Latin question..

I thought maybe someone here is more knowledgeable in Latin…

In Matthew, Our Lord talks about not divorcing “except for fornication”. The words for fornication and adultery in that text are different. Does anyone know what exactly this is referring to in the Latin?

I believe the words mean the same thing. The Douay-Rheims is a literal translation of the Latin vulgate and it uses the word ‘fornication’ in Matthew 19:9. A good comparison to the DR is the KJV because they were translated roughly at the same time. The King James Version uses the word ‘adultery’ in Matthew 19:9. This is why I think the two words are probably synonyms for the original Greek word.

Thank you,

The reason I’m confused about that is because Matthew 5 and 19 use this phrase differently. In one of the verses its only applied to the divorce (separation) part, but in the other, to both separation and remarriage, sounding like it’s ok to remarry after adultery… But the Church doesn’t teach that… So I’m wondering if there are any commentaries on that second verse from Matthew. Our Lord talks about it two times. I think its in Matthew 19. The other is Matthew 5.

matthew was originally written in greek, not latin.

the Greek word in 19:9 translated as “fornication” is “porneia”.

True. Then it was translated literarly to Latin in the Latin vulgata

in the vulgate, it looks like its translated as “fornicationem”

Hmm I reading it again and looking up the commentary for Matthew 19, a case could be made I think that there too, the phrase refers to the “putting away”… Which would be like a separation according to Catholic teaching, which is permitted in cases. In the early Church it seems they used the word “divorce” for this too as for anulments.

Haydock Commentary, Matthew 19
Ver. 9. And I say to you. It is worthy of remark, that in the parallel texts, St. Mark x. 2. and St. Luke xvi. 18. and St. Paul to Corinthians vii. 10. omit the exception of fornication; and also that St. Matthew himself omits it in the second part of the verse; and says absolutely, that he who shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery. It perhaps crept in here from chap. v. 32, where it is found in a phrase very similar to this, but which expresses a case widely different. Divorce is in no case admitted but in that of adultery. This is what Christ teaches in chap. v. 32, and to this the exception is referred, marked in the two texts. But in this very case the separated parties cannot contract a second marriage without again committing adultery, as we must infer, from a comparison of this text with the parallel texts of St. Mark and St. Luke. (Bible de Vence)

— If we did not understand it in this manner, the case of the adulteress would be preferable to the case of her who should be put away without any crime of her own; as in this supposition, the former would be allowed to marry again, which the latter would not be allowed. (Tirinus)

— St. Augustine is very explicit on this subject. See lib. 11. de adult conjug. chap. xxi. xxii. xxiv.

— St. Jerome, in his high commendation of the noble matron, Fabiola, says of her: “that though she was the innocent party, for the unlawful act of marrying again, she did public penance.” (In Epitaph. Fabiolæ.)

— This universally received doctrine of the Catholic Church was confirmed in the general council of Trent. (Session xxiv. canon 6.)

No its not saying it’s okay quite the contrary as you have read my other posts.

I think I understand it better now than when I wrote that post :slight_smile: thank you

Does anyone know Latin?

In Latin its

“quia quicumque dimiserit uxorem suam, nisi ob fornicationem, et aliam duxerit, mœchatur: et qui dimissam duxerit, mœchatur.”

Can we say that the “mœchatur” can be linguistically applied to the phrase “et aliam duxerit” WITHOUT, “nisi ob fornicationem”? It just sounds a little awkward in English and I’m wondering if Latin is better.

In other words is the “et” linked to the “nisi” phrase or not?

I don’t know if there are any Latin scholars around here…

I don’t think a latin scholar could help you out.

the latin vulgate is just a translation of the original greek- the opinion of the translator as to what Latin word best expressed the idea that was written in Greek.

Actually it could not be the opinion of anyone nor even the translator. The Latin vulgate is translated by Saint Jerome and it was literally translated from the Greek script whch the Catholic Church has the Greek version…

St Jerome spoke greek and Latin fluently

A latin priest can help her.

It is my understanding that the original Greek word is one that can be translated in a number of different ways. Literal translation rarely works well in any language. It is an art and a translator, no matter how fluent in both languages, still has to make an occasional judgment call.

Not for this case. Our Lord promised that the gospel will be preached in all nations.

There is no error of intrepetations nor judgment calls because even he was under supervision of his work.

Are you saying that the translation of the Bible from Greek to Latin by St. Jerome is guaranteed to be without error?

I’m not saying that St. Jerome made an error, just that any person translating into any other language must, in light of Church teaching and linguistic integrity, make a judgment call as to precisely which word or words to use. No translation is divinely inspired, not even the Latin Vulgate. And any piece of scripture that is ambiguous or open to different interpretations must be understood within the context of Church teaching. Thankfully, we have the entirety of revelation to help us understand scripture.

As for you question is Yes because in the council of Trent it was declared.

The Vulgate was declared infallible in the Council of Trent?

I understand that it was the authorized text, but that is a far cry from declaring the translation to be without error. Would you mind sharing a quote from the Council documents?

And that is why one always has recourse to the original text, in this case in Greek, and not a translation.


Trent declared that the Vulgate was authentic…but it is only a mere translation of the original text. The inspired authors of the New Testament wrote in Greek.

Indeed, the Nova Vulgata, promulgated after the Second Vatican Council, is a correction of Saint Jerome’s translation, thanks to the advances in contemporary scripture scholarship, across a variety of disciplines.

The corrected Vulgate, the Nova Vulgata, is what is now used in the Roman Rite.

But again, recourse is properly to the original language…not looking at a translation into Latin.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit