Thursday, May 19, 2005

More Haste - Less Speed...

One of the tasks which the Council of Trent left in the hands of the Papacy was the production of an authoritative revision of the Vulgate (the Bible in Latin originally translated by St Jerome.) The energetic Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) (who was responsible for an incredible amount of urban devleopment in Rome) grew impatient with the time taken by the commission engaged in preparing the text and decided to take matters into his own hands. Working by night he concluded the work personally despite not being skilled in what would today be called 'textual criticism'. Copies of the Sixtine Vulgate were printed in 1590 to the distress of scholars who saw it as gravely deficient. Sixtus died later that year before managing to promulgate the bull declaring his translation to be the 'authoritative' version demanded by the Council of Trent. Immediately after his death efforts were made to gather all the sold and unsold copies of his Bible with the result that (I understand) in Rome only 2 copies survive to this day. His sucessor Clement VIII arranged for a comission of scholars (including St Robert Bellarmine) to correct the 4,900 or so errors and so in 1592 the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate was printed and was the 'official' Latin version of the Bible until 1979.

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