Vulgate Prologue - super-evidence - English translations

Steven Avery

The Early Versions of the New Testament (1977, reprint 2001)
Bruce M. Metzger

(c) At this point in the discussion of the Greek text underlying the Vulgate it will be appropriate to consider the question how much of the New Testament Vulgate is really Jerome’s work. The commonly accepted opinion has been that, having finished his revision of the Gospels in 384, Jerome performed his work on the rest of the New Testament in a much more cursory manner, leaving much of the Old Latin as he found it.5 During the twentieth century, however, this view was


vigorously opposed by several Roman Catholic scholars. The Benedictine Donatien De Bruyne proposed the astonishing thesis that what is commonly taken to be Jerome’s Vulgate text of the Pauline Epistles is none other than the work of Pelagius.1 The arguments advanced in support of this opinion are chiefly two: (a) in his commentaries, Jerome very frequently quotes with approval a form of the text of the Pauline Epistles which he himself rejected in the Vulgate; and (b) Pelagius not only cites the text of the Vulgate but knew Greek well enough to produce such a version. Next, the Dominican M.-J. Lagrange, while not accepting the role of Pelagius in the production of the Vulgate, argued in such a way as to lead readers to conclude that he denied that Jerome had any part in producing the Vulgate text of Romans and Galatians.2 A few years later, the Jesuit Ferdinand Cavallera went beyond De Bruyne and denied that Jerome had any part in making the Vulgate text of Acts, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse.3

As would be expected, these views did not lack opponents who just as vigorously upheld the traditional view; notable among them were Buonaiuti,4 Mangenot,5 Chapman,6 and Souter.7 In opposition to De Bruyne, Chapman


maintained that, at the time Pelagius wrote his commentaries on Paul, he knew no Greek and proposed no Greek variant readings. Furthermore, Souter found reason to believe that the scribe of MS. Augiensis cxix (see below) of Pelagius’ Expositions had replaced the original lemmata with the text of Jerome’s Vulgate. The chief proof that Jerome was then reviser of the entire New Testament, according to Chapman, is the uniformity of the principles according to which the Vulgate text as a whole differs from the Old Latin. In refutation of the argument based on the circumstance that Jerome approves in his commentaries what he rejects in his translation, Chapman argued that: (a) Jerome found reason to change his opinion on certain textual details during the interval between writing his commentaries and the time that Chapman thought he completed his final revision of the Vulgate (a.d. 391); and (b) in other cases Jerome was simply inconsistent in his literary work.

(snip detail on Pelagius theories)

In any case, it appears that the most that can be said with certainty is that the Vulgate text of St. Paul’s Epistles came into being in the closing years of the fourth century at the latest. Its author is unknown, although he is to be identified with the man who gave to the Vulgate at least the Catholic Epistles and per- haps the whole of the New Testament apart from the Gospels. If it be asked why Jerome, having begun with the Gospels, did not continue with the rest of the New Testament, it may well be that Jerome’s zeal for the Hebraica veritas led him to abandon, after the Gospels, his project to revise the entire New Testament.1

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Steven Avery

Year of creation.

BCEME - p. 211
Emlyn applauded Mill’s refusal to credit the improbable notion that the comma was erased by heretics, and his rejection of the prologue to the Catholic Epistles as the work of ‘some silly Rhapsodist after Bede’s time’. -
Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe: Erasmus, the Johannine Comma and Trinitarian Debate
p. 211

Just one of many examples historically of how the supposed late dating of the Vulgate Prologue was key to the opposition to its authenticity.

Grantley should have told his readers that this reason was anachronistic, false, much like he frequently did with defender arguments that Grantley felt, rightly or wrongly, were no longer valid.


John Mill (see Emlyn-Mill above) per James Pierce
John Mill ... has shewn it was written after Bede's Time, a little before the eighth (he means the ninth, for Bede died about the middle of the eighth) Century,



Richard Porson - 1790
a probable argument that it was not even extant in his Bede's life. p. 296 ... We may therefore suppofe, that the Prologue was written in some part of the time between Bede’s death and the ninth century. p. 297

William Orme - Quarterly Review - 1825
For this fact, therefore, the Prologue is good evidence, and for nothing more, unless it be to show that the writer was imposing upon the credulity of an illiterate age. We believe this work to have been a forgery of the eighth century.

Thomas Turton - 1827
"fabrication of the eighth or ninth century" p. 185
"Let us then suppose, with many learned men, that the prologue was first published in the eighth century" p. 207

William Orme - 1829
"some sophisticator of the sixth or sevenths century"

William Wright - 1835
"shown by the Benedictine editors of Jerome’s works to be a forgery, and is at least three centuries later than that
Father." - p. 619 Pseudo-Jerome, (which is universally admitted to have been written at least as long ago as the 8th or 9th century, and is placed by Sabatier in the 7th, and by Bengel in the 6th) p. 625 - "There is no manuscript of the Catholic Epistles extant of this version generally supposed to be of an earlier date than the end of the eighth century. p. 636

John Scott Porter - 1848
"perhaps had been composed as early as the eighth "

Scrivener - 1861
"The “Prologus Galeatus in VII Epistolas Canonicas ” in which the author complains of the omission of v. 7, “ab infidelibus translatoribus,” is certainly not Jerome’s, and begins to appear in codices of about the ninth century."

Ironically, Scrivener kept this note, proven to be false, in the later editions of Plain Introduction, it was in even in 1894,

Dublin Review (1882)
Recent Evidence in Support of 1 John v. 7
Charles Vincent Dolman
p. 428-431


... Benedictine editors of St. Jerome added weighty reasons for denying it to be St. Jerome's. Since their time the preface has been commonly rejected by critics, and looked upon as an impudent forgery of the ninth century. Thus, one of our strongest witnesses was discredited and driven out of court, to the great injury of the cause. Now, of late years fresh evidence has been adduced, which tends to prove that the critics were too hasty, and that in all probability the Prologue is the genuine work of St. Jerome. At Fulda there is an old Latin New Testament manuscript which bears an eventful history. .... This, being interpreted by the learned Editor, means that Victor, Bishop of Capua, read or corrected this MS. in the year five hundred and forty-six. Immediately following this note we find the Prologue to the Canonical Epistles.'* St. Jerome’s name is not found, but the name of Eustochium sufficiently denotes who was the writer. Here, then, we have a most important fact—the disputed Prologue, the cast-off forgery of the ninth century, is contained in a MS. written a little more than a century alter St. Jerome’s death. It is not improbable that the MS. is even older, and that the above date only records the time when the Bishop of Capua corrected the text and prefixed his own preface about the Ammonian sections. The scribe who copied the text copied also the Prologue, which must have stood in his exemplar; unless, indeed, he wrote it himself, and palmed off his forgery oil the Bishop of Capua, who ends the preface which he himself wrote with these words: “Omnia probemus secundum apostolum et quae sunt bona sectemur.” It is, then, quite clear that, proving all things, Victor of Capua, in 546. approved the Prologue to the Canonical Epistles as the genuine work of him whose name is inseparably linked with that of St. Eustochium. In the presence of this fact, Dom Martianay’s arguments from internal grounds have but little weight. It is true that St. Jerome usually called these letters Catholic, and not Canonical. No man is perfectly consistent in his language, and certainly St. Jerome was not. In one place, at least, he called St. Peter's Epistles canonical. The statement about conforming the Latin to the Greek order of these Epistles presents no difficulty ; for it is clear, from St. Augustine and Cassiodorius, that in many Latin versions before St. Jerome's revision, St. Peter's Epistles stood first. We are hardly in a position to deny that St. Jerome may have found the Heavenly Witnesses in Greek MSS. of his day, simply because they are wanting in the few fourth-century MSS. which have come down to us. The most perplexing circumstance is that the very scribe who copied the Prologue rebuking faithless scribes, himself left out the verse. So also does the sister MS., the “Codex Amiatinus,” which, however, does not contain the Prologue. This may have occurred, here as elsewhere, through the drowsiness of copyists, of which St. Jerome had so often reason to complain. But it is not improbable that the “Codex Fuldensis" has undergone changes not approved by St. Jerome. For instance, it omits the passage in St. John's Gospel about the sinful woman, which we know St. Jerome comprised in his Vulgate ; whilst it contains the Epistle to the Laodiceans, of which he says: 14 Ah omnibus exploditur.” Whatever he the true explanation of the omission of the verse in these two MSS., there is no sufficient reason for saying, as many critics do, that St. Jerome gave the verse no place in his revision of the New Testament. MSS. at Toledo, at La Cava, and at Wolfenbüttel, of almost equal antiquity, together with nearly all the Latin Bibles from the ninth century, prove the contrary. And the few which omit the verse itself, still contain the Prologue, like the “Codex Fuldensis,” as a standing reproof of the carelessness of their transcribers. We have, then, to thank Dr. Ranke, the learned Editor of the “Codex Fuldensis,” for making known the fact that the much-disputed Prologue is no forgery of the ninth century, but in all probability the genuine work of St. Jerome, read and approved as such by Victor of Capua in 546.


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Steven Avery

Peregrinus in RGA and TWOGIG

77 Ps.-Jerome, Prologue to the Catholic Epistles, in Wordsworth, White and Sparks, 1889-1954,
3.2:230-231 (cf. PL 29:825-831): “Quae si, ut ab eis digestae sunt, ita quoque ab interpretibus
fideliter in Latinum eloquium uerterentur, nec ambiguitatem legentibus facerent, nec
sermonum sese uarietas impugnaret: illo præcipue loco ubi de unitate Trinitatis in prima [231]
Iohannis epistula positum legimus. In qua etiam ab infidelibus translatoribus multum erratum
esse fidei ueritate conperimus: trium tantummodo uocabula, hoc est, aquae, sanguinis, et
spiritus, in ipsa sua editione ponentes; et Patris, Verbique, ac Spiritus testimonium omittentes;
in quo maxime et fides catholica roboratur, et Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti una diuinitatis
substantia conprobatur.” Further on this preface, see Berger, 1904, 11-12, suggests that the
author may have read Cassiodorus’ Institutiones, written in 544, just two years before Fuldensis
was copied. However, I suggest that the degree of textual corruption in the text of the prologue
as it stands in Fuldensis argues against such a close connexion. Kunstle, 1905, 27-28, also
found Berger’s suggestion unlikely, and instead attributed the preface to Peregrinus. Chapman,
1908, 262-267, refuted Kunstle’s attribution to Peregrinus, pointing out that the Spanish
sources containing the preface all share certain textual corrputions not evident in copies from
elsewhere, which one would not expect if the work had been composed in Spain.

79 The preface is listed as spurious by Berger, 1904, 66, who notes the manuscripts in which it is
found. Martin, 1887, 218, and Bludau, 1905a, 27-28, suggested that the preface was written by
Peregrinus; this suggestion was questioned by Chapman, 1908, 266-267, and Bludau, 1921,
On Jerome’s role in the revision of the Gospels in the Vulgate, see Fischer, 1975, 29.


Peregrinus Authorship Summary

Kunstle, 1905, 27-28 .... attributed the preface to Peregrinus. Chapman, 1908, 262-267, refuted Kunstle’s attribution to Peregrinus .... Martin, 1887, 218, and Bludau, 1905a, 27-28, suggested that the preface was written by Peregrinus; this suggestion was questioned by Chapman, 1908, 266-267, and Bludau, 1921,

(Presumably Bludau had a change of mind.)

Vincent of Lerins (d. 445) - no mention by Grantleyérins
through Eugipius is another try, from


Kunstle 1905 - should say A or B, this is A
Künstle, Karl. Das Comma Ioanneum. Auf seine Herkunft untersucht. Freiburg: Herder, 1905a.
-----. Antipriscilliana: Dogmengeschichtliche Untersuchungen und Texte aus dem Streite gegen
Priscillians Irrlehre. Freiburg: Herder, 1905b.

Chapman 1908


‘ nemo putet ab Hieronymo factos’.
'no one thinks they were made by Hieronymus'.

Chapman, John. “Priscillian the author of the Monarchian prologues to the Vulgate Gospels.”
Revue bénédictine 23 (1906): 335-349.
-----. Notes on the Early History of the Vulgate Gospels. Oxford: OUP, 1908.

Bludau 1921
-----. “Der Prolog des Pseudohieronymus zu den katholischen Briefen.” Biblische Zeitschrift 15
(1921): 15-34, 125-137.

Martin - 1887
-----. “Le verset des trois témoins célestes. I Jean, V. 7.” Revue des sciences ecclésiastiques 56
(1887): 93-129, 193-223.


Jülicher, Adolf. Rev. of Künstle, 1905a. Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen 167 (1905): 930-935.


Babut counters Priscillian as verse origin
Brooke confirms Babut

Raymond Brown
The Prologue has been attributed to Vincent of Lerins (d. 450) and to Peregrinus (Künstle, Ayuso Marazuela)

Chapman talks of a lost Prologue to the Catholic Epistles by Priscillian




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Steven Avery

(the quotation from HI ill 5 in the prologue)

Is that the Jerome or other (Pelagius?) Prologue ?

What is HI ill 5 ?

68 Dunphy 2009, 2012.



Steven Avery

The John Chapman problems in trying to find an alternative writer on the heavenly witnesses


That the Vulgate prologue to the canonical epistles was not written by Jerome is founded on rather better evidence than that. First it is evident that the prologue to the canonical epistle discloses a fanatical monarchician proclivity, reminiscent of Priscillian. This is what Chapman says at p.264ff, "Notes on the early history of the Vulgate Gospels," 1908 in chapter, "Later manipulations of the prologues of Priscillian:"

"I think it may be safely inferred that Pseudo-Jerome had before him a Prologue to the Catholic Epistles in which Priscillian defended this text, but Pseudo-Jerome has made his expressions orthodox."

"At all events I do not hesitate to ascribe the corrected version of the Gospel Prologues and the three other Prologues to much the same date, probably rather in the early part of the fifth century, and to suppose that they vrere attached to the Vulgate about the same time and in the same circumstances, since they have so similar and so wide a diffusion."

"(Spanish) Peregrinus (5th-8th century) was not a forger; nay, he carefully explains that the canons are by a famous heretic, and says: explicitly "nemo putet ab Hieronymo factos" (no one thinks they were made by Jerome).
You are looking at Priscillian as a likely original author of the prologue to the canonical epistles, and which was later redacted by a Pseudo-Jerome which legitimized his monarchianism.

That the Vulgate prologue to the canonical epistles was not written by Jerome is founded on rather better evidence than that. First it is evident that the prologue to the canonical epistle discloses a fanatical monarchician (monarchian) proclivity, reminiscent of Priscillian. This is what Chapman says at p.264ff, "Notes on the early history of the Vulgate Gospels," 1908 in chapter, "Later manipulations of the prologues of Priscillian:"

You are misreading John Chapman.
He never says that the Prologue has a monarchian proclivity, much less yet fanatical.
Which is why you did not offer a quote from the Prologue, or even from Chapman.
Let's first get your fundamental error corrected.
Ironically, on the page you point to, Chapman says exactly the opposite in his awkward conjecturing.
I think it may be safely inferred that Pseudo-Jerome had before him a Prologue to the Catholic Epistles in which Priscillian defended this text, but Pseudo-Jerome has made his expressions orthodox.

Also, this conjecturing has huge problems. It would have Priscillian working with the prologue before he died in AD 385. Thus Jerome was being forged while he was very much alive and also when only the Gospels had been translated.
How could the usually astute and sharp John Chapman go so wrong? Likely influenced by the errant "textual criticism" decision against the authenticity of the heavenly witnesses verse.
This was covered earlier, since Chapman had made the mystical error about the clear Cyprian usage of the verse.
Afawk, John Chapman did not do any special studies on the heavenly witnesses, so his comment here is really of no relevance. Other than to show the normal textcrit indoctrination on the issue, very common after the publishing of the corrupt Westcott-Hort recension text..

Here is the best part of John Chapman's writing on the Vulgate Prologue to the Canonical Epistles.
That to the Epistles is by a downright forger, probably a different person. He not only speaks in the name of St Jerome, but he addresses Eustochium; his first sentence is modelled on St. Jerome’s Prologue to the Minor Prophets : ‘ Non idem ordo est duodecim prophetarum apud Hebraeos qui est apud nos.’ His last paragraph is a clever imitation of St. Jerome’s repeated complaints of the enemies who attack his old age, on account of his new translations.- p. 266

So we have an amazing, early, ultra-skilled and knowledgeable on Jerome, nefarious , unidentified, unknown "downright forger", (somehow building on an unknown, never seen Priscillian prologue). He also had the clout to get this supposedly trickster writing (motive? the heavenly witnesses?) into the Vulgate line.
The most un-Ockham of possibilities.
Essentially John Chapman is proving Jerome's authorship, to those who understand the issues.

This shows you the complexity of trying to find the “downright forger.” Here we had an unknown, phantom Priscillian prologue that has the heavenly witnesses and was plagiarized and modified, before adding the forgery touches to pretend to be Jerome. Wow. And then the brilliant scoundrel has the clout to get it into the Vulgate line!

Ockham has a much simpler explanation - written by Jerome!
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