I wanted to write my dissertation on the subject because I saw how much people's faith was being damaged by this kind of idiotic sophistry. And there's also the underlying hubris of "St. Jerome was just an idiot compared to me" tone that's always there. No, these Fathers were brilliant men who were much closer to the Church and to its theological language (in Greek and Latin) than we ever will be.
Indeed! Just read the biography of St. Jerome, who translated the Vulgate.
SHOULD YOU READ?
The Importance of the
Latin Vulgate Bible
To begin, the Douay-Rheims Bible is
an absolutely faithful translation into Eng-
lish of the Latin Vulgate Bible, which
St. Jerome (342-420) translated into Latin
from the original languages. The Vulgate
quickly became the only Bible universally
used in the Western Church, or the Latin
Rite (by far the largest rite of the Catholic
Church, spread virtually worldwide). St.
Jerome, who was one of the four Great
Western Fathers of the Catholic Church,
was a man raised up by God to translate
the Holy Bible into the common Latin of
He was Greek-speaking from birth, and
being an educated man, he also knew
Latin perfectly, speaking it as we do Eng-
lish; he also knew Hebrew and Aramaic
nearly as well (he studied Hebrew, e.g.,
from approximately age 26 as a penance).
He even learned Chaldaic just so he could
check the translation of the Book of Daniel
(the only biblical book written in that lan-
guage), which he had commissioned some-
one else to translate for him. He lived at
Bethlehem and was near enough to the
Rabbinical school at Caesarea-Philipi that
he could consult with one of the learned
Rabbis, who agreed to help him with his
Hebrew—though rendering such help was
actually forbidden in Jewish custom. He
became so good at translating Hebrew that
at the age of 70 or so he translated the
book of Tobias in one night. Besides being
a towering linguistic genius, he was also a
great Saint, and he had access to ancient
Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the 2nd
and 3rd centuries which have since perished
and are no longer available to scholars today.
St. Jerome’s translation, moreover, was
(wherever possible) a careful, word-for-
word rendering of the original texts into
Latin. To quote one writer, “His sources
being both numerous and ancient, his
knowledge of the languages a living knowl-
edge, his scholarship consummate, he was
a far better judge of the true shade of
meaning of a particular word than any
modern scholar . . .” (Ronald D. Lambert,
Experiment in Heresy, Triumph Mag.,
March, 1968). Or, one might add, than any
modern scholar could ever hope to be!
Truly, God raised up for the Church this
great, great man, that He might, through
him, give us a faithful rendering of His
Divine Word into Latin—which was, until
only 200 years ago, the universal language
of all Western Christendom and which is
still today the official language of the
Catholic Church. Latin, moreover, as with
Greek, is still taught in most major colleges
and universities in the Western World,
which makes the Vulgate easily accessible
to scholars throughout the world yet today.
St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible has
been read and honored by the Western
Church for almost 1600 years! It was
declared by the Council of Trent (1545-
1564) to be the official (literally “authen-
tic”) version of the canonical Scriptures,
that is, the Bible of the Catholic Church.
Hear what that Sacred Council decreed:
“Moreover, the same Holy Council . . .
ordains and declares that the old LatinVulgate Edition, which, in use for so manyhundred years, has been approved by theChurch, be in public lectures, disputations,sermons and expositions held as authentic,and that no one [may] dare or presumeunder any pretext whatsoever to reject it.”
(Fourth Session, April 8, 1546).