(Continued from page 344)
How Jerome's allegorical errors led him into foolish hagiography of hermits and monasticism!
Jerome's un-Scriptural views of women and marriage that are hidden by Papal Rome!
Jerome revealed the depths of his errors when he wrote biographies of celebrated hermits, Paul of Thebes (AD 375), Hilarion, the founder of Palestinian monasticism, and the imprisoned Malchus (AD 390). These were written in both an elegant and entertaining style, but with many fabled and superstitious elements and distinct, overweening veneration of the monastic life he so admired, making it clear that he intended these writings as promotional devices for a lifestyle he wanted people to consider as if it was Scriptural. These writings were read widely and several necrological letters in honour of his deceased friends, such as Nepotian, Lucinius, Lea, Blasilla, Paulina, Paula, and Marcella are considered masterpieces of rhetorical ascetic hagiography, acquainting readers with legendary literature from Jerome's time and proof of his indiscriminate blending of history and fable - and ability to sacrifice historical truth to popular edification.
Other works, such as his book, Against Bishop John of Jerusalem (AD 399), and his Apology to his former friend Rufinus, in three books (AD 402-403), are directed against Origenism. Jerome wrote, in three books, the Dialogue against the Pelagians, an amplification of his letter to Ctesiphon, in which Atticus (the Augustinian) and Critobulus (the Pelagian) maintain the argument (AD 415). Other polemic works, Against Helvidius (written in 383), Against Jovinian (AD 393), and Against Vigilantius (dictated rapidly in one night in AD 406), are partly doctrinal, partly ethical in their nature, and mainly devoted to the advocacy of the false doctrines of 'the immaculate virginity of Mary', celibacy, vigils, relic-worship, and, again, the monastic life.
Jerome's writings reveal much about the author, particularly his boundless ferocity, fanatical zealotism, and unscrupulous use of tools which go much further than you ever find in the writings of the apostles. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, urges his readers to 'walk in the Spirit' but still concludes of those who were trying to lead them astray (5:12, NASB): 'I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves'. Jerome utilised mockery, sarcasm, and ad hominem defamatory attacks to try and decimate opponents, even pursuing them after their death.
Jerome is not renowned as an original, consistent, or systematic thinker, and this was apparent when he became involved in the Arian controversy yet failed to address the important distinction between οὐσία and υʽπόστασις [the precise distinction between nature and person was eventually defined: nature or substance (essence, οὐσία) denotes the totality of powers and qualities which constitute a being; while person (ὑπόστασις, πρόσωπον) is the Ego, the self-conscious, self-asserting and acting subject and Jesus, the Logos, did not assume a human person (else we would have two persons, a divine and a human), but human nature which is common to us all and hence He redeemed, not a particular man, but all men as partakers of the same nature]. Jerome left this important question to the decision of the Roman bishop Damasus. In the Origenistic controversy he became involved in, Jerome violent condemned all Origenists thus contradicting his own former view and veneration of Origen as the greatest teacher after the Apostles! In the Pelagian controversy he was so influenced by personal considerations that he was drawn half way to siding with Augustine, being convinced of the universality of sin but, in reference to the freedom of the will and predestination, he espoused synergistic or Semi-Pelagian views to such an extent that he was held in high opinion among the Semi-Pelagians - even to the days of Erasmus whose work, 'Freedom of the Will' (AD 1524), maintained a mild form of the doctrine (perhaps to ensure he was not charged with heresy!).
How Papal Rome tried to 're-invent' the Vulgate - but merely exposed its spiritual inabilities again!
Jerome revealed dubious morals, as his dealings with women reveal, and he held asceticism in high esteem while his doctrinal leanings were towards casuistry so that contempt for the natural ordinances of God, especially of marriage, led him to preach that even ascetic filth was an external mark of inward purity! His un-Scriptural views caused him to consider marriage a necessary evil merely for the increase of virgins and he so misunderstood Paul's inspired words (1 Corinthians 7:1): 'It is good not to touch a woman,' that he drew the foolish Gnostic conclusion: 'It is therefore bad to touch one; for the only opposite of good is bad'. He also interpreted the Words of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:19; NASB): 'the woe of the Lord upon those that are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days' 24:19), as a condemnation of pregnancy in general, of the crying of little children, and of all the trouble and fruit of the married life. The very fact of the marriage of Peter was such a thorn to him that he endeavoured to nullify the fact by presuming, without a trace of evidence, that the apostle must have deserted his wife when he left his net and, besides that, 'he must have washed away the stain of his married life by the blood of his martyrdom'!
While recommending the most Spartan life-style and contempt of the world, and encouraging his readers to seek only after godly conduct, Jerome did not hold back in his criticism of the clergy and monks in his usual biting style. He wrote a letter to the young Nepotian, who had abandoned the military for the clerical calling, giving this advice:
'Let your lodgings be rarely or never visited by women. You must either ignore alike, or love alike, all the daughters and virgins of Christ. Nay, dwell not under the same roof with them, nor trust their former chastity; you cannot be holier than David, nor wiser than Solomon. Never forget that a woman drove the inhabitants of Paradise out of their possession. In sickness any brother, or your sister, or your mother, can minister to in the lack of such relatives, the church herself maintains many aged women, whom you can at the same time remunerate for their nursing with welcome alms. I know some who are well in the body indeed, but sick in mind. It is a dangerous service in any case, that is done to you by one whose face you often see. If in your official duty as a clergyman you must visit a widow or a maiden, never enter her house alone. Take with you only those whose company does you no shame; only some reader, or acolyth, or psalm-singer, whose ornament consists not in clothes, but in good morals, who does not crimp his hair with crisping pins, but shows chastity in his whole bearing. But privately or without witnesses, never put yourself in the presence of a woman. If she has anything confidential to disclose, she is sure to have some nurse or housekeeper, some virgin, some widow, some married woman. She cannot be so friendless as to have none save you to whom she can venture to confide her secret. Beware of all that gives occasion for suspicion; and, to avoid scandal, shun every act that may give colour to it. Frequent gifts of handkerchiefs and garters, of face-cloths and dishes first tasted by the giver - to say nothing of notes full of fond expressions - of such things as these a holy love knows nothing. Such endearing and alluring expressions as 'my honey' and 'my darling,' 'you who are all my charm and my delight' the ridiculous courtesies of lovers and their foolish doings, we blush for on the stage and abhor in men of the world. How much more do we loathe them in monks and clergymen who adorn the priesthood by their vows while their vows are adorned by the priesthood. I speak thus not because I dread such evils for you or for men of saintly life, but because in all ranks and callings and among both men and women there are found both good and bad and in condemning the bad I commend the good'.
Jerome addressed many areas of philosophy and religion and his writings amply reflect the virtues and faults of his circumstances and those of many of the characters he shared life and theology with in an age which was not responsible for the careful protection of the Word of God that the Papal Roman Catholic Church would like us to believe in. We will return to this point in the conclusion.
When reading his view that makes it clear that he considered second marriage incompatible with genuine holiness, and even depreciated first marriage except so far as it was a nursery of 'brides of Christ', it becomes impossible to believe that this man should ever have been trusted with interpretation of the Word of the Living God. By what mangling of this Holy Word did he believe he could call the 'mother of a bride of Christ', like Paula, a 'mother-in-law of God'?
The intimate relationship with the chosen women he surrounded himself with existed alongside his unmerciful attacks upon the immoralities of the Roman clergy and of the higher classes and resulted in colossal censure and defamation which did not reveal a man full of the Holy Spirit of God but, rather, someone who set the trend for other Papal leaders as his literary ripostes, full of indignant scorn and attempts at crushing satire, reveal.
One of Jerome's contemporaries, Palladius, claimed that his jealousy could tolerate no saint beside himself and resulted in the departure of many pious monks from Bethlehem who were, according to Jerome, attracted to the town by his fame! While Papal Rome long ago assigned him one of the first places among her teachers and canonical saints, some impartial Catholic historians dare to admit and disapprove of his glaring inconsistencies and violent outbursts against those he saw as opponents - even when they had formerly been close friends. Reading his enthusiasm and admiration for monasticism leads to his zeal for exposing 'false' monks and nuns and his recognition of the dangers of this false system which resulted in depression, hypochondria, and the hypocrisy of spiritual pride.
Anyone who opposed Jerome was attacked in the most vicious manner for, to him, they were 'dogs, maniacs, monsters, asses, stupid fools, two-legged asses, gluttons, servants of the devil, madmen, useless vessels which should be shivered by the iron rod of apostolic authority. He made ad hominem attacks a speciality: 'Helvidius had a fetid mouth, fraught with a putrid stench...'. He joined Augustine in demanding the death penalty for heretics - a frightening prospect when we read his appalling inability to consistently interpret Scripture! (James Heron, The Evolution of Latin Christianity, p323).
Vigilantius, one of the men against whom Jerome fulminated, was identified by George Faber, diligent historian of the Waldenses and Albigenses, with the Waldensian Christians of northern Italy. Vigilantius (in 406 AD) published an inflexible and Scripturally correct critical Treatise against the obvious growing errors perpetrated by the 'Church Fathers' and their ilk, including:
the claim that Celibacy is the duty of the Clergy;
the idolatrous and unchecked veneration of the Martyrs;
the idle unscriptural figment that these Martyrs are potent intercessors at the throne of grace;
the foolish blind reverence paid to the un-Scriptural and useless relics;
the gross folly of burning tapers, like the Pagans, before shrines in broad day-light;
the spurious miracles, which were said to be wrought by the inanimate remains of the Martyrs;
the foolishness of the boasted sanctity of vainly gratuitous monachism (the religious and work activities of a monk);
the useless absurdity of pilgrimages, either to Jerusalem or to any other reputed sanctuary. (Faber, History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, 1838, p291-292).
Jerome composed a typical 'reply' to Vigilantius in which he veered between illogical absurdity and brutal, foul-mouthed obscenities. Faber made the following significant remarks about the conflict between Vigilantius and Jerome:
To the ecclesiastical student, the sentiments of Vigilantius are familiar: and their complete identity with those of the Vallenses, in all ages, cannot have escaped his notice. He wrote from a region, situated between the waves of the Adriatic and the Alps of King Cottius. ... this district, on the eastern side of the Cottian Alps, is the precise country of the Vallenses. Hither their ancestors retired, during the persecutions of the second and third and fourth centuries: here, providentially secluded from the world, they retained the precise doctrines and practices of the Primitive Church endeared to them by suffering and exile; while the wealthy inhabitants of cities and fertile plains, corrupted by a now opulent and gorgeous and powerful Clergy, were daily sinking deeper and deeper into that apostasy which has been so graphically foretold by the great Apostle: and, here, as we learn through the medium of an accidental statement of Jerome, Vigilantius took up his abode, at the beginning of the fifth century, among a people, who, Laics [laity] and Bishops alike, agreed with him in his religious sentiments, and joyfully received him as a brother. Jerome, nurtured in the adulterate Christianity of opulent cities and fanatic monks and lordly prelates, is amazed, yea horrified, at the alpine audacity of Vigilantius. What, cries Jerome, scandalized to the last pitch of endurance, does the Roman Bishop, then, do ill, who offers sacrifices to the Lord over the bones of dead men; the bones, I trow, of Peter and of Paul: bones, in our estimation, venerable; bones, in thy estimation, a mere worthless portion of dust? Does the Bishop of Rome do ill, who deems their tombs the altars of Christ? Are the Bishops, not merely of a single city, but of the whole world, all mistaken: because, despising the huckster Vigilantius, they reverently enter into the stately cathedrals of the dead? (italics in original) (Faber, History of the Ancient Vallenses, pp293, 94, 98).
Jerome's typical rants speak volumes about the gulf that existed between true followers of the New Testament writings and the world in which so many apostate 'Church Fathers' lived. Vigilantius and the other true Christians who hid in the Alps were correct in their realisation that Jerome and the apostate bishops and popes were in serious error - error which has been continued to this day! Vigilantius was just one of a small band of true believers who were sincere men of God who were faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and 'the faith once delivered to the saints' (Jude 3).
It is obvious that Jerome had imbibed many of the false teachings and attitudes that eventually became the entrenched dogmas and practices of Papal Rome. It was not possible, therefore, that he possessed the Holy Spirit discernment necessary to transmit the purest version of the Scriptures. What was Pope Damasus' motive in producing the Vulgate? As Jack Moorman commented:
A man has to be more than a little naive to believe the main reason Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome (in 383 AD) to produce a new Latin Bible, was his concern over the differing Old Latin texts. ... Of course, the Popes' chief concern was that there be a new translation which in format (inclusion of the Apocrypha), and text was more suitable to the rising power of the Roman Church. Nor should too much weight be given the idea that Jerome was an independent scholar unfettered by the structure of the Church. In fact, during the year immediately before the translation work began, he was the Pope's secretary at Rome! And Jerome certainly leaves no doubt in his preface as to what his first motivation for the work was: The command laid upon him by Damasus, the Supreme Pontiff. (Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, p334-35; Jack Moorman, A Closer Look: Early Manuscripts and the Authorized Version, 1990, p31).
Jerome's Latin Vulgate thus became the Bible adopted by Papal Rome. But it still took until the Council of Trent of the 16th century to declare the Latin Vulgate to be the one and only 'authoritative edition' of the Bible, and other versions were condemned. This does not mean that Jerome's Vulgate was accepted by all Christians, or even all Papal Roman Catholics - as the following statements reveal:
Notwithstanding the high reputation of Jerome it was but slowly adopted by the Western Churches, which still persevered in retaining the primitive version (K. Nolan, Inquiry into the Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, p152).
Jerome was reviled throughout the West for his labours, and it was not until after Gregory the Great had given it his formal approval (about 600 AD) that his recension came into general use in the Roman Church (Henry Vedder, Our New Testament, 1908, p297).
The evidence shows that the Christians who hid from Papal persecution kept the old Latin versions. German Christians still quoted from these versions in the ninth century; the English and Spaniards in the tenth; and in the French province of Languedoc the Old Latin Psalter was still in use in the twelfth century. Indeed, Jerome's Latin Bible was not given the familiar label 'Vulgate' (implying common use) until the thirteenth century (Harry T. Frank, The Bible through the Ages, p138).
The Old Latin Versions were used longest by the Western Christians who would not bow to the authority of Rome, e.g., the Donatists; the Irish in Ireland, Britain, and the continent; and the Albigenses, etc. (Melancthon Jacobus, Roman Catholic and Protestant Bibles Compared, 1908, p200, note 15).
Commentators such as Aelfric and Dunstan in the tenth century employed [the Old Latin translations] as the basis of their commentaries (H. Wheeler Robinson, The Ancient and English Versions of the Bible, 1940, p116). There are copies of Old Latin manuscripts and fragments in existence that date to the 13th century, thus proving that the Old Latin was still copied long after it had gone out of general use. (ibid., p104).
The evidence also shows that these 'separated' Christians were not dependent completely on Latin, for by this time they often had their own translations in the vernacular languages.
The term 'Latin Vulgate' has been used in a number of different ways and, while the term 'Vulgate' means 'common' or 'received', it originally applied to the Old Latin translation(s) that predated the Jerome version. In modern times, though, it has most commonly been used in the following two ways:
First, the term 'Latin Vulgate' is used to refer to the Jerome Latin translation itself. Beyond generalizations, it is difficult to know the precise form of that version. The oldest copy of a Latin Vulgate fragment (the Gospels) alleged to be of the Jerome type dates to 500 AD. The oldest complete New Testament of the Jerome type known dates to 546 AD (the Codex Fuldensis (F), written by Victor of Capua (ibid., p120).
Second, the term 'Latin Vulgate' refers to the tradition of the Latin Bible within Papal Rome. In a general sense the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate dates back to Jerome's version, but it never had a settled form. One of the chief features of Rome's Latin Vulgate, in fact, was that it was constantly changing. In describing Catholic history in the centuries following the creation of the Jerome Vulgate, Albert Gilmore wrote:
'The languages of the early Bibles, Hebrew and Greek, were no longer of interest. So marked did this lack of interest become that when, after the Renaissance, Cardinal Ximenes published his Polyglot edition with the Latin Vulgate between the Greek and Hebrew versions of the Old Testament, he stated in his preface that it was 'like Jesus between two thieves' (Albert Field Gilmore, The Bible: Beacon Light of History, 1935, p170).
Only a few centuries after the apostles, Latin became a dead language in regard to the common man, and only the educated few could understand it. Even so, Rome continued to use only Latin for its theological training and liturgy for centuries and, as we have clearly proven, it did everything possible to prevent the Bible being translated into the language of the people. Papal Rome did not authorize any vernacular translations in the major languages of Europe until the 17th century (and these were not widely distributed), as it also did not allow 'the Mass' to be performed in the common languages until the latter half of the 20th!
While at Pentecost the Holy Spirit gave the wonderful message of God in the manifold tongues of the people, Papal Rome did its utmost to hide the truth of the Word of God in a dead language while surrounding it with false doctrines to further smother its true message.
As has already been noted, the Latin Vulgate was not in a settled state until the end of the 16th century, long after Rome had pronounced it authentic, and the text has remained fluid to this today. Professor Bruce Metzger describes the problem of the Jerome Vulgate in this manner:
Within a year or so Jerome was able to present Damasus with the first-fruits of his work - a revision of the text of the four Gospels, where the variations had been extreme. In a covering letter he explains the principles which he followed: he used a relatively good Latin text as the basis for his revision, and compared it with some old Greek manuscripts. He emphasizes that he treated the current Latin text as conservatively as possible, and changed it only where the meaning was distorted. Though we do not have the Latin manuscripts which Jerome chose as the basis of his work, it appears that they belonged to the European form of the Old Latin ... . The Greek manuscripts apparently belonged to the Alexandrian type of text. When and how thoroughly Jerome revised the rest of the New Testament has been much debated. Several scholars (De Bruyne, Cavallera, B. Fischer) have argued that Jerome had nothing to do with the making of the Vulgate text of the rest of the New Testament, but that, by a curious twist of literary history, the work of some other translator came to be circulated as Jerome's work. The commonly accepted view, however, rests upon the natural interpretation of what Jerome says about his work of revision. In either case, it is apparent that the rest of the New Testament was revised in a much more cursory manner than were the Gospels. ... It was inevitable that, in the course of the transmission of the text of Jerome's revision, scribes would corrupt his original work, sometimes by careless transcription and sometimes by deliberate conflation with copies of the Old Latin version. In order to purify Jerome's text a number of recensions or editions were produced during the Middle Ages; notable among these were the successive efforts of Alcuin, Theodulf, Lanfranc, and Stephen Harding. Unfortunately, however, each of these attempts to restore Jerome's original version resulted eventually in still further textual corruption through mixture of the several types of Vulgate text which had come to be associated with various European centres of scholarship. As a result, the more than 8,000 Vulgate manuscripts which are extant today exhibit the greatest amount of cross-contamination of textual types. (Professor. Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 2nd Edition, p76).
While some infer that the Jerome Vulgate was originally pure and gradually became impure through this kind of interference and admixing with Old Latin translations and other sources, it is clear from the evidence that the Jerome edition was impure from the beginning because it was based upon impure texts similar to the corrupt Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus manuscripts. The Vulgate was partly Jerome's translation of the Hebrew and partly the Old Latin Version, revised or unrevised and the Hebrew from which Jerome translated was substantially the same as that known as the 'Received Text.' Jerome had, however, only the 'unpointed' text that is, consonants without the signs that later stood for vowels, and the prejudice installed in him by Augustine to favour the Septuagint led him to vary somewhat from the Hebrew. The Old Latin Version which he used in the Psalms was itself a faulty translation of the Septuagint, which represents quite another type of Hebrew text while, in the New Testament the Vulgate was a literal translation of the Western Greek text, marked by numerous interpolations and some serious omissions. Jerome's equal subservience in reproducing the forms of Greek words and phrases without translating them also had a corrupting influence on other language versions based on it, such as the early English. Some of his renderings were so free as to be inaccurate and he frequently mistook the meaning of a passage while sometimes giving translations that clearly suffered from doctrinal bias.
Jerome's work very gradually supplanted the Old Latin and the Greek Septuagint in use in Western churches. Circulating until the ninth century side by side with the Old Latin, the two were often mixed in the making of new copies so that increasing corruption occurred in written copies of the Bible and its history is therefore one of constant deterioration and attempted revision. When printing was invented Latin manuscripts were chosen for printing without regard to their accuracy, and some sixty early editions served to spread their variations and corruptions.
During the sixteenth century repeated attempts to revise the printed Vulgate were made but, in spite of the Council of Trent proclaiming the Vulgate the sole authentic edition of the Bible, it was not until more than forty years later that a settled edition of the Latin Vulgate appeared. It is notable that a papal commission worked for more than 40 years after Trent, but failed to produce an authentic edition. Then one of the commissioned scholars became pope and, as Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590), took matters into his own hands and produced his own infamously gross 'revision', which appeared in May 1590 and followed the earlier revision (which was itself based on the faulty edition of Robertus Stephanus - issued in 1538-40) in arbitrary fashion. As we have already proven, this edition of the Latin Vulgate was prefaced by a papal Bull that identified the 'Sixtus edition' as 'true, legitimate, authentic, and undoubted in all public and private debates, readings, preachings, and explanations; and that anyone who ventured to change it without papal authority would incur the wrath of God Almighty of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul'. (Jacobus, p12).
When Sixtus died that same year (three months after revealing the bombshell that was his attempt at 'improving' the Vulgate) the revisers whose work he had personally corrected or ignored, including the famous Jesuit cardinal, Bellarmine, whom he had offended by the suppression of one of his books, had to try and clear up the mess (some two thousand serious errors introduced by an 'infallible' pope!). The successor Pope (Urban VII - 1590) died within ten days and his successor (Gregory XIV - 1590-91 - ten month 'reign') was induced to disown this supposedly inspired, legitimate, and authorized version - which he really couldn't do since popes are infallible and should be followed 'even when preaching and teaching heresy'! Gregory also died soon after and Bellarmine was appointed to buy up this official edition of Sixtus V and try to issue another before too much damage was done. In September, 1590, the College of Cardinals stopped all sales and bought up and destroyed as many copies as possible, but to little avail for the cat was truly out of the bag. Innocent IX (1591) came and went (two months 'reign') and Clement VIII (1592-1605) appointed Cardinal Allen, of Oxford and Douay, together with an Italian prelate, to revise the text of his predecessor. Allen had studied the principles of textual criticism, as is revealed in the preface to the Rheims Testament so that, instead of relying primarily on early works, he referred to the original languages. This resulted in more than three thousand alterations from the text of Sixtus V, whole passages being omitted or introduced, and revision of the verses being undertaken. Bellarmine tried to save face for Papal Rome by writing in the preface that Sixtus had intended for this to be undertaken, as if he was aware of printing errors (from which it was remarkably free) and 'other errors'. How he thought this could overcome the obvious approval Sixtus had heaped on the flawed work is quite beyond comprehension! To confirm this farce, the 'second edition' had a new Bull by Clement which specified, among other things that, as before, no word of the text might be altered, that no various readings might be registered in the margin, and that all copies were to be conformed to this one with no other additions. At the same time the public was informed that some readings, although wrong, had been allowed to stand in the new revised edition, in order to avoid popular offense. Should we be surprised that this 'second edition' was 'under papal authority' - but then proved to have more than two hundred misprints of its own! Even more ironic is the discovery that, while the edition of 1590 had rigidly excluded all books but those decreed by the Council of Trent, the edition of 1592 added in smaller type the Prayer of Manasses and two books of Esdras, explaining in the preface the reason why this was done. The third edition, in 1593, went further, and gave the prologues of Jerome, an index of quotations in the New Testament from the Old, a table of interpretation of names, and a general index to the contents of the Bible. While it corrected some of the 'printer's errors' it also left a large number uncorrected while managing to add some new errors!
For any Papal Roman Catholic to imagine that these points are insignificant we would remind them of a point we regularly make to Mormons: since the inception of the 'Latter-Day Saints' cult the claim made by their false prophet, Joseph Smith, was that he was inspired by God to 'translate' the Book of Mormon in a manner that ensured it was 100% accurate - and therefore the 'most correct book, of any, on earth'. When the details of this claim are carefully examined the evidence reveals the lie to this supposedly 'angelically protected' book (protected even during printing!) and proves it to be nothing but a sad delusion which is easily debunked. In the same manner the claims of Papal Rome to have protected the canon of the Bible and then protected the 'most correct Bible on earth' (i.e. Jerome's Vulgate) are easily debunked - along with 'papal infallibility!
In 1598 a fourth edition of the post-Sixtus 'Vulgate' appeared - it had all the previous features, except the extra books were now printed in the same size type as the canonical and it also contained three tables of corrections to the editions of 1592, 1593, and 1598. However, these corrections proved to be utterly inadequate. This turned out to be the last official edition printed before the task was allowed by other printers. Another noticeable deception is that all four editions were attributed to Sixtus and not to Gregory, Innocent, or Clement. Could this be in order to pin any accusations against such a flawed translation on only one pope instead of three? Why bother, we ask, when the list of 'antipopes' exists and proves that the whole charade of 'Apostolic Succession' and chosen successors following a chain from Peter is a fraud!
After this last failed attempt to produce an authentic version of a 'fixed canon' in a chosen language, Papal Rome took no further official steps to correct the situation. Two critical editions of Jerome's own translation were freed as far as possible from later corruptions and then published by Papal Roman Catholics but did not profess to be an Authentic Version adopted by the church. The obvious questions to ask are: how can anyone pretend that Papal Rome is the great protector of the Biblical canon when it has allowed this situation, and why would this translation methodology via scholars ever be necessary for, if Rome really did possess a wonderfully infallible pope, he could easily produce a perfect canon - as indeed Peter or his successor should have done from the very beginning of the New Testament church! The fact that this trio of popes from Sixtus V failed at the task proves the falseness of Papal claims. The truth is rather different and Papal Rome is simply not equipped for such a task - anymore than the Mormons successive 'prophets' could correct the howlers perpetrated by Joseph Smith and his successor, Brigham Young!
Under cover of the works of Jerome a corrected text of the 'Vulgate' was published by Vallarsi, in 1734 (it was really the completion and revision of the edition of Martianay of 1706) and little more was done in the way of critical editions till the latter half of the 19th century. In 1861 Vercellone, at Koine, reprinted the Clementine Vulgate (the names of Sixtus and Clement both appeared on the title-page) and, in 1906, an edition (Biblia Sacra Vulgatae) was published at Oeniponte by Capuchin Friar Michael Hetzenauer which restored the original 'Clementine text' while taking into account variations in 'Clement's' three printings as well as corrections officially issued by the Vatican. The majority of other editions after this were confined to the New Testament, or part of it; this is exclusive of the printed editions of several important manuscripts (Codex Amiatinus and Codex Fuldensis).
In 1907 Pope Pius X commissioned the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Jerome in Rome to prepare a critical revised edition of Jerome's Vulgate as a basis for a revision of the Clementine, but only the Old Testament was completed and considered by some to complement the New Testament edition of 'The Oxford Vulgate' prepared by Bishop J. Wordsworth and H.J. White (issued 1889).
The Stuttgart Vulgate was first published in 1969 (5th edition, 2007) by the German Bible Society (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft), based in Stuttgart, using earlier critical editions of the Vulgate including the Benedictine edition and the Latin New Testament produced by Wordsworth and White, which provided variant readings from the diverse manuscripts and printed editions of the Vulgate and comparison of different wordings in their footnotes. The Stuttgart Vulgate attempted to compare important, early historical, manuscripts of the Vulgate to recreate a text free of the scribal errors that had accumulated over the millennium. This edition included all of Jerome's prologues to the Bible, the Testaments, and the major books and sections (Pentateuch, Gospels, Minor Prophets, etc.) of the Bible so that it adhered to the style of medieval editions of the Vulgate, which were never without Jerome's prologues. The Stuttgart also retained a more medieval Latin orthography than the Clementine, sometimes using oe rather than ae, and having more proper nouns beginning with H (i.e., Helimelech instead of Elimelech), but the spelling was inconsistent throughout, as in the manuscripts. It also followed medieval manuscripts in using line breaks rather than the modern system of punctuation marks to indicate the structure of each verse and probably lost readers, more accustomed to the Clementine text, as a result. It contained two Psalters, both the traditional Gallicanum and the juxta Hebraicum, printed on facing pages to allow easy comparison and contrast between the two versions and also had an expanded Apocrypha, containing Psalm 151 and the Epistle to the Laodiceans in addition to 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses.
Modern prefaces were considered a source of valuable information regarding the history of the Vulgate. Ironically, the Stuttgart edition disseminated on the Internet is often bereft of all formatting, notes, prefaces, etc., and often lacking the Gallican Psalter, Apocrypha, Deuterocanonical books and sections, and the protocanonical part of Daniel (following chapter 3) is also commonly missing. It is clear that, to this very day, Papal Rome is incapable of protecting the 'canon' it claims to have upheld for at least 1600 years?!
The Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium (December 4, 1963) mandated a revision of the Latin Psalter in accord with modern textual and linguistic studies, while preserving or refining its Christian Latin style and, in 1965, Pope Paul VI appointed a commission to revise the rest of the Vulgate following the same principles. The Commission published its work in eight annotated sections, inviting criticism from Catholic scholars as the sections were published: The Latin Psalter (published 1969); the New Testament (completed 1971); and the entire Nova Vulgata published as a single volume edition for the first time in 1979, being published and promulgated as the Catholic Church's current official Latin version in the Apostolic constitution Scripturarum Thesaurus, and remaining the translation used in the latest editions of the Roman Lectionary, Liturgy of the Hours, and Roman Ritual.
The basic text of most of the Nova Vulgata's Old Testament remains the critical edition carried out by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Jerome under Pope St. Pius X (1907 forward) while the foundational text of the books of Tobit and Judith are from manuscripts of the Vetus Latina rather than the Vulgate. The New Testament was based on the 1969 edition of the Stuttgart Vulgate, revised in accordance with modern critical editions in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. A number of changes came about where the Vatican's modern scholars recognised that Jerome's interpretation of the meaning from the original languages was inaccurate, or had been interpreted obscurely. The Nova Vulgata also does not contain some books found in the earlier editions, but omitted by the Canon promulgated by the Council of Trent, namely the Prayer of Manasses, the 3rd & 4th Book of Esdras and the Epistle to the Laodiceans.
A second edition was published in 1986 with an appendix containing three historical documents from the Council of Trent and the Clementine Vulgate, and footnotes to the Latin text found in the eight annotated sections published before 1979; it also replaced the few occurrences of the form Iahveh, when translating the Tetragrammaton (YHWH), with Dominus, in keeping with Papal tradition. Dominus is the Latin word for master or owner and was a title of sovereignty used for the Roman Emperors under Diocletian and then, by association from the derivation of the popes titles from the emperors; but it also became an ecclesiastical and academical title in the Papal Roman Catholic Church, particularly using the shortened form dom - especially for members of the Benedictine and other religious orders. How can Papal Rome believe the feeble choice dom, or Dominus, can possibly equate to the Unknowable, Almighty God of the Bible? 'I Am' (Greek ego eimi) was utilised by the Septuagint in Exodus 3:14 instead of the Hebrew tetragrammaton, YHWH, and Augustine - and all who adhere to his faulty guidance - claim this should hold sway over the Hebrew. So the new choice in the Nova Vulgate clearly demonstrates, again, the inconsistency of the Papacy and the foolishness of the translators, whether Benedictine or others, and the increasing rise of the emphasis on 'Mariolatry' rather than correct honouring the Lord Jesus Christ, the Name above all Names (Ephesians 1:19-23; Phil. 2:9-11).
The Nova Vulgata has failed to be widely embraced by the rare discerning, conservative Catholic because of the considerable variation and unfamiliarity of some verses of the Old Testament which appear to be so radically different in translation from Jerome's flawed work and the Clementine re-works. Despite this the Vatican released the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (in 2001), establishing the Nova Vulgata as a reference point for all translations of the liturgy of the Roman rite into the vernacular from the original languages, claiming that this was 'in order to maintain the tradition of interpretation that is proper to the Latin Liturgy'. Perhaps someone should point out that 'the tradition of interpretation' in Papal Rome is to dither, prevaricate, and contradict endlessly!
Novum Testamentum Latine
To add more confusion to the Vulgate variations, Kurt and Barbara Aland (in 1984 and 1992) updated and entirely revised Nestle's edition of 1906 and republished it under the same name, Novum Testamentum Latine. This version is a reprint of the New Testament of the Nova Vulgata but variant readings of the earlier editions are also detailed in the work, namely the Stuttgart edition, the Gutenberg Bible (1452), the Latin text of the Complutensian Polyglot (1514), the edition from Wittenberg, which was favoured by Luther (1529), the editions of Desiderius Erasmus (1527), Robertus Stephanus (1540), Hentenius of Louvain (1547), Christophorus Plantinus (1583), Pope Sixtus V (1590), Pope Clement VIII (1592), and Wordsworth and White (1954).
Finally, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos issued a printing (in 1982) of the Clementine Vulgate, but omitted the Clementine Apocrypha and added excerpts from various magisterial documents and the Piana version of the psalms in addition to the Vulgate version. Three electronic editions of the 'Vulgate' (Clementine, Stuttgart, and Nova) can also be found on the Internet.
Despite the rules approved by Pius IV after the Council of Trent, every bishop has the right to authorize a version for use in his own diocese and there is no one version in English so authorized that it excludes others, so Papal Roman Catholic bookshops sell a variety of authorized editions that differ and, as a result, the variations available will seriously affect any Papal Roman Catholic who does read their 'Bible'. The jibes about 'Protestants' making up their own 'theology', 'gospels', and 'denominations' will always remain utterly hollow to those aware of the colossal contradictions found in Papal Rome.
Note that, while the Hebrew Bible excluded all the seven 'common' Apocryphal books, and clearly holds greater authority in this matter than that of the Septuagint, different copies of the Septuagint contain variations of these seven, showing a doubt regarding them while there was no doubt amongst the majority of witnesses concerning the twenty-four Hebrew books which are equivalent to the 'Protestant' thirty-nine. The Septuagint also contained other books besides the canonical books and these seven and, as has become clear from this study of the variations in the Vulgate, these others were also regarded by the Catholic Church as 'apocryphal', but really canonical when it suited. It could even be argued from reasonably strong evidence that it is the Hebrew Bible, not the Septuagint, that Papal Roman Catholics often read in the Old Testament Latin Vulgate, possibly excepting the Psalms (and, of course, the Apocrypha where they ignore Jerome's 'expert' opinion!).
As we have shown amply, the testimony of the 'Church Fathers' to the Apocrypha is neither concordant nor definitive and their quotations from other apocryphal writings, outside of the works recognised by Papal Rome, as if they were also Scripture, show that any argument built on the Fathers' reference to some of these seven as Scripture again proves nothing, or too much for the purpose. Papal Roman Catholics try to justify decisions made by Catholic Councils as an affirmation of church unanimity in their favour by clutching at 'Papal infallibility' and 'Apostolic Succession' as the basis for decisions but, having shown both to be figments of Papal imagination (which even rules out the 'expert' judgment of Jerome when it does not suit), such hopes are shown to be built on sand. The Council of Trent itself, while styling these books 'sacred and canonical,' has been shown to bow to overall Catholic opinion against them through all the centuries since and allowed repeated, variable content and transmissions of the supposedly rigidly verified 'Vulgate' of Jerome, which leaves the question of the real canon of the sacred books open to a Papal Roman Catholic questionable to this very day.
Since Jerome suggested these Apocryphal books be read for moral instruction and edification only - and his suggestion was adopted by Pope Gregory the Great - how can a Papal Roman Catholic accept the opinion of one 'Infallible Pope' when it can be contradicted by another 'Infallible Pope'?
Since this view was also repeated in Article VI of the (inadequately 'Reformed'!) Church of England, and advanced by the equally inadequate and ignorant 'Protestant' practice of publishing them, either in a group by themselves between the Old and New Testaments, or separately, merely reveals that many who were connected with Papal Rome did not fully accept the 'Separated Brethren' position they were forced into by (relative) fanatics like Martin Luther! As the state of the contemporary Anglican and Lutheran churches reveal, as well as others who also failed to learn from the 'Facts of History', the return to Rome is well under way and it is only a small remnant of true Bible believers who will never 'bend the knee to Baal' (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4).
By repeatedly breaking her own 'rules', e.g. by printing the three books, III and IV Esdras and The Prayer of Manasses, at the end of the Vulgate as apocryphal but worthy of Christian perusal, Papal Rome confirms that it was never a matter of correctly identifying the true Biblical canon anyway. It is painfully easy to show that deceivers have tried to pervert the written truth in this proven manner, so how much easier has it been for Papal Rome to pervert what was a supposed oral tradition as memories failed and new generations came along who had never heard the original teaching?
Written tradition in Papal Rome began with the so-called 'Church Fathers' but, as has been proven, a great deal of heretical material was mixed in and 'Mother Church Rome' clearly found it could not distinguish it from the true Word of God. These heresies expanded into blatant frauds such as the 'Isidorian Decretals' in the time of Pope Julius (ca. 338 AD) and other forgeries and fictions which proliferated through the centuries. The 'Isidorian Decretals' supposedly declared that 'the Church of Rome, by a singular privilege, has the right of opening and shutting the gates of heaven to whom she will' and that the popes inherit 'innocence and sanctity from Peter' and are therefore holy and infallible and all Christendom must tremble before them (J.H. Ignaz von Döllinger, The Pope and the Council, London, 1869, p78-93). No Biblical support exists for such claims and Papal Rome desperately requires spurious traditions to try and bolster its false claims. J.H.I. von Döllinger wrote:
While the forging of documents became a major part of Papal Rome it remains a remarkable fact that, for a thousand years, no attempt was made to form a genuine collection of canons and, while more than twenty Synods were held in Rome since 313 AD, there were no records of them to be found (J.H. Ignaz von Döllinger, The Pope and the Council, London, 1869, p99-106).
The 'Decretals' were used to build up fictions regarding the claims of the popes and traditions became law and on a par with Scripture. Whereas the Bible is relatively concise and easily shown to be coherent and consistent, Papal tradition is contained in many volumes of the alleged writings of the 'Church Fathers' and the decrees of the Councils. How could it ever be possible for the average Papal Roman Catholic to be familiar with at least 35 volumes of writings in Greek and Latin by 'Church Fathers', usually ending with Gregory I in A.D. 604; another 35 volumes of Church council decrees; about 25 volumes of the popes' sayings and decrees; and about 55 volumes of the alleged sayings and deeds of the saints, i.e. about 150 volumes in total?
Even if all of these works were available and translated into the necessary languages, no ordinary person could never master ~150 volumes in such a way as to be as familiar with them as they might be with the Bible. So, to declare that 'the Bible plus sacred tradition forms a single deposit of Scripture' is obviously absurd.
It was manufactured tradition that became the basis for almost the entire Papal system and much canon law where it could not be read 'into' the Word of God and the false Decretals were revised and elaborated on century after century. As von Döllinger informs us:
Gregory VII ... regarded himself not merely as the reformer of the Church, but as the divinely commissioned founder of a wholly new order. ... Gregory collected about him by degrees the right men for elaborating his system of Church law.... Anselm may be called the founder of the new Gregorian system of Church law, first, by extracting and putting into convenient working shape everything in the Isidorian forgeries serviceable for Papal absolutism; next, by altering the law of the Church, through a tissue of fresh inventions and interpolations ... Clearly and cautiously as the Gregorian party went to work, they lived in a world of dreams and illusions about the past and about remote countries. They could not escape the imperative necessity of demonstrating their new system to have been the constant practice of the Church, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish where involuntary delusion merged into conscious deceit. Whatever present exigencies required was selected from the mythical stores at their command hastily and recklessly; then fresh inventions were added, and soon every claim of Rome could be shown to have a legitimate foundation in existing [fraudulent] records and decrees. (ibid., p83-85)
Thus the Decretals were created to build up fictitious sayings of the popes and bring them into canon law so that false tradition was put on a par with Scripture in Papal Rome.
By its sheer volume, Papal Roman Catholic 'sacred tradition' far outweighs the Bible and it is absurd to think that the average Catholic could ever access, never mind be familiar with all the material that Rome calls 'the Word of God.' Unlike the Bible, which remains constant for the orthodox Christian, Papal tradition and official dogma has frequently changed and expressed obviously contradictory ideas on important topics, such as abortion. While most Catholics remain unaware that the 'infallible Church and popes' have changed their minds several times on this topic, it is a fact that, from the fifth century onward, Aristotle's view that the embryo goes through stages from vegetable to animal to spiritual was accepted so that only in the final stage of its development was it human. As a result Gregory VI (1045-6) declared: 'He is not a murderer who brings about abortion before the soul is in the body'. But later successor Gregory XIII (1572-85) said it was not homicide to kill an embryo of less than 40 days since it wasn't yet human while his immediate successor, Sixtus V, who rewrote the Bible in such disastrous fashion, disagreed and his Bull of 1588 made all abortions for any reason homicide and cause for excommunication. His almost immediate successor, Gregory XIV, reversed that decree - and then, in 1621, the Vatican issued another pastoral directive permitting abortion up to 40 days. Then again, as recent as the eighteenth century Alphonsus de Liguori, bishop, spiritual writer, scholastic philosopher and theologian, and founder of the influential Redemptorists (he was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 by Pope Pius IX and patron of confessors and moralists by Pope Pius XII on April 26, 1950) still denied that the soul was infused at conception and allowed for flexibility, especially when the mother's life was in danger. But finally (maybe!), in 1869, Pius IX declared that any destruction of any embryo was an abortion and merited excommunication (yet still he 'doctored' de Liguori in 1871!) which is a view that is claimed to remain to this day.
While the Vulgate has its place in history as a work that could never be as accurate as the languages it was translated from because of the many factors already detailed, we can be sure that it has no just claim to pre-eminent superiority and even the revised revisions can never justify it being called ' the authentic version of God's words,' bearing 'all the evidences of infallible certitude.' We can also be equally sure that no copies of the Vulgate or Old Latin versions have 'come down to us unchanged from the time of Christ himself.' While the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts are without error and many of the later copies are nearly totally error free, Latin translations have proven to be far from infallible. It is little wonder that the French Catholic historian Richard Simon wrote that Papal Rome 'does not pretend that these translations are either infallible in all their parts or that nothing more correct can be had.'
The truth is clear - Papal Rome's Latin Vulgate, that has been repeatedly lorded as being the only true authentic edition of the Scriptures, was in a constant state of flux throughout the centuries and the versions that exist to this day are little better and cannot compare with the careful work of non-Papal, orthodox Christian theologians and translators.
To summarise some of the more important claims and conclusions we can draw from examination of facts concerning the Apocrypha:
These writings are not found in the Hebrew Old Testament, but they are contained in some manuscripts of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, which was completed around 250 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt.
Those who attribute divine authority to these books and advocate them as Scripture argue that the writers of the New Testament quote mostly from the Septuagint, which contains the apocrypha. They also cite the fact that some of the 'Church Fathers', notably Iranaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, used the apocrypha in public worship and accepted them as Scripture, as did the Syriac Church in the fourth century.
It is claimed that Augustine, who presided over the councils at Hippo and Carthage, concurred with their decision that the books of the apocrypha were inspired. The very unorthodox Greek Church added its weight to the list of believers in the inspiration of the apocrypha.
The advocates point also to the Dead Sea Scrolls to add further weight to their belief in the apocrypha. Among the fragments at Qumran are copies of some of the apocryphal books written in Hebrew. These have been discovered alongside other Old Testament works.
The case for including the apocrypha as Holy Scripture completely breaks down when examined. The New Testament writers may allude to the apocrypha, but they never quote from it as Scripture or give the slightest hint that any of the books are inspired - the supposed quotes are no more than extremely speculative.
If the Septuagint in the first century contained these books, which is by no means a proven fact, it is impossible to prove that the 4th century AD version was identical to the one that originated in Alexandria, Egypt, and may have been used by the inspired writers.
Appealing to certain 'Church Fathers' as proof of the inspiration of the books is a weak argument, since just as many in the early church, notably Origen, Jerome, and others, denied their alleged inspiration.
The Syriac Church waited until the fourth century AD to accept these books as canonical. It is notable that the Peshitta, the Syriac Bible of the second century AD, did not contain them.
The early Augustine did acknowledge the apocrypha, at least in part, but his later writings clearly reflected a rejection of these books as outside the canon and inferior to the Hebrew scriptures.
The Jewish community also rejected these writings. At the Jewish Council of Jamnia (ca. AD 90), nine of the books of our Old Testament canon were debated for differing reasons and they ruled that only the Hebrew Old Testament books of our present canon were canonical.
Citing the presence of the apocrypha among the Old Testament fragments found in ancient communities proves little regarding inspiration, as numerous fragments of other, non-Scriptural documents have also been found.
It cannot be overemphasized that Papal Rome did not officially declare these books Holy Scripture until 1545-1563 at the Council of Trent.
The acceptance of certain books in the apocrypha as canonical by Papal Rome was to a great extent a reaction to the Protestant Reformation and, by canonizing these books, they legitimized their reference to them in doctrinal matters.
The arguments that advocate the scriptural authority of the apocrypha have been shown to be extremely feeble and unsustainable.
There are some other telling reasons why the apocrypha is rejected by all genuine Bible believers, but the main argument deals with the un-Biblical teachings found in these questionable books, such as 'praying for the dead'.
Praying for the deceased, advocated in II Maccabees 12:45-46, is in direct opposition to Luke 16:25, 26 and Hebrews 9:27, among others. The apocrypha also contains the episode which has God assisting Judith in a lie (Judith 9:10, 13).
The apocrypha contains demonstrable errors as well. Tobit was supposedly alive when Jeroboam staged his revolt in 931 B.C. and was still living at the time of the Assyrian captivity (722 B.C.), yet the Book of Tobit says he lived only 158 years (Tobit 1:3-5; 14:11).
Finally, there is no claim in any of these apocryphal books as to divine inspiration and one need only read these works alongside the Bible to see the vast difference.
Logically, if Papal Roman Catholics insist that the Apocryphal books found in the Septuagint (LXX) are canonical books, they will also have to accept other books found in some versions of the Septuagint (LXX) that the 'Council of Trent' chose to omit without giving any Scriptural reasons for their decision.
As we have shown (below), Papal Roman Catholics who were amongst the most qualified to decide on the canon at the 'Council of Trent' were ignored because of the very obvious agenda that was at work.
'Church Fathers', who are easily shown to have been responsible for many fallible decisions (q.v.), are the precursors and foundation of Papal Rome's mythical 'Tradition' that is the real, final appeal of the Papal Roman Catholic - without exception!
At the end of the day it is utterly pointless for you to try and 'strain gnats' over the canon and the sources of doctrines when Papal Rome has proven that her unprovable 'Tradition' and the whims of her popes will always trump all other factors as far as Papal Roman Catholics are concerned!
(Continued on page 346)