>Rome’s Translation Record

>Over at Greenbaggins, Roman Catholic Taylor Marshall threw out one of the standard lines about Luther changing Scripture. I noted that this Roman propaganda has been debunked already (debunked oncedebunked twice). In response, Mr. Marshall tried to come up with some new angles to the old slur.

He stated: “One might even say that these mistakes in translations only prove that the Catholic Church must authorize translations so as to avoid errors.”

This is actually an old contention of Rome. Translators were persecuted, and their translations were burned, for allegedly badly translating the Bible without Roman approval. Moreover, the Council of Trent saw it fit to declare a particular version authentic:

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.

(Trent, Session IV)

And in case that was not clear enough:

Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,–considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the sacred books, is to be held as authentic,–ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many years, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.

(Trent, Session IV)

You might think that the “Old Latin Vulgate” was a version currently in existence. It wasn’t. It was a version about to be published:

(this Synod) ordains and decrees, that, henceforth, the sacred Scripture, and especially the said old and vulgate edition, be printed in the most correct manner possible

(Trent, Session IV)

The real Francis Turretin asked the obvious question:

The decree of the Council of Trent canonized an edition which at the time had no existence and appeared forty-six years afterwards. The decree was made in 1546. In 1590, the work was finished and published by Sixtus V; two years after that it was published by Clement VIII. Now how could a council approve and declare authentic an edition which it had not examined and in fact had yet been made?

– Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 Vols., trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), Vol. 1, XV.ix, p. 134.

Moreover, as David King explains in Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume 1, pp. 162-65, when Pope Sixtus V finally published the edition, it was full of errors. It was so full of errors that Pope Gregory XIV, acting on the suggestion of Bellarmine, suppressed the Sixtus V 1590 edition, destroyed the copies of it, and ordered a revision. The revision was eventually published under the authority of Clement VIII, although initially the edition only identified Pope Sixtus V by name.

But even the Clementine Vulgate was riddled with errors, though they are not all as severe as those in the Sixtus V edition, or in the prior Vulgate editions. Nevertheless, we now have the Nova Vulgata which corrected at least one famous mistranslation (Genesis 3:15 – a feminine pronoun was used, and this mistranslation was later used as a basis for the definition of a Marian dogma) and actually introduced at least one new mistranslation (Leviticus 16:26 – transliteration of “Azazel” instead of translation to “scapegoat”). As to parts of the text, the Comma Johanneum (in 1 John 5:7-8) has been removed by the New Vulgate, but the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53-8:11) remains in the text.

So, yes – this claim that “the Church” is needed to give someone an authentic translation is an old claim – but if it is a correct claim, then Rome is not “the Church,” because the editions that Rome has produced have always had errors – not just printing errors.

– TurretinFan

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