Friday, December 2, 2016

Vetus Latina Workshop

If you're interested in the textual history of the Bible, and you've a particular interest in the history of the Old Latin (pre-Vulgate) text, and you can spare the cash for a last minute flight to Germany, then the Vetus Latina Workshop is for you!

This seems like it would be an informative two days. The process of producing the Vetus Latina Bible moves at a plodding pace. Hopefully the workshop indicates that academic interest is growing in this area.

I suspect we will never be able to piece together the complete Old Latin text of the Bible. It is often under appreciated how much the Vulgate swept away from the textual history of Latin Christianity's sacred text. Among the books typically labeled Apocrypha, the Old Latin text is preserved in I and II Maccabees, III and IV Esdras, Wisdom, and possibly Sirach as well. Otherwise, the Old Latin text (based upon the textual tradition contained in the LXX) was displaced by Jerome's text (for the mainline Old Testament books) and his revisions of the gospels and the epistles.

Counter-Reformation piety has fed the idea of reverencing Jerome's text (which in the case of Judith was a clear paraphrase, while other books he would continue to refine in the text of his commentaries). The reverence is perhaps unbalanced. The degree to which Jerome's text was a break with the previous Latin tradition and caused a shift in the religious expression of the Western Church over the course of centuries (it took centuries for what we know as the Vulgate to gain acceptance) is largely open to question. Massive textual changes typically correspond to seismic shifts in a religion. The few Old Latin books that survive in toto offer a limited glimpse into an earlier strata of the Western Church that is perhaps permanently buried beneath subsequent layers of development.

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