Skip to content

Pagnini and the Brest Bible

August 2, 2014

I have argued for many years that the Pagnini Latin translation is the basis for Prostestant translations into the vernacular languages of Europe. The Brest Bible is an interesting example. But first let me provide a little timeline as background.

Erasmus Latin New Testament 1516

Luther German New Testament 1522

Tyndale English New Testament 1526

Le Févre French Bible (from Vulgate) Old Testament 1528, complete Bible 1530

Pagnini Latin Bible 1528

Brucioli Italian Bible 1531

Zurich Zwingli German Bible 1531

Luther German 1534

Coverdale English 1534

Olivetan French 1535

Each of these Bibles was translated with the benefit of the preceding Bibles. Luther worked from Erasmus Latin translation, Tyndale from Erasmus and Luther, Brucioli and Coverdale openly credit Pagnini, Olivetan worked from Pagnini and Le Fevre, Luther used Pagnini at least in part, although not predominantly, and so on. No complete vernacular Bible in Europe claimed to be from the original Greek and Hebrew, was actually done without the use of Erasmus’ Latin New Testament and Pagnini’s Latin Hebrew Bible.

Neither Erasmus nor Pagnini were Protestant. They were both Christian humanists, with a commitment to knowledge and scripture, but not Protestants. I am somewhat concerned that Protestants, on this continent, at least, do not often acknowledge the enormous debt owed to these two Latin translations by Catholics.

Back to the Brest Bible. For anyone interested in the debate regarding the debt owed to Latin translations,Hebraica veritas in the Brest Bible by Rajmund Pietkiewicz.

Here are paragraphs from the introduction and the conclusion.

Budny claimed that he could exemplifyit by means of  many examples, some of which he presented inthe preface to his own translation of the Holy Scripture of 1572 (BSzB). This problem was also undertaken by Irena Kwilecka in her research, who came to the conclusion that the translators from Pińczów used, to a large extent, the new Latin translation of Santes Pagnini, which was made directly from the original. The basic auxiliary source in this respect was Latin edition of the Bible done by a well-known French editorRobert Stephanus (Estienne) of 1557, containing the Old Testament in faithful translation of Santes Pagnini,with added comments by an em
inent Parisian Hebrew scholar François a Vatable and the translation of the New Testament based on the best Greek codes by Théodore de Bèze with his own comments. 

On the grounds of to-date studies on the Bible we can be sure that the translation of Santes Pagnini played a crucial role in its creation (if not a paramount one). It seems tremendously intriguing because of the fact that the BB is evangelical-reformed in character, whereas Pagnini’s version is decidedly catholic. It came into existence on the basis of manuscripts collected since the times of Pope Nicholas V at the Vatican Library, and pope Leo X was the patron and sponsor of Pagnini’s works – the very one who on 3 January 1521 excommunicated Luther. The first edition of Pagnini’s Bible (Lyon 1527/1528) was equipped with a preface and approval of two popes: Adrian VI and Clement VII. On the third page we encounter the words:Datum Romae apud sanctum Petrum, sub annulo piscatoris twice. The author of the translation, Santes Pagnini, Dominican from Lukka, never joined reformation, and during his stay in Lyon (in the years of 1524-1536), where his greatest works came out, he vehemently combated the Lutherans and the Waldensians. It should be emphasized, that the catholic version of the monk, played a significant role not only in the emergence of the BB, but also in other translations made into national languages e.g. English and French, created in different factions of reformation.The same version constituted the basis of the translation of the reformed Bible, and at the same time found its way into the renowned Antwerp Polyglot (Antwerp 1569-1572) called „Counter-Reformation in folio” (figure 7). Hence, we can say that Pagnini’s work was of service for both Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Quality was the key element contributing to the significance of Pagnini’s translation, among the mentioned 16th century ones, new translation of the Hebrew Bible into Latin, which ideally met the requirements put forward before the translators of the Bible (especially those who felt inadequate as for their knowledge of Hebrew):Versio haec, quae verbum de verbo exprimit, propter sinceritatem maxime laudatur; Versio isthaec est grammaticalis, sed tamen fidelis.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: