Vernacular language in history


#1

It's often claimed that the Church prohibited vernacular translations of the Bible. I am aware of the falsity of this claim, but I've got a question that goes in a similar direction.

While people couldn't read in the Middle Ages, and Bibles were very expensive, it is said that the laity would have heard the readings in the Mass. My question is really quite simple:

As the Mass was generally in Latin, were the readings also? I've never found anything on that count, so if you know, do please help me out. :)

Thanks!


#2

[quote="CutlerB, post:1, topic:326115"]
It's often claimed that the Church prohibited vernacular translations of the Bible.

[/quote]

St. Thomas More condemned any further translations into English, other than the DR I believe.

As the Mass was generally in Latin, were the readings also?

Yes, from the Latin Vulgate.


#3

[quote="ProVobis, post:2, topic:326115"]
St. Thomas More condemned any further translations into English, other then the DR I believe.

Yes, from the Latin Vulgate.

[/quote]

Do you have any references, so I can read about it?


#4

[quote="CutlerB, post:3, topic:326115"]
Do you have any references, so I can read about it?

[/quote]

I think the Latin Mass Society has a lot of information you might be looking for here.


#5

[quote="ProVobis, post:4, topic:326115"]
I think the Latin Mass Society has a lot of information you might be looking for here.

[/quote]

Thanks, I'll take a look there.

But then the question arises: Practically nobody would understand Latin, so how would they know what was being read? :confused:


#6

[quote="CutlerB, post:5, topic:326115"]
Thanks, I'll take a look there.

But then the question arises: Practically nobody would understand Latin, so how would they know what was being read? :confused:

[/quote]

My guess is that it was explained to them through sermons, schools, etc., something we still should be doing IMO. Having everything in modern vernacular doesn't explain everything, including why the Church was able to flourish almost 2000 years without it.


#7

[quote="CutlerB, post:1, topic:326115"]
As the Mass was generally in Latin, were the readings also? I've never found anything on that count, so if you know, do please help me out. :)

[/quote]

Pope Paul V encouraged the missions in China, approving the use of the vernacular in the liturgy in China on June 27, 1615. :cool: :thumbsup:


#8

[quote="ProVobis, post:2, topic:326115"]
St. Thomas More condemned any further translations into English, other than the DR I believe.

[/quote]

That's quite a feat, considering he died a half-century before it was even first (partially) published.


#9

"As for the liturgy it specified that while Chinese could be used as the liturgical language, the Roman rite was still to be followed; nor was the permission to prejudice episcopal jurisdiction if and when bishops were constituted in China. To give the highest possible authority to this decree of March 26. 1615, Pope Paul V promulgated it by the Brief Romanae Ecclesiae Antisia, issued on June 27, 1615."

  • George H. Dunne, Generation Of Giants: The Story Of The Jesuits In China In The Last Decades Of The Ming Dynasty

Source: books.google.com/books?id=qA29gOSVfWEC&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false


#10

[quote="ProVobis, post:6, topic:326115"]
My guess is that it was explained to them through sermons, schools, etc., something we still should be doing IMO. Having everything in modern vernacular doesn't explain everything, including why the Church was able to flourish almost 2000 years without it.

[/quote]

I agree with the need to explain. The 2000 years, though is a vast overstatement. Remember, Latin, too, was a vernacular once and there was never a time in the history of the Catholic Church in which Latin remained globally the exclusive language of liturgy.


#11

Remember also that the vernacular has been more integrated into the liturgies in the East than the West. For example, the Byzantine Divine Liturgy was and is often celebrated in the vernacular.

Remember that Latin was once the vernacular in the West. The Vulgate gets its name because it was translated into the vulgar (a.k.a vernacular) tongue.

Even when Latin was no longer the common language, there we small pockets in which the Church allowed the Mass to be said in the vernacular - e.g., in Croatia.


#12

[quote="nagyszakall, post:10, topic:326115"]
Remember, Latin, too, was a vernacular once and there was never a time in the history of the Catholic Church in which Latin remained globally the exclusive language of liturgy.

[/quote]

[quote="JMJ_coder, post:11, topic:326115"]
Remember that Latin was once the vernacular in the West. The Vulgate gets its name because it was translated into the vulgar (a.k.a vernacular) tongue.

[/quote]

I don't think so. Vetus Latina, which preceded the Latin Vulgate, would have probably been closer to the vernacular. It was called the Vulgate (there was a Greek Vulgate as well), because it was the most commonly used translation.

Vulgar Latin was the street language of the Romans. From Vulgar Latin descended the modern Romance languages. Church Latin was the Christianized adaptation of the vocabulary and grammar codified by Cicero and other Classicists. This would not have been the vernacular of the period. Proof that there are differences is shown in the Appendix Probi.

FWIW, Ecclesiastical Latin wasn't the only non-vulgar/non-vernacular of the Church. Old Church Slavonic was another such Church language.


#13

[quote="JMJ_coder, post:8, topic:326115"]
That's quite a feat, considering he died a half-century before it was even first (partially) published.

[/quote]

That's what I thought too until someone corrected me on another thread. Was there another popular English translation at the time?

I don't know. To me it seems that it would be ideal to have at least the essentials of Mass or the Bible or Church documents in one language, one which isn't a national one or subject to constant changes in meaning. In 2000 years from now, would anyone know who the Holy Ghost is, for example? Or Google, for that matter? :)


#14

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