St Jerome

Sheila Watts sw271 at
Thu Feb 4 10:57:31 UTC 1999

>> St Jerome must issue forth the
>>official Latin Vulgate "in good language."

>The Latin of the vulgate is clearly very late Latin, not "good latin" in
>your sense.   For example it includes phrases such as "dixit quoniam" (= he
>said that ...).   In "good Latin" quoniam means because.

I don't know how Peter/Graham determines which sense of 'good Latin' is
meant. Jerome certainly agonised a good deal over his translation, knowing
that the Latin fell short of the high classical standards:

"I myself not only admit but freely claim that when I translate the Greeks,
except for the Holy Scriptures, where even the order of the words is a
mystery, I do so not word for word but sense for sense
It is a pious work but dangerously presumptive to pick the one right text
from all the possible texts, to change the language of an old man and to
drag an aging world back to the beginnings of childhood. For who, learned
so much as unlearned, when he picks up the book and reads it closely and
sees that it is different from the sweet flavour he once drank, who will
not cry out that I am a sacrilegious forger because I have dared to add,
change or correct anything in the old books?
  A translation for the Church, even if it has beauty of style, ought to
hide and even shun it, so as to speak not to the elite schools of the
philosophers with their handful of disciples, but to the whole human race."

(Quoted in David Norton, A History of the Bible as Literature, CUP 1993).

Sheila Watts
Dr Sheila Watts
Newnham College
Cambridge CB3 9DF
United Kingdom

phone +44 1223 335816

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