Who were Roberts-Donaldson?


#1

I’m looking for information on the translators Roberts-Donaldson and cannot find anything although thier names are signed on almost every early Church Greek document translations.

Are they Catholic? Who are the best Catholic Translators? Thanks.


#2

Good question. Other than their full names (Alexander Roberts, DD & James Donaldson, LL.D.) it’s hard to get any specific information (but, hey, I like a challenge).

The academic distinctions (Doctor of Divinity and Doctor of Law) have a very Anglican (Church of England) ring to them, but both Catholic and protestant schools issue such degrees.

These guys are best known for editing the large collection known as The Early Church Fathers (published by Philip Schaff). They are credited here as “editors,” not translators, and, indeed, I don’t think either were translators.

This particular collection is of somewhat dubious quality regarding translations (owing, in part, to its age; the collection began publication in 1819; far better linguistic tools are now available) and the set is known for some rather outrageous footnotes and commentary. But, hey, it’s free (long out of copyright).

Believe it or not, I was able to dig up a scan (really) of a page from an old reference work (the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge) which has nothing to say about Roberts, but has a brief article about Donaldson, whose background and credentials practically scream Calvinist (he surely was NOT a Catholic).


#3

01010100 01001000 01000001 01001110 01001011 01010011


#4

01010100 01001000 01000001 01001110 01001011 01010011

59 6F 75 27 72 65 20 77 65 6C 63 6F 6D 65

(I’m multi-lingual)


#5

[quote=Ignatius]01010100 01001000 01000001 01001110 01001011 01010011
[/quote]

59 6F 75 27 72 65 20 77 65 6C 63 6F 6D 65

(I’m multi-lingual)

84 72 65 78 75 83 (decimal)

124 110 101 116 113 123 (octal)

Me too…Like the way you guys think!!!


#6

instead of numbwer converions, what is the significance? eh?


#7

01001000 01000001 00100000 01001000 01000001 00100000 01001000 01000001 00100000 01010011 01001111 00100000 01010011 01000001 01000100 00100001 00100001 00100001


#8

[quote=jjwilkman]instead of numbwer converions, what is the significance? eh?
[/quote]

The numbers correspond to characters as defined in the ASCII character set. The first 128 characters (including ASCII 0, which is null) are fairly common across other character sets as well (the ‘extended’ characters, 128-255, vary widely). The common (0-127) values are the characters you find on your keyboard, as well as special characters used for various purposes, such as triggering a printer to do a page feed.

As a historical note, you may represent 128 distinct values (0-127) in seven bits, but 256 (0-255) in 8 bits. Old systems were limited to 127 bit representation, because the eighth bit (a byte is 8 bits long) was reserved for “parity” - a crude form of error checking. That’s why things change beyond the 128’th character.

For example, an uppercase ‘A’ in ASCII would be #65 (in decimal). A lowercase ‘a’ would be #97 (in decimal).

Ignatius responded to my answer by shouting (uppercase) “THANKS” using ASCII character codes expressed in binary notation. I responded “You’re Welcome” using hexidecimal (base-16) numerical notation. LaserLike couldn’t help himself, so he responded “HA HA HA SO SAD!!!” (in binary again).

But this is silly, so I will say 105 116 117 125 107 110 41 (which is “ENOUGH!”, but expressed in Octal (base-8) numeric notation).


#9

Ok guys stop speaking in tongues.


#10

It is my understanding that they were Presbyterians.


#11

The Reverend Professor Alexander Roberts DD was a Presbyterian Minister, and was Professor of Humanity in the University of St. Andrews. Sir James Donaldson LL.D. was a Scottish classical scholar, and Professor of Humanity in the University of Aberdeen and then Principal of the University of St Andrews. He was knighted by Edward VII in 1907. Both 24 carrot Prots!


#12

[quote="Ignatius, post:1, topic:34662"]
I'm looking for information on the translators Roberts-Donaldson and cannot find anything although thier names are signed on almost every early Church Greek document translations.

[/quote]

They edited a series called the "Ante-Nicene Christian Library." Wikipedia says that they did so in response to the "Library of the Fathers" edited by members of the Oxford Movement (in other words, Anglicans who were arguing for the Catholic nature of Anglicanism and trying to move Anglicanism in a more Catholic direction, based on the Fathers). Roberts and Donaldson were producing a Protestant alternative. Their work was then edited by an American Episcopal bishop, A. Cleveland Coxe. As you can see from the Wikipedia article on him, he spent a lot of his career arguing with Catholics, and it shows from his very pugnacious notes. He criticizes Roberts and Donaldson in an "Elucidation" to Book III of Irenaeus' Against Heresies, because they had rendered the key passage on Rome in a way that seemed to support the claims of Roman primacy. Coxe provides his own translation, which he says is supported by a Catholic scholar (I haven't looked into that claim myself). It's an interesting debate which helps give readers a sense of how tricky the passage in question is, and it should increase confidence in Roberts and Donaldson, since their own bias would be the same as Coxe's, yet they translated it in a sense that seems to support the Catholic position.

The later Nicene/Post-Nicene Fathers series was overseen by Philip Schaff, one of the greatest church historians of the 19th century.

The series has the advantage of being easily available in the public domain. It is not ideal for serious study, but it's sometimes the best one can do.

The best English series of patristic translations are Ancient Christian Writers (Paulist Press) and Fathers of the Church (Catholic University of America). As you can see, both of these are Catholic. Unfortunately, they are not widely available outside good academic libraries.

The Library of Christian Classics and the Classics of Western Spirituality also have good editions of many patristic writings.

A more complete list of available versions is found here. (The entire bibliography of which this is part, by Fr. William J. Harmless, is invaluable.)

Edwin


#13

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