Question: I read the definitions. From what I can tell, the word was given the meaning of “repent” in the sense of the English word “repent” after the Vulgate had been completed, by comparison with the Greek.
I never said the Vulgate wasn’t a good translation. I said it was not perfect. No translation is. I compared it to our English King James Bible, which is very accurate, but, again, not perfect, and specifically stated that it was not to be compared to such versions as the New Revised Standard, which are corruptions. I said that it is not of equal authority with the original languages, and that an equally-accurate translation of the original languages in to a language other than Latin is perforce of equal authority with the Vulgate, and is of greater authority than an accurate translation of the Vulgate translation in to a language besides Latin. From a Catholic point of view, Jerome rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture: using the same logic, it would mean the Vulgate is unreliable because of Jerome’s views. (The mistranslation in Ecclesiasticus that gave rise to Augustine’s erroneous doctrine of creation was from the Vetus Itala, not Jerome, as Jerome rejected Ecclesiasticus, did not translate it, and did not include it in the Bible that came from his hand; it was re-added later according to the consensus of the Church.)
“Do penance” is not defensible from an English perspective, but, as I stated, Latin can not express “repent” as an imperative! Paenitentiam is a defensible Latin rendering, because of the shortcomings of Latin in being able to render the meaning of the Greek. Taking the primary literal meaning of the word over in to English as “do penance” is not from the point of view of conformity to the original Greek. If a language had no word for “virgin”, “young woman” would be the only possible translation of Isaiah 7:14; that doesn’t permit said language’s rendering becoming normative, nor does it make “young woman” any more accurate from the point of view of God’s intent as expressed in the inspired words than it is in English. But, if the language could not express “virgin”, “young woman” would be a defensible rendering in that language. But that would not make it defensible in any other language.
“She” in Genesis 3:15 is a transcription error (Jerome translated it as “he”), so it’s really not about the Vulgate itself, but about its textual transmission, and the fact that “she” stuck in Catholic circles because of the belief that one could see Mary prophesied in this verse. For my third example, “full of grace”, it is defensible even from the Greek alone, although I do not believe it captures the primary meaning of the Greek, and emphasizes a subsidiary meaning (“highly graced”, “gifted of God” both do better than “highly favoured” [classical Protestant and modern Catholic translation] and “full of grace” [traditional Catholic translation]), which allowed this verse to be used to defend the immaculate conception, although it has nothing to do with it (and I don’t believe any commentator, Catholic or otherwise, has attempted to say so for hundreds of years).
Whatever else might be said, Jerome did as good as he could with the language he had there. And, given that I don’t actually live in the middle ages, I can’t be certain, but everything I have read has said that, indeed, said translation was one of the prime movers and mainstay props for the development of the auricular confession component of the sacramental system. Jaroslav Pelikan (a Lutheran turned Orthodox) is my main authority for this (the usage of the Vulgate rendering of metanoia in establishing the Catholic sacramental system), in the third volume of his The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. “Repent” does not exclude doing penance, but it does not include it either. The Greek (and Erasmus’ Latin) have to do with a disposition as much as an action. (This of necessity must be so, for when John the Baptist proclaimed it, there would be no priesthood to administer penance for years to come.) “Do penance” is solely about action, as there is no such thing as “non-sacramental mental penance” insofar as I am aware.
The English translation of the Vulgate Latin in the Rheims Testament by Gregory Martin as “do penance” reflects the traditional Catholic understanding of these passages as directly referring to the sacrament of penance, I believe. The dictionary definition allows the Latin to mean “repent” in a broad sense (although not as an imperative, which is the Greek and English), but, as I said above, it appears that this is a development in the Latin language of a distinction that did not exist in late antiquity. I don’t believe one could honestly translate paenitentiam as “Repent!” unless one corrected the Latin by the Greek; “do penance” is an honest and accurate translation of the Vulgate.
If my posts echo Protestant arguments (and I have synthesized what I have written on my own, taking my opinions from many sources, the Bible and not, Catholic and not, Christian and not), my conclusion would be that the Protestants have better arguments than I’ve given them credit for.