Preface to the Latin Vulgate
regarding the First John 5:7 comma:
translation below was made by Thomas Caldwell, S. J. of Marquette University in
Milwaukee, WI. The translation comes from the Codex Fuldensis (c. A. D. 541-546).
This Latin codex is available at http://books.google.com, on pg. 399. The preface
claims to be by Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate. The prologue has
textual critical value because it bears on the question of the authenticity of
the Johannine Comma, 1 John 5:7 ("For there are three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.").
If the preface is
indeed by Jerome, it would provide evidence that there were Greek copies in his
day that contained the Comma, and that Jerome thought that others who seem to
have held to heretical doctrine had removed the verse from their manuscripts.
Such a belief on Jerome"s part would explain the presence of the Comma in
the overwhelming majority of copies of the Latin Vulgate. There is certainly evidence
for the Comma in the Old Latin Bible and various other sources before Jerome (see,
e. g., ""And These Three Are One"; A Case for the Authenticity
of 1 John 5:7-8 Rooted in Biblical Exegesis," Jesse M. Boyd. http://thross7.googlepages.com).
If the Prologue is not by Jerome, whoever wrote it would still make the assertion
that the Comma was originally present but was removed by unfaithful and heretical
both Jerome and the copyist of the codex Fuldensis died many centuries ago and
nobody today can ask them what actually happened. It is certainly true that many
opponents of the genuineness of the Comma would dismiss out of hand the possibility
that this Prologue truly comes from Jerome based on the assumption that there
cannot be genuine evidence at so early a date for the Comma, just as they dismiss
Cyprian"s quotation of the Comma in A. D. 251 ("The Lord says, "I
and the Father are one;" and again it is written of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Spirit, "And these three are one."" On The
Unity of the Church, Treatise 1:6. Trans. Church Fathers: The Ante-Nicene Fathers,
ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson.) on the assumption that Cyprian simply
cannot have quoted it, since it allegedly did not yet exist.
the fact that many people dismiss the evidence of this Prologue to the Comma from
unreasonable biases does not of itself mean that the work did indeed come from
IN EPISTULAS CANONICAS.
ita ordo est apud graecos qui integre sapiunt et fidem rectam sectantur"
Epistularam septem quae canonicae nuncupantur" ut in latinis codicibus inuenitur
quod petrusprimus est in numero apostolorum primae sint etiam eius 5 epistulae
in ordine ceterarum" Sed sicut euangelistas dudum ad ueritatis lineam correximus
ita has proprio ordine deo nos iuuante reddidimus Est enim prima earum una iacobi"
petri duae" iohannis tres" et iudae una 10 Quae sicut ab eis digestae
sunt ita quoque ab interpraetibus fideliter in latinum eloquium uerterentur nec
ambiguitatem legentibus facerent nec sermonum se uarietas inpugnaret" illo
praecipue loco ubi de unitate trinitatis in prima iohannis epistula positum legimus
in qua est ab infidelibus 15 translatoribus multum erratum esse fidei ueritate
conperimus trium tantummodo uocabula hoc est aquae sanguinis et spiritus in ipsa
sua editione potentes et patri uerbique ac spiritus testimonium omittentes"
In quo maxime et fides catholica roboratur et patris et fili et spiritus sancti
una diuinitatis 20 substantia conprobatur" In ceteris uero epistulis quantum
nostra aliorum distet editio lectoris prudentiae derelinquo" Sed tu uirgo
christi eusthocium dum a me inpensius scribturae ueritatem inquiris meam quodammodo
senectutem inuidorum dentibus conrodendam exponis qui me falsarium corruptoremque
25 sanctarum pronuntiant scribturarum" Sed ego in tali opere nec aemulorum
meorum inuidentiam pertimesco nec sanctae scribturae ueritatem poscentibus denegabo
Prologue to the Canonical Epistles1
order of the seven Epistles which are called canonical is not the same among the
Greeks who follow the correct faith and the one found in the Latin codices, where
Peter, being the first among the apostles, also has his two epistles first. But
just as we have corrected the evangelists into their proper order, so with God"s
help have we done with these. The first is one of James, then two of Peter, three
of John and one of Jude.
as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by interpreters
into Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor [allowing] the variety
of genres to conflict, especially in that text where we read the unity of the
trinity is placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at
the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept
just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention
of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened
and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested.
the other epistles to what extent our edition varies from others I leave to the
prudence of the reader. But you, virgin of Christ, Eustocium, when you ask me
urgently about the truth of scripture you expose my old age to being gnawed at
by the teeth of envious ones who accuse me of being a falsifier and corruptor
of the scriptures. But in such work I neither fear the envy of my critics nor
deny the truth of scripture to those who seek it.
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