I have been wrestling with this question, for a long time now. I hope some of you will help me to put this nagging issue, behind me. This is about the Vulgate edition of Bible brought out by Pope Sixtus V in 1590, and the criticism that the Pope taught error through that edition. I have read several pro and con arguments, and my humble opinion is that the defense put forth by the traditional Catholic apologist is wanting.
I hear two separate lines of defense. One says that, though Pope Sixtus V had completed all arrangements for release of the Bible and had also approved the official Bull condemning any change to this version of the Vulgate, he died in bed suddenly at the last moment prior to actual promulgation, and thus the Holy Spirit protected the Church from grave error being taught.
The other line of defense is that the Clementine edition of 1592 (by Pope Clement VIII) was actually authorized by Pope Sixtus V himself, implying thereby that the corrections were all as desired by Sixtus V. (For a few years, the 1592 version itself was called Sixtine-Clementine version, to stay within the Papal Bull of Sixtus V that prohibited any modifications to his version of 1590 that were not authorized by he himself).
First of all, these two lines of defense seem inconsistent with each other. The way Sixtus V was determined in releasing his version on the face of stiff opposition from his own counsel, the language of the Papal Bull, the fact that Bible copies carrying the official Bull had already been circulated, and his sudden death in bed, do not seem to support the notion that he had actually pulled back and had indeed authorized the Sixtine-Clementine version. What I read is that the corrections made in the Sixtine-Clementine edition of 1592 were not merely proof-reading errors, but of a more comprehensive nature.
On the other hand, if death had indeed prevented Sixtus V from OFFICIALLY teaching error, Church’s effort to square the situation by naming the subsequent Bible edition as SIXTINE-Clementine edition and attaching the same Papal Bull of Sixtus V to it, would seem redundant. It would seem that the Church does regard the Sixtine Vulgate of 1590 as official, albeit a ‘work-in-progress’ that was later on completed by Clement VIII.
If the ‘work-in-process’ theory of the second line of defense is not tenable, in the light of the circumstances surrounding the release of Sixtine Vulgate in 1590, I really haven’t seen a convincing defense that Pope Sixtus V did not teach error.
Please do help me with a convincing answer.