Reviews of

A Latin-Greek Index of the Vulgate New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

In Apostolic Fathers, Dan Batovici, Latin Christianity, Mohr Siebeck, New Testament, Theodore A. Bergren, Translation, Uncategorized, Vulgate on October 8, 2019 at 1:40 am


2019.10.12 | Theodore A. Bergren. A Latin-Greek Index of the Vulgate New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers. WUNT 403. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018. ISBN 978-3-16-156024-8.

Review by Dan Batovici, KU Leuven.

The structure of this volume—published in the primary WUNT series—is straight forward: a brief introduction explaining the intention of the volume, a short bibliography of the comparatively less-known editions of Latin translations of the Apostolic Fathers, acknowledgements, and the three sigla used throughout, before moving to the bulk of the book, which is the list of Latin words (and their Greek correspondents) found in the early translations of the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, organised alphabetically.

This Index includes ‘some 9,000 individual Latin words and phrases and some 13,700 Greek equivalents’ (viii). It picks up on the 1991 publication of the author—Theodore A. Bergren, A Latin-Greek Index of the Vulgate New Testament.Based on Alfred Schmoller’s Handkonkordanz zum griechischen Neuen Testament (SBL Resources for Biblical Studies 26; Atlanta: SBL, 1991)—which is expanded here to include the Apostolic Fathers. Indeed, the updated Index is meant to complement two classical concordances of the Greek text of the two corpora (the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers): A. Schmoller, Handkonkordanz zum griechischen Neuen Testament, and H. Kraft and U. Früchtel, Clavis Patrum Apostolicorum.

These well-established reference works offer, apart from the various contexts in which a Greek term is used in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, the Latin equivalents found in their early Latin translations. The new Index offers a way to navigates this material starting from the Latin end instead. And, in as much as Bergren’s Index offers, for a Latin word, between one and nineteen Greek equivalents, it is a useful tool for virtually any scholar working in translation studies across the two languages.

For those who work specifically on the relationship between the Latin and the Greek of the New Testament or the Apostolic Fathers, however, the Index can only be used accompanied by the two concordances for which it serves as complement: in order to retrieve or verify a given equivalence, in the Index one finds, for each Greek correspondent of a Latin word, the page on which the Greek word is found in Schmoller’s Handkonkordanz and/or Kraft/Früchtel’s Clavis Patrum Apostolicorum, and not the actual New Testament or Apostolic Fathers reference. This seems counterintuitive to quite some extent and may prove cumbersome: if the Handkonkordanz is comparatively more at hand than other reference works, the same cannot be said about the Clavis.

The fact that the Index is conceived in such a close relationship to the Handkonkordanz and the Clavis has at least three further consequences.

(1) Of the Apostolic Fathers, the Index only includes seven works: 1 and 2 Clement, Barnabas, the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, Ignatius of Antioch and the Epistle of Polycarp. It follows in this regard Kraft and Früchtel’s understanding of the composition of the collection. There is a peculiar history pertaining to which writings were included and which were not in various editions and translation of the Apostolic Fathers in the last two centuries. An instructive table in this regard can be found in the introduction of W. Pratscher (ed.), The Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction (Wako: Baylor UP, 2010), 2-4. For instance, the latest two Greek critical editions, Ehrman 2003 and Holmes 2007, feature nine respectively ten works. Overall, an important omission would then be the Martyrdom of Polycarp, which has been translated into Latin.

(2) The bibliography concerning the Latin translations of the Apostolic Fathers is that with which Kraft worked rather than a bibliography which is up to date. As such, it omits both recent critical editions of the Shepherd of Hermas in Latin: Anna Vezzoni, ed., Il Pastore di Erma: Versione Palatina (Il nuovo melograno 13; Firenze: Le Lettere, 1994) and especially Christian Tornau and Paolo Cecconi (eds.), The Shepherd of Hermas in Latin: Critical Edition of the Oldest Translation Vulgata (TU 173; Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2014). Given the relevance for the topic, a reference to Benjamin Gleede, Parabiblica Latina: Studien zu den griechisch-lateinischen Übersetzungen parabiblischer Literatur unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der apostolischen Väter (SVC 137; Leiden: Brill, 2016) would have been very useful as well.

(3) Since the Handkonkordanz and the Clavis are not based on the latest (or even recent) critical editions of the New Testament or the Apostolic Fathers, nor is the Index. As the introduction of the Handkonkordanz puts it, ‘the data for … the text of the Vulgate, therefore, does not reflect the state of modern critical editions’ (i). This state of things is imported in the Index discussed here.

Overall, this is a potentially useful tool, but its successful perusal will require not only the other two reference works to retrieve a full reference, but also updated critical editions of both the Latin and Greek New Testament and Apostolic Fathers to verify the accuracy of each equivalence. This brings to mind the notion of developing a tool of this kind in a digitised environment instead, to allow for more complex searches and cross-referencing, that would certainly increasing its usefulness exponentially, which is perhaps something to ponder for the future.

Dan Batovici
KU Leuven
[ at ]

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