translator:
The Apocrypha was rejected by many - e.g. Josephus, Philo, Origen, Tertullian, Athanasius - and Jerome!
The 'Chronicle' is a book of universal history, giving the dates from the call of Abraham, and the Olympiads. For an account of it the reader is referred to the article of Dr. Salmon in the 'Dictionary of Christian Antiquities.' It was translated by Jerome in the years 381-82, at Constantinople, where he was staying for the Council. This Preface shows that Jerome was already becoming aware of the difficulties arising from the various versions of the Old Testament, and of the necessity of going back to the Hebrew.
Jerome to his friends Vincentius and Gallienus ... So, my dear Vincentius, and you, Gallienus, whom I love as my own soul, I beseech you, whatever may be the value of this hurried piece of work, to read it with the feelings of a friend rather than with those of a critic. And I ask this all the more earnestly because, as you know, I dictated with great rapidity to my amanuensis; and how difficult the task is, the sacred records testify; for the old flavor is not preserved in the Greek version by the Seventy. It was this that stimulated Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion; and the result of their labors was to impart a totally different character to one and the same work; one strove to give word for word, another the general meaning, while the third desired to avoid any great divergency from the ancients. A fifth, sixth, and seventh edition, though no one knows to what authors they are to be attributed, exhibit so pleasing a variety of their own that, in spite of their being anonymous, they have won an authoritative position. Hence, some go so far as to consider the sacred writings somewhat harsh and grating to the ear; which arises from the fact that the persons of whom I speak are not aware that the writings in question are a translation from the Hebrew, and therefore, looking at the surface not at the substance, they shudder at the squalid dress before they discover the fair body which the language clothes. In fact, what can be more musical than the Psalter? Like the writings of our own Flaccus and the Grecian Pindar it now trips along in iambics, now flows in sonorous alcaics, now swells into sapphics, now marches in half-foot meter. What can be more lovely than the strains of Deuteronomy and Isaiah? What more grave than Solomon's words? What more finished than Job? All these, as Josephus and Origen tell us, were composed in hexameters and pentameters, and so circulated amongst their own people. When we read these in Greek they have some meaning; when in Latin they are utterly incoherent. But if any one thinks that the grace of language does not suffer through translation, let him render Homer word for word into Latin. I will go farther and say that, if he will translate this author into the prose of his own language, the order of the words will seem ridiculous, and the most eloquent of poets almost dumb.
PREFACE TO THE BOOK ON HEBREW NAMES
The origin and scope of this book is described in the Preface itself. It was written in the year 388, two years after Jerome had settled at Bethlehem. He had, immediately on arriving in Palestine, three years previously, set to work to improve his knowledge of Hebrew, with a view to his translation of the Old Testament, which was begun in 391. This book, therefore, and the two which follow, may be taken as records of studies preparatory to the Vulgate.
Philo, the most erudite man among the Jews, is declared by Origen to have done what I am now doing; he set forth a book of Hebrew Names, classing them under their initial letters, and placing the etymology of each at the side. This work I originally proposed to translate into Latin. It is well known in the Greek world, and is to be found in all libraries. But I found that the copies were so discordant to one another, and the order so I confused, that I judged it to be better to say nothing, rather than to write what would justly be condemned. A work of this kind, however, appeared likely to be of use; and my friends Lupulianus and Valerianus urged me to attempt it, because, as they thought, I had made some progress in the knowledge of Hebrew. I, therefore, went through all the books of Scripture in order, and in the restoration which I have now made of the ancient fabric, I think that I have produced a work which may be found valuable by Greeks as well as Latins. I here in the Preface beg the reader to take notice that, if he finds anything omitted in this work, it is reserved for mention in another. I have at this moment on hand a book of Hebrew Questions, an undertaking of a new kind such as has never until now been heard of amongst either the Greeks or the Latins. I say this, not with a view of arrogantly puffing up my own work, but because I know how much labor I have spent on it, and wish to provoke those whose knowledge is deficient to read it. I recommend all those who wish to possess both that work and the present one, and also the book of Hebrew Places, which I am about to publish, to make no account of the Jews and all their ebullitions of vexation. Moreover, I have added the meaning of the words and names in the New Testament, so that the fabric might receive its last touch and might stand complete. I wished also in this to imitate Origen, whom all but the ignorant acknowledge as the greatest teacher of the Churches next to the Apostles; for in this work, which stands among the noblest monuments of his genius, he endeavored as a Christian to supply what Philo, as a Jew, had omitted.
TCE: Consider Jerome's view of Origen, whose philosophical meanderings and theological speculations eventually led Papal Rome to declare him a heretic after his death (which popes also did to previous popes!); this also resulted in large-scale destruction of the works of Origen, or attempts to clean them up by 'Catholic hands' in the manner admitted by The Catholic Encyclopedia to have been applied to 'Apocryphal' works. Jerome defended Origen for years and was contemptuous of those who dare recognise errors in the work of this man who he foolishly 'hero worshipped' in the same manner Papal Roman Catholics continue to this day to the point of idolatry of mere men. Defending Origen he wrote: 'The city of Rome consents to his condemnation ... not because of the novelty of his doctrines, not because of heresy, as the dogs who are mad against him now pretend; but because they could not bear the glory of his eloquence and his knowledge, and because, when he spoke, they were all thought to be dumb' (Ep. xxxiii. 4).
The Jewish Encyclopedia continues:
PREFACE TO THE BOOK ON THE SITES AND NAMES OF HEBREW PLACES
For the scope and value of this book see Prolegomena. It was written A.D. 388.
'... I have taken up the work of this admirable man, and have translated it, following-he arrangement of the Greeks, and taking the words in the order of their initial letters, but leaving out those names which did not seem worthy of mention, and making a considerable number of alterations. I have explained my method once for all in the Preface to my translation of the Chronicle, where I said that I might be called at once a translator and the composer of a new work; but I repeat this especially because one who had hardly the first tincture of letters has ventured upon a translation of this very book into Latin, though his language is hardly to be called Latin. His lack of scholarship will be seen by the observant reader as soon as he compares it with my translation. I do not pretend to a style which soars to the skies; but I hope that I can rise above one which grovels on the earth.'
PREFACE TO THE BOOK OF HEBREW QUESTIONS
Written A.D. 388. For the scope and character of this work, see Prolegomena
The object of the Preface to a book is to set forth the argument of the work which follows; but I am compelled to begin by answering what has been said against me. My case is somewhat like that of Terence, who turned the scenic prologues of his plays into a defense of himself. We have a Luscius Lanuvinus, like the one who worried him, and who brought charges against the poet as if he had been a plunderer of the treasury. The bard of Mantua suffered in the same way; he had translated a few verses of Homer very exactly, and they said that he was nothing but a plagiarist from the ancients. But he answered them that it was no small proof of strength to wrest the club of Hercules from his hands. Why, even Tully, who stands on the pinnacle of Roman eloquence, that king of orators and glory of the Latin tongue, has actions for embezzlement brought against him by the Greeks. I cannot, therefore, be surprised if a poor little fellow like me is exposed to the gruntings of vile swine who trample our pearls under their feet, when some of the most learned of men, men whose glory ought to have hushed the voice of ill will, have felt the flames of envy ... I am poor and of low estate; I neither possess riches nor do I think it right to accept them if they are offered me; and, similarly, let me tell them that it is impossible for them to have the riches of Christ, that is, the knowledge of the Scriptures, and the world's riches as well. It will be my simple aim, therefore, first, to point out the mistakes of those who suspect some fault in the Hebrew Scriptures, and, secondly, to correct the faults, which evidently teem in the Greek and Latin copies, by a reference to the original authority; and, further, to explain the etymology of things, names, and countries, when it is not apparent from the sound of the Latin words, by giving a paraphrase in the vulgar tongue. To enable the student more easily to take note of these emendations, I propose, in the first place, to set out the true reading itself, as I am now able to do, and then, by bringing the later readings into comparison with it, to indicate what has been omitted or added or altered. It is not my purpose, as snarling ill-will pretends, to convict the LXX. of error, nor do I look upon my own labor as a disparagement of theirs. The fact is that they, since their work was undertaken for King Ptolemy of Alexandria, did not choose to bring to light all the mysteries which the sacred writings contain, and especially those which give the promise of the advent of Christ, for fear that he who held the Jews in esteem because they were believed to worship one God, would come to think that they worshipped a second. But we find that the Evangelists, and even our Lord and Savior, and the Apostle Paul, also, bring forward many citations as coming from the Old Testament which are not contained in our copies; and on these I shall dilate more fully in their proper places. But it is clear from this fact that those are the best Manuscripts which most correspond with the authoritative words of the New Testament. Add to this that Josephus, who gives the story of the Seventy Translators, reports them as translating only the five books of Moses; and we also acknowledge that these are more in harmony with the Hebrew than the rest. And, further, those who afterward came into the field as translators - I mean Aquila and Symmachus and Theodotion - give a version very different from that which we use.
I have but one word more to say, and it may calm my detractors. Foreign goods are to be imported only to the regions where there is a demand for them. Country people are not obliged to buy balsam, pepper, and dates. As to Origen, I say nothing. His name (if I may compare small things with great) is even more than my own the object of ill-will, because, though following the common version in his Homilies, which were spoken to common people, yet, in his Tomes, that is, in his fuller discussion of the Scripture, he yields to the Hebrew and the truth, and, though surrounded by his own forces, occasionally seeks the foreign tongue as his ally. I will say this about him: that I should gladly have his knowledge of the Scriptures, even if accompanied with all the ill-will which clings to his name, and that I do not care a straw for these shades and spectral ghosts, whose nature is said to be to chatter in dark corners and be a terror to babies.
PREFACE TO THE COMMENTARY ON ECCLESIASTES
Addressed to Paula and Eustochium, Bethlehem, A.D. 388
'... I would only point out this, that I have followed no one's authority. I have translated direct from the Hebrew, adapting my words as much as possible to the form of the Septuagint, but only in those places in which they did not diverge far from the Hebrew. I have occasionally referred also to the version of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, but so as not to alarm the zealous student too many novelties, nor yet to let my commentary follow the side streams of opinion, turning aside, against my conscientious conviction, from the fountainhead of truth.
PREFACES TO THE VULGATE VERSION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
This version was made at Rome between the years 382 and 385. The only Preface remaining is that to the translation of the Gospels, but Jerome speaks of, and quotes from his version of the others parts also. The work was undertaken at the request and under the sanction of Pope Damasus, who had consulted Jerome in A.D. 383 on certain points of Scriptural criticism, and apparently in the same year urged him to revise the current Latin version by help of the Greek original. It is to be observed that Jerome's aim was 'to revise the old Latin, and not to make a new version. When Augustine expressed to him his gratitude for 'his translation of the Gospels,' he tacitly corrected him by substituting for this phrase 'the correction of the new Testament.' Yet, although he proposed to himself this limited object, the various forms of corruption which had been introduced were, as he describes, so numerous that the difference of the old and revised (Hieronymian) text is throughout clear and striking.' See article by Westcott in 'Dictionary of Bible,' on the Vulgate, and Fremantle's article on Jerome in 'Dictionary of Christian Biography.'
THE FOUR GOSPELS
Addressed to Pope Damasus, A.D. 383.
You urge me to revise to old Latin version, and, as it were, to sit in judgment on the copies of the Scriptures which are not scattered throughout the whole world; and, inasmuch as they differ from one another, you would have me decide which of them agree with the Greek original. The labor is one of love, but at the same time both perilous and presumptuous; for in judging others I must be content to be judged by all; and how can I dare to change to language of the world in its hoary old age, and carry it back to the early days of its infancy? Is there a man, learned or unlearned, who will not, when he takes the volume into his hands, and perceives that what he reads does not suit his settled tastes, break out immediately into violent language, and call me a forger and a profane person for having the audacity to add anything to the ancient books, or to make any changes or corrections therein? Now there are two consoling reflections which enable me to bear the odium - in the first place, the command is given by you who are the supreme bishop; and secondly, even on the showing of those who revile us, readings at variance with the early copies cannot be right. For it was are to pin our faith to the Latin texts, it is for our opponents to tell us which; for there are almost as many forms of texts as there are copies. If, on the other hand, we are to glean the truth from a comparison of many, why not go back to the original Greek and correct the mistakes introduced by inaccurate translators, and the blundering alterations of confident but ignorant critics, and, further, all that has been inserted or changed by copyists more asleep than awake? I am not discussing the Old Testament, which was turned into Greek by the Seventy elders, and has reached us by a descent of three steps ... I do not ask what Aquila and Symmachus think, or why Theodotion takes a middle course between the ancients and the moderns. I am willing to let that be the true translation which had apostolic approval. I am now speaking of the New Testament. This was undoubtedly composed in Greek, with the exception of the work of Matthew the Apostle, who was the first to commit to writing the Gospel of Christ, and who published his work in Judaea in Hebrew characters. We must confess that as we have it in our language it is marked by discrepancies, and now that the stream is distributed into different channels we must go back to the fountainhead. I pass over those manuscripts which are associated with the names of Lucian and Hesychius, and the authority of which is perversely maintained by a handful of disputatious persons. It is obvious that these writers could not amend anything in the Old Testament after the labors of the Seventy; and it was useless to correct the New, for versions of Scripture which already exist in the languages of many nations show that their additions are false. I therefore promise in this short Preface the four Gospels only, which are to be taken in the following order, Matthew, Mark Luke, and John, as they have been revised by a comparison of the Greek manuscripts. Only early ones have been used. But to avoid any great divergences from the Latin which we are accustomed to read, I have used my pen with some restraint, and while I have corrected only such passages as seemed to convey a different meaning, I have allowed the rest to remain as they are.
The Preface concludes with a description of lists of words made by Eusebius and translated by Jerome, designed to show what passages occur in two or more of the Gospels.
PREFACES TO THE BOOKS OF THE VULGATE VERSION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This version was not undertaken with ecclesiastical sanction as was the case with the Gospels, but at the request of private friends, or from Jerome's 'own sense of the imperious necessity of the work.' It was wholly made at Bethlehem, and was begun about AD. 391, and finished about A.D. 404. The approximate dates of the several books are given before each Preface in the following pages.
PREFACE TO GENESIS
This Preface was addressed to Desiderius, but which of the three correspondents of Jerome who bore this name is uncertain (See Article Desiderius in Smith and Wace's 'Dictionary of Christian Biography'). We do not give it because us has been given at length as a specimen of the rest, in Jerome's 'Apology,' (book ii., vol. iii. of this series). Jerome in it complains that he is accused of forging a new version. He justifies his undertaking by showing that in the versions then current many passages were left out (though they exist in our copies of the LXX.), such as 'Out of Egypt' (Hosea 11:1); 'They shall look on him whom they pierced: (Zechariah 12:10), etc., which are quoted in the New Testament and are found in the Hebrew. He accounts for these omissions by the suggestion that the LXX. were afraid of offending Ptolemy Lagus for whom they worked, and who was a Platonist. He rejects the fable of the LXX. being shut up in separate cells and producing an identical version, and protests against the calumniators, by applying to those who knew Hebrew, to test the correctness of his version.
There is no Preface to the other books of the Pentatuech. From the allusion to the work on the Pentateuch as lately finished, in the Preface to Joshua, which was published in 404, it is presumed that the date of the translation of the Pentatuech is 403.
JOSHUA, JUDGES, AND RUTH
The Preface to these books was written A.D. 404; Jerome speaks of the death of Paula, which took place in that year, and the work is addressed to Eustochium alone. The Preface is chiefly occupied with a defense of his translation. He tells those who carp at it that they are not bound to read it, and mentions that the Church had given no final sanction to the LXX., but read the book of Daniel in Theodotion's versions. The books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, were probably the last of the Vulgate translation; and the Preface declares Jerome's intention of devoting himself henceforward to the Commentaries on the Prophets, a work which took up the remainder of his life.
THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL AND KINGS
This Preface was the first in order of publication. It was set forth as an exposition of the principles adopted by Jerome in all his translations from the Hebrew - the 'Helmeted Preface,' as he calls it in the beginning of the last paragraph, with which he was prepared to do battle against all who impugn his design and methods. It was addressed to Paula and Eustochium, and published about A.D. 391.
'...This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a 'helmeted' introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which finally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees I have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style. Seeing that all this is so, I beseech you, my reader, not to think that my labors are in any sense intended to disparage the old translators. For the service of the tabernacle of God each one offers what he can; some gold and silver and precious stones, others linen and blue and purple and scarlet; we shall do well if we offer skins and goats hair. And yet the Apostles pronounces our more contemptible parts more necessary than others. Accordingly, the beauty of the tabernacle as a whole and in its several kinds (and the ornaments of the church present and future) was covered with skins and goats'-hair cloths, and the heat of the sun and the injurious rain were warded off by those things which are of less account. First read, then, my Samuel and Kings; mine, I say, mine. For whatever by diligent translation and by anxious emendation we have learnt and made our own, is ours. And when you understand that whereof you were before ignorant, either, if you are grateful, reckon me a translator, or, if ungratefully, a paraphraser, albeit I am not in the least conscious of having deviated from the Hebrew original. At all events, if you are incredulous, read the Greek and Latin manuscripts and compare them with these poor efforts of mine, and wherever you see they disagree, ask some Hebrew (though you ought rather to place confidence in me), and if he confirm our view, I suppose you will not think him a soothsayer and suppose that he and I have, in rendering the same passage, divined alike ...
To Paula and Eustochium, early in 494. Merely assures them that he is acting as a faithful translator, adding nothing of his own; whereas in the version then in common use (Vulgate), 'the book is drawn out into all kinds of perplexing entanglements of language.'
This was put into circulation about the same time as the sixteen prophets, that is, about the year 393. It was written in 392. It has no dedication, but is full of personal interest, and shows the deplorable state in which the text of many parts of Scripture was before his time, thus justifying his boast, 'I have rescued Job from the dunghill.' I am compelled at every step in my treatment of the books of Holy Scripture to reply to the abuse of my opponents, who charge my translation with being a censure of the Seventy; as though Aquila among Greek authors, and Symmachus and Theodotion, has not rendered word for word, or paraphrased, or combined the two methods in a sort of translation which is neither the one nor the other; and as though Origen had not marked all the books of the Old Testament with obeli and asterisks, which he either introduced or adopted from Theodotion, and inserted in the old translation, thus showing that what he added was deficient in the older version. My detractors must therefore learn either to receive altogether what they have in part admitted, or they must erase my translation and at the same time their own asterisks. For they must allow that those translators, who it is clear have left out numerous details, have erred in some points; especially in the book of Job, where, if you withdraw such passages as have been added and marked with asterisks, the greater part of the book will be cut away. This, at all events, will be so in Greek. On the other hand, previous to the publication of our recent translation with asterisks and obeli, about seven or eight hundred lines were missing in the Latin, so that the book, mutilated, torn, and disintegrated, exhibits its deformity to those who publicly read it. The present translation follows no ancient translator, but will be found to reproduce now the exact words, not the meaning, now both together of the original Hebrew, Arabic, and occasionally the Syriac. For an indirectness and a slipperiness attaches to the whole book, even in the Hebrew; and, as orators say in Greek, it is tricked out with figures of speech, and while it says one thing, is does another; just as if you close your hand to hold an eel or a little muraena, the more you squeeze it, the sooner it escapes. I remember that in order to understand this volume, I paid a not inconsiderable sum for the services of a teacher, a native of Lydda, who was amongst the Hebrews reckoned to be in the front rank; whether I profited at all by his teaching, I do not know; of this one thing I am sure, that I could translate only that which I previously understood ... whether we consider the Psalter or the Lamentations of Jeremiah, or almost all the songs of Scripture, they bear a resemblance to our Flaccus, and the Greek Pindar, and Alcaeus, and Sappho, let him read Philo, Josephus, Origen, Eusebius of Casearea, and with the aid of their testimony he will find that I speak the truth. Wherefore, let my barking critics listen as I tell them that my motive in toiling at this book was not to censure the ancient translation, but that those passages in it which are obscure, or those which have been omitted, or at all events, through the fault of copyists have been corrupted, might have light thrown upon them by our translation; for we have some slight knowledge of Hebrew, and, as regards Latin, my life, almost from the cradle, has been spent in the company of grammarians, rhetoricians, and philosophers. But if, since the version of the Seventy was published, and even now, when the Gospel of Christ is beaming forth, the Jewish Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, judaising heretics, have been welcomed amongst the Greeks - heretics, who, by their deceitful translation, have concealed many mysteries of salvation, and yet, in the Hexepla are found in the Churches and are expounded by churchmen; ought not I, a Christian, born of Christian parents, and who carry the standard of the cross on my brow, and am zealous to recover what is lost, to correct what is corrupt, and to disclose in pure and faithful language the mysteries of the Church, ought not I, let me, ask, much more to escape the reprobation of fastidious or malicious readers? Let those who will keep the old books with their gold and silver letters on purple skins, or, to follow the ordinary phrase, in 'uncial characters,' loads of writing rather than manuscripts, if only they will leave for me and mine, our poor pages and copies which are less remarkable for beauty than for accuracy. I have toiled to translate both the Greek versions of the Seventy, and the Hebrew which is the basis of my own, into Latin. Let every one choose what he likes, and he will find out that what he objects to in me, is the result of sound learning, not of malice.
Dedicated to Sphronius about the year 392. Jerome had, while at Rome, made a translation of the Psalms from the LXX., which he had afterwards corrected by collation with the Hebrews text (see the Preface addressed to Paula and Eustochium, infra). His friend Sophronius, in quoting the Psalms to the Jews, was constantly met with the reply, 'It does not stand in the Hebrew.' He, therefore, urged Jerome to translate them direct from the original. Jerome, in presenting the translation to his friend, records the intention which he had expressed of translating the new Latin version into Greek. This we know was done by Sophronius, not only for the Psalms, but also for the rest of the Vulgate, and was valued by the Greeks (Apocryphal. ii., vol. iii. of this series).
TCE: Thus there is an abundance of evidence that Jerome recognised that the Septuagint (LXX) was not consistent with the Hebrew and we know that he took lessons in the language to rectify these discrepancies as far as he was able.
PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES, AND THE SONG OF SONGS
Dedicated to Chromatius and Heliodorus, A.D. 393.
The Preface is important as showing the help given to Jerome by his friends, the rapidity of his work, and his view of the Apocrypha. After speaking of the books of the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiastes, which were sent at the same time, the Preface continues:
As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church. If any one is better pleased with the edition of the Seventy, there it is, long since corrected by me. For it is not our aim in producing the new to destroy the old. And yet if our friend reads carefully, he will find that our version is the more intelligible, for it has not turned sour by being poured three times over into different vessels, but has been drawn straight from the press, and stored in a clean jar, and has thus preserved its own flavor.
TCE: Jerome clearly states that 'the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.' Why doesn't he mention the rest of the Apocrypha, but specifies 'these two volumes'? Because they weren't reading them at all - not even for 'edification'? And certainly 'not to give authority to doctrines of the Church' - as Jerome admits of these books. We also see that he had to correct the Septuagint (LXX) - more evidence that more than one version of the LXX existed.
Addressed to Paula and Eustochium, about A.D. 393.
This Preface speaks of Isaiah as using the polished diction natural to a man of rank and refinement, as an Evangelist more than a prophet, and a poet rather than a prose writer. He then reiterates his defense of his translation, saying that now, 'The Jews can no longer scoff at our Churches because of the falsity of our Scriptures.'
TCE: Clearly, Jerome recognised the inadequacies of the Bible versions that existed before his work (sadly, his work has also been found to be far from perfect, despite his best efforts).
The Preface is interesting as showing the difficulties caused by the incorporation of apocryphal matter into this book, the fact that Theodotion's version, not the LXX., was read in the Churches, and that the book was reckoned by the Jews not among the prophets but among the Hagiographa. It was addressed to Paula and Eustochium about A.D. 392.
The Septuagint version of Daniel the prophet is not read by the Churches or our Lord and Savior. They use Theodotion's version, but how this came to pass I cannot tell. Whether it be that the language is Chaldee, which differs in certain peculiarities from our speech, and the Seventy were unwilling to follow those deviations in a translation; or that the book was published in the name of the Seventy, by some one or other not familiar with Chaldee, or it there be some other reason, I know not; this one thing I can affirm - that it differs widely from the original, and is rightly rejected. For we must bear in mind that Daniel and Ezra, the former especially, were written in Hebrew letters, but in the Chaldee language, as was one section of Jeremiah; and, further, that Job has much affinity with Arabic. As for myself, when, in my youth, after reading the flowery rhetoric of Quintilian and Tully, I entered on the vigorous study of their language, the expenditure of much time and energy barely enabled me to utter the puffing and hissing words; I seemed to be walking in a sort of underground chamber with a few scattered rays of light shining down upon me; and when at last I met with Daniel, such a sense of weariness came over me that, in a fit of despair, I could have counted all my former toil as useless. But there was a certain Hebrew who encouraged me, and was forever quoting for my benefit, the saying that 'Persistent labor conquers all things'; and so, conscious that among Hebrews I was only a smatterer, I once more began to study Chaldee. And, to confess the truth, to this day I can read and understand Chaldee better than I can pronounce it. I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing them to an obleus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume. I heard a certain Jewish teacher, when mocking at the history of Susanna, and saying that it was the fiction of some Greek or other, raise the same objection which Africanus brought against Origen - that these etymologies of σχίσαι from σχÃνος and πρἰσαι from πρÃνος are to be traced to the Greek. To make the point clear to Latin readers: It is as if he were to say, playing upon the word ilex, illico pereas; or upon lentiscus, may the angel make a lentil of you, or may you perish non lente, or may you lentus (that is plaint or complaint) be led to death, or anything else suiting the name of the tree. Then he would captiously maintain that the three youths in the furnace of raging fire had leisure enough to amuse themselves with making poetry, and to summon all the elements in turn to praise God. Or what was there miraculous, he would say, or what indication of divine inspiration, in the slaying of the dragon with a lump of pitch, or in frustrating the schemes of the priests of Bel? Such deeds were more the results of an able man's forethought than of a prophetic spirit. But when he came to Habakkuk and read that he was carried from Judaea into Chaldaea, to bring a dish of food to Daniel, he asked where we found an instance in the whole of the Old Testament of any saint with an ordinary body flying through the air, and in a quarter of an hour traversing vast tracts of country. And when one of us who was rather too ready to speak adduced the instance of Ezekiel, and said that he was transported from Chaldaea into Judaea, he derided the man and proved from the book itself that Ezekiel, in spirit, saw himself carried over. And he argued that even our own Apostle, being an accomplished man and one who had been taught the law of Hebrews, had not dared to affirm that he was bodily rapt away, but had said: 'Whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth.' By these and similar arguments he used to refute the apocryphal fables in the Church's book. Leaving this for the reader to pronounce upon as he may think fit, I give warning that Daniel in Hebrew is not found among the prophets, but amongst the writers of the hagiographa; for all Scripture is by them divided into three parts; the law, the Prophets, and the hagiographa, which have respectively five, eight, and eleven books, a point which we cannot now discuss. But as to the objections which Porphyry raises against this prophet, or rather brings against the book, Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinaris may be cited as witnesses, for they replied to his folly in many thousand lines of writing, whether with satisfaction to the curious reader I know not. Therefore, I beseech you, Paula and Eustochium, to pour out your supplications for me to the Lord, that so long as I am in this poor body, I may write something pleasing to you, useful to the Church, worthy of posterity. As for my contemporaries, I am indifferent to their opinions, for they pass from side to side as they are moved by love or hatred.
TCE: Again, this reveals more evidence that translations from the Hebrew into other languages led to the variations that Jerome recognised and this was such an instance, for in the Greek and Latin recensions or versions, Bel and the Dragon formed a portion of the Book of Daniel and did not bear a special name. The Version of Theodotion appears to be a revision of the Septuagint, with the help, perhaps, as in the case of the canonical Daniel, of a Hebrew (or Aramaic) original, now lost. It is much less pedantic than Aquila's Greek translation which preceded it, and the Greek is considered to be better. It is also a better translation than the Septuagint while containing many transliterations of Hebrew words instead of translations. This version of Daniel displaced that of the Septuagint at a very early time, for though Origen gave place to the Septuagint in his Hexapla, in his writings he almost always cites from Theta (Theodotian). It was not just Jerome who pointed out the fact that in his own time the church had rejected the Septuagint in favour of Theodotion, mentioning the defectiveness of the former as the reason for this preference, and Irenaeus (died 202) and Porphyry (died 305) also preferred Theodotion to the Septuagint! Experts, recognised over a century ago, that it is the work of Theodotion and not the Septuagint that we have in 1 Esdras, etc., and we should therefore be extremely wary of any claims that the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles must have approved of the Septuagint (LXX) and the Apocrypha!
TRANSLATIONS FROM THE SEPTUAGINT AND CHALDEE
There are three stages of Jerome's work of Scripture Translation. The first is during his stay at Rome, A.D. 382-395, when he translated only from the Greek - the New Testament from the Greek Manuscripts, and the Book of Psalms from the LXX. The second is the period immediately after his settlement at Bethlehem, when he translated still from the LXX., but marked with obeli and asterisks the passages in which that version differed from the Hebrew; the third from A.D. 390-404, in which he translated directly from the Hebrew. The work of the second period is that which is now before us. The whole of the Old Testament was translated from the LXX. (see his 'Apology,' book ii. c. 24), but most of it was lost during his lifetime (see Letters CXXXIV. (end) and CXVI. 34 (in Augustin Letter, 62)). What remains is the Book of Job, the Psalms, Chronicles, the Books of Solomon, and Tobit and Judith.
TCE: Again, Jerome clearly made use of the Septuagint (LXX) and, during the course of his studies and translations, discovered that Theodotian's work was superior. This also does not prove anything for certain about the version the Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers may have made use of!
This book was dedicated to Domnion and Rogatianus, about A.D. 388.
Jerome points out the advantages he enjoyed, in living in Palestine, for obtaining correct information on matters illustrative of Scripture, especially the names of places. The Manuscripts of the LXX. on such points were so corrupt that occasionally three names were run into one, and 'you would think that you had before you, not a heap of Hebrew names, but those of some foreign and Sarmatian tribe.' Jerome had sent for a Jew, highly esteemed among his brethren, from Tiberias, and, after 'examining him from top to toe,' had, by his aid, emended the text and made the translation. But he had not the critical knowledge to guard him against supposing that the Books of Chronicles are 'the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah,' referred to in the Books of Kings.
TCE: This clearly reveals the inaccuracy of the Septuagint (LXX) in Jerome's experience! Considering the clear disadvantages that Jerome laboured under we also cannot be certain of the quality, ability or beliefs of any 'Jew' who assisted him in translating. His history shows that a variety of Hebrew speakers assisted him: A Jew who had become a Christian was his first recognised instructor in Hebrew (xviii. 10), and Jerome obtained from one of the sect of the Nazarenes at Beroea the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which he copied, and afterwards translated into Greek and Latin (de Vir. Ill. 2, 3). Immediately on settling at Bethlehem, he set to work to perfect his knowledge of Hebrew with the aid of a Jew named Bar Anina (called Barabbas by Jerome's adversaries, who conceived that his version was tainted with Judaism through this teacher - ref. Ruf. Apol. ii. 12) and their interviews had to take place at night (Ep. lxxxiv.), each being afraid of the suspicions this co-operation might cause. He also learned Chaldee, but less thoroughly (preface to Daniel, vol. ix. Colossians. 1358) and, when any unusual difficulty occurred in translation or exposition, he obtained further aid. For the book of Job he paid a teacher to come to him from Lydda (preface to Job, vol. ix. Colossians. 1140), for the Chaldee of Tobit he used a rabbi (some say he studied Hebrew with a converted rabbi before he was commissioned by Damasus) from Tiberias (preface to Tobit, vol. x.), and for his work on The Chronicles he used a doctor of law from Tiberias to make a word for word comparison (preface to Chronicles). Later, when his own resources and close support failed, Chromatius of Aquileia, and Heliodorus of Altinum, supported the scribes who assisted him (preface to Esther, addressed to these two benefactors). The revelation in his work on Chronicles (concerning his ignorance over 'the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah') is also revealing about the nature of his scholarship.
BOOK OF JOB
This translation was dedicated to Paula and Eustochium, about the year 388. He complains that even the revision he was now making was the subject of many cavils. Men prefer ancient faults to new truths, and would rather have handsome copies than correct ones; but he boasts that 'the blessed Job, who, as far as the Latins are concerned, was till now lying amidst filth and swarming with the worms of error, is now whole and free from stain.'
TCE: This clearly reveals the errors in Job in the Septuagint (LXX) version Jerome and 'the Latins' possessed. Not that having a more correct version ever helped 'the Latins of Rome' get their doctrine right!
Jerome first undertook a revision of the Psalter with the help of the Septuagint about the year 383, when living at Rome. This revision, which obtained the name of the Roman Psalter, 'probably because it was made for the use of the Roman Church at the request of Damasus,' was retained until the pontificate of Pius V. (A.D. 1566). Before long 'the old error prevailed over the new correction,' the faults of the old version crept in again through the negligence of copyists; and at the request of Paula and Eustochium, Jerome commenced a new and more thorough revision. The exact date is not known; the work was probably done at Bethlehem in the years 387 and 388. This edition, which soon became popular, was introduced by Gregory of Tours into the services of the Church of France, and thus obtained the name of the Gallican Psalter. In 1566 it superseded the Roman in all churches except those of the Vatican, Milan, and St. Mark's, Venice.
Long ago, when I was living at Rome, I revised the Psalter, and corrected it in a great measure, though but cursorily, in accordance with the Septuagint version. You now find it, Paula and Eustochium, again corrupted through the fault of copyists, and realize the fact that ancient error is more powerful than modern correction; and you therefore urge me, as it were, to cross-plough the land which has already been broken up, and, by means of the transverse furrows, to root out the thorns which are beginning to spring again; it is only right, you say, that rank and noxious growths should be cut down as often as they appear. And so I issue by customary admonition by way of preface both to you, for whom it happens that I am undertaking the labor, and to those persons who desire to have copies such as I describe. Pray see that what I have carefully revised be transcribed with similar painstaking care. Every reader can observe for himself where there is placed either a horizontal line or mark issuing from the centre, that is, either and obleus (+) or an asterisk (*). And wherever he sees the former, he is to understand that between this mark and the two stops (:) which I have introduced, the Septuagint translation contains superfluous matter. But where he see the Asterisk (*), an addition to the Hebrew books is indicated, which also goes as far as the two stops.
TCE: Let no Papal Roman Catholic ever dare talk of Rome determining the canon and preserving the Word of God when we have such clear admissions from their expert, Jerome. He had 'revised [and] corrected [the Psalter] ... in a great measure, though but cursorily, in accordance with the Septuagint version ... [but at the request of] Paula and Eustochium [his friends - not a figure of authority, such as a 'pope', found it was] ... again corrupted through the fault of copyists ...'. Jerome admits 'that ancient error is more powerful than modern correction' and 'the Septuagint translation contains superfluous matter ... addition to the Hebrew books'.
BOOKS OF SOLOMON
This is addressed to Paula and Eustochium. Jerome describes the numerous emendations he has had to make in what was then the received Latin text, but says he has not found the same necessity in dealing with Ecclesiasticus. He adds, 'All I aim at is to give you a revised edition of the Canonical Scriptures, and to employ my Latin on what is certain rather than on what is doubtful.'
TCE: Your claim that 'The Latin Vulgate is in itself the Bible' is clearly an extremely hollow and hopeful claim which 'the facts of history' have thoroughly destroyed.
TOBIT AND JUDITH
The Preface is to Chromatius and Heliodorus (398 AD) and Jerome recognized that the books are apocryphal. After his usual complaints of: 'the Pharisees' who impugned his translations, he says: 'Inasmuch as the Chaldee is closely allied to the Hebrew, I procured the help of the most skilful speaker of both languages I could find, and gave to the subject one day's hasty labour, my method being to explain in Latin, with the aid of a secretary, whatever an interpreter expressed to me in Hebrew words.' As to Judith, he notes that the Council of Nicaea had, contrary to the Hebrew tradition, included it in the Canon of Scripture, and this, with his friends' requests, had induced him to undertake the labour of emendation and translation.
TCE: Jerome declared emphatically that the Apocrypha was no part of the Old Testament Scriptures. However, against his wishes and his better judgment, we can read how he allowed himself to be persuaded by two of his bishop friends who admired the books of Tobit and Judith to make a hurried translation of those. He is said to have translated the former at one sitting ('one day's hasty labor'), and neither of them received the careful attention that had been given to the books which he considered canonical. But it is unfortunate that he made the translations, for they were later bound up with his Vulgate, and served to encourage the addition of other Apocryphal books. Reading that the Apocryphal 'Book of Judith' had gained approval ('As to Judith, he notes that the Council of Nicaea had, contrary to the Hebrew tradition, included it in the Canon of Scripture') reveals, again, how Papal Rome did not protect the canon even in the early centuries. The Vulgate itself only won general acceptance by degrees and Jerome's early version was a loose translation from the LXX, with almost every copy varying! Jerome recognised how the LXX version was confronted by the existence of Origen's Hexapla with those of Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus, and with two others called Quinta and Sexta but, while he recognised that they differed, he struggled with the decision as to who was to decide which was correct! We know this because he asked the question as early as the preface to the Chronicle of Eusebius (translated at Constantinople, where he was staying for the Council, in 381-82) and constantly repeated it in defence of his translation which shows how he believed that it was impossible that his first copies should be perfect and repeatedly revealed, in his prefaces, his sensitivity to attacks upon his work, which he often wrote of as an ungrateful task.
Jerome also revealed his view on the real canon of Scripture by his involvement on these Commentaries. But his Commentary on Ephesians, although prized by Jerome as exhibiting his true views (Letter LXXXIV. 2) became one of the chief subjects of controversy between him and Rufinus, who discerned traces of the influence of Origen who was slowly being recognised as a heretic. Jerome defended himself against various accusations, declaring that he had mainly been his own instructor while constantly consulting others over Scriptural difficulties.
Note - the Papal Roman Catholics who repeatedly hurl the accusation that 'every Protestant' is their own judge as to the canon and doctrinal beliefs (and that their beliefs are constantly in flux as a result) need to do some serious research on Jerome, his methods, his beliefs, and his Vulgate before trying to point the finger!
Jerome admitted that, not long before this dispute over his Ephesian Commentary, he been to Alexandria to consult Didymus: 'I questioned him about everything which was not clear to me in the whole range of Scripture.' As to his indebtedness to Origen, he did not blame his doctrines: 'I remark in the Prefaces, for your information, that Origen composed three volumes on this Epistle, and I have partly followed him. Apollinaris and Didymus also published some commentaries, and, though we have gleaned a few things from them, we have added or omitted such as we thought fit. The studious reader will, therefore, understand at the outset that this work is partly my own, and that I am in part indebted to others.'
His Preface to Ephesians Commentary, Books ii and iii, is brief and reveals his heretical belief in necromancy rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit:
'I beseech you to bear in mind that the language of this publication has not been long thought over or highly polished. In revealing the mysteries of Scripture I use almost the language of the street, and sometimes get through a thousand lines a day, in order that the explanation of the Apostle which I have begun may be completed with the aid of the prayers of Paul himself, whose Epistles I am endeavouring to explain.'
Jerome's Commentary on Jeremiah (six books) was unfinished and only extends to chapter 32. After writing of the Book of Daniel and the apocryphal 'Letter of Jeremiah' as not belonging to the prophet's writings, he wrote (Preface to Book i):
'I pay little heed to the ravings of disparaging critics who revile not only my words, but the very syllables of my words, and suppose they give evidence of some little knowledge if they discredit another man's work, as was exemplified in that ignorant traducer who lately broke out, and thought it worth his while to censure my commentaries on Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. He does not understand the rules of commenting (for he is more asleep than awake and seems utterly dazed), and is not aware that in our books we give the opinions of many different writers, the authors' names being either expressed or understood, so that it is open to the reader to decide which he may prefer to adopt; although I must add that, in my Preface to the First Book of that work, I gave fair notice that my remarks would be partly my own, partly those of other' commentators, and that thus the commentary would be the work conjointly of the ancient writers and of myself.'
His Commentary on Hosea was dedicated to Pammachius, AD 406 (sixth consulate of Arcadius - Preface to Amos, Book iii) and The Preface to Book I was chiefly taken up with a discussion on Hosea's 'wife of whoredoms.' He took the story as allegorical, deciding that it cannot be literal, for 'God commands nothing but what is honourable, nor does he, by bidding men do disgraceful things, make that conduct honourable which is disgraceful'.
TCE: To take as allegorical a teaching that is recognised as a clear Old Testament method used by God through His prophets is to illustrate again the blindness of so many of the men revered to the point of hagiography by Papal Rome. Internal evidence indicates that Hosea wrote the book after the occurrences described. In his later years he looked back on the events of his lifetime, beginning with his marriage to Gomer, and wrote about his life and recorded his prophetic messages. Hosea was a 'pedagogian biographer', just as Ezekiel lived out a 'picture story' of the invasion of Jerusalem and, following the ministry of Hosea, Isaiah also lived out his 'pedagogy in biography' as he walked around exhibiting how the people would walk around naked and barefoot when judgement came to them. But Hosea lived out his 'pedagogian biography' in a manner which was far more heart-breaking than the experiences of the other two prophets.
God considered Himself as the husband of the nation in His relationship to Israel. We recall Ezekiel's allegory of His having found her lying abandoned in a field and made her His own, because He spread His cloak over her. Other relevant verses are Exodus 34:15, Isaiah 62:5, Jeremiah 3:14 and, naturally, a variety in Hosea, well summarised in Hosea 2:16:
'In that day,' declares the LORD, 'you will call me `my husband'; you will no longer call me `my master'.
Here the Lord declares they will call Him 'Ishi' which means husband - and not 'Baali' which means owner or master. This speaks volumes in an excellent word picture describing the new and better relationship promised by God.
Gomer was a pure woman at the time of her marriage and Hosea had no reason to believe she would not be a faithful wife. This position allows us to accept the book as literal and historical. It eliminates the moral difficulty of a prophet of God marrying a harlot. Would God really command his prophet to marry someone who, according to Deuteronomy 22:20-211, was supposed to be stoned?:
Deuteronomy. 22:20: 'If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.
The view that Gomer was a pure woman at the time of her marriage to Hosea gives proper recognition to Hosea's evident love for his wife as a genuine affection, not something artificial or symbolic as would be the case if the marriage were contracted only for the purpose of the 'pedagogy in biography', symbolizing a spiritual lesson to Israel. It also better explains the close relationship between Hosea's experience and the lesson it is intended to teach about Israel's unfaithfulness in marriage to God, because we will discover that God saw Israel as pure in the beginning and then becoming unfaithful to Him later. So, for this to be a true symbolism, Hosea's relationship to Gomer, in the beginning, had to be a pure one. Chapter 3 gives additional support to this view. The narrative reveals that Hosea took back the wife he had rejected in chapter 2 because of her adultery. The rejection does not seem justifiable if Hosea had married Gomer knowing her to be a harlot. It would not be logical to reject her later if he knew from the beginning that she was prone to harlotry and adultery.
Is there a problem with commentators who argue that Gomer was already a prostitute and give the following two reasons: a straightforward understanding of the text is that she was a prostitute when Hosea married her because God often asked the prophets to do difficult things (ref. Ezekiel and Isaiah). Secondly, Hosea's marriage is a picture of God's relationship with Israel and Hosea's choice of a prostitute was exactly like God's choice of Abraham. Abraham was just another sinner like the rest of the people in the world and had done nothing special to make him deserving of being chosen, although this isn't what some Jews have thought, for he has been painted as worthy because of his own merit and upright character. Those who accept this view hold that God used Hosea's marriage to a prostitute to deal exactly with this view held by Israelites - that God owed them blessing. Why else, they argue, would they think that - unless they thought they were special through some merit of their own? Hence the extreme lesson taught by God through Hosea and Gomer. However, this latter view can be rejected primarily because it does not change the purpose of Hosea's ministry while acceptance of the view forces the believer to believe God would force one of his servants to contradict His own Word, namely Deuteronomy 22:20-21.
All human relationships can be described by one of three levels of intimacy. The first is that of mere acquaintance. Most people are not too deeply concerned about the number of 'casual' acquaintances they have and are not easily hurt by betrayals in such relationships. The second level is friendship. Some people have only a very few close friends throughout their lives with whom to share their hearts and feelings, while other more gregarious persons may have many friends. At the third level of intimacy, there is room for only two people; this is the husband-wife relationship. At this level, if one additional person comes into the arrangement, the relationship is damaged or destroyed. When that relationship is broken, Scripture describes it by the ugliest word possible - adultery. Hosea selected this word in describing his wife Gomer, and the nation of Israel. In a spiritual sense, Christians are married to Christ (Romans 7:1-3) and, if we allow anything else to interfere with that relationship, such as loving the world more than we love Him, we commit spiritual adultery. As the bride of Christ, we must walk carefully and circumspectly to make sure that we do not fall into sins which make us spiritual adulteresses - as did the nation of Israel whose adultery was typified by the physical adultery of Gomer in the actual marriage relationship.
In the Preface to Book ii of the Commentary on Micah, Jerome vindicated himself against the charge of making mere compilations from Origen and (dangerously!) confessed his great admiration for him:
'What they consider a reproach I regard as the highest praise, since I desire to imitate him who, I doubt not, is acceptable to all wise men, and to you.'
In his Commentary on Malachi, Jerome writes in his preface that the Jews believe Malachi to be a name for Ezra while Origen and his followers revealed the nature of their belief system by saying that, according to his name, he was an angel - a heretical view that Jerome, at least, seemed to recognise, since he wrote: '... we reject this view altogether, lest we be compelled to accept the doctrine of the fall of souls from heaven'.
So, it is worth reminding, we have strong evidence for rejecting the Apocrypha:
Josephus and Philo proved that the list of the books of the Jewish law and prophets did not include the Apocryphal books, they were rejected by Origen (acknowledged by many to have been the most learned man in the church before Augustine), by Tertullian, an outstanding scholar in the early third century, by Athanasius, the champion of orthodoxy at the Council of Nicaea and, of course, as shown above, by Jerome the translator of the Latin Vulgate which became the authorized Roman Catholic Bible.
Augustine alone, of the prominent scholars in the early church, was willing to give the Apocrypha a place in the Bible, but it is not certain that he considered it authoritative in all cases. In spite of all of this evidence the 53 bishops of the Council of Trent, in the year 1546, pronounced the Apocryphal books canonical and deserving 'equal veneration' with the books of the Bible.
Even within Papal Rome opinion regarding the canonicity of the Apocrypha has been divided. It was not just men such as Jerome who categorically denied that it formed any part of the inspired Scriptures. As we have already recorded, Cardinal Cajetan, Luther's opponent at Augsburg in 1518, in his Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament [which he dedicated in 1532 to Pope Clement VII], approved the Hebrew canon as over against the Alexandrian. And within the Council of Trent itself several of its members were opposed to the inclusion of these books in the Bible. Thus, even within the papacy, the Apocrypha was not considered canonical until the Council of Trent added it to the Old Testament and pronounced it so - nearly 2000 years after the Old Testament was completed and closed.
When Trent declared that the Synod received 'with an equal affection of piety and reverence, all the books both of the Old and New Testaments - seeing that one God is the author of both - as also the said traditions as well as those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated either by Christ's own word of mouth or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession' (Fourth Session in P. Schaff, Creeds of Christendom , II, 80) they listed the Old Testament books with the Apocrypha and the New Testament books but also added Catholic tradition. The decrees of the First Vatican Council of 1870 are in accord with this teaching despite the clear historical evidence revealing that Papal Rome has never accurately preserved or adhered to any of these!
Dr. Harris writing on this subject says:
'Pope Gregory the Great declared that First Maccabees, an Apocryphal book, is not canonical. Cardinal Zomenes, in his Polyglot Bible just before the Council of Trent, excluded the Apocrypha and his work was approved by pope Leo X. Could these popes have been mistaken or not? If they were correct, the decision of the Council of Trent was wrong. If they were wrong where is a pope's infallibility as a teacher of doctrine?' (Fundamental Protestant Doctrines, I, p4).
The real reason for the addition of the Apocryphal books to the Bible by the Roman Church, as we have said, is to be found in connection with events at the time of the Reformation. The Reformers vigorously attacked doctrines which they regarded as un-Scriptural. The doctrine of purgatory in particular was in need of defence and Papal scholars thought that support could be found in II Maccabees 12:40-45, which tells of the work of Judas Maccabeus who, after a battle, sent money to Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice for soldiers who had died while guilty of the sin of idolatry (the icons of false 'gods' were found under their tunics when their corpses were examined). But careful examination reveals that this passage does not actually support the Roman Catholic position at all for idolatry is a mortal sin and, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, those dying in mortal sin go directly to hell. Only those who are guilty of venial sin are said to be consigned to purgatory and thus, according to Papal doctrine, can be helped by masses and prayers.
It is a great pity that lay Papists do not even attempt to answer the problem of the many historical, chronological and geographical errors (ref. Tobit 12:9; 4:10; 14:10-11; Judith 9:10, 13; Wisdom 7:17; Ecclesiasticus 3:3; and I Maccabees).
It is clear from the evidence that, particularly in the Middle Ages, many became confused and thought that some of these books were part of the Word of God because they were included in copies of the Vulgate despite the clear admonition against their canonicity by translator Jerome.
The Lutheran Church in Germany made no official pronouncement regarding the Apocrypha but, for centuries, the standard Bible of the Lutheran churches at home and abroad was the one prepared by Martin Luther and the so-called deuterocanonicals were printed at the end of the Old Testament in smaller print because it was generally understood that they were of secondary importance compared to the canonical Old and New Testaments.
Again, the evidence reveals that these spurious writings were also excluded from the Roman Catholic Bible. The Council of Trent gave itself away when it selected only books that would help them in their controversy with the Reformers, especially as they failed so spectacularly to achieve that purpose! What the Apocryphal books do reveal is evidence about the age in which they were produced, showing something of the legend, folklore, ignorance, and superstition so prevalent in an age which proved extremely fertile for the development of the distinctively un-Scriptural doctrines of the Papal Roman Catholic Church. That such tales could ever have been believed shows the depth of the ignorance and superstition which held so many in bondage.
How ironic that Papal Rome so exposed itself in its claims for the Latin Vulgate (plus Apocrypha) when The Council of Trent decreed that 'the ancient Latin edition of the Vulgate ... contain revelation, with no admixture of error' - even if they were admitting that the Apocrypha were not part of Jerome's work. Papal Roman Catholics forget that examination of these books proves the falseness of this claim - and who can forget the 'Infallible Pope' Sixtus V and his 'Reformed Vulgate' of 1590 AD!
Your whole argument about who decided what canon - and when - cannot ever get past this howler and the positions of the earlier 'Fathers' - Origen, Jerome, et al - were just 'slightly more honest' microcosms of this major error.
When Jesus reasoned with His disciples after His resurrection, in regard to the purpose and necessity of His death, we are told: 'And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself' (Luke 24:27) - and there is absolutely no evidence that this 'interpretation' included any material gleaned from the apocrypha or any pseudo-epigrapha.
we have clear views expressed through The Jewish Encyclopedia which support the views of the ancient historians named above regarding the Apocrypha, e.g.:
'The most general definition of Apocrypha is, Writings having some pretension to the character of sacred scripture, or received as such by certain sects, but excluded from the canon (see Canon).
The history of the earlier usage of the word is obscure. It is probable that the adjective ἀπόκρυφος 'hidden away, kept secret,' as applied to books, was first used of writings which were kept from the public by their possessors because they contained a mysterious or esoteric wisdom too profound or too sacred to be communicated to any but the initiated. Thus a Leyden magical papyrus ... 'The Secret Sacred Book of Moses, Entitled the Eighth or the Holy Book' (Dietrich, 'Abraxas,' 169). ... In the early centuries of our era many religious and philosophical sects had such scriptures; thus the followers of the Gnostic Prodicus boasted the possession of secret books ... of Zoroaster (Clemens Alexandrinus, 'Stromata,' i. 15 [357 Potter]). IV Esdras is avowedly such a work: Ezra is bidden to write all the things which he has seen in a book and lay it up in a hidden place, and to teach the contents to the wise among his people, whose intelligence he knows to be sufficient to receive and preserve these secrets (xii. 36 et seq.). (see Daniel. xii. 4, 9; Enoch, i. 2, cviii. 1; Assumptio Mosis, x. 1 et seq.) In another passage such writings are expressly distinguished from the twenty-four canonical books; the latter are to be published that they may be read by the worthy and unworthy alike; the former (seventy in number) are to be preserved and transmitted to the wise, because they contain a profounder teaching (xiv. 44-47). In this sense Gregory of Nyssa quotes words of John in the Apocalypse as ... 'Oratio in Suam Ordinationem,' iii. 549, ed. Migne; compare Epiphanius, 'Adversus Hæreses,' li. 3). The book contains revelations not to be comprehended by the masses, nor rashly published among them.'
(Continued on page 335)