Is Nothing Sacred? “New, Improved” Vulgate Promoted

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REMNANT COMMENT: Of course, scripture tampering has been going on for a long time in the post-conciliar Church, revising Scripture being sort of the classic plaything of Modernists everywhere.  Nevertheless, I’d encourage scripture scholars to examine the latest versions of the Catholic Bible being quietly posted over at 

The thing seems to have been “evolving” steadily since the Second Vatican Council, which put forth the mandate for a revision of the Latin Psalter in order to bring it in line with “modern text-critical research”. In 1965, Pope Paul VI established a commission to expand the revision to cover the entire Bible. The revised Psalter was completed and published in 1969, followed by the New Testament in 1971, and the entire Vulgate was completed in 1979. A second edition was then published several years later in 1986. What’s been happening since? Well, let’s find out.

This new & improved Bible has long been under fire by those who see it as a new translation rather than a revision of St. Jerome’s work. So perhaps monitoring what’s going on lately might be a good idea. It’s not that we don’t trust the Vatican to do the right thing when it comes to the inspired written word of God, of course. Perish the thought, in fact! It’s just that we’re rather fond of the old Russian proverb (which became Ronald Reagan’s moto): “Trust, but verify”—especially when it comes to our Modernist friends running the show over there just now.

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8 comments on “Is Nothing Sacred? “New, Improved” Vulgate Promoted

  1. We’ll know if it’s as bad as feared if an Ecclesia Dei parish starts hearing things like…

    “In illo tempore apostoli dixerunt “recycle”….

  2. To answer Michael Matt’s question, “Has the Vatican officially ditched St. Jerome’s Vulgate?”: Simply and emphatically “Yes” in Biblical texts in all new Latin publications: liturgical, canonical, and theological – including papal documents.

    The question of the neo-Vulgate is more complex. A generalization might be that it tries to second-guess what St. Jerome might have done if he had access to some of the texts that we have today that were not available in his day (such as the Dead Sea scrolls). On the other hand, we do not have some of the texts that were available in his day (such as a complete non-Masoretic Hebrew text).

    Nonetheless, such second-guessing can be subjective and thus earns for the neo-Vulgate the description of being more “neo” than “Vulgate” in places. An egregious example of that is Genesis 3:15 – from EWTN Catholic Q&A:

    The Douay-Rheims Latin Vulgate translation/text of Gen. 3:15 [and those of the neo-Vulgate and modern translations]

    Question on 12/3/2008:

    In Genesis 3:15 [Douay Rheims] regarding the serpent, “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

    All modern Catholic translations are different from the Douay Rheims, but all of them basically agree with each other. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel [NAB, ’70 AND ’86]

    This renders a very different meaning from the Douay-Rheims version. The Jerusalem Bible takes the pronoun to be neuter, “it” [seemingly an indecisive cop-out]. But most take the pronoun to be masculine, referring to our Lord as the one to “bruise” or “crush”, the head of the serpent, rather than “she”, referring to Our Lady. Some may think this a “small” difference, but in fact it is very great indeed. For from this prophecy in the Douay-Rheims comes a longstanding Catholic tradition that toward the End of Time the Blessed Virgin Mary will crush the head of Satan, after her devotees have promoted her honor and devotion and directed countless prayers for her intercession during a long period of that time. This ancient tradition, which is based on Genesis 3:15, is in danger of being relegated to the scrap heap if we accept these non-traditional translations.

    The Holy Father Blessed Pius IX wrote on this score in his bull Ineffabilis Deus, declaring the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary [December 8, 1854] stated: “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 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.”

    With all of this in mind, why do the modern translations mistranslate the truth, and what do you think accounts for this change in meaning?

    Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 3/11/2009:

    The differences result from the ambiguity of the Hebrew as to who will do the crushing and whose heel will be struck at. The pronouns in question refer to the preceding subject in the sentence; however, there are two subjects, the woman and her seed. “It” takes a neutral path (“seed” is grammatically neutral), “she” assumes that it refers to the woman, and “he” assumes that it refers to the seed, whom we know to be Jesus Christ. Jerome, perhaps based on the Septuagint, or theological considerations, we don’t know, chose to translate it is as “she”. Most modern translations choose “he”. Some translations use “it”.
    When Pope John Paul II published the latest version of the Vulgate in 1999, the Latin reflects this ambiguity. It says “ipsum conteret” (he or it will crush), as does what follows “eius calcaneum” (his to its heel). While his promulgation of the Vulgate merely confirms the ambiguity of the scholarly trend, it is not one that should trouble Catholics. If the text says, “he shall crush the head of the serpent and it shall strike at his heel,” it merely affirms what the Catholic faith has always affirmed, the defeat of Satan is the work of Christ. In this, Mary’s role as his singular cooperator, as the Woman, the New Eve, is contained, not diminished. As many saints and mystics have said, her role will be uniquely important preceding the Second Coming, as it was preceding the First. That role depends on who and what she is in salvation history, and not on this text.

    On the other hand, the neo-Vulgate has many parts that are very “Vulgate” and carry over St. Jerome’s text with little change – sometimes to the chagrin of modern Scripture “scholars” and liturgists. A good example of this is the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach) which for uncertain reasons (hurry to meet a deadline or his supposed opinion that it along with the other OT deuterocanonical books were not inspired) St. Jerome took over with little change from the Vetus Itala (the existing Latin text of his time) with its many glosses (originally marginal comments which eventually through much copying over time got added to the text; for example, the “Protestant” ending to the Lord’s Prayer, added to text of the Authorized or King James version). Modern Scripture “scholars” and upset over this and other parts of the neo-Vulgate, because they do not conform to their standards of “modern” Biblical criticism and translation – especially in view of the mandate of Liturgiam Authenticam that “the liturgical translation must be prepared in accordance with the same manuscript tradition that the Nova Vulgata has followed.”

  3. Captain Kirk: Mister Spock! Tampering with St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate text of sacred scripture… analyze using your superior Vulcan logic which we no longer call “superior” in order to avoid being accused of excessive rigidity and neo-Pelagian triumphalism by sensitive liberals and progressive modernists with self-esteem issues who might be less familiar with Aristotelian logic due to progressive curriculum changes from the Land O’Lakes conference agenda and who, therefore, might find displays of logic to be triggering events and microaggressions, retreating into safe spaces like hysterical, fragile snowflakes…. ….

    Spock: Fascinating, Captain. It is possible that since St. Jerome is a dead western male that his Latin translation of the Bible had to be altered in the interests of fairness, political correctness, and multiculturalism.

    Captain Kirk: You mean, allowing women and non-Catholic Latinists to try their hand at translating the Bible?

    Spock: That is one possibility we must consider.

    Captain Kirk: Well, it’s only fair.

    Spock: Perhaps this is a way that those who did not receive a Catholic education in Latin scholarship can be helped to get over their self-esteem issues.

    Scotty: Do ya think they allowed any Scottish Presbyterians on the translation commission, Captain?

    Captain Kirk: That would only seem fair. I’ll have to ask. Mister Spock?

    Spock: Since it is almost certain that Lutheran Bultmann scholars were invited, it would only seem fair that the same courtesy was extended to Presbyterians.

    Scotty: Well, I’ll drink to that, Captain!

    Sulu: What about Zen Buddhists, Captain?

    Captain Kirk: Spock! I’ve encountered a discontented Reptilian who is offended that he wasn’t invited to participate in altering St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate text!

    Reverend Neuhaus: This might be a good time to discuss the Naked Public Square in modernity, Max Weber’s concept of disenchantment in modern culture, and Professor Taylor’s secularization theories….

    • Captain Kirk says:

      You mean, allowing women and non-Catholic Latinists to try their hand at translating the Bible?

      While St. Jerome did not have non-Catholic Latinists help him with the Latin of the Vulgate, he did have non-Catholics (i.e., Jewish rabbis in Syria where he lived the life of an ascetic and did the task of composing the Latin Vulgate from a close and critical analysis of the existing Hebrew, Greek and Latin texts) who helped him remotely and proximately: remotely, in learning Hebrew from them, and proximately (i.e., later) in consulting them concerning the accuracy on some points of his translating the Hebrew text.

      Also, Some of the pious and educated Roman women who gathered around him because of his own piety and erudition followed him to Bethlehem where he did his work on the Vulgate and formed a religious community for prayer and study, including learning Hebrew, which they used in the recitation of the Psalms, as monks and nuns of later times and today use(d) Latin in recitation/chanting of the Divine Office. Some of those women may have helped St. Jerome with his work on the Vulgate.

  4. Captain Kirk: Of course, nuns have been teaching Latin at Catholic schools for many decades.

    Sulu: I believe St. Augustine learned Latin from pagans, Captain. And his mother first taught him Latin case endings, but his self-esteem seemed fine.

    Spock: And, of course, thanks to Land O’Lakes, everyone and your grandmother is teaching at Catholic colleges now with a lot of attacks on Dead Western males, as we see at Providence College….

    Hans Küng: I learned Latin from my grandmother who had a Missal. But she was not allowed to be an exegete at the Biblicum due to the pre-Vatican II patriarchy! Is there someone we can write to in order to file a complaint?

  5. An edifying account by Cardinal Gasquet (1912) of his work on the commission established by St Pius X concerning recensions and verifications of extant copies and editions of the Vulgate in order to assure compliance with St Jerome’s original work.

    Well worth the time and consideration, especially in light of what happened when a true Saint was running the Vatican compared with the current lot of ecumaniacs.

  6. The Catholic publishing history (and translation) of the Bible is worthy of a course (often overlooked in the theology survey courses at modernist colleges and universities):

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