A Translation Of A Translation -- By: John H. Skilton

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 07:1 (Nov 1944)
Article: A Translation Of A Translation
Author: John H. Skilton


A Translation Of A Translation

John H. Skilton

IT WAS observed in a previous article1 that the revision of the Challoner-Rheims version of the New Testament edited by Roman Catholic scholars under the patronage of the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine2 is based on a Latin text markedly superior to that followed in the Challoner-Rheims version. The basic text for the new revision was found to be much closer than that of the official Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate to the original text of Jerome and by a happy consequence nearer also to the original Greek.

The willingness of the editors of the Confraternity revision to make a conspicuous departure from the Clementine text and the approval given to their procedure by others within the Roman Catholic Church merit notice.3 It will be remembered that the plans for the revision at first called for the use of the Clementine edition as the sole textual basis; but that the editorial board, on the advice of some Roman biblical authorities and with the sanction of the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, determined to revise the Latin basis of the revision by consulting critical editions of the Vulgate. In the new revision we have a fresh indication and fruit of the recognition within the Church of Rome today of the imperfection of its official edition of the

Vulgate4 and of the concern which now exists in that Church for the reconstruction of Jerome’s text.5

But however commendable the interest within the Church of Rome in the reconstruction of Jerome’s text may be and however near to the text of Jerome the Confraternity revisers may have come, the questions must be asked: Why should Jerome’s text, even if it were perfectly reconstructed, be adopted as the basis for an English translation of the New Testament? What value does the Latin Vulgate have that would warrant its being chosen as the basic text for an English version designed for general and popular use? What is the merit of offering to English readers a translation of a translation when the original Greek text can be ascertained with a high degree of assurance and a translation made directly from it?

None should deny that there is value in a translation into English of the Latin Vulgate. English readers not skilled in Latin should profit from the acquaintance which such a

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