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The second abuse which the Council of Trent was to remedy was the corruption of the Latin codices, and the remedy was that, by the authority of the Pope, a correct edition of the Vulgate might be submitted to the Council and approved by the Pope. The work of emending the Vulgate was judged by the Fathers of Trent to be so easy in execution that a corrected copy might be sent to them while yet assembled in council. On the 24th of April, 1546, Card. Cervini had written to Rome: Staremo adunque aspettando che voi ci mandiate presto una bella Bibbia corretta et emendata per poter stamparla. (Vercellone, l. c. p. 84.) But it took forty years to execute the correction recommended by the Council of Trent.

In the present work we can only treat briefly of the immense labor that was expended on this emendation. Ungarelli and Vercellone have ably written the history of the correction of the Vulgate.

The first movement to execute the Councils recommendation was made by the University of Louvain. The Dominican, John Henten (†1566) was appointed by the faculty to revise the Vulgate. Henten brought to the task a fair knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. The work appeared at Louvain in 1547, under the title: Biblia Latina ad Vetustissima exemplaria recens castigata. Henten collated about twenty codices in the preparation of this work, but none of his codices go back beyond the tenth century, so that the edition can not be considered a great critical work. The work of Henten was very favorably received, and many editions of it were issued by the press at Louvain.

After the death of Henten, the faculty of Louvain selected Lucas of Bruges to revise the work. He was assisted by Molanus, Hunnæus, Reinerius and Harlem. Hentens text was allowed to stand, but the revisers added an Apparatus Criticus from upwards of sixty codices. The edition was printed by Plantin. These Bibles enjoyed great authority, and were of service to the Roman correctors of the Vulgate.

The Council of Trent closed on the 4th of December, 1563. Immediately after its close, Pius IV. commissioned four Cardinals to restore the text of the Vulgate to its pristine purity. The Cardinals were Mark Antony Colonna, William Sirleti, Louis Madrutius, and Antony Carafa. Sirleti was considered the greatest linguist of his age.

The first of their labors was the accurate collation of the Codex Paulinus, which Sirleti held in high esteem.

Under Pius V. the correction of the Vulgate was hindered for the reason that the learned men were occupied in correcting the Breviary, Missal and Martyrology. Pius V. was by no means negligent in the great work of correcting the Vulgate, and for this reason appointed the most learned men of Rome to co-operate in the work. Principal among the theologians were Antonio Agellius and Emmanuel Sa. The commission proceeded slowly, and with great labor. From the 28th of April to the 7th of December of the year 1569, they spent in revising Genesis and Exodus. The theologians had held twenty-six general conferences before the Cardinals to confer on this portion of their labors. The fundamental error of the time was to consider the work easy, and to be performed quickly. Without doubt those men had selected the right method, and if vexation over the delay had not obstructed their labors we might have had a much better text.

Card. Buoncompagno succeeded Pius V. in 1572, and took the name of Gregory XIII. He was one of the first canonists of his age, and as such had sat in the Council of Trent. He brought to completion the correction of the liturgical books, and then turned his attention to the correction of the Calendar and the revision of the Corpus Juris. His claim to immortality in history rests mainly on the correction of the Calendar, a work much needed and well wrought.

At this juncture a remarkable man came into important relations in the Church. This was Card. Peretti.

He moved Gregory XIII. to add to the body commissioned to revise the Vulgate, certain consulting theologians, chief among whom were Robert Bellarmine, Peter Morini, and Flaminius Nobilius. The design of Peretti was to correct first the Septuagint, which was then to be used to revise the Vulgate. When Peretti succeeded Gregory XIII., he prosecuted this design with his usual energy, and in the second year of his pontificate (Oct. 8, 1856), published the best edition of the Septuagint that we have ever received. See page 697. With equal energy, he next took up the revision of the Vulgate. He placed at the disposition of the commission the best codices that he could obtain. He even took active part in the collation of these codices. The number of the members of the commission was increased. Antonio Agellius (†1608) who was very capable in Hebrew and Greek, compared dubious readings with the Greek and Hebrew texts. Card. Carafa presided over the whole work, and at the end of two years of assiduous labor, the completed correction was delivered to the Pope. The scope of the revisers was simply to restore the text of Jerome to its pristine state. They did not contemplate the removal of the errors which Jerome committed. At times, however, where the reading of Jerome could not be determined with certainty, they employed the original text to establish the genuine sense of Scripture. The method of these men, their reputation for learning and the care and labor that they bestowed on the Vulgate, warrant that the result of their labors was excellent. But the action of the Pope entered to frustrate, in large part, this result, The commission had made much use of the Codex Amiatinus which the Pope held in little esteem. Moreover, the corrected text differed much from the Bibles of Louvain which Sixtus prized. He, therefore, read carefully their work, approved what he pleased of it, and rejected a great part. Card. Carafa protested, but in vain.

Sixtus, to his energy of character, added a certain stubborn, excessive trust in his own judgment. His action here is inexcusable, and rendered void the conscientious labors of the best talent of Italy. After thus inducing these changes, Sixtus committed the printing of the work to Aldo Manuzio, who had succeeded his father as printer at the Vatican press. The Augustinian Angelo Bocca and Francis Toleti, S. J. were appointed to see the work through the press. The Pope himself read every page as it came from the press. The work appeared in a magnificent volume in 1590.

The text is preceded by the famous bull, Æternus ille, of Sixtus V. The text of the bull is given in full in Cornely, op. cit., p. 465, et seqq.

Protestants allege the bull as an evidence of the Popes fallibility in doctrine. Wherefore, we shall examine some of its salient points. The bull bears the date of the Kalends of March, 1589, and, as Sixtus testified to the Venetian legate on the third of the following July that the Book of Wisdom was then in press, and as numerous typographical errors were corrected before the edition was given to the public, we must infer that Sixtus wrote the bull in view of a future fact, and it is probable that the bull never was promulgated. But our defense of papal infallibility rests not on this data. The bull contains doctrinal import and disciplinary measures. These latter were unwise, and were prudently set aside by his successor. But in matters doctrinal, no man can find aught that is repugnant to Catholic faith in the bull. The constitution opens with a prolix description of the origin, and history of the Holy Scriptures. The Pope speaks of the various readings of the codices and their causes. And then declares that in these many various readings nothing was ever found which could injure faith or morals. This position no man can shake. The pontiff commends the Council of Trent for its remedial measure, and regrets that its execution has been deferred. He next speaks of the active part which he had taken in the revision, in which he states that he had expended many hours every day in judging of the labors of others, and selecting what seemed good. He had founded a fine printing press for the express work of printing these editions, and he had read the press proofs of the work. He declares, moreover, that it was not his mind to edit a new translation of the Vulgate, sed ut Vulgata Vetus ex Tridentinæ Synodi præscripto emendatissima, pristinæque suæ puritati, qualis primum ab ipsius interpretis manu styloque prodierat, quoad fieri potest, restituta imprimatur. He declares that, at times, where the Latin text was hopelessly defective, the sense had been sought from the Hebrew and Greek text. Sixtus testifies of his great veneration for Jerome, and insists repeatedly that care was taken not to change that which had grown venerable in the Church. He also declares that he had cut off the Third and Fourth Book of Ezra, the Third of Maccabees and the prayer of Menasseh, and certain other passages which were interpolated in the Vulgate.

At length the pontiff comes to this point: With certain knowledge, and in plenitude of our apostolic authority, we establish and declare that the Latin Vulgate which was received by the Council of Trent is without doubt or controversy this very edition which we have now corrected as best we were able and caused to be printed in the Vatican press, and we publish it to be read in the universal Christian world, and in all the Christian churches, declaring that this edition, which was sanctioned by the use of the Christian people, by the consensus of the holy Fathers, by the decree of Trent, and which is now approved by the authority of the apostolic power given us by the Lord, is to be received as true, lawful, authentic, and undoubted, in all public and private disputations, and in the public reading, preaching, and exposition of Scripture. And we strictly forbid for all future times any one to print the text of this edition of the Vulgate without the express permission of the Holy See; and let no one even privately make for himself another edition; and let no one during the next ten years dare to print this our corrected Vulgate elsewhere than in the Vatican press. And after the lapse of ten years, we order that no one shall dare print the Holy Scriptures except in accordance with the exemplar from the Vatican press, and having the authorization of the Inquisitor, or, if there be no deputy of the inquisition in the place, of the ordinary of the place, and we order that there shall be no change in anything.

The pontiff then forbids all marginal readings in the text, orders that all liturgical books be corrected in accordance with his edition, and declares to be without authority all other Latin texts. The constitution closes with the usual formula of promulgation, with an excommunication upon those who should dare infringe the bull, and is signed: Rome, at S. Maria Maggiore, A. D. 1589, the Kalends of March, the fifth year of our pontificate.

The only affirmation that is here contained is that his edition was the Vulgate of Trent. This is true, and could have been made of faith. The Vulgate, even before he or any other man corrected a word of it, was the Vulgate of Trent, and contained the substantial word of God. God had not permitted the Latin Scriptures to become substantially corrupt. He did not permit them to become thus corrupt in the Sixtine edition. While we deny that the bull was ever promulgated, and though it finds no place in the Roman Bullarium, there is no doctrinal falsehood in it.

As to its disciplinary enactment, all must agree that it was unwise and excessive. It was never imposed on the faithful, and the Providence of God brought it about that the Church suffered not from this popes unwise use of power. In fact, it seems that Pope Sixtus V. was unduly prone to exercise his power.

Sixtus work was done when order had been restored, and the law upheld in Italy. It times of peace he was not equally valuable to the Church. He died before his edition of the Vulgate was given to the public. After his death, by universal consent, it was judged necessary to correct the edition. The typographical part was poorly done. Waxed paper was pasted over certain errors, and in other places cancellations in ink were apparent.

The immediate successor of Sixtus V., Urban VII. died thirteen days after his election. Gregory XIV. succeeded in 1590, and immediately consulted with the Congregation as to what action was to be taken on the Vulgate of Sixtus. The tide of feeling ran high against Sixtus V., and the members of the Congregation moved that the work of Sixtus be proscribed. Bellarmine more wisely moved that the edition be corrected with all possible haste, and then published, that the credit of the defunct pope might be saved, and the scandal of the people averted.

The counsel of Bellarmine prevailed and Gregory at once instituted a congregation of seven cardinals and twelve theologians to revise the Sixtine edition. Card. Mark Antony Colonna presided over all the deliberations of the Congregation; and principal among the theologians were Agellius, Bellarmine, Morini, Toleti, and Rocca. The Pope was consulted on the most difficult passages.

The Congregation proposed as a leading canon in the work not to make a change from the accepted reading unless necessity required it.

The Congregation spent forty days in the examination of Genesis.

It became evident that, in this mode of procedure, years would be required for the revision.

Moved by this consideration Pope Gregory dissolved the Congregation, and organized a new body. He placed at the head of the new organization two cardinals, Antony Carafa Sr. and William Allen.

Under the direction of these two cardinals, eight theologians worked, principal among whom were Bellarmine, Morini, Agellius, Rocca, and Valverde. They withdrew to the palace of the Colonna at Zagarolo, and, according to the inscription placed in the palace in 1723, they finished their labors in nineteen days. The great work had been done by those who had labored before them in the correction, and they had only to select the best of what others had collected. In October of 1591 they offered the corrected copy to Gregory XIV. In the same month Gregory XIV. died. Innocent X., who succeeded him, died on the 30th of the following December.

In January of 1592, Clement VIII. was created Pope, and his first care was to complete the correction of the Vulgate. He appointed the two Cardinals, Frederick Borromeo and Augustus Valerius, to supervise the work, and commissioned Toleti, S. J., to co-operate with them. The cardinals confided the whole work to Toleti. This eminent man wrote upon the wide margins of the Sixtine edition, the corrections which had been recommended by the Gregorian Congregation, and also, in certain places, recommended certain readings which he had approved by collation of the best MSS. On the 28th of August, 1592, Toletis work was submitted to the cardinals and approved by them, and Rocca was commissioned to write them on the margin of a copy of the Sixtine edition for the printer.

At this point Valverde interposed an objection. Being an able Hebraist, he bore it ill that the Vulgate had not in all places been rendered conformable to the Masoretic text. He presented to the Pope a libellus, wherein were over two hundred passages in which the Vulgate differed from the Hebrew. The Pope took counsel, and after mature deliberation, forbade Valverde ever, in word or writing, to treat of this difference. Such treatment of a man seems to us harsh, and subversive of human liberty, but we must consider the nature of the fact and the circumstances. The proposition of Valverde was against the first design in all the corrections, which was not to re-translate the Scriptures from the Hebrew, but to restore the pristine text of the Vulgate. The divergencies were not in matters of faith or morals; in many cases the Masoretic text has no more claim to purity than the Vulgate; the people were waiting for the Bible, and prone to ugly rumors regarding the delay; to put into execution Valverdes proposition, would have necessitated a long period of toil, for they could not adopt his readings on his sole authority; scholars can always collate the two texts, so that no real necessity existed for the changes; and finally, had Valverde been allowed to speak his views to the public, an ignorant cry would have been raised against the Latin text of the Catholic Church, and faith would have suffered thereby. There were but two ways, either to do what he advised, or restrain him from speaking. The former was not possible at that time; the latter was wisely adopted.

Clement VIII. appointed Toleti to supervise the printing of the Vulgate; and Angelo Rocca to correct the proofs. The edition was pushed rapidly forward, and completed before the end of 1592. And thus, at last, the design formulated in 1546 by the Fathers of the Council of Trent, and approved by the Pope, was put in effect, and the Church received an authentic version of Scripture.

The edition differed not in external form from the Sixtine edition. It was printed by Aldo Manuzio, who had printed the edition of Sixtus. Moreover, it bore at first the name of Sixtus in its title: Biblia Sacra Vulgatæ Editionis Sixti V. Pont. Max. jussu recognita atque edita. It was not till 1641 that the name of Clement VIII. was placed in the title page, and the honor of the work was given to whom it by right belonged. Since that time it is called the Clementine edition. It differs from the Sixtine edition in over three thousand texts.

The preface of the Clementine edition, which is supposed to have been written by Bellarmine and Toleti, candidly admits that certain things quae mutanda videbantur were left unchanged to avoid the scandal of the people, and because there was some doubt whether the original texts had remained in such passages free from corruption.

The edition, therefore, does not lay claim to absolute perfection, but it is, without doubt, the best translation of the Scriptures in any language. Yet, we still think that the Church with her immense resources, human and divine, could prepare a better edition, and we look forward to future times to add this glory to the works of the Catholic Church.

The difference between the Sixtine and Clementine editions was made the subject of a fierce attack on papal infallibility by Thomas James, in a work entitled Bullum Papale, London, 1600. He has been ably refuted by Henry Bukentop, in the excellent work אוֹר מֵאוֹר, Lux de Luce, Brussels, 1710. The line of defense is the same as we have pointed out in treating of Pope Sixtus work.

In the preface to the Clementine edition it is frankly admitted that certain things which ought to be corrected were left unchanged lest the people might take scandal on account of too many changes, Lucas of Bruges examined and noted over four thousand places in the Clementine Vulgate which demanded correction. This long deferred work is now in some measure to be done. Pope Pius X. has entrusted to the Benedictines the first work, that of collating the MSS of the Hieronymian version. What the next move in the work of correction will be one can not say. It is to be hoped that a more thorough revision will be effected than that of the Council of Trent. To make a competent revision is a labor whose magnitude can scarcely be realized. Jeromes own labors must be revised, and this necessitates the collation of the MSS of the ancient versions, and the revision of their texts. In the New Testament the Revised Edition of Oxford effected a very creditable revision, because the Greek MSS had been collated by many eminent scholars; but the Old Testament of the same edition is merely a servile translation of the Masoretic text, with conjectures where the sense is defective. Such a translation of the Masoretic text for a revision of the Vulgate would be of no avail. The Catholic Church can command the coöperation of many scholars; the times demand a thorough and complete revision; and the labors now auspiciously begun will be watched with interest.

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