Which Version(s) of Scripture is Inerrant?

I know that the Vulgate is the approved version of scripture by the Catholic Church, and thus is considered inerrant. But are the English versions we have, such as the New American Bible, considered inerrant in and of themselves? Or is it just that they are approved translations of the inerrant Vulgate? I know I’m kind of splitting hairs here, but hopefully you see what I’m asking.

I notice in your profile you say you are a seminarian. I’m curious as to the answer you have gotten when you asked this at the seminary?

Anyway, no translation of the Bible is considered inerrant in itself. Only the originals --the “autographs”-- are considered inerrant. That is why we need to Magisterium to authoritatively interpret Scripture. The only Catholic translation of the based on St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate is the Douay Rheims. Since the DR was made, many older biblical manuscripts have been found and scholarship has improved in many ways. This has led to a number of newer translations, including several good Catholic ones. However, all translations have biases, mostly just differences of choice on how a certain word or passage could legitimately be translated.

Modern translations like the NAB are based, not on the Vulgate, but on a variety of ancient manuscripts, for the most part in the original Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew. The NAB and others (my personal fave is the RSV-CE) are decent enough translations but, as I said, cannot be said to be “inerrant.”

For more information see the CA tract:

Bible Translations Guide
catholic.com/library/Bible_Translations_Guide.asp

I’d also humbly recommend my website “Catholic Scripture Study”:
members.cox.net/fidelis927/

Hi BM,

You have got an excellent answer above. I just want to add that the Vulgate translation has been named in the Council of Trent as authentic, meaning that it cannot be challenged on grounds of faith or morals. It can and does contain translation errors.

Verbum

I have not had a chance to ask the Dean of Formation here this particular question, though he is the one I usually go to about things like this. I am in college seminary and thus studying philosophy, not theology, so I do not have any scripture teachers that would be able to answer a question like this, either. I will ask him, though, and get back to you. Thanks, also, for your answer.

The answers above are excellent.

I would just add that the Vulgate has gone through revisions based on the original Greek and Hebrew since the DR bible was first translated.

And just because the DR was translated from the Vulgate doesn’t make the original a very good translation on its own.

The red color of the DR bible is very appropriate. It was translated by many, many, rushed semenarians who were using it as apolgetic material in England. As soon as they learned enough Latin, they translated, and then smuggled the texts into England.
Most of these translaters were soon martyrs.

Later, the Challoner version would come along, but the DR-Challoner version goes back to the Greek and Hebrew in many places and is not a pure Vulgate translation either.

So there really is no really studied translation of the Vulgate in English that I am aware of.

The NAB is just an English translation which has passed enough theological muster to be used liturgically (It is not a ‘Good’ translation either, but no one expects a new Heresy to erupt over its deficiencies). However, in the opening pages of the liturgical books, the NAB has to admit that it is ALWAYS permissable to use the Vulgate in the liturgy.

As a seminarian, I would expect you are given the opportunity to learn Latin or Greek. Will you be doing so, or are those electives not available now?

Best wishes / God bless you.

The so-called “original” Hebrew is actually a misnomer.

The Hebrew text used for modern Bible translation is actually far from original - being the medieval Masoretic text preserved by the diaspora Jews. This text dates from around 1000AD and is riddled with errors. The Jerome text is much earlier, dating from 400 AD. The Septuagint texts are older than this.

The NAB OT is based largely on the Masoretic Hebrew, corrected using the Septuagint.

Does the Vatican have an ancient Biblical source that it uses to compare and interpret scriptural controversies by, or does the Pope pray for wisdom and guidence from the Holy Spirit on matters of dispute?

[quote=Huiou Theou]I would just add that the Vulgate has gone through revisions based on the original Greek and Hebrew since the DR bible was first translated.
[/quote]

Is that the Neo-Vulgate?

The Novus Vulgata (neo-vulgate) is included in the revisons, although I believe there were minor revisions prior to that even.
The DR was not based on the neo-vulgate AFAIK.

[quote=GodSoldier]Does the Vatican have an ancient Biblical source that it uses to compare and interpret scriptural controversies by, or does the Pope pray for wisdom and guidence from the Holy Spirit on matters of dispute?
[/quote]

Catholic teachers, theologians, and scholars have access to the same ancient manuscripts and resources as all Christians. The difference is that the teaching authority of the Church is guided by:

  1. The constant Tradition and teaching of the Church for 2000 years, from the apostles to now.

  2. The Holy Spirit.

I would just note that none of the existing bibles, versions, texts, or manuscripts that we have today can be considered “inspired.” The original authors were inspired–by the Holy Spirit. But translators, copiers, editors, and publishers, are not inspired.

[quote=BlueMit11]I know that the Vulgate is the approved version of scripture by the Catholic Church, and thus is considered inerrant. But are the English versions we have, such as the New American Bible, considered inerrant in and of themselves? Or is it just that they are approved translations of the inerrant Vulgate? I know I’m kind of splitting hairs here, but hopefully you see what I’m asking.
[/quote]

The Vulgate - no edition of the Vulgate in particular, however - is, for certain purposes, the “authentic” Bible of the Latin Rite.

This does not mean that is inerrant, nor that the readings of its text are preferable to those of other versions. It is the “authorised version” for the Roman Rite, that is all.

You aren’t splitting hairs at all.

For further details, see:

vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_30091943_divino-afflante-spiritu_en.html

  • sections 1, 8, and 20 to 22 in particular ##

Only the original authors were inspired. That said, I always have more faith in any translation done by people who actually take the Bible seriously…They will translate better, because even if they don’t like a particular phrase, they will have the respect to translate it well.
I take the super-liberal notes/translations/paraphrases with a grain of salt.IMHO, they"translate" their own agenda…

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