|Saint Jerome assisted by angels while translating the Scriptures|
Is Saint Jerome’s Latin Vulgate free from error?
The Council of Trent declared that his translation of the Scriptures into Latin is the standard translation for all Catholics:
“Moreover, the same Holy Council . . . ordains and declares that the old Latin Vulgate Edition, which, in use for so many hundred years, has been approved by the Church, be in public lectures, disputatious, sermons and expositions held as authentic, and so no one dare or presume under any pretext whatsoever to reject it.” (Fourth Session, April 8, 1546).
Most Catholic biblical scholars are aware of Pope Leo XIII’s monumental encyclical Providentissimus Deus on biblical scholarship, issued in 1893. It condemned the modern higher criticism techniques of the day (e.g. JEPD condemned). And nearly everyone knows the famous follow up encyclical by Pope Pius XII on biblical scholarship entitled Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943). Notably, Divino Afflante Spiritu stated that Saint Jerome’s Vulgate is “free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals.”
However, few know of the “middle” document issued in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV entitled Spiritus Paraclitus about Sacred Scripture, celebrating the 1,500 anniversary of the death of Saint Jerome.
In Spiritus Paraclitus, the Vicar of Christ Pope Benedict XV states that Saint Jerome is:
- “the Greatest Doctor divinely given to the Church for understanding the Bible”
- “a strenuous Catholic, learned in the Scriptures”
- “a teacher of Catholics”
- “a model of virtue”
- “the world’s teacher”
Pretty high praise for Jerome, eh?
Why not read this great encyclical on Scripture and Saint Jerome. You can find it here:
Also, you can read the old Vulgate (Clementine edition) for free over at NewAdvent.org and compare it to the Greek and to the Douay-Rheims English translation:
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