Friday, July 01, 2011

More Thoughts on Rome and Perspicuity

A few more thoughts.

As I shared in my previous post, the CTC post on Trent and the Vulgate left me generally confused. I think TF has done a good job of flushing out some of the inconsistencies and rose-colored viewpoints in a line-by-line matter in his epic post (seriously, does that guy sleep?). James did a good job of showing another common issue in these types of matters which is taking an anachronistic view of Roman Catholic thought in history.

I'd like to share two minor points.

Trent Never Decreed a Revision
A thanks to TF for clarifying why the CTC article was under the illusion that Trent had ordered a thorough revision of the Vulgate. In multiple sources with English translations of the fourth session decree I could not find "shall be printed after a thorough revision" and overviews of the Council proceedings specifically stated that the need for a revision was was not included in the decree. TF determined a bad translation of the original decree was likely to be blamed for the misquote on the CTC article.

This is worth pointing out as the CTC article highlights the decreeing of a revision as one of three things we should "see" in this decree in a positive light. But a call for a revision was not included in the decree. While many council members and Roman officials wanted to see a revision of the erroneous Vulgate there was concern by the Council over appearances:

"...the legates, in their letters of 24 and a6 April, took the defence of the Vulgate decree which was the object of such violent controversy. It had been the unanimous intention of the Council to declare that the Latin Bible in use in the Roman Church and covered by her teaching authority, was reliable, notwithstanding the fact that in many places it differed from the Hebrew and Greek texts, besides exhibiting faults of style. The authors of the decree were well aware of these blemishes, though these are often exaggerated; but in view of the Roman Church's freedom from error, they were unwilling to placard them publicly. Hence they had had in mind a revision carried out in silence, and such a revision they had been authorised by the Council to pray the Pope to permit." Jedin, Council of Trent, pg. 96

DAS and Biblical Scholarship
The CTC article called on the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, written almost 400 years after Trent, to support his interpretation of Trent. I had to wonder though, if Trent's decrees were so perspicuous then why did Divino Afflante Spiritu need to state the obvious? In looking for the catalyst for the writing of Divino Afflante Spiritu I came across this article from 1993 that I found interesting:

"Attacks on biblical scholars continued during the papacy of Pius XI (1922-39) and the early years of the pontificate of Pius XII (1939-58). The immediate back­ground to Divino Afflante Spiritu was a series of anony­mous and pseudonymous pamphlets to Italian bishops attacking biblical studies. On Aug. 20, 1941, the Pontifical Biblical Commission responded with a letter to the Italian hierarchy that anticipated many of the statements of the encyclical....The recommendations of Divino Afflante Spiritu sound almost commonplace today. Against the background of the anti-modernist ethos that dominated the Roman Curia from the turn of the century, its con­clusions are revolutionary."

If you read the rest of that article you will see that Rome's history with biblical scholarship has certainly been rocky. That more modern history of Rome and the bible is good to remember.


James Swan said...

Zero cmments? I guess it's obvious who won this little episode between zealous Romanism and truth.

Thanks again for these posts. Insightful stuff.

Carrie said...

I think the lack of comments is most likely due to a lack of interest. This stuff is probably boring to most.

James Swan said...

I think the lack of comments is most likely due to a lack of interest. This stuff is probably boring to most.

Check out this Vulgate post:

What scripture actually says and means in Revelation 1:20, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20

Luther translated it into German as, “Das Geheimnis der sieben Sterne [The mystery of the seven stars]...” Revelation 1:20

The medieval Vulgates listed in the critical apparatus of the N-A Novum Testamentum, Graece et Latini (including that of Erasmus and the Wittenberg Vulgate of 1529) and the more modern Wordsworth-White Vulgate edtiion, 1889-1954, translated it as, “Mysterium septem sacramentum [The mystery of the seven sacraments]...” Revelation 1:20

JoeyHenry said...

I think the author of the CTC article is aware that responses has been made.

Though, I am less interested of the topic because it does not really contribute to my walk with God and perseverance or how I can encourage fellow believers to walk with God in prayer and in the Word... It does remind me of an important instruction from God:

1 Timothy 4:7 But reject those myths fit only for the godless and gullible, and train yourself for godliness.

The most important thing is not only to reject the myths but also to train (and implicitly) practice godliness. I am afraid that spending so much time refuting a myth takes away so much time in practicing and training for godliness. Battle on words and information is important but it is not our only weapon to protect the flock as God's Word says:

set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity... Be conscientious about how you live AND what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you. (1 Tim. 4:12b and 16).


James Swan said...

Joey: Thanks for your comments.

I think the subject is interesting because of its relation to "Romanist
convert syndrome." Converts from one thing to another often consider themselves experts on the paradigm they've left. Such is what I see with the CTC folks.

It reminds me of those John spoke about:

1 John 2:19

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

Carrie said...

I am afraid that spending so much time refuting a myth takes away so much time in practicing and training for godliness.


I don't think you were trying to be critical of us, but there are some people who think spending time blogging on the stuff here is a waste of time so let me just give another perspective.

1. There is time to do both apologetics and pursue godliness.

2. Defending the faith is important on its own, but there is also an evangelistic motive involved which I think some people miss.

3. We are all members of one body with different functions. Some people spend more time doing apologetics, some people spend more time doing outreach. I like to think we are each engaging our gifts, hopefully serving God in a particular role, and all together make a balanced unit.

That said, I do always need a reminder to get out of my comfort zone and do the things that do not come as easy.

JoeyHenry said...

Carrie, James,

Don't get me wrong. I highly appreciate the termendous effort that you've written about the Vulgate or in any other topics such that "Beggars All" is one of my favorite blogs to visit. :)

The resources are very valuable and informative which I hope can be passed on to the next generation. Thank you for pointing out the diversity of gifts that the Lord has given to the Reformed community.

Those of you who are in the forefront writing about important topics needs much prayer. More than the "academic" exercise and research that you guys have been so much gifted... is the joy also of persevering godliness and a loving relationship in the church that you belong, in your own family and in your personal walk with God.

Even in writing about Vulgate stuff and doing research... may the centrality of the cross evident in your lives!

God bless from the reformed folks of Asia, Joey

James Swan said...

God bless from the reformed folks of Asia, Joey

Asia? wow.