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Revision of Vulgate

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In the spring of 1907 the public press announced that Pius X had determined to begin preparations for a critical revision of the Latin Bible. The need for such a revision had long been recognized and in fact it formed one item in the programme of the Biblical Commission established by Pope Leo XIII. In spite of the care which during forty years had been bestowed upon the text of the present authentic edition issued by Clement VIII, in 1592, it had been recognized from the first that the text would have to be revised some day, and that in some ways this Clementine revision was inferior to the Sixtine version of 1590, which it had hastily superseded. Many generations have passed away without the realization of this expected revision. The last few decades have been pre-eminently a period for the critical examination of texts, classical and other, and it has of late been frequently urged upon the ecclesiastical authorities that the time had come when the well-established principles of textual criticism should be applied to determine the most correct Latin text of the Holy Scripture. Private individuals, like the learned Barnabite Fr. Vercellone, had done something to prepare the way for such a work by the collection of manuscript variants, etc., and such works had received the thanks and other marks of approval from the authorities of the time, but no official action had been taken until Pope Pius X announced his intention of preparing for the revision.

In May, 1907, the abbots president of the various Benedictine congregations assembled in Rome received a communication from Cardinal Rampolla, asking the order in the pope's name to undertake the first stages in the process of revision of the Vulgate texts. Although the fathers fully recognized that such a work must necessarily be arduous, lengthy, and costly, they unanimously voted acceptance of the honourable task thus confided to them. In the autumn of the same year the present writer was appointed the head of a small commission of Benedictines to organize the work, to consider the best means of carrying out the wishes of the pope, and to determine the principles upon which the work of revisions should proceed.

As considerable doubt has been expressed as to the exact scope of the present commission, it may be useful here to state clearly that its end is not to produce a Latin Bible, to be proposed as an official text for the approbation of the Church, but to take merely a preliminary step towards that official version. The object is clearly set forth in the charge given by the pope to the commission. It is to determine as accurately as possible the text of St. Jerome's Latin translation, made in the fourth century. This text is admitted on all hands to be an absolute necessity as a basis of any more extended and critical revision.

The Latin text of the Sacred Scriptures had existed from the earliest times of Christianity. The translator or translators were unknown to St. Augustine and St. Jerome; but the former says that the old Latin version had certainly come "from the first days of the Faith", and the latter that it "had helped to strengthen the faith of the infant Church." Made and copied without any official supervision these western texts soon became corrupt or doubtful and by the time of St. Jerome varied so much that that doctor could declare that there were almost "as many readings as codices." It was this that as Richard Bentley, writing to Archbishop Wade, declares, "obliged Damasus, then Bishop of Rome, to employ St. Jerome to regulate the last revised translation of each part of the New Testament to the original Greek and to set out a new edition so castigated and corrected." This St. Jerome did, as he declares in his preface "ad Graecam Veritatem, ad exemplaria Graeca sed Vetera."

At the present day scholars are practically agreed as to the competence of St. Jerome for the work given him by Pope St. Damasus. He, moreover, had access to Greek and other manuscripts, even at that time considered ancient, which are not now known to exist; he could compare dozens of important texts, and he had Origen's "Hexapla" and other means of determining the value of his material, which we do not possess. It is obvious that the pure text of St. Jerome must form the basis of any critical version of the Latin Bible, and, what is more, that it must be taken into account in any critical edition of the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament and the various Greek texts of the New Testament, no manuscript copies of which are older than St. Jerome's Latin translation made on then ancient copies. Richard Bentley, the great scholar, as long ago as 1716, saw the importance of St. Jerome's translation. "'Twas plain to me," he writes, "that when that copy came first from that great Father's hand, it must agree exactly with the most authentic Greek exemplars; and if now it could be retrieved, it would be the best text and voucher for the true reading out of several pretended ones." Substantially, no doubt, the present authentic Clementine text represents that which St. Jerome produced in the fourth century, but no less certainly it, the printed text, stands in need of close examination and much correction to make it agree with the translation of St. Jerome. No copy of the actual text is known to exist; and the corruptions introduced by scribes, etc., in the centuries posterior to St. Jerome, and even the well intentioned work of the various correctors, have rendered the labours of trying to recover the exact text from existing manuscripts both difficult and delicate. This, however, is the work which must be done as the first step in the revision of the Vulgate. It is consequently the aim of the present commission to determine with all possible exactitude the Latin text of St. Jerome and not to produce any new version of the Latin Scriptures. Of course it is altogether another matter to determine how far St. Jerome was correct in his translation: to settle this will no doubt be the work of some future commission.

In the autumn of 1907 the present writer reached Rome to make preparation for beginning the work thus entrusted to the Benedictine Order. From the first Pius X manifested his personal interest in the work, and discussed various points of detail. He made it clear that he desired the work of revision to be conducted upon the most approved scientific methods of modern times and that no expense was to be spared in securing thorough and accurate work in the collation and comparison of manuscripts On 3 December, 1907, he addressed a letter to the Commission in order to make clear in as public a manner as possible his own personal interest in the work. He expressed his desire that an exhaustive examination of the libraries of Europe, public and private, should be made to bring to light any manuscripts hitherto unknown and to furnish reliable copies and collations of the most important early texts. He urged all who in any way could assist in furthering this work to do so, either by personal service or by helping to meet the expenses by their alms, and upon all such he bestowed his Apostolic blessing.

Before the beginning of the year 1908 the small Commission had begun their sittings in Rome, which were chiefly occupied for some months in considering how best to start the work. For the purpose of bringing together the collations of the various manuscripts, it was determined to print an edition of the Clementine text for the use of those engaged in the work. Three courses seemed open: the variants could be entered on slips of paper with reference to some text already printed: or a chosen text might be mounted on paper and used for bringing together the various readings: or thereby the received text might be printed for their special work in such a way that the variations of manuscripts could be entered upon the sheets as prepared. This last method was chosen by the pope himself, who desired that the best system should be adopted in spite of the great expense entailed by printing the entire Bible.

The printing of this Bible occupied considerable time, and it was not until the autumn of 1908 that it was ready for distribution. The edition is printed in such a way that the print occupies about a third of each page, the rest being left blank; there are no capital letters and no stops; and no word is divided between two lines. In this way the printed text is most easily corrected according to any manuscript with which it is compared. If there is a capital letter in the manuscripts two strokes under the letter in the print shows this; if a word or letter, etc., is different in the manuscripts, it is corrected in the printed sheet in the same way that it is usual to correct a proof sheet. Additions of words or sentences or their absence in the manuscript are shown in the usual way. The result, when the printed sheets have been fully collated, is that the corrected copy of the bible, or any book of the Bible represents, or should, if properly collated, represent, the manuscript exactly. To secure accurate work the rule was laid down that no collation of any manuscript should be accepted as final unless the collation made by one worker should be gone over by another person.

The Bible printed in this way extended to nearly 5000 pages, the Old Testament occupying roughly 4000. The Psalms took up some 299 pages and St. Paul's Epistles 278. The version of the Psalms prepared for the workers was arranged in a new fashion, which has proved to be very useful in practice. St. Jerome was responsible for three versions of the Psalms. His first recension was made upon the old Latin version in use at that time. He compared it with the Greek of the Septuagint, and issued his corrections, which were accepted and passed into use, especially in Italy, becoming know as the "Romana version." After a brief time, however, St. Jerome found that the corrections he had made were not adequate, and he made a second recension with further corrections from the Greek, which subsquently was taken up in France, and was the version most in use in Gaul, etc., and became known as the "Gallicana." Gradually this recension superseded the "Romana version", which, however, remained in use in Rome for a considerable time, and at the present day is still used in the Divine Office chanted at St. Peter's. The "Romana version" was that which St. Augustine of Canterbury, coming as he did from Rome, brought with him to England, and it apparently remained the common version in that country until the Norman conquest.

The two versions thus made by St. Jerome by corrections of the old Latin in view of the Greek naturally contain much that is the same. To show this at a glance the common part has been printed in the centre of the text and the variants on either side, on the one the readings of the "Romana", on the other those of the "Gallicana." By the help of this print it is possible to see at once what version is to be collated, and the vacant space on the page serves for the collation of either version. The third version made by St. Jerome at a later period of his life was translated directly from the Hebrew. Although St. Jerome considered that this version really represented the true sense of the Psalmist, it was never accepted by the Church for practical use. It is to be found in some Bibles, especially of Spanish origin, either as an addition to the usual "Gallicana version," or in place of it. For the purpose of collating this Psalter of St. Jerome from the Hebrew it was necessary to print the best text of it separately.

The printing of this Bible occupied almost twelve months, and the preparation of the text and the corrections of the proof sheets alone were no light task. One hundred copies were printed on the best handmade paper to be used in the collation of the most important manuscripts, two hundred on ordinary book paper for the less important, and one hundred upon thin paper for taking about to various libraries with greater ease than would have been the case with Bibles printed upon the heavier papers.

These sheets for collation have been in use since the early part of 1909, and already the collated copies, which have been returned to St. Anselm's, Rome, form a considerable collection of some sixty-five volumes. When the finished sheets have been received they are strongly bound into volumes containing portions of the Bible occupying perhaps six or seven volumes. Thus, when the full collation of the manuscript already begun is finished, there will be over a hundred bound volumes on the shelves of the working room in Rome.

For determining the importance of any text it is obviously of value to be able to settle the place or country from which the manuscript originally came. This is sometimes very difficult; and any help in settling this question is of considerable use, as it frequently shows the influence to which the manuscript was subject in the process of making. It is now understood that "capitula" or "breves", or, as we might call them, "tables of contents", which in most ancient Bibles are to found before each Book of Sacred Scripture, are of great value in determining the place or country of origin. As these "capitula" were no part of the sacred text, they frequently varied in number and in form of expression, according to the desire of the authority engaged upon copying a manuscript. The ordinary scribe would, no doubt, copy exactly what was before him, even the "capitula" of the particular volume. But any specially learned man, or one interested in the sacred text for some reason, or other, would not hesitate to make his own divisions and express the contents in his own way. These probably would be copies subsequently by local scribes, and the variations would now very possibly determine the locality where the manuscript was made. For the purpose of collecting and arranging the various versions of these "capitula", tables were drawn up, in which the changes can easily be noted. Already the collection of these extra-biblical portions of the older manuscripts is so considerable that it has become possible to arrange them provisionally in a volume which is being printed to assist searchers in the various libraries to classify, at least in the first instance, the manuscripts that pass under their hands.

Another work that it has been found necessary to undertake immediately, in order to assist the worker in the libraries of Europe, is a provisional hand list of Latin Biblical manuscripts, entire Bibles, portions of Bibles or fragments. In this it is hoped to give indications of where, if at all, these manuscripts have been noted or published, and gradually that the Commission will be able to collect and publish a corpus of all early Latin Biblical manuscripts and fragments. The preparation of this hand-list is not well advanced.

In the course of researches for manuscripts of the Vulgate many fragments of the older Latin version and other important documents were likely to come to light. As, moreover, it was necessary, in order to determine the text of St. Jerome, to know the versions of Scripture which he had to work upon, the commission determined to publish from time to time the most important of these under the general title of "Collectanea Biblica Latina." In this collection will appear two old Cassinese Psalters, edited by Abbot Amalle; fragments of the old Latin Bible, from the margin of the Leon Bible; and a manuscript found by Dom Donatien de Bruyne in Spain; the Tours Pentateuch, edited by Dom Henre Quentin, etc. It soon became apparent to the Commission that it was necessary to use photography in the work of collating. The utility of a great collection of photographic representations of biblical manuscripts is obvious. No one is absolutely exact in collating, and when the various collations ae being compared, doubt as to the correct reading must sometimes arise. If the collation is one that has been made of a transcript in some far distant library, it is impossible at the moment and without great difficulty and the expenditure of much time and trouble to resolve the doubt. The possession of a photographic copy of the manuscript allows the reading to be verified in a few minutes.

Moreover, photographic copies assist the process of collation very considerably. If the photograph is really good it is easier work to deal with it than with a manuscript, and the worker is not bound to the hours and days of the library in which it is preserved. Moreover, photographs can be sent to people willing and able to do the work, who are unable to go to the place where the manuscript is.

It was resolved to procure the best possible apparatus, and Dom Henri Quentin charged himself with watching over the department for the commission. Mgr Graffin, who had long experience with the black-and-white process in the copying of Oriental manuscripts, placed his knowledge at the commission's disposal, and the results achieved have been even better than was anticipated. The machine used is capable of producing copies in any size that may be desired, and there are now bound volumes of photographs from folio size to small octavo. Copies of many of the most important Biblical manuscripts have already been taken in Paris, London, Rome, and elsewhere, and an entire photograph reproduction of the Codex Amiatinus, with its many hundred folios, has lately been added to the commission's evergrowing collection. The list made in November, 1911, gives some hundred bound volumes of photographs. Many of these have already been collated, and others are waiting to be dispatched to collaborators to undergo the process.

Owing to the defects in the manuscripts themselves, and sometimes of course in the photographs, it has been found necessary to collate the copy with the original text. Where there is any defect or place of doubt as to the reading of the photograph, the reading is entered in the margin of the mounted photograph. When this has been done the result is that the copy is as perfect a reproduction of the original text as it is possible to obtain, and the collections of photo-copies and manuscripts collated with printed texts of the commission's prepared Bible, form as good a mas of material for working purposes as it is possible to procure.

Besides the material for the revision of the present text, the Commission has been endeavouring during the past two years to amass a collection of all the Biblical texts already in print. This has been a difficult and costly process, but considerable progress has been made with this branch of the work, and the collection at the present moment upon the shelves of the working-room in Rome has already shown how useful and indeed necessary it is to have all these texts at hand for reference.

The process of gathering the variants of the different manuscripts for the purpose of comparison will be commenced almost immediately. A trial volume of one book of the Old Testament, with columns for some thirty manuscript readings was prepared at the beginning of 1911, and by large registers have been made to continue and extend the process. The experience gained by the trial volume shows that by this method it will be possible to divide the collated manuscripts into families, and otherwise to determine the best readings.

The work of exploring the various libraries of Europe was commenced almost at once. the contents of most of them were already arranged and catalogued, but for the most part the various Latin Biblical manuscripts had not been sufficiently studied or collated to allow the Commission to dispense with a fuller examination and a thorough collation. this was set on foot in various places at once. The finest collection of such manuscripts is probably in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris. For the past three years two, and sometimes three, Benedictines have been at work on this precious collection of Biblical treasure. The authorities have given the workers every facility for photographing and collating any manuscript desired. In this way the Commission now possesses complete photographs of several of the most important codices, and collations of all these are either already finished, or are in the process of being done by the collaborators. In London too the authorities of the British Musuem readily permitted the Commission to do what was desired to secure copies and collations. Last summer Dom Henri Quentin travelled with the photographing machine in Italy. At Florence he secured a large-sized copy of the celebrated "Biblia Amiatina", now in the Laurentian Library in that city. It may be useful to say a word about the almost romantic history of this manuscript, especially as it may very possibly be found to be among the most important manuscripts for the Vulgate text.

The "Codex Amiatinus", so-called because it at one time belonged to the monastery of Amiata, was much used by the revisers of the sixteenth century who produced the Sixtine version of 1590. It was then considered to be a very excellent Italian manuscript, and it was so considered until quite recent times. We now know that the volume was actually copied in the north of England about the year 700. On the second page of the codex there is an inscription saying that the volume was given to the monastery of Saint Saviour's Amiata by a certain abbot, Peter the Lombard. Some few years ago the celebrated De Rossi, examining these lines, pointed out that they were not the original lines, and that in particular the Abbot Peter's name had been written over an erasure and that the original name was a name like "Ceolfridas." This conjecture was confirmed by the Cambridge scholar, Dr. Hort, who pointed out that these very lines with changes in those places where changes had been made in the original were given in the ancient lives of the abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow as having been in the copy of the Bible taken from England as a present to the pope in A.D. 715.

The history of this precious volume is clear. St. Benet Biscop, the founder of the twin monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, went many times to Rome in the seventh century and brought back many manuscripts St. Bede, who wrote about the abbots of his monastery, tells us that on one occasion Biscop returned with a great Bible "of the new translation" (i.e. St. Jerome's Vulgate). Of this St. Benet Biscop's successor, Ceolfrid, had three copies made at Wearmouth: one for each of the monasteries and the third destined as a present to the pope. Abbot Ceolfrid resigned his abbey in 715, and determined to pay a visit to Rome in order to carry with him the great Bible he had prepared for the pope. St. Bede describes his setting forth on his journey with one of his monks bearing the large volume. St. Ceolfrid died upon the journey, and it is doubtful whether the Bible ever found its way to Rome: at any rate all trace of it was lost until it was recognized in the "Codex Amiatinus", through the joint scholarship of De Rossi and Dr. Hort.

The book itself is of great size, each page being nineteen and one-half by thirteen and one-half inches. It is written in the most regular uncial hand in two columns to the page. Not even a fragment of the other two copies mentioned by St. Bede was known to exist, until quite recently. Two years ago the present writer received, through the kindness of Mr. Cuthbert Turner of Oxford, two large photographs of a page of a Bible, which is undoubtedly a fragment of one of these two manuscripts Canon Greenwell of Durham had some years before obtained the leaf from the binding of an old account book which had been bound at New Castle in the year 1798. It would seem, therefor, that at that time some portions of these precious codices were in existence. It is possible of course that other portions may yet be found in other bindings. The leaf found by Canon Greenwell has now been acquired by the British Museum.

For the Gospels another celebrated manuscript, known as the "Lindisfarne Gospels", also written in the north of England about the same time (A.D. 700), may be noted here as furnishing a pretty page in the history of the sacred text. This wonderful manuscript, which is to be seen among the treasures of the British Museum was written by Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne (A.D. 698-721) and illuminated by his contemporary, Ethelwald. The illuminations, which manifest the characteristics of Irish art, are of exceptional beauty, and in some ways are not surpassed by any other contemporary manuscript The history of the volume deserves a brief notice. It was at Lindisfarne until the invasion of the Danes in 875 forced the monks to carry it away, together with the shrine of Cuthbert. Tradition says that whilst flying from the Danes the monks on reaching the western coast of the mainland conceived the intention of carrying their treasures over to Ireland. On making the attempt they were compelled to return, but not before the volume of the Gospels they were carrying had fallen overboard into the sea. It was recovered in a wonderful manner, which is related in the twelfth century by Simeon of Durham. Strange to say, some of the blank leaves at the end seem to show marks of water stains.

The great interest of the volume, apart from its artistic merits, lies in its pictures of the Evangelists, etc. Whilst the borders of these pictures are characteristic of the exquisite interlaced pattern work of the Irish scribes, the figures themselves are quite different and are suggestive at once of Byzantine models. It had long been a puzzle to archaeologists to account for the existence of such models in the north of England in the early part of the eighth century. It is seldom that so satisfactory an answer can be given to a problem of this nature. The text of the Gospels was copied from a volume brought into England by the Roman missioners, and thus coming from the south of Italy would probably have had illuminations made after the Byzantine style of art. This knowledge we owe to the researches of Mr. Edmund Bishop, which were first published by Dom Morin in the "Revue Bénédictine." The Gospel "capitula" (the indications of portions of the Gospels to be read in the churches) follow the Neapolitan use, and the calendar of the volume enabled Mr. Bishop to give the exact place as the island of Nisita, in the Bay of Naples. To fill up the story is easy: The Abbot Hadrian, who accompanied St. Theodore the Greek to England when he was sent over as Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Nisita. St. Benet Biscop, who acted as their guide to England, welcomed them to his monasteries in the north; and there can be little doubt that Abbot Hadrian brought thither the volume with Byzantine models, made in South Italy, which were copied by the Irish scribes as we see them today in the Lindisfarne Gospel Book.

In Rome a partial collation and an entire photographic copy have been made of the important Bible at St. Paul's-without-the-Walls. This is a fine copy of the Alcuin Bible, with many beautiful illuminated letters and pages. Probably the best exemplar of this Bible is the large codex at Zurich, a photographic copy of which has also been secured together with a collation of the Octateuch made for the Commission by the under-librarian, Dr. Werner. A third copy is the best known of the three, that at the Vallecelliana Library in Rome. A collation of the Pentateuch of the last has been made for the Commission by Father Bellasis of the Oratory; but it has not yet been photographed, owing to difficulties made by the custodians. The Commission came to the conclusion that the collation of these three manuscripts would be sufficient to determine the type of the corrections made by Alcuin. These should be of interest to Englishmen since for the purpose of his revision Alcuin sent over to the libraries of England to obtain the best manuscript evidence. The copy of the Alcuin Bible at St. Paul's in Rome has a special interest since in the thirteenth century Bishop Gradisson of Exeter ordered all the copies of the Sacred Scriptures in his diocese to be corrected according to a copy of the text of that Bible.

Whilst in Italy Dom Quentin went to the monastery of La Cara and photographed the interesting Bible of Spanish origin, which has long been in the possession of the monastery there. Most of the text has now also been collated on the manuscript by Dom Cottereau, who has spent many months at the monastery for that purpose.

It was supposed that a good deal of important material was likely to be found in the cathedral and other libraries of Spain; and in the spring of 1909 Dom de Bruyne undertook to make a voyage littéraire for the Commission in that country. His object was to examine the Biblical manuscripts known to exist and to see if others could be found. In his report to the Commission he says: "I had an excellent guide in the 'Handschriftenschätz Spaniens' of R. Beer. The two most important lacunae in it relate to the manuscripts of Roda and Urgel. It might well be thought that these two important collections had disappeared or been lost. I, however, found them intact or nearly so, the first in the Cathedral of Lérida, kept in a special book-case; the second at Urgel itself. In most of the libraries of Spain manuscript catalogues sufficiently good are to be found." It may be of interest to give a list of the libraries of Spain which were examined by Dom de Bruyne in the course of his journey. Barcelona (Archivio de la Corona de Aragon and the cathedral); Vich; Tarragona (Bibl. Provincial and the Seminario); Saragossa (Séo, N.D. del Pilar, and the university); Sigüenza; Madrid (Bib. Nacional, Academia de la Historia, Museo archeologico, Archivio historico nacional, university and Bib. Real); Escurial; Toledo; Leon (cathedral library and that of St. Isidoro); Burgos (cathedral, seminary, and Bib. provincial). Urgel, Gerona, and Pampeluna.

Dom de Bruyne thus sums up the results of his journey in Spain: "I have descriptions of all the Bibles, more or less at length, according to their age and importance. Some of the volumes have been collated, either wholly or in part. All the leaves of two Biblical palimpsests (Escurial, R. II, 18, and Leon, cathedral archives, 15) have been identified; the text of Baruch, up to this time only known by the Codex Gothicus Legionensis, which had been published by Hoberg from a copy in the Vatican made in the sixteenth century, has been collated upon the manuscript at Leon and compared with other independent copies I discovered. At Sigüenza I found a fragment in Arabo-Latin of St. Paul, which has been published in the 'Revue Biblique' in 1910. The interesting marginal notes of the same Leon Bible, published in part by Vercellone from the Vatican sixteenth-century copy, were reviewed and completed upon the original manuscript; and I found another independent manuscript text of these notes at Madrid, so that it will now be possible to give a critical edition of these important fragments." This edition of fragments of the old Latin text is being prepared by Dom de Bruyne, and will in due course be published in the proposed series of texts and studies, called the "Collectanea Biblica Latina", projected by the commission.

The Commission had during the past year been able to add to its collection of collations those of two manuscripts possessed by Mr. Pierpont Morgan. He kindly permitted Mr. Hoskier to examine and collate these manuscripts for the Commission. The first is the precious codex known as the "Golden Gospels." Samuel Berger has said of this volume: "In the important and ancient group of manuscripts written in golden letters the oldest is beyond doubt the famous Hamilton manuscript, 251." At the sale of the Hamilton collection in 1890 this volume was purchased for an American gentleman named Thomas Irwin of Oswego. On his death it was purchased by Mr. Pierpont Morgan and added to his collection. The collation made for the Commission by Mr. Hoskier has recently been published in a magnificent folio volume with several facsimiles in colour and god. Mr. Hoskier prefaced it by an ample introduction both palaeographical and critical. In this same volume is the collation of a fragment of the Gospels, also in the possession of Mr. Pierpont Morgan. This fragment of seventeen leaves is written in a remarkably fine unical hand, and the rest of the manuscript is to be found in the "Musée Germanique" of Nuremberg. A collation of this part was made in 1881, and printed by Dombart in the "Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie" (De Codice Cremifanensi Millenariio, Pars. I).

The work of collation is necessarily long and tedious. It requires great care and minute observation since nothing is too small to be passed over for the most insignificant thing may be found to throw light on a problem or help to identify a manuscript. A few tags of torn-out leaves in a manuscript of St. Paul at Monza have helped to clear up a disputed point of importance. The addition by the hand of a corrector of the Irish symbol for autem (but) in a very old Heptateuch in the Vatican Library is the sole certain indication in the volume that it had passed at one time under Celtic influences, and this has immediately connected it with St. Columban's colony at Bobbio. In the fragments of the old itala version written on the margins of the Codex Toletanus and in another manuscript at Madrid, appears the word mulecula. It is in no dictionary, but it appears in one of the inscriptions at Pompeii: mula docet muleculam. De Rossi conjectured that it was a barbarous Latin word for "fly", and this explanation was accepted until the present time, when, from the Greek of the passage of the old Itala, it evidently means "young mule." Thus the sentence at Pompeii becomes clear.

From time to time the Commission has come across fragments of Bibles in the course of researches in libraries, which show how precious manuscripts have been destroyed. When other and newer texts had been made for the use of some church or monastery there appears to have been little hesitation in using the older copies for binding purposes or, for the sake of the parchment, obliterating the original writing and putting some other text upon it. Thus in the bindings of the books at Durham and at Worcester some precious fragments of very old Bibles have been found. At Worcester the fragments recovered in this way may not impossibly be leaves of a Bible presented to Worcester by King Etheldred in the tenth century. Perhaps the most curious fragment of a Gospel Book that has come to the Commission's notice is a portion of a fine Spanish manuscript of large size. This, which contained the whole of the Gospel of St. John, had been torn out of a volume in such a way that several fragments of the Gospel of St. Luke had been left on torn leaves of fine parchment. The Commission has endeavoured in vain to locate the rest of the text from which this excellent Visigothic fragment had been so ruthlessly torn away.

The Commission has frequently been asked how the large expenses of its work are provided. It is obvious that the cost of printing the text of the Clementine Bible, as well as for gathering the collations, was not inconsiderable, especially as a part of the print was upon the best hand-made paper, to provide against the chance of loss through perishablility of a paper of inferior quality. The photographic apparatus was also a great initial expense, and although the photographs are taken at the smallest possible cost, the production of entire Bibles comes to a very large sum. Besides this there is the cost of mounting and binding the photographs in volumes, besides the binding of the volumes of completed collations. This may be called the mechanical side of the work. The work of research and collation is of course done gratuitously, but the journeys necessary for making proper researches in the libraries of Europe and the support of the scholars engaged in the work must be paid for.

To meet these expenses Pius X charged the present writer to make an appeal to the generosity of Catholics and others throughout the world. He thought that the need of some such revisions of the Latin text of the Holy Scripture was so obvious that the funds would be provided by the generously disposed. From the first the Pope declared that he would be responsible in the last resort; but so far the generosity of the faithful, particularly in America, has enabled the writer to find the money requisite to keep the work going after the pope had met the initial expense of printing the text for the collations.

About this page

APA citation. Gasquet, F.A. (1912). Revision of Vulgate. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Gasquet, Francis Aidan Cardinal. "Revision of Vulgate." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Beth Ste-Marie.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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