Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Cheers for St. Jerome!

Don’t miss the “FIUV Position Paper 5: The Vulgate”. I read it at RORATE CAELI.  It is indeed a masterful piece in every way, but I want to quote a couple paragraphs in particular:

"6.     While the Old Testament of the Neo Vulgate is based on the Masoretic Hebrew text, the Vulgate and the ancient Latin Psalters depend upon the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. The Instruction Variatates legitimate (1994) describes the Septuagint’s production as ‘an enrichment of the Scriptures’ ‘under divine inspiration’,[9] a judgment which reflects the consensus of the Fathers.[10] It reflects both a more ancient Hebrew manuscript tradition and a more developed theological understanding, than the Hebrew versions directly available to us. It is noteworthy that it is used in the New Testament, in some cases precisely because of its variance with the Hebrew.[11] It was the Septuagint which was the basis of Scriptural commentary and exegesis by the Greek Fathers, and by using Latin translations based on the Septuagint, Latin Fathers and Doctors were able to work in continuity with them.

7.      In short, the Septuagint translators’ own reading of the Old Testament forms a key link in a tradition of interpretation adopted and developed further by the New Testament authors and the Fathers, Doctors, and scholars of the Church right up to modern times. It is this tradition of interpretation which is reflected in the liturgical use made of the Old Testament, especially the Psalms, in the ancient Latin liturgical tradition.

8The importance of the ‘entire tradition of the Latin Church’ is referred to in the passage of Sacrosanctum Concilium quoted above, and is reaffirmed emphatically in Liturgiam authenticam:
       'The effort should be made to ensure that the translations be conformed to that understanding of biblical passages which has been handed down by liturgical use and by the tradition of the Fathers of the Church, especially as regards very important texts such as the Psalms and the readings used for the principal celebrations of the liturgical year; in these cases the greatest care is to be taken so that the translation express the traditional Christological, typological and spiritual sense, and manifest the unity and the inter-relatedness of the two Testaments.'[12]"

I cannot remember ever seeing such a succinct and eloquent explanation of the importance of the Septuagint in the life of the Church and its liturgy. This Position Paper adds much to what we need to mean when we are talking about the hermeneutic of continuity.

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