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 Post subject: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:32 am 
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Hi folks. Was challenged by someone at Church some weeks ago because I was using the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition in a Bible study. He said that the Latin Vulgate (and by extension, the Douay-Rheims) was the only version of the Bible that was inspired by God.

Of course I chuckled just a little, politely informed him that the Vulgate was a translation of a translation, and explained to him that the original text was most certainly inspired by God, and therefore faithful English translations of the books in the Catholic Canon are understood to be exactly that - English translations of a text inspired by God. For those not conversant in Hebrew or Greek this means that for all intensive purposes we're reading a text that was inspired by God.

He did not accept this (he was many years my senior, didn't know me from a bar of soap, and very piously determined to stick to his guns) and he started babbling about Gen 3:15.

Now his babbling didn't change the truth of what I told him, but when I went and did a little more examination and reflection of that text, I was faced with a question.

Why is it that in St Jerome's translation of this text, he says that it is the WOMAN who crushes the head of the serpent and it is the WOMAN's heel that is bruised?

Of about half a dozen other translations that I consulted, including the RSV, all other versions refer to the offspring/seed of the woman being the one to crush the head of the serpent and have the heel bruised.

Now I have some basic Greek but I don't have a copy of the Septuagint. I have an interlinear Hebrew Bible but I'm not competent enough with Hebrew to make sense of what is going on here. I CAN see that the word 'her', or feminine possessive pronoun, exists in the sentence as indicated by the interlinear English words, but the translation handles this by associating the feminine possessive pronoun with the word 'seed'.

So I'm no closer to understanding what the original text says, and we are left with this translation discrepancy! Does it mean that either one position or the other is correct theologically and that if Jerome is right then the rest of the world is wrong, or vice versa?

Is it even important?

Is this a possible grounds for other Christian denominations to discredit the validity of the Vulgate? Tantamount, perhaps, to the way we Catholics insist that Luther added the word 'alone' to the letter of James in order to twist the meaning to his purpose? Could Protestants accuse us of trying to raise the profile of Mary by doctoring the translation?

In WAY over my head!

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:54 am 
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This article may not answer your specific question about the text http://www.marymediatrix-resourceonline ... pevang.htm but it will discuss some of the issues that you are thinking about concerning the text.

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:15 am 
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Hi folks. Was challenged by someone at Church some weeks ago because I was using the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition in a Bible study. He said that the Latin Vulgate (and by extension, the Douay-Rheims) was the only version of the Bible that was inspired by God.

Really? He said it was the only version inspired by God? Well that's nutty.

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 11:55 am 
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"Inspired" is a poor word choice because of its ambiguity. It can refer to the peculiar character of the original manuscripts of the Bible, rendering them not only inerrant, but the very word of God. Or it can be used in a more general sense of "Spirit-guided" (the Pope in his day to day work), "Spirit-prompted" (telling a friend about Christ), "a response to the Spirit" (Handel's Messiah), or anything in between -- none of which implies inerrancy or infallibility.

What your friend probably means (or should mean) is that the St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate is the only translation to have been endorsed by an Ecumenical Council (Trent declared it must be "held as authentic" - Sess. IV) and formally declared "free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals" (Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu).

This does not mean that there are no errors in translation (there are variant versions of the Old Vulgate, and the New Vulgate makes corrections), but that any errors present do not change the meaning in a way that goes against Church teaching. The Old Vulgate may be "inspired", but not in the sense in which the autographs are inspired. The Douay certainly has advantages, being closely connected with such a translation, though I don't see how it shares the same status.

What your friend could argue is that "she" in the protoevangelion is a safer translation, because it has the weight of an Ecumenical Council and a Papal encyclical declaring it at least "free of doctrinal error." I don't know what level of Church authority has approved translations that render the word "he", but it may be sufficient to say it is equally safe. In point of fact, Christ crushed the serpent more so than Our Lady, even though she was the instrument through which he did so.


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:28 pm 
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It is also true that we don't have any original copies of the Vulgate, so there are textual problems with that as well.

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:58 pm 
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Bombadil wrote:
Quote:
Hi folks. Was challenged by someone at Church some weeks ago because I was using the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition in a Bible study. He said that the Latin Vulgate (and by extension, the Douay-Rheims) was the only version of the Bible that was inspired by God.

Really? He said it was the only version inspired by God? Well that's nutty.


Yeah. Sounds like one of those DRV-Only fundamentalists.

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:13 pm 
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AussieGal wrote:
Why is it that in St Jerome's translation of this text, he says that it is the WOMAN who crushes the head of the serpent and it is the WOMAN's heel that is bruised?

Of about half a dozen other translations that I consulted, including the RSV, all other versions refer to the offspring/seed of the woman being the one to crush the head of the serpent and have the heel bruised.


One can only speculate on why the teaching was altered. My guess is the Magiusterium caved to pressure from radical ecumenists.

But it was not always that way:

Pope Pius IX wrote:
Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.[14]

14. Quo circa sicut Christus Dei hominumque mediator, humana assumpta natura, delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decretia, illud cruci triumphator affixit; sic Sanctissima Virgo, Arctissimo et indissolubili vinculo cum eo conjuncta, una cum illo et per illum, sempiternas contra venenosum serpentem inimicitias exercens, ac de ipso plenissime triumphans, illus caput immaculato pede contrivit.


http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9ineff.htm

Maybe not an infallible proposition, but not one to be easily cast aside, either.

I mean, ask yourself: How many staues have you seen in churches showing Mary crushing the head of the serpent? How many statues have you seen in the churches showing Jesus crushing the head of the serpent?

Images and icons are how the Church has always educated the illiterate.

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:49 pm 
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As far as I know, the term that is used for the person crushing the head of the serpent, could be interpreted either way, and it is indicative of the role God gave Mary. I have read this somewhere, but do not recall where.

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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:05 pm 
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Yay, way to go Bumble for dragging up an old thread you were never a part of! :bis:

Dealing with this verse and issue now... DW just recently read about the Catholic interpretation of "she" in Genesis 3:15. She asked me about it and honestly I had no good answer because I had never heard this before. Of course my natural tendency is to not over-react when I encounter something I don't know. I've usually found good explanations to things if I just listen. So I've been trying to listen to the Catholic explanation of this and I'm still a bit confused.

I'll see if I can get a hold of DWs book that mentions this to figure out exactly what was said... the books does not seem to have a positive outlook on the Catholic faith. The way DW put it (which may or may not be how the book put it) was, "Well, the Catholics believe that Mary is the one who crushers the head of the serpent and not Jesus, they say it is translated as "she" when really it isn't. The Catholic Church teaches that is how it has to be interpreted." Ooookay, pretty vague...

My response is sort of in development, so help me out if you can...

1) AFAIK, the Catholic Church does not teach that too many verses HAVE to be translated a certain way. If memory serves me right, I thought there were roughly 10 such verses (though I have no idea where that came from) and I highly doubt this is one.

2) Even IF they had a faulty translation on this, in a way it is true. Mary does in some sense crush the head of Satan through the Son, Jesus Christ.

So that is part of it. Any correction to be made so far? I'm sure there are. There is still another issue...
Cyprian wrote:
This article may not answer your specific question about the text...

I do find the article helpful, but I think I need to know more about the text itself.

So, the translation that reads "she" is based on some readings of the OT... a textual variant found in some ECFs and some versions of the Vulgate. According to Jimmy Akin though, not the original Vulgate. Jerome's original was based on Hebrew texts. This gets confusing... I've read some things that say the Hebrew can be translated as either he or she, and some that say it can only be translated he. Well, which is it? Furthermore, what exactly is the "original Hebrew?" Its obviously not the Masoretic text we have today. Does the LXX fit into this discussion at all? Wouldn't that help to clarify things?

AH, why is this so confusing!!!! :hissy

On a side note, this is an excellent argument against sola scripture and biblicism, as it demonstrates how very large a role the translations and textual variants play in Scripture and how each individual believer really is in over his head if they try to tackle this alone. :fyi:


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:26 pm 
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Grammatically, the Hebrew text is a little ambiguous, the passage could theoretically be translated 'she', 'he', 'it' or even 'they'......(the Jewish publication society translations, both the 1917 and 1985 editions, translate it 'they', I am not aware of a translation that translate the word as 'it' but one probably exists somewhere)...

In either case, however you translate it, the meaning is clear, and it is not great threat to Catholic belief if one translates it as 'he'....even if translated 'she', the woman crushes the serpent's head only indirectly by giving birth to the messiah.

Jerome's translation of 'she' is simply a translation to reflect Catholic tradition, just as the Jewish Publication Society's translation of 'they' is just a reflection of their tradition. When the translation is being done by a religious organization, there is nothing wrong with doing it in such a way as to reflect your own religious tradition, provided it's a valid translation.


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:48 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Grammatically, the Hebrew text is a little ambiguous, the passage could theoretically be translated 'she', 'he', 'it' or even 'they'...

... and by Hebrew I suppose you mean the MT? Just checking.

Quote:
In either case, however you translate it, the meaning is clear, and it is not great threat to Catholic belief if one translates it as 'he'....even if translated 'she', the woman crushes the serpent's head only indirectly by giving birth to the messiah.

Agreed... I'm just trying to figure out exactly what the textual issue is.

Quote:
Jerome's translation of 'she' is simply a translation to reflect Catholic tradition, just as the Jewish Publication Society's translation of 'they' is just a reflection of their tradition. When the translation is being done by a religious organization, there is nothing wrong with doing it in such a way as to reflect your own religious tradition, provided it's a valid translation.

Agreed... but I've still got some unresolved questions.

1) I've read in more than on place (in the Orchard Bible commentary and acc. to Jimmy Akin) that perhaps Jerome DID NOT translate it as "she" and that in the original Vulgate it read "he." They seem to attribute that to copyist error. Is that true or not, did Jerome actually translate it as "she?"

2) Some sources say that the Hebrew (and again, I'm assuming they mean some version of the MT... I wish they'd be more specific) is either "he" or "they" and couldn't possibly be "she." Others say it really could be any of the three. Not really sure what to do with that...

3) AFAIK, the LXX seems to translate it as "he." Do the DSS shed any light on this? Is this simply an issue from within the Vulgate itself, or is it somehow connected with "variants?" If so, are the variants found in the pro to-Masoretic Hebrew text of the day, or something else?

Back in college we did talk about the texts used in translating the Old Testament, but we really only mentioned them we never dealt with them in depth and we were never led to believe that this information held any important influence on interpreting Scripture (or really, translating it). Perhaps I just need to start a new thread on that to catch back up...


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 1:05 pm 
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baptist bumble wrote:
Doom wrote:
Grammatically, the Hebrew text is a little ambiguous, the passage could theoretically be translated 'she', 'he', 'it' or even 'they'...

... and by Hebrew I suppose you mean the MT? Just checking.

Quote:
In either case, however you translate it, the meaning is clear, and it is not great threat to Catholic belief if one translates it as 'he'....even if translated 'she', the woman crushes the serpent's head only indirectly by giving birth to the messiah.

Agreed... I'm just trying to figure out exactly what the textual issue is.

Quote:
Jerome's translation of 'she' is simply a translation to reflect Catholic tradition, just as the Jewish Publication Society's translation of 'they' is just a reflection of their tradition. When the translation is being done by a religious organization, there is nothing wrong with doing it in such a way as to reflect your own religious tradition, provided it's a valid translation.

Agreed... but I've still got some unresolved questions.

1) I've read in more than on place (in the Orchard Bible commentary and acc. to Jimmy Akin) that perhaps Jerome DID NOT translate it as "she" and that in the original Vulgate it read "he." They seem to attribute that to copyist error. Is that true or not, did Jerome actually translate it as "she?"

2) Some sources say that the Hebrew (and again, I'm assuming they mean some version of the MT... I wish they'd be more specific) is either "he" or "they" and couldn't possibly be "she." Others say it really could be any of the three. Not really sure what to do with that...

3) AFAIK, the LXX seems to translate it as "he." Do the DSS shed any light on this? Is this simply an issue from within the Vulgate itself, or is it somehow connected with "variants?" If so, are the variants found in the pro to-Masoretic Hebrew text of the day, or something else?

Back in college we did talk about the texts used in translating the Old Testament, but we really only mentioned them we never dealt with them in depth and we were never led to believe that this information held any important influence on interpreting Scripture (or really, translating it). Perhaps I just need to start a new thread on that to catch back up...



Look at it this way, BB, why would it take God to crush the head of the devil? Another one of His creatures is perfectly capable of doing that for Him.

My own take on the matter is that the text should properly read "she" and that for several reasons.

The first one stated above, and the second one being that since it was the devil who deceived Eve, and Mary being the New Eve, then it is her's by right. The third (related to the first) is that if God must crush the head of the devil, then that just makes the devil far too powerful and important. The fourth being that anybody can strike the head of the devil. Just say the Prayer to Saint Michael and you deliver him a nasty blow. As Saint Peter tells us, all we need do is resist the devil and the devil will flee from us, and that also is a nasty blow to the devil. The fifth reason is that it was pride who brought the devil down, and if only God can defeat the devil, then that just feeds the devil's pride, and that is something God cannot do, namely, be the source of sin.

Now, all of my arguments by themselves are weak, but taken together they form a pretty strong probability.


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 10:56 pm 
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Thanks pax and everyone. I continued this discussion over in the Catholicism 101 forum if you wanna keep up with it...


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 3:37 am 
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AussieGal wrote:
Hi folks. Was challenged by someone at Church some weeks ago because I was using the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition in a Bible study. He said that the Latin Vulgate (and by extension, the Douay-Rheims) was the only version of the Bible that was inspired by God.
Before engaging his point on Gen 3:15, ask him to back up this claim. You have no obligation to take him at his word. There is an old latin saying that is often repeated on thos board, and it is quite fitting: Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. Roughly translated, it goes: What is asserted without reason, may be denied without reason.


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 12:43 am 
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The Vulgate is indeed special.

It's used by the Church for hundreds of years in liturgy and in teaching. As such the version has no error in faith and moral.

The same can't be said with other version.


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 12:46 am 
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beng wrote:
The same can't be said with other version.


The same can be said of any version which has an imprimatur, which is...several dozen versions in English alone, not counting other languages.


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 Post subject: Re: The Protoevangelium... Jerome vs. the world?
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 1:36 am 
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Doom wrote:
beng wrote:
The same can't be said with other version.


The same can be said of any version which has an imprimatur, which is...several dozen versions in English alone, not counting other languages.


That dozen of versions is not used for hundreds of years in Church liturgy and teaching.

    Divino Afflante Spiritu - Pius XII

    21. And if the Tridentine Synod wished "that all should use as authentic" the Vulgate Latin version, this, as all know, applies only to the Latin Church and to the public use of the same Scriptures; nor does it, doubtless, in any way diminish the authority and value of the original texts. For there was no question then of these texts, but of the Latin versions, which were in circulation at that time, and of these the same Council rightly declared to be preferable that which "had been approved by its long-continued use for so many centuries in the Church." Hence this special authority or as they say, authenticity of the Vulgate was not affirmed by the Council particularly for critical reasons, but rather because of its legitimate use in the Churches throughout so many centuries; by which use indeed the same is shown, in the sense in which the Church has understood and understands it, to be free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals; so that, as the Church herself testifies and affirms, it may be quoted safely and without fear of error in disputations, in lectures and in preaching; and so its authenticity is not specified primarily as critical, but rather as juridical.


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