Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Answering Msgr. Knox in 2013

On page 34 of the the Baronius Press edition of On Englishing the Bible by Msgr. Ronald Knox, he says, regarding his translation of the Bible: "My own idea has been to secure, as far as possible, that Englishmen of 2150, if my version is still obtainable then, shall not find it hopelessly 'dated'."

As of the writing of this post the year is 2013, which if my math is correct is still closer to the 1950's than to the year 2150.   Do you think the Knox Bible, as of right now, is "hopelessly dated?"


Unknown said...

For most readers, sadly, Knox's version was already "hopelessly dated" by the 1980s or even 1970s. Contemporary translations have given us the Bible in a fully modern dialect that I don't believe Knox could have ever seen coming. Nobody ever thought that the world would ever start moving as fast as it does now.

Theophrastus said...

I'm afraid I have to say it is "hopelessly dated."

Knox began his translation before Divino Afflante Spiritu, so his choice of translating from Vulgate is understandable, but in 2013, with the principle of translating from original languages now well established, the Bible seems a bit of an oddity.

I am glad that Knox is back in print (after having been out of print for several decades), but I could not imagine recommending Knox to anyone as a primary Bible.

Biblical Catholic said...

Know didn't make a choice of translating from the Vulgate, he was commissioned with the task of translating from the Vulgate, it wasn't his choice, it was what he was told to do.

In 'On Englishing the Bible' he talks in some depth about how felt obligated by the commission he was given to stick as closely to the Latin text as possible, even when he believed the text to be in error, he almost always simply translated the error.

As far as whether Knox achieved his goal, unfortunately he did not. He translated into a dialect which even at the time of publication was already old fashioned and out of date. Compared to the KJV, the language is modern, but compared to the RSV and the translations which would follow it is very old fashioned.

The language he used was a compromise, he wanted to break free from archaic, Elizabethan English completely, but felt unable to do so, and so made the compromise of modern English with archaic pronouns, which is essentially the same compromise that the translators of the RSV made, although they retained far less of the archaic pronouns than had Knox. It was inevitable that such a compromise would lead to a more decisive break from tradition by completely repudiating archaic language. But I think it happened a lot more quickly than either Knox or the translators of the RSV had anticipated. Within 15 years of the publication of the RSV, there were already translations, such as the Jerusalem Bible, which used fully modern English.

It is too bad the Knox died relatively young and so soon after publishing his translation, because I bet that it he was alive in 1970, he would have revised his translation to completely modern language. Than his goal might have been achieved.

Javier said...

I repeatedly read that translating from the original biblical languages is deemed far superior than translating from the Vulgate. But the earliest complete surviving manuscript of the Bible in the original languages, the Codex Leningradensis, dates from the year 1000 CE. The earliest complete surviving manuscript of the Vulgate predates it by two centuries. What is then the rationale for deeming the Codex Leningradensis more trustworthy than the Vulgate?.


Javier said...

A correction to my previous post: Codex Leningradensis is the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible, then it contains only the Old Testament.
I don't know the date for the oldest manuscript of the complete greek New Testament.

Javier said...

I've found it: it is Codex Sinaiticus, dating from 330 CE. It then beats clearly in age the oldest Vulgata mansucript.
I think my question remains open in regards to the Old Testament.

Biblical Catholic said...

The science (and it is indeed a science albeit not an exact one) of textual criticism is very complicated.

Neither the age of the manuscripts nor the number of manuscripts is what matters, what matter is quality of the manuscript. And it is not always the case that the oldest manuscript is the best. Nor is it necessarily true that the 'majority text' is automatically better. A text which is preserved in only one or two manuscripts could be more accurate than a text which is preserved in thousands of manuscripts.

There are a number of relatively reliable rules that one can apply to find out what text is the most accurate. For example, as the text changes, whether deliberately because scribes are modifying it, or accidentally because people are recording from memory, everything else being equal, the more complicated reading is the more likely to be accurate. If someone is going to paraphrase a text, they are probably going to paraphrase it to be simpler, not to be more complex.

Now, as far as it goes, the earliest complete, or nearly complete, manuscripts are the Codex Sinaticus and Codex Vaticanus, of the NT date from the 4th century, and there are fragments of the Greek NT dating from as early as the mid 2nd century. The famous Bodmer papyrus, which records a portion of the Gospel of John, is dated to around the year 125, which means that it is probably only a generation or two removed from the autograph. That's extremely early.

But by far the biggest reason is the simple fact that it is always better to translate from the original language rather than translation from a translation.

If you were tasked with translating the works of Shakespeare into Russian....and you had access to the original text in English....and another translation into French made a couple centuries later....and the English text was clear enough and accurate enough to be able to read....which would be better to use to make your Russian translation?

And in the case if the OT, the Vulgate OT is itself a translation primarily from the Greek, which means that the Vulgate OT is already a translation of a translation. Translating that into English means you have a translation of a translation of translation. You're getting pretty far removed from the original text by that point.

Javier said...


you're answer makes sense. Still, you are wrong about the Vulgate OT being a translation from the Greek. It is a translation from the Hebrew. And it was done by Jerome while he lived in the Holy Land. And one might hypothesize that the hebrew manuscripts to which Jerome had access in 400 CE were closer to the source than Codex Leningradensis.

Timothy said...

Dated? I think so, particularly for the average Bible reader. Hopelessly? Maybe not. I think there may be two or three reasons for this: 1) Latin will remain an important language in the Church, so a translation based on the Vulgate will always posses a certain charm to a number of people. And at this juncture, the Knox is certainly more readable than the DRC.

2) The Knox Bible truly is unique. It does some things that few other Bibles dare to do, like attempting to replicate the acrostic in Hebrew Poetry with English. I have been in classes where the professor has made copies of the Knox translation of a particular pslam or proverb or even from the Book of Lamentations in order to show this. In addition, the translation does depart from the style found in the DRC and the KJV. I contend that while there are some differences, popular translations like the RSV, NRSV, and NAB are more similar than they are different. The Knox Bible is clearly different. Perhaps the only comparison would be found in the original Jerusalem Bible. (See the NEB as another example.)

3) Finally, I would say that the Knox's notes are quite good. They are not overwhelming by any means, but they are there. Crossreferences are present as well. I also think his emphasis on noting the differences between the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew makes his Bible a helpful resource.

Biblical Catholic said...

The other thing to remember is that the Vulgate is not really a translation so much as it was a revision. There were already several Latin versions in circulation, some for as long as 200 years before Jerome. Jerome was asked to take all the pre-existing Latin versions, edit and revise them, to create a definitive Latin text. And he actually did less translation than people think. He carried over fairly significant portions of the text, especially from the OT, almost completely unaltered from previous versions.

His work was more like what the KJV translators did about 1200 years later, taking all the best parts from all the previous editions and combining them into one, doing a complete translation from the original languages only when he believed that the sense of the original language had been completely missed in earlier versions.

Anonymous said...

Jerome's initial idea was simply to revise the OT, most of which was translated from the Septuagint. He soon abandoned that work and went on to translate, rather freely, directly from the Hebrew, whence his scorn for the deuterocanonical books, which he left mostly untouched (Sirach as translated into the Douay and as it appears in any modern translation hardly look like the same book.) The additions to Esther in the Vulgate are appended to end of the book, where they appear in the Douay, leaving them barely intelligible.

Jerome's Greek Psalter persisted, though, and it's where most of Christendom's messianic interpretations of the OT rest.

As for textual criticism, Biblical Catholic's right in pointing out that the age of a manuscript is far less important than its quality as a witness. And the Masoretic holds up very, very well, and in only a few places (Samuel, namely) is in need of serious correction.

I get a bit wary whenever I hear/read someone insisting that Jews don't know how to interpret or preserve their own scriptures.


Javier said...


some christians would argue that, in the case of Jesus, the jews failed -and still fail- at interpreting their own scriptures.


Biblical Catholic said...

I think that Jerome's alleged 'contempt' or what have you for the Deuterocanon is greatly exaggerated.

He had a preference for the Hebrew it is true, and he didn't like the fact that the books couldn't be found in a Hebrew original. But he also deferred to the judgment of the Church and in particular Pope Damasus I as far as their authority and their place in the canon. Like any good Catholic, when his opinion and the opinion of the Church differed, he deferred to the Church.

Moreover, it is also important to know that Jerome never really wanted to make the Vulgate at all.

He objected to being given the task for two reasons:

1 He was anticipating the brick bats from people who didn't like the changes he made to the traditional Latin text.....which by the way is a problem which has afflicted translators ever since....

2. He thought the job was bigger than could be done by any one man and didn't think he would ever be able to finish the task

Those are the two objections he sent to Pope Damasus, and the Pope basically responded 'tough' and so Jerome obeyed much to his chagrin.

The fact is, that Jerome didn't finish the task that he had been given, he finished barely more than half of the Bible, he was right that it was too big a task for any one person.

So there are actually some serious questions about just what the 'original' text of the Vulgate much of what we have today was made by Jerome, how much was carried over unchanged from earlier versions, and how much was actually done after he died by other people. Since it isn't really clear what was and was not done by Jerome, we can't really make assumptions about his alleged motivations for the final arrangement of the text. We don't even know what specifically he did, we certainly don't know why.

Instead of speaking of 'the Vulgate' it is probably better to refer to the 'the Vulgates' because there appear to have always been more than one version. And of course the natural copying errors that tended to creep into a text in the days before printing became an issue as well. Which is why the Council of Trent ordered that a full revision of the Vulgate be done. Which resulted in the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate of 1592. And the discovery of more manuscripts made it clear that even the Sixto-Clementine, although superior to earlier versions, was badly flawed, which is why Vatican II ordered yet another revision.

I just feel the need to point out the well knows flaws of the Vulgate because sometimes one encounters among certain Catholics a kind of 'Vulgate Onlyism', who claim that the Vulgate is a 'perfect' translation or that it has a unique authority not possessed by other versions. This is all nonsense.

Biblical Catholic said...

"I get a bit wary whenever I hear/read someone insisting that Jews don't know how to interpret or preserve their own scriptures."

The issue isn't that the 'didn't know' how to preserve their own scriptures. The issue is how much of the text they may have altered in response to the use of the OT by Christian apologists.

I don't think it is accidental that when it comes to the traditional Christian 'proof texts' the Christian meaning tends to be a lot clearer in the Septuagint than in the Masoretic text, or that the Christian proof texts tend to be somewhat muted in the Masoretic text compared to the Septuagint.

It's only natural that someone would get sick of having a particular text thrown in their face over and over by 'missionaries' trying to convert them and would eventually say 'to hell with this!' and change the text so that it can't be used against you anymore.

At the time period we are talking about the OT text was not standardized, and tended to be a lot more fluid than it is today, it was not considered impious or deceitful to paraphrase the text to prevent someone from coming to what you might regard as a 'faulty' understanding of the text.

The OT text used by the Jews came to be standardized fairly late into the Christian earlier than the fifth or sixth centuries at the absolute earliest.

Russ said...

Yes, hopelessly dated, as I am starting to become.

ThisVivian said...

Here is one obvious corruption of the MT, which has the appearance of intention:

Psalm 22 MT: "Like a lion, my hands and feet". It's nonsensical even by Hebrew standards. In the original Hebrew, it's somewhat nonsensical even compared to other corruptions of the text. It is translated in the NJPS as "Like a lion /they are at/ my hands and feet".

LXX: "They have pierced my hands and feet".

There are many other occurrences of this sort in the MT (not thousands, but dozens, or scores), primarily in the Psalms and Isaiah - two texts most heavily used by Christians in interpreting the OT.

Anonymous said...

I think that, with multiple critical editions of the Vulgate now available, the text could really use a good, modern translation. The Douay is certainly a poor witness (as its translators had no standard text from which to work, and the Challoner revisions consisted of just plugging in verses from the AV) and Knox wrote in a faux-antique English that was "hopelessly dated" from the day it was published.

Origen noted the same thing you did, but said it somewhat differently, pointing out how often Christian apologists were embarrassed and mocked by Jewish scholars when utilizing poor Greek or Latin versions. Origen felt this called for organizing variants of the Greek bible to test them against the Hebrew original, producing the lamentably-lost Hexapla. He felt that Christians were the ones prone to abuse and distort the scriptures.

And while its true as well that scribal transmission often resulted in some peculiarities, and that the Septuagint and Vetus Latina preceded standardization of the Hebrew, I don't know that we've uncovered any evidence of some kind of deliberate corruption or de-messianification (which isn't really a word, but I hope you understand what I mean.) If anything, I think the differences in all the ancient versions (Vulgate, Lxx, MT, etc) show how difficult it is to even know what the "original" truly said, if there ever was a single "true" copy of the books of the Hebrew bible, which seems simplistic. There may have been, from the very beginning, textual differences among scribal schools.

But I take a largely historical, rather than theological, view of the Bible. I feel that Christian interpretations of the Hebrew tend to insert historical anachronisms that weren't in the text to begin with. I feel that Christians do to the Hebrew Bible what Muslims wrongly claim Christians do to Jesus, deliberately distorting the teachings to support our doctrines. Muslims are wrong to tell Christians that we don't know how to read the Gospel. Christians are wrong to tell Jews that they don't know to read the Law and the Prophets.


ThisVivian said...

God Himself said all of the law and the prophets foretold his coming. This means, as the author of the law and the prophets, he knew exactly what they meant, and how they were meant to be read. When God tells you his Book foretells his coming in the law and the prophets, that means this: the law and the prophets foretell his coming, and those who read it otherwise are either of hardened heart of deceived of the Almighty author's intent.

There's a difference: the difference renders your example moot and irrelevant. The difference may appear small to someone who takes the "historical view" - history without theology is not history at all, but just a disconnected series of facts with no uniting principle - and philosophically naive, but the difference is thus: Christianity is true. Islam is false.

Now, history which deliberately excludes philosophy and theology, and is inherently atheistic, will always be extraordinarily distorted prima facie.

Truth can not be compared to falsehood, compared to which truth has much greater rights.

Another instance, less savouring of intention:

Is 7:14 MT: "maiden".

Is 7:14 LXX: "virgin".

In this case, I believe the LXX translator(s) did their job, and interpreted the word in the most likely semantic field possible, and that later Jews did not corrupt the reading of the Scripture, but attempted to redefine the word to exclude possibility of virginity. In the process of so doing, "A sign from the heights of heaven or the depths of hell" becomes an everyday occurrence, and the entire passage nonsensical.

Later, post-Christ renderings of the TNK in to Greek replaced "virgin" (parthenos) with "possibly-to-likely non-virgin girl of marriageable age" (neanis).

The Hebrew word which supposedly "should" have been used to indicate the virginity of the girl in Isaiah's prophecy of Mary is "betula", which, unsurprisingly, unlike even "almah" (there is not one instance of the word "almah" being used in the TNK where it can be conclusively proven that the word refers to a non-virgin), is used several times of women who are married, have been raped, or are otherwise lacking virginity - making it a word supremely unsuited to indicate virginity in the prophecy of the Virgin Birth, and "almah" being left as the only correct alternative. It has a larger semantic field than our "virgin"; the Greek "parthenos" does not, and the LXX translator(s) narrowed the semantic field appropriately, according to all of the laws of exegesis, in accordance with the context (of a miraculous sign).

Both "betulah" and "almah" could conceivably be rendered by "neanis" and "parthenos": "almah" is a better fit. Thus, the word itself undergoes a metamorphosis, and a redefinition, when the niqqud can not be changed to make the passage nonsensical (as it was changed, but the consonantal text retained, in Psalm 22).

This is evident even in some layers of the Midrashim, where Jesus is called "Jesus ben Pantera", "Pantera" being a corruption of "Parthenos".

Anonymous said...

CJA Mayo:

Psalm 22 is an interesting one which can be read in a few different ways. The NJPS reading, which follows the 1917 JPS, is certainly more plausible than something like the Douay's nonsensical "They have dug my hands and feet." The psalm mentions lions in an earlier verse, so it's not unlikely that the simile is furthered in the later verse.

Oxford's REB has " [T]hey have bound me hand and foot. I tell my tale of misery," with no mention of bone-counting, perhaps reading it metaphorically. Binding instead of piercing is matched in Robert Alter's version.

My preferred version is in the NAB's 1991 psalter, the only rendering that ever made sense to me, "So wasted are my hands and feet/ that I can count all my bones."

I tend not to assume that the verse which best admits a messianic interpretation must be the "true" one.


Biblical Catholic said...

You're right that 'there never was a single true copy of the books of the Hebrew Bible' which is exactly what I meant when I said that the standardization of the text was fairly late.....the Hebrew did not start to become standardized until, at the absolute earliest, the 5th and 6th other words, well into the Christian era, which means that the Masoretic text, which became standardized around the 10th century....with the dialectical marks becoming standardized a couple centuries later, reflects a Jewish tradition which is largely in reaction against Christian and reflects a desire to refute Christian apologist appeals to the OT text. There is basically no one, even among Jewish scholars, who thinks that the OT Hebrew was standardized before the Christian era.

Theophrastus said...

The theory that a conspiracy of Jews somehow altered the Hebrew text to slightly obscure some messianic references (while leaving many in) does not enjoy wide academic support.

Among the problems that the theory faces include:

(1) We have ancient versions of Isaiah (the Dead Sea Scrolls Great Isaiah Scroll has been carbon-14 dated at least four times, dating it 335-100 BCE). Were there explicit Christological reference that were removed in the Masoretic version, one would expect to see them in the pre-Christian Dead Sea Scrolls.

(2) Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho which dates to the second century CE already talks about differences in interpretation between Christian and Jews at a date well before Christianity became a major religion. This seems to suggest that scriptural differences between the Septuagint and Hebrew Bible existed at a much earlier date than we are discussing.

The scholarly consensus is that while there was no systematic alteration of the Hebrew Bible to eliminate messianic references.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Theophrastus, for saying succinctly what I was on the verge of saying much more angrily. My hackles are raised when I encounter someone talking about any kind of "Jewish conspiracy."


Timothy said...

"Jewish Conspiracy" talk or anti-Semitism are not welcome on this blog. We had an issue a couple years back with some commentators (trolls) who were taking issue with B16's comments on the priority of the Church's evangelization of the Gentiles primarily, which he elucidated in his second volume on Jesus of Nazareth. That caused the comments on this blog to be moderated ever since.

With that being said, I do not believe the comments thus far are intending to be anti-Jewish in that sense. I am sure it will remain that way.

Theophrastus said...

Getting back to the actual topic of this post -- the Knox Bible ....

I had a fruitful e-mail exchange with Tim over reviews of the Knox Bible from the 1940s. I may write about that later, but what Tim alerted me to is just how much the Knox Bible changed between the three volume hardcover set (two volumes of OT, one of NT) and its later publication in one volume.

Tim pointed out some specific verse translations that were criticized in the 1940s by reviewers had changed substantially.

For example, the hardcover version I have of Exodus 15:4 reads:

Ja-ve, the warrior God, Ja-ve, whose very name tells of Omnipotence!

while the Baronius Press edition has

The Lord, the warrior God, whose very name tells of omnipotence!

Note that this is not just a change in the name of God, but also a change in sentence structure. It seems that in some ways, Knox's earlier translation is a bit more daring than the later version (in the case of the NEB and REB, the REB was far more traditional in its interpretation of verses than the NEB, which was willing to consider new interpretations.)

This reminded of me answer #3 to Tim's "Seven Questions" here:

The project was quite a lengthy one. To start with we had to find the right edition - as Knox also published a couple of early drafts before it was approved by the hierarchy – and then we had to convert the text from hard copy into digital format.[...] The Diocese of Westminster was extremely helpful[;] [...] we were especially grateful that Archbishop Nichols granted a new imprimatur before we went to press.

Interestingly, the two OT volumes I own do not have imprimatur. I wish I understood the full history of edits to the Knox Bible better.

Javier said...

I apologize with anyone whose sensibilites might have been hurt.
I really didn't think that asking for the trustworthiness of Codex Leningradensis could possibly be construed as anti-semitic. Ignorant, maybe, but anti-semitic?. But it was.
After all, it was about a dispersed and persecuted community, that was close to being exterminated by the romans, and who had to keep copying a long and complicated book, by hand, during a whole millenium. Not exactly an easy task.


Timothy said...


Compare your older edition of Knox's Ruth 1:1, also mentioned Daiches, to the one in the Baronius Press edition:

"1 In the old days, when Israel was ruled by judges, there was a man of Bethlehem-Juda that took his wife and his two sons to live in the Moabite country, to escape from a famine."

Timothy said...


I am certain your comments were not meant to be anti-Semitic, you are always welcome to comment on this blog.

Biblical Catholic said...

I said, or thought that I said, repeatedly, that I am alleging no malicious or deceitful intent on the part of Jewish scribes.

The Hebrew was not standardized, and in fact it became standardized largely in response to Christianity.

There were many variant Hebrew texts in circulation and when confronted with Christians who made interpretations which attacked Judaism and attempted to convert Jews to Christianity, Jews therefore tended to shy away from renderings which appeared to favor a Christian interpretation and favored renderings which downplayed Christian interpretations of the text.

And since there was no standardized text at the time this was happening, they did not consider this to be either deceitful or impious. When a particular wording seems to favor your opponents, you tend to avoid that wording.

It's no different from what we see going on today in politics, no one ever talks about being 'pro-abortion' anymore, because being 'pro abortion' is seen as bad, so they favor the wording 'pro choice.' Likewise, no one ever talks about 'the inheritance tax' anymore, instead they talk about the 'death tax.' The phrase 'death tax' is a focus group tested phrase which puts supporters of the inheritance tax on the defensive, and puts inheritance tax abolitionists on the offensive.

And when the text was being standardized, the scribes chose the wording that most favored traditional Judaism instead of Christianity.

The Jews of the time did not, and to my knowledge, still don't, believe in what Christians would call 'plenary inspiration', i..e the exact wording of the scriptures is inspired. This being the case, paraphrasing the text to avoid a clear Christian reading, provided it did not radically alter the meaning, would not be regarded as impious or dishonest.

Indeed, it doesn't even have to be a deliberate decision, as people tend to choose wordings that favor their own views simply by subconscious habit or impulse.

It's no different from what is done in English translations today, where Catholics use the word 'bishop', where Protestants tend to use the word 'overseer', Catholics use the word 'presbyter' (i.e. priest) where Protestants tend to use the word 'elder', Catholics use the word 'Church', where Protestants tend to prefer 'congregation' or 'assembly' etc etc etc

So Jews tended to favor a Jewish text, where Christians tended to favor a Christian one. No assumption of conspiracy or malicious intent is required.

Theophrastus said...

Michael, I think I understand what you are trying to say, but you do not give evidence for your theory.

Again, I invite you to consult the pre-Christian (Dead Sea) Great Isaiah Scroll (which has all 66 chapters of Isaiah and is the oldest direct witness to the text). It has numerous minor variations from the Masoretic text, but there simply is no evidence of anti-Christian tampering. (I mention Isaiah because many Christological passages are identified in that book.)

Here are two standard studies of Hebrew Bible text criticism:

* Emanuael Tov's Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible

* Dominique Barthélemy, O.P.'s Studies in the Text of the Old Testament. (Fr. Barthélemy was a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the author of a widely cited work on Catholic Biblical theology.)

Neither Tov nor Barthélemy find any Jewish anti-Christian tampering to the Biblical text.


The Jews of the time did not, and to my knowledge, still don't, believe in what Christians would call 'plenary inspiration', i..e the exact wording of the scriptures is inspired.

This is certainly incorrect. I will only give a few citations, but you can find many more:

* Deuteronomy 4:2: You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it (RSV-CE)

* Pirkei Avot 1:1 in the Mishnah (c. 220 CE, but based on a strong oral tradition already present before the time of Jesus) on the divine origin of the Torah: Moses received Torah from Sinai and handed it down to Joshua; and Joshua to the Elders; and the Elders to the Prophets; and the Prophets handed it down to the members of the Great Assembly.

* Many Talmudic (c. 500 CE) references to the unchangability of the Torah and how the alteration of even a single letter rendered a Torah scroll "passul" (invalid). The latest technology is brought to bear to maintain the exact correctness of Torah scrolls; hand written scrolls on animal parchment are still used today in synagogues, but today they are also checked by computer.

* Maimonides' (1135-1204), 13 Principles of Judaism: the 8th principle is that the Torah has divine origin, and the 9th principle is that the Torah is immutable.

Biblical Catholic said...

"but you do not give evidence for your theory."

Because I don't have the time or space to write a dissertation....although I'm capable of doing so.

It's not really 'my theory' so much as it is 'the consensus view of Christian scholars up to about the 1950's'....there's a reason why the Eastern Churches actually use the Septuagint as their OT and don't really bother with the Hebrew at all. Historically, before the Reformations, Christians used the Greek OT, not the Hebrew. The interest in going back to Hebrew is comparatively modern.

Javier said...

Just for the record: St. Jerome, for his Vulgate OT translation, did not use the Septuagint. He did not use a greek translation. He deliberately discarded the Septuagint and used the Hebrew manuscripts to which he had access while in Bethlehem. The Vulgate is the first Catholic transalation from the Hebrew Old Testament. I understand that he even favored the hebrew Canon over the Greek Canon. And St. Augustin attacked him for preferring the Hebrew OT over the Septuagint. Probably, those hebrew manuscripts that Jerome used were the ancestors of Codex Leningradensis.

Theophrastus said...

Michael, things have changed since 1945:

* the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered and published; and
* we have seen the horrors of antisemitism.

Claims about Jews that might have been acceptable among Christians before 1945 now require evidence.

Regarding Hebrew: Pope Piux XII explains how Catholics lost contact with Hebrew (and Greek) in Divino Afflante Spiritu paragraphs 14. In paragraph 15, he says neglecting the Hebrew scriptures now risks "the stigma of levity and sloth."

They even have Hebrew classes and specialists at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary -- arguably the leading eastern seminary in the US.

I sincerely wish you lots of success in your continued study of Scripture.

owenswain said...

My wife and I both found it engaging at first, then "quaint" and in some places, dare I say it?, lacking.

I so wanted to really stay with this one but we have returned to the RSV/NRSV family and of late - and totally to my surprise - been very much taken with the NRSV.