I’ve read instances where the Council of Trent has declared certain doubtful passages (e.g. The Adulteress Woman John 8) is inspired because it’s in the Vulgate. Why is the Vulgate esteemed so high compared to the other bible versions?
First, we would need an example of the council actually addressing the authenticity of the a doubtful passage.
The Vulgate was compiled by St. Jerome in the 4th century Anno Domini, from texts which, if not original, were very close to those originals, or, in the case of the OT, were ancient. The texts used by St. Jerome predate the Masoretic Texts used by the European Jews in the 10-11th century to compile what they use today as their scripture.
Many of the Dead Sea scrolls correspond with the Vulgate, leaving doubts about some of the later texts used in the so-called American Catholic Bible.
I think…because until the late 1500’s it’s the only one most people ever encountered. It influenced all aspects of life culture, art, worship, liturgy, hymns, et cetera. that’s a lot of people, clergy, years of reading and study…:shrug:
Not to mention, St. Jerome was a pretty smart guy.
Actually, the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the vast majority (maybe 70-75%) of the variants preserved in the Masoretic Text. And although the oldest Masoretic text we have is from the early 11th century, the textual tradition dates back to before the time of Christ–and centuries before Jerome, or even the Old Vulgate for that matter.
The Vulgate was considered the official Latin translation of the Bible for the Catholic church for about 1400 years (and actually may still be considered the official translation). The reason why it was so esteemed was because it was (and probably still is) the official Latin version in use by the Church. The Church herself decides what is inspired, and declared the Vulgate to be inspired.
The Vulgate was not declared to be inspired. The Vulgate is trustworthy, ancient, and authoritative, that’s all. But being ancient and authoritative is plenty.
In general, the Church’s teaching is that all the authoritative versions of the Bible (like the Septuagint and the Vulgate and the ancient translations and the Dead Sea Scrolls versions, as well as the Masoretic Hebrew OT) are faithful translations of the Bible as God’s faithful people understood it. The inspired text of the Bible is not a single text from a single moment in the tradition. All the authoritative versions are part of the tradition being handed down, and therefore we pay attention to all of them, just as we would pay attention to the human teachers from their day.
If you went and asked various early Christian bishops whether their copy of the liturgical Bible readings included X or Y passage, some of their copies might differ on that. But in general, even the people without the passage would know the sayings and the stories in that passage. And now we have them too.