Douai-Rheims Bible

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Title page from the 1582 Douai-Rheims New Testament, "specially for the discouerie of the CORRVPTIONS of diuers late translations, and for cleering the CONTROVERSIES in religion."
Title page from the 1582 Douai-Rheims New Testament, "specially for the discouerie of the CORRVPTIONS of diuers late translations, and for cleering the CONTROVERSIES in religion."

The Douay-Rheims Bible, also known as the Rheims-Douai Bible or Douai Bible and abbreviated as D-R, is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English. The New Testament was published in one volume with extensive commentary and notes in 1582. The Old Testament followed in 1609–10 in two volumes, also extensively annotated. The notes took up the bulk of the volumes and had a strong polemical and patristic character. They also offered insights on issues of translation, and on the Hebrew and Greek source texts of the Vulgate. The purpose of the version, both the text and notes, was to uphold Catholic tradition in the face of the Protestant Reformation which was heavily influencing England. As such it was a strong effort by English Catholics to support the Counter-Reformation.

Much of the text of the 1582/1610 bible, however, employed a densely latinate vocabulary, to the extent of being in places unreadable; and consequently this translation was replaced in 1752 by a version undertaken by bishop Richard Challoner. Although retaining the title Douay-Rheims Bible, the Challoner revision was in fact a new version, taking as its base text the King James Bible rigorously checked and extensively adjusted for consistency with the Clementine edition of the Vulgate.

Although the Jerusalem Bible, New American Bible (in the United States), the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version and the New Jerusalem Bible are the most commonly used in English-speaking Catholic churches, the Challoner revision of the Douay-Rheims is still often the Bible of choice of English-speaking Traditionalist Catholics.

<proof read to here!!!!!>

Contents

Origin

The English exiles for religious causes, or recusants, were not all Catholic. There were Catholic refugees on the European mainland as well as Puritan, and from the one, as from the other, there proceeded an English version of the Bible. The center of English Catholicism was the English College at Douai founded (in 1568) by William Allen, formerly of Queen's College, Oxford, and Canon of York, and subsequently cardinal, for the purpose of training priests to convert the English again to Catholicism. And it was here where the Catholic translation of the Bible into English was produced.

A run of a few hundred or more of the New Testament, in quarto form (not large folio), was published in the last months of 1582 (Herbert #177), during a temporary migration of the college to Rheims; consequently, it has been commonly known as the Rheims New Testament. Though he died in the same year as its publication, this translation was principally the work of Gregory Martin, formerly Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, close friend of Saint Edmund Campion. He was assisted by others at Douai, notably Cardinal Allen himself, Richard Bristow, and Thomas Worthington, who proofed and provided notes and annotations. The Old Testament is stated to have been ready at the same time, but for want of funds it could not be printed until later, after the college had returned to Douai; it is commonly known as the Douay Old Testament. It was issued as two quarto volumes dated 1609 and 1610 (Herbert #300). Surprisingly these first New Testament and Old Testament editions followed the Geneva Bible not only in their quarto format but also in the use of Roman type.

As a recent translation, the Rheims New Testament had an influence on the translators of the King James Version (see below). Afterwards it ceased to be of interest in the Anglican church. The city is now spelled Douai, but the Bible continues to be published as the Douay-Rheims Bible, and has formed the basis of some later Roman Catholic Bibles in English.

The title page runs: The Holy Bible, faithfully translated into English out of the authentic Latin. Diligently conferred with the Hebrew, Greek and other Editions. The cause of the delay was our poor state of banishment, but there was also the matter of reconciling the Latin to the other editions. William Allen went to Rome and worked, with others, on the revision of the Vulgate. The Sixtine edition was published in 1590. The definitive Clementine text followed in 1592. These revisions of the Vulgate allowed Dr Worthington, in the preface, to say: "we have again conferred this English translation and conformed it to the most perfect Latin Edition."<ref>Bernard Orchard, A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, (Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1951). Page 36.</ref>

Style

The Douay-Rheims Bible is a translation of the Latin Vulgate, which is itself a translation from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The Vulgate was largely created due to the efforts of Saint Jerome (345-420), whose translation was declared to be the authentic Latin version of the Bible by the Council of Trent. While the Catholic scholars "conferred" with the Hebrew and Greek originals, as well as with "other editions in diuerse languages,"<ref>1582 Rheims New Testament, "Preface to the Reader."</ref> their avowed purpose was to translate from the Latin Vulgate, for reasons of accuracy as stated in their Preface, but which also tended to produce, in places, stilted syntax and Latinisms. The following short passage (Ephesians 3:6-12), taken almost at random, is a fair example, admittedly without updating the spelling conventions then in use:

The Gentils to be coheires and concorporat and comparticipant of his promis in Christ JESUS by the Gospel: whereof I am made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given me according to the operation of his power. To me the least of al the sainctes is given this grace, among the Gentils to evangelize the unsearcheable riches of Christ, and to illuminate al men what is the dispensation of the sacrament hidden from worldes in God, who created al things: that the manifold wisedom of God, may be notified to the Princes and Potestats in the celestials by the Church, according to the prefinition of worldes, which he made in Christ JESUS our Lord. In whom we have affiance and accesse in confidence, by the faith of him.

Elsewhere, however, the English wording of the Rheims New Testament follows more or less closely the Protestant version first produced by William Tyndale in 1525; though the base text for the Rheims translators appears to be the revision of Tyndale found in an English and Latin diglot New Testament, published by Miles Coverdale in Paris in 1538. Furthermore, the translators are especially accurate in their rendition of the definite article from Greek to English, and in their recognition of subtle distinctions of the Greek past tense, neither of which are well represented in the Vulgate Latin. Consequently, the Rheims New Testament is much less of a new version, and owes rather more to the original languages, than the translators admit in their preface. Where the Rheims translators depart from the Coverdale text, they frequently adopt readings found in the Wycliff bible; as this version had been translated from the Vulgate; and had been widely used by English Catholic churchmen unaware of its Lollard origins.

Nevertheless, it was a translation of a translation of the Bible. Many highly-regarded translations of the Bible still use the Vulgate for consultation, especially in certain difficult Old Testament passages, but nearly all modern Bible versions go directly to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Biblical texts for translation and not to a secondary version like the Vulgate. (The reason that the translators preferred the Vulgate, in many cases, was explained in their Preface, pointing to assorted corruptions of various 'original' texts available in that era, to assertions that St. Jerome had access to manuscripts that were later destroyed, and to the Council of Trent’s decree that the Vulgate was free of doctrinal error.)

The translation was prepared with a definite polemical purpose in opposition to Protestant translations (which also had polemical motives). The notes and annotations reflected Catholic positions. The Catholic Biblical canon was naturally used, with the Deuterocanonical books in the Douay-Rheims Old Testament, rather than in the Apocrypha section as in Protestant Bibles.

Influence

The Douay Old Testament was reprinted once in the course of a century, and the Rheims New Testament a few times in the next century. In England, the Douay-Rheims Bible was ironically popularized by the action of a vehement adversary, William Fulke, who, in order to expose its perceived errors, in 1589 (Herbert #202) printed the Rheims New Testament in parallel columns with the Protestant Bishops' version of 1572, and the Rheims annotations with his own refutations of them; and this work had a considerable vogue among Protestant Reformers. Further editions of Fulke's work continued until 1633 (Herbert #480).

It deserves mention in the history of the English Bible because the Rheims New Testament was one of the versions consulted by the translators of the King James Version (the Authorized Version). The Authorized Version is distinguished from previous English Protestant versions by a greater tendancy to employ Latinate vocabulary, and the translators were able to find many such terms (for example: emulation Romans 11:14) in the Rheims New Testament. Consequently, a number of the latinisms of the Douay-Rheims, through their use in the King James Bible, have entered standard literary English.

Challoner Revision

Translation

The Douay-Rheims Bible, however, achieved little currency, even among English-speaking Catholics, until it was substantially revised between 1749 and 1752 by Richard Challoner, an English bishop, formally appointed to the deserted see of Debra. Challoner's revisions borrowed heavily from the King James Version (himself being a convert from Protestantism, and thus familiar with its style) whose translators had borrowed a few terms from the original Rheims NT of 1582. The use of the Rheims New Testament by the translators of the King James Bible is discussed below. Challoner not only addressed the odd prose and the Latinisms, but produced a version which, while still called the Douay-Rheims, was little like it.

The same passage of Ephesians (3:6-12) in Challoner's revision gives a hint of the thorough stylistic editing he did of the text:

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body: and copartners of his promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me according to the operation of his power. To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: and to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God who created all things: that the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church, according to the eternal purpose which he made in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

For comparison, the same passage of Ephesians in the King James Bible and the 1534 Tyndale Vesion, which influence the King James Bible:

KJV;That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
TYNDALE;That the gentiles should be inheritors also, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise that is in Christ, by the means of the gospel, whereof I am made a minister, by the gift of the grace of God given unto me, through the working of his power. Unto me the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what the fellowship of the mystery is which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God which made all things through Jesus Christ, to the intent, that now unto the rulers and powers in heaven might be known by the congregation the manifold wisdom of God, according to that eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesu our Lord, by whom we are bold to draw near in that trust, which we have by faith on him.

Publication

The extensive notes and commentary of the original were drastically reduced, resulting in a compact one-volume edition of the Bible, which contributed greatly to its popularity. Gone also was the longer paragraph formatting of the text; instead, the text was broken up so that each verse was its own paragraph. The three apocrypha, which had been placed in an appendix to the second volume of the Old Testament, were dropped.

This Challoner version, officially approved by the Church, remained the Bible of the majority of English-speaking Catholics well into the 20th century. It was first published in America in 1790 by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia. Several American editions followed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, prominently among them an edition published in 1899 by the John Murphy Company of Baltimore. In 1941 the New Testament and Psalms of the Douay-Rheims Bible were again heavily revised to produce the New Testament (and in some editions, the Psalms) of the Confraternity Bible, however so extensive were these changes, that it was no longer identified as the Douay-Rheims.

Challoner's 1749 revision of the Rheims New Testament borrowed heavily from the King James Version.
Challoner's 1749 revision of the Rheims New Testament borrowed heavily from the King James Version.

Names of Books

The names, numbers, and chapters of the Douay-Rheims Bible and the Challoner revision follow that of the Vulgate and therefore differ from those of the King James Bible and its modern successors, making direct comparison of versions tricky in some places. For instance, the books called Ezra and Nehemiah in the King James Bible are called 1 and 2 Esdras in the Douay-Rheims Bible. The apocryphal books called 1 and 2 Esdras in the KJB are called 3 and 4 Esdras in the Douay. A table illustrating the differences can be found here.

The names, numbers, and order of the books in the Douay-Rheims Bible follow those of the Vulgate except that the three apocryphal books are placed after the Old Testament in the Douay-Rheims Bible; in the Clementine Vulgate they come after the New Testament. These three apocrypha are omitted entirely in the Challoner revision.

The Psalms of the Douay-Rheims Bible follow the numbering of the Vulgate and the Septuagint, whereas those in the KJV follow that of Masoretic Text. For details of the differences see the article on the Psalms. A summary list is shown below:

Enumeration used by the Douay-Rheims Version, taken from the Vulgate Enumeration used by KJV and most modern English bibles; taken from the Masoretic Text.
1-8
9 9-10
10-112 11-113
113 114-115
114-115 116
116-145 117-146
146-147 147
148-150

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The Douay Rheims’ Version’s influence on the King James Bible

The question on the issue of the Douay Rheims’ Version’s influence on the King James Bible falls into two parts; 1)was there any influence?, and 2) if so how significant?

As a fact, the Old Testament “Douay” translation of the Latin Vulgate arrived too late on the scene to have played any part in influencing the King James Bible<ref>(as noted in Pollard, Dr Alfred W. Records of the English Bible: The Documents Relating to the Translation and Publication of the Bible in English, 1525-1611, London, Oxford University Press, 1911)</ref>.

However Dr James G Carleton in his book “The Part of the Rheims in the making of the English Bible” <ref>Clarendon Press, Oxford 1902</ref> argues for the influence of the Rheims New Testament, and states that it was mentioned in the “Translators to the Reader” preface of the King James Bible. On an examination of the preface there is no mention by name, but two comments which are not complementary and may refer to the translation; “Yea, so unwilling they are to communicate the Scriptures to the people's understanding in any sort, that they are not ashamed to confess, that we forced them to translate it into English against their wills” and in a jibe against those preferring a Roman Catholic Translation - “Nay, if it must be translated into English, Catholics are fittest to do it. They have learning, and they know when a thing is well, they can manum de tabula.” <ref>The latter phrase is from Cicero, Epistulae ad familiares – [Remove] your hand from the board!</ref>

In Chapter two his analytical method is described and Carleton admits on page 28 of his book “We have do with presumptions not certainties”. Even given that caveat, the thesis that the Rheims New Testament influence the King James Bible is demonstrated by Carleton’s work. In other words the Translators of the King James Bible were influenced by the Rheims translation.

Subsequent to Carelton's work, Ward Allen published a partial transcript of the proceedings of the General Committte of Review for the King James Bible (i.e. the supervisory committee that reviewed the work of each of the separate translation 'companies'), which records several explicit discussions of readings in the Rheims New Testament; in at least one place, preferring the Rheims reading to that originally proposed in the draft before them. William Fulke's edition of the New Testament - which printed the Rheims and Bishops' Bible texts side by side - would have provided the members of the committee with both texts in a handy format.

The remaining question to be asked is; "how much influence did the Rheims New Testament have on the King James Bible"?

Charles C Butterworth <ref>ibidem</ref> unlike Carleton set out to look not at the influence of an individual predecessor, but to examine and measure all the influences on the King James Bible. His results are as follows; Wycliff versions, including English Sermons 4%; Tyndale’s work, including the Matthew Bible 18%; Coverdale’s work, including Great Bibles 13%; Geneva Bible and Geneva New Testament 19%; Bishop’s Bible and its revision 4%; all other versions before 1611 3 %; King James Bible new material 39%; making 100% in total. This analysis tells where readings in the KJV are first to have been found, but all of the particular Wycliff readings, and many of the Coverdale readings (i.e. those not repeated in the Great Bible), will have been most accessible to the King James translators from Fulke's edition of the Rheims New Testament. Overall therefore, this study indicates that the influence of the Rheims New Testament amounted to around 8% of the text of the King James New Testament.

Notes

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References

  • Much of the above text was taken from the article "English Versions" by Sir Frederic G. Kenyon in the Dictionary of the Bible edited by James Hastings (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909).
  • A. S. Herbert, Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525–1961, London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1968. SBN 564-00130-9.

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