Italic Church in the Northern Italy

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The Italic Church in the Northern Italy were predecessors of the Waldenses. Their Bible was of the family of the renowned Itala. It was that translation into Latin which represents the Received Text. Its very name "Itala" is derived from the Italic district, the regions of the Vaudois. Of the purity and reliability of this version, Augustine, speaking of different Latin Bibles (about 400 A.D.) says:

"Now among translations themselves the Italian (Itala) is to be preferred to the others, for it keeps closer to the words without prejudice to clearness of expression." (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, p. 542.)

The old Waldensian liturgy which they used in their services down through the centuries contained "texts of Scripture of the ancient Version called the Italick." (Allix, Churches of Piedmont, 1690, p. 37.)

The Reformers held that the Waldensian Church was formed about 120 A. D., from which date on, they passed down from father to son the teachings they received from the apostles. The Latin Bible, the Italic, was translated from the Greek not later than 157 AD (Scrivener's Introduction, Vol. 2, p. 43.) We are indebted to Theodore Beza, the renowned associate of John Calvin, for the statement that the Italic Church dates from 120 AD. From the illustrious group of scholars which gathered around Beza, 1590 AD, we may understand how the Received Text was the bond of union between great historic churches. As the sixteenth century is closing, in Geneva Beza, Cyril Lucar, and later to become the head of the Greek Catholic Church, and Diodati, also a foremost scholar. As Beza astonishes and confounds the world by restoring manuscripts of that Greek New Testament from which the King James is translated, Diodati takes the same and translates into Italian a new and famous edition, adopted and circulated by the Waldenses. (McClintock & Strong Encycl., Art. "Waldenses.") Leger, the Waldensian historian of his people, studied under Diodati at Geneva. He returned as pastor to the Waldenses and led them in their flight from the terrible massacre of 1655. (Gilly, Researches, pp. 79, 80.) He prized as his choicest treasure the Diodati Bible, the only worldly possession he was able to preserve. Cyril Lucar hastened to Alexandria where Codex A, the Alexandrian Manuscript, is lying, and laid down his life to introduce the Reformation and the Reformers' pure light regarding the books of the Bible.

At the same time another group of scholars, bitterly hostile to the first group, were gathered at Rheims, France. There the Jesuits, assisted by Rome and backed by all the power of Spain, brought forth an English translation of the Vulgate. In its preface they expressly declared that the Vulgate had been translated in 1300 into Italian and in 1400 into French, "the sooner to shake out of the deceived people's hands, the false heretical translations of a sect called Waldenses." This proves that Waldensian Versions existed in 1300 and 1400. It was the Vulgate, Rome's corrupt Scriptures against the Received Text--the New Testament of the apostles, of the Waldenses, and of the Reformers.

That Rome in early days corrupted the manuscripts while the Italic Church handed them down in their apostolic purity, Allix, the renowned scholar, testifies. He reports the following as Italic articles of faith: "They receive only, saith he, what is written in the Old and New Testament. They say, that the Popes of Rome, and other priests, have depraved the Scriptures by their doctrines and glosses." (Allix, Churches of Piedmont, pp. 288, 11.)

It is recognized that the Itala was translated from the Received Text (Syrian, Hort calls it); that the Vulgate is the Itala with the readings of the Received Text removed. (Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, pp. 169, 170.)

Waldensian Bible Translations

Four Bibles produced under Waldensian influence touched the history of Calvin: namely, a Greek, a Waldensian vernacular, a French, and an Italian. Calvin himself was led to his great work by Olivetan, a Waldensian. Thus was the Reformation brought to Calvin, that brilliant student of the Paris University. Farel, also a Waldensian, besought him to come to Geneva and open up a work there. Calvin felt that he should labor in Paris. According to Leger, Calvin recognized a relationship to the Calvins of the valley of St. Martin, one of the Waldensian Valleys. (Leger, History of the Vaudois, p. 167.)

Finally, persecution at Paris and the solicitation of Farel caused Calvin to settle at Geneva, where, with Beza, he brought out an edition of the Textus Receptus, the one the author now uses in his college class rooms, as edited by Scrivener. Of Beza, Dr. Edgar says that he "astonished and confounded the world" with the Greek manuscripts he unearthed. This later edition of the Received Text is in reality a Greek New Testament brought out under Waldensian influence. Unquestionably, the leaders of the Reformation, German, French, and English, were convinced that the Received Text was the genuine New Testament, not only by its own irresistible history and internal evidence, but also because it matched with the Received Text which in Waldensian form came down from the days of the apostles.

The other three Bibles of Waldensian connection were due to three men who were at Geneva with Calvin, or when he died, with Beza, his successor, namely, Olivetan, Leger, and Diodati. How readily the two streams of descent of the Received Text, through the Greek East and the Waldensian West, ran together, is illustrated by the meeting of the Olivetan Bible and the Received Text. Olivetan, one of the most illustrious pastors of the Waldensian Valleys, a relative of Calvin, according to Leger, (Leger, History of the Vaudois, p. 167) and a splendid student, translated the New Testament into French. Leger bore testimony that the Olivetan Bible, which accorded with the Textus Receptus, was unlike the manuscripts of the Papists, because they were full of falsification. Later, Calvin edited a second edition of the Olivetan Bible. The Olivetan in turn became the basis of the Geneva Bible in English, which was the leading version in England in 1611 when the King James appeared.

Diodati, who succeeded Beza in the chair of Theology at Geneva, translated the Received Text into Italian. This version was adopted by the Waldenses, although there was in use at that time a Waldensian Bible in their own peculiar language. This we know because Sir Samuel Morland, under the protection of Oliver Cromwell, received from Leger the Waldensian New Testament which now lies in the Cambridge University Library. After the devastating massacre of the Waldenses in 1655, Leger felt that he should collect and give into the hands of Sir Samuel Morland as many pieces of the ancient Waldensian literature as were available.

It is interesting to trace back the Waldensian Bible which Luther had before him when he translated the New Testament. Luther used the Tepl Bible, named from Tepl, Bohemia. This Tepl manuscript represented a translation of the Waldensian Bible into the German which was spoken before the days of the Reformation. (Comba, Waldenses of Italy, p. 191.) Of this remarkable manuscript, Comba says:

When the manuscript of Tepl appeared, the attention of the learned was aroused by the fact that the text it presents corresponds word for word with that of the first three editions of the ancient German Bible. Then Louis Keller, an original writer, with the decided opinions of a layman and versed in the history of the sects of the Middle Ages, declared the Tepl manuscript to be Waldensian. Another writer, Hermann Haupt, who belongs to the old Catholic party, supported his opinion vigorously. (Comba, p. 190.) From Comba we also learn that the Tepl manuscript has an origin different from the version adopted by the Church of Rome; that it seems to agree rather with the Latin versions anterior to Jerome, the author of the Vulgate; and that Luther followed it in his translation, which is probably the reason why the Catholic church reproved Luther for following the Waldenses. (Comba, p. 192.) Another peculiarity is its small size, which seems to single it out as one of those little books which the Waldensian evangelists carried with them hidden under their rough cloaks. (Comba, p. 191, Note 679.) We have, therefore, an indication of how much the Reformation under Luther as well as Luther's Bible owed to the Waldenses. Waldensian influence, both from the Waldensian Bibles and from Waldensian relationships, entered into the King James translation of 1611. Referring to the King James translators, one author speaks thus of a Waldensian Bible they used:

It is known that among modern versions they consulted was an Italian, and though no name is mentioned, there cannot be room for doubt that it was the elegant translation made with great ability from the original Scriptures by Giovanni Diodati, which had only recently (1607) appeared at Geneva. (Dr. Benjamin Warfield, Princeton Univ., Collection of Opinions and Reviews, Vol. 2, p. 99.) It is therefore evident that the translators of 1611 had before them four Bibles which had come under Waldensian influences: the Diodati in Italian, the Olivetan in French, the Lutheran in German, and the Genevan in English. We have every reason to believe that they had access to at least six Waldensian Bibles written in the old Waldensian vernacular. Dr. Nolan, who had already acquired fame for his Greek and Latin scholarship, and researches into Egyptian chronology, and was a lecturer of note, spent twenty-eight years to trace back the Received Text to its apostolic origin. He was powerfully impressed to examine the history of the Waldensian Bible. He felt certain that researches in this direction would demonstrate that the Italic New Testament, or the New Testament of those primitive Christians of northern Italy whose lineal descendants the Waldenses were, would turn out to be the Received Text. He says:


The author perceived, without any labor of inquiry, that it derived its name from that diocese, which has been termed the Italick, as contradistinguished from the Roman. This is a supposition, which receives a sufficient confirmation from the fact that the principal copies of that version have been preserved in that diocese, the metropolitan church of which was situated in Milan. The circumstance is at present mentioned, as the author thence formed a hope, that some remains of the primitive Italick version might be found in the early translations made by the Waldenses, who were the lineal descendants of the Italick Church; and who have asserted their independence against the usurpations of the Church of Rome, and have ever enjoyed the free use of the Scriptures. In the search to which these considerations have led the author, his fondest expectations have been fully realized. It has furnished him with abundant proof on that point to which his inquiry was chiefly directed; as it has supplied him with the unequivocal testimony of a truly apostolical branch of the primitive church, that the celebrated text of the heavenly witnesses was adopted in the version which prevailed in the Latin Church, previously to the introduction of the modern Vulgate. (Dr. Frederick Nolan, Integrity of the Greek Vulgate, pp. xvii, xviii.) How the Bible Adopted by Constantine Was Set Aside Where did this Vaudois Church amid the rugged peaks of the Alps secure these uncorrupted manuscripts? In the silent watches of the night, along the lonely paths of Asia Minor where robbers and wild beasts lurked, might have been seen the noble missionaries carrying manuscripts, and verifying documents from the churches in Judea to encourage their struggling brethren under the iron heel of the Papacy. The sacrificing labors of the apostle Paul were bearing fruit. His wise plan to anchor the Gentile churches of Europe to the churches of Judea, provided the channel of communication which defeated continually and finally the bewildering pressure of the Papacy. Or, as the learned Scrivener has beautifully put it:


Wide as is the region which separates Syria from Gaul, there must have been in very early times some remote communication by which the stream of Eastern testimony, or tradition, like another Alpheus, rose up again with fresh strength to irrigate the regions of the distant West. (Scrivener's Introduction, Vol. 2, pp. 299, 300.) We have it now revealed how Constantine's Hexapla Bible was successfully met. A powerful chain of churches, few in number compared with the manifold congregations of an apostate Christianity, but enriched with the eternal conviction of truth and with able scholars, stretched from Palestine to Scotland. If Rome in her own land was unable to beat down the testimony of apostolic Scriptures, how could she hope, in the Greek speaking world of the distant and hostile East, to maintain the supremacy of her Greek Bible? The Scriptures of the apostle John and his associates, the traditional text, the Textus Receptus, if you please, arose from the place of humiliation forced on it by Origen's Bible in the hands of Constantine and became the Received Text of Greek Christianity. And when the Greek East for one thousand years was completely shut off from the Latin West, the noble Waldenses in northern Italty still possessed in Latin the Received Text. To Christians preserving apostolic Christianity, the world owes the Bible. It is not true, as the Roman Church claims, that she gave the Bible to the world. What she gave was an impure text, a text with thousands of verses so changed as to make way for her unscriptural doctrines. While upon those who possessed the veritable Word of God, she poured out through long centuries her stream of cruel persecution. Or, in the words of another writer:

The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation, they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution. . . . Here for a thousand years, witnesses for the truth maintained the ancient faith. . . . In a most wonderful manner it (the word of truth) was preserved uncorrupted through all the ages of darkness.

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