Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Seeing the Truth on the Catholic Answers Forums on Cardinal Ximenes

I stopped by the Catholic Answers boards to present the facts about Cardinal Ximenes and the Preface to the Polyglott Biblia complutensis. A few weeks back, one of the Catholic Answers folks said:

“I hate to admit this but I think Webster’s assertions are wrong. I found a book about Cardinal Ximenes, Pope Leo X and the Complutensian Polygot. It was on Questia com. From what I read there is no preface condemning the Apocrypha books. What Pope Leo does condemn are pseudo-Apocrypha books. But who really knows... perhaps the Vatican isn't telling the truth (maybe they fudged the real documents). After all the Vatican has all of these secret documents (I tried to check some of them out on the Vatican web-site) that the average person isn't permitted to read.”

I posted the following response from William Webster’s recent article:

The second issue I want to address is the charge that I am misrepresenting the facts regarding the Preface to the Polyglott Biblia complutensis. If you recall this was the Bible that was published by Cardinal Ximenes in Spain in the early 16th century. It was published in 1520 with the sanction of pope Leo X. I had stated that the Preface of that work included comments that excluded the apocrypha from the canon. Apparently, some have made comments in a public forum suggesting that I am wrong about the Preface. But such accusations are completely without merit as anyone who might take the time to investigate the contents of the work in question would quickly discover. The Biblia complutensis is a 6-volume work and the following is its bibliographical information: Biblia complutensis (Rome: Gregorian University Polyglott Press, 1983-1984), Edition Facsimileed.
There is a Preface to this work titled "Prologus ad lectorem", or, "Preface to the reader". In Preface 3b it states:
Atvero libri extra canonem quos Ecclesia potius ad aedificationem populi quam ad autoritatem ecclesiasticorum dogmatum confirmandam recipit, Graecam tamen habent scripturam, sed cum duplici latina interpretatione, altera beati Hieronymi, altera interlineari de verbo ad verbum, eo modo quo in caeteris.
English translation:
As for the books outside the Canon, which the Church admits/receives more for the edification of the people than for the purpose of confirming the doctrines of the Church, they are in Greek, but with two Latin translations, one by blessed Jerome, the other and interlinear word for word, as elsewhere.
The books referred to that were listed as outside the canon were the books of the apocrypha. The Preface gives a widely used quote from the Middle Ages which is derived from Jerome that the apocryphal books, while not included in the canon, were sanctioned to be read in the Churches for the purposes of edification. The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms this:
"In his famous 'Prologus Galeatus', or Preface to his translation of Samuel and Kings, he (Jerome) declares that everything not Hebrew should be classed with the apocrypha, and explicitly says that Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobias,and Judith are not in the Canon. These books, he adds, are read in the churches for the edification of the people, and not for the confirmation of revealed doctrine" (Catholic Encyclopedia, Canon of the Old Testament)."
I posted the information about Cardinal Ximenes and the Preface to the Polyglott Biblia complutensis because of the claims made that Webster was wrong, as well as these other comments found here, and here. Then, someone else said,"We have raised this issue a few times on this thread that Webster sometimes does not use primary source material and many times resorts to personal opinion rather than exact quotes from primary sources."

Now, don’t expect the Catholic Answers crowd to be apologizing any time soon. Here’s what came back:

“You know its almost hilarious how much time we spend responding the magisterium of WIlliam Webster around here.”

“Webster is not a primary source people he is a hack apologist who had some controversial interpretations and findings in the past.”

This is a good lesson for the Catholic Answers crowd to learn before they accuse people of not telling the truth, or being a "hack apologist". The clarified information has been presented. Which of them will step forward and apologize?


Ric said...


CrimsonCatholic said...

Just to clarify, the person who made the original comment was a Protestant who was arguing against the Apocrypha, so I think the Catholics assumed that if the Protestant were willing to admit Webster's error, she must have had a compelling reason to do so. However, charity would have demanded that the Catholics actually confirm that this was the case before accepting the truth of this accusation, which they (evidently) did not do. Disagreeing with someone is not sufficient basis to think the worst of them, and it appears to have been unjustified in this instance.