Authority and Inspiration: Jerome’s Precedent in Biblical Translation
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Until Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, the Scriptures and translations used by the church were based on the Septuagint. Jerome’s preference for the Hebrew for the Old Testament text set a decided precedent for most Biblical translation after his own time. His desire to return “ad fontes,” to the source of the Scriptural text, that is, to its original language, influenced the way in which Christian theologians understood the authority and inspiration of Holy Scripture. Up to and, largely, for the duration of the early Reformation period, as Scripture and its interpretation became increasingly central to doctrine, Jerome’s word choice affected translation in both thought and practice. However, beginning around the time of the Reformation, with the literal sense taking precedence amidst a loss of figural readings, new methods arose. This thesis considers some of the implications of divergent approaches to Bible translation in the historical context of its practice from the fourth century forward.