Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not pedantic but precise ,,,

My darling wife once referred to me as being "pedantic". I got a bit offended because being in the line of work that I am, precision in argument and citation of evidence is highly prized. So I prefer to think that I'm precise rather than pedantic, and nowadays so does my wife! (For some reason Proverbs 31:10-31 keeps springing to mind.)

Anyway à propos of precision, I alway get a little put out when I hear a mention of the Douay-Rheims bible (DRB) as the last word in Catholic versions of Sacred Scripture. Now I love the Douay-Rheims as much as the next man (or probably more) but let's be honest it's more or less unreadable! To the average, reasonably educated English-speaking Catholic it's well-nigh gibberish. At this point, many a well-intentioned Traditional-minded Catholic will be ready to hurl anathemas at me and probably to set up a stake to deal with me in properly Traditional way! However, the chances are that said Trad has never actually read the Douay-Rheims in the whole course of his life. Rather he has read the Douay-Rheims-Challoner (DRC) and thought it to be the same as the 1582 and 1609 editions of the New and Old Testaments respectively, published at Douai and Reims. A quick glance, though, at the bottom of the title page of just about any edition claiming to be a DRB will usually have a disclaimer to the effect that "The whole revised and diligently compared with the Latin Vulgate by Bishop Challoner in 1749-1752 A.D."

Just how different the DRB is from the DRC was shown by the Venerable John Henry Newman in his essay on the history of the DRB.

Anyway, this is my personal hobby-horse; when I hear someone lauding the DRChalloner as if it were the DRB, it gets my back up. I'd much prefer that they took the trouble to be accurate, that's all. Of course, this won't prevent me from pointing out that Baronius Press has a DRC and Sixto-Clementine Vulgate (SCV) in parallel text available for pre-order at approx €65. It's leather-bound, hardback and has a substantial "family Bible" look to it. Perfect for the budding Latin scholar!

I'm tempted to carry on ranting about how the Roman Missal (1962) doesn't use the Vulgate text half as much as you think it does (Introit for the Requiem Mass, anyone?) but perhaps I'll leave it there for now. I'm serious about the Baronius edition, though. It's built to last, and would make a perfect Christmas present for the TLM fan or wanna-be Latin scholar in your life.

(On a strictly private note: don't even think about it, my love. I already have 2 SCVs and a DRB, and no room for any more!)

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