BISHOP CHALLONER'S EDITION OF THE BIBLE.
DURING the period that the long and vexatious dissensions with the regulars lasted, Bishop Challoner was, as we have seen, called on to bear a heavy and responsible share in the struggle; but this by no means occupied his full time or attention. It was at this time, that is, during the years 1748 and 1749, that he was hard at work on one of his most widely known labours. This was his new edition of the Douay Bible.
We do not know when he first thought of undertaking the difficult task, or what special circumstances led him to think of it at all. But it is clear that there had long existed a need for a new edition of the Bible in English, and clear, too, that such a work, to be received as the standard version, must emanate from high authority. That there existed a want was sufficient reason for him to supply it. His position as bishop gave him the vantage-ground of authority, and there were personal reasons why such a work should strongly appeal to him.
In the first place it would be well-nigh impossible to exaggerate the importance of the Holy Bible in his own interior life. His mind was steeped in the Sacred Scriptures, his memory was stored with passages from them; in all his works —in his letters even—he breaks out into Scriptural quotation with a facility and aptness which show how his thought found its readiest and most fitting expression in the actual language of the Sacred Books; throughout his writings the Scriptures are not merely cited as proofs and illustrations, but are used with a freedom and adaptability that show them to have been a living and constant influence in his own life. Even when not actually quoting Scripture, he frequently writes—more especially in his spiritual works—in Scriptural language, with allusions and reminiscences clearly present to his mind.
It is not surprising that one to whom the Bible was thus a living and energising source of strength and power, should wish to see the same sacred influence more widely at work in the lives of his people. Yet at that time the only Catholic version of the Sacred Scriptures in English was 150 years old, difficult to procure, and hard to understand by reason of its antique style, and the fact that it was not designed for purely popular use.
What was needed was a convenient edition of the whole Douay Bible, in which current expressions might replace obsolete and archaic forms, while preserving the original sense ; an edition which could be easily procured through the booksellers, and which in size, style of printing and price would compare not unfavourably with the ordinary copies of the Anglican Authorised Version. It was a task of the utmost delicacy, and one beset with difficulties; a task, too, of great length, demanding much time, much labour, much patience; besides the necessary linguistic qualifications, it called for wide and minute knowledge, theological as well as exegetical. It was in fact a work not for one man, but for many. Indeed, most current versions, including both the Authorised and the Revised Versions, have been carried out by the joint labours of several scholars working together over a period of years. But in the eighteenth century such a committee of Catholic scholars was a sheer impossibility. Perhaps by unusual fortune, and under the right inspiration and guidance, it might have been realised at Douay or one of the other English Colleges abroad, but in point of fact it never was.
It remained therefore a work for individual enterprise, and this meant to Challoner that he must, without more ado, make a way for its accomplishment. It was the temper of the man quietly to get done that which needed to be done. If there were no other means, he would do it himself. It was the same in all things—prayer-books, catechisms, saints' lives, martyr-ologies, controversy or ascetical writings, wherever in short there was work to be done which would help towards the salvation of souls. The result might not be the absolute best, but it would be the best that he could do at that time in face of the actual need. And like all earnest work, which, in spite of limitations, is solid as far as it goes, his attempts have all had some permanent value.
In this matter of the Scriptures, for instance, the shortcomings and defects of his method have been common comment any time this hundred years and more; yet the fact remains that his work has furnished not only the basis, but the substance of all subsequent editions, and for more than a century and a half no one has been found to undertake his task again. There has been criticism, suggestion, aspiration in plenty, but little performance. Neither Dr. Lingard's version of the Gospels from the Greek, nor the very composite text which bore Cardinal Wiseman's imprimatur, has come into general use, while in recent years there has even been a return to Bishop Challoner's original text in preference to some later emendations.1
His edition of the Bible, then, may claim at the outset the merit of a long and difficult labour, diligently and conscientiously carried through; and to this may be added the practical testimony to its efficiency, afforded by the fact that it has been for so long a time, and during so eventful a period, the recognised version of the Bible for all English-speaking Catholics.
The importance of his work being thus above all question, we shall in no way belittle it, if at the outset we recognise the conditions under which it was accomplished, the limits within which the bishop worked, and the personal qualifications and drawbacks which have left their mark on his version. With regard to the personal element, he would have been the first to admit that, though competent in his degree, he was not the ideal translator of the Scriptures. With all his solid learning, he could not bring to the work of revision the breadth of scholarship that Gregory Martin had devoted to the work of translation, nor had he at command in the narrowly educated clergy around him the diversified knowledge that was shown by the gifted band of scholars—Allen, Bristow and Reynolds —who shared and lightened Martin's work, testing it and strengthening it at every step. Neither had he the gift that some of the earlier translators possessed of rendering the sacred text into an English so noble and so moving in its eloquence, that the literature of our country has gained in the Bible a masterpiece in itself, and a source of high inspiration for its greatest writers whether in poetry or prose.
To take the point of language alone, Gregory Martin was not only well versed in the Scriptures, but he was even more famed as a linguist of unusual talent, and his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew enabled him to handle the text of the Vulgate with broad and accurate scholarship, while in Bristow he had a colleague whose knowledge of these languages rivalled his own. Dr. Challoner, trained in the sound classical tradition of Douay, brought to his task a good knowledge of Latin and Greek ; but there is nothing in all his works to show that he was master of any Hebrew. His intention was to revise the Douay text according to the Clementine edition of the Vulgate, and to rewrite it in such English as could be understood by the people of the day. In carrying out this aim, he was occasionally led into renderings which proved less accurate than those of the original Douay version ; and when Cardinal Wiseman1 was arguing that a knowledge of Latin, however extensive, is insufficient for the translation of the Vulgate, he was able to show that Bishop Challoner's mistakes were due—in some instances at least—to his want of the wider knowledge which acquaintance with Hebrew would have secured.
On the subject of Dr. Challoner's work, regarded from the literary standpoint, little need here be said. It is not an aspect on which he himself would have cared to dwell. Though he was always concerned to write with care, he would probably have considered that to devote much attention to composition would show want of humility and even of that Christian simplicity on which he set such store. He would have regarded it as undue care for externals. Moreover, to him, " the beauty of the King's daughter was from within". In any case, in spite of many obvious improvements, he has not given us a translation which can challenge comparison with some of the older versions in that respect.
With regard to the aim which Dr. Challoner set before himself, we must first recognise that here, as always, he did not undertake original work. He did not propose a new translation of the Bible : he was content to accept what already existed—the old Douay version—to be reproduced with such alterations as he considered would suit it for popular use. That these alterations were so extensive as to result in practically a new version never induced him to consider his edition as other than a simple recension of the Douay Bible.
Fully to understand his work, then, we must go back and see briefly what the Douay Bible was, how it came to be, and what place it fills in the lengthy series of English versions of the Scriptures. Since it was published as the official Catholic version, in direct antagonism to those on the Protestant side produced at the time of the Reformation, it will be necessary to touch briefly at least on the position of the Catholic Church in England with regard to vernacular renderings of the Scriptures at the time when the Protestant versions first appeared.
The entire subject of the pre-Reformation translations of the Bible, obscure in itself, has been rendered yet more difficult by the prevalence of fixed ideas based on ancient but groundless traditions. The whole case, in fact, needs restating. The popular idea long was that until Wycliffe, patiently working in his study at Lutterworth, translated the whole Bible, there was no English version of the Scriptures. But the Wycliffe legend fell to pieces as soon as it was tested by critical methods, and it has been demolished time and again by writers with no bias in favour of the Catholic Church. Yet, though now exploded, it has left behind it a widespread view that all pre-Reformation translations are Wycliffite in origin, and therefore each of the two recognised versions which were current during the fifteenth century has been appropriated and labelled as " a Lollard production ". Against this view Abbot Gasquet has protested in his two essays entitled " The Pre-Reformation English Bible," 1 in which he contends " that Catholics in pre-Reformation days had in England, as elsewhere, a recognised vernacular version of the Scriptures, and that these translations, now published under the name of ' Wycliffite,' were in pre-Reformation days uniformly regarded as perfectly orthodox by undoubtedly loyal sons of mother Church".
That Dr. Gasquet's conclusions would meet with general acceptance was not to be expected, and the very scope of his articles was rather to show cause for the reopening of the question, than to enter on a minute discussion of all the evidence. Yet the proofs he alleges are in themselves so striking that they seem to have made some impression, even on those who dissent from his conclusions,1 and we are stating the matter at the lowest when we take it as established by him that there were English versions approved and permitted by the Church. This, of course, is not the same as to argue that the pre-Reformation prelates were carrying on an active propaganda for the dissemination of the Scriptures in the vernacular, but it does show, as Dr. Kenyon readily admits, that the leaders of the English Church were not hostile to an English Bible. The continual use made by the Catholic Church of great portions of the Scriptures, alone refutes the ancient calumny that she denies them to her members; and the fact that she permits, rather than urges, the use of the Bible as a whole is based on quite other considerations. Moreover in this matter the standpoint of the Church is entirely different from that of the sects. The very emphasis with which Protestantism in its primitive forms placed the Bible in the hands of its followers as the sole and sufficient rule of faith, rendered it incumbent on the first Reformers to scatter their versions of the Scripture broadcast. But the Church has always regarded the Sacred Books, not as the rule of faith, but as an accessory thereto.
That the Church in this country did in fact allow the use of the Scripture in the vernacular is made clear by the oft-quoted words of Sir Thomas More, when he shows that the prohibition of Wycliffite versions by the Council of Oxford " neither for-biddeth the translations to be read that were already well done of old before Wyclif s days, nor damneth his because it was new, but because it was naught; nor prohibiteth new to be made, but provideth that they shall not be read if they be made amiss, till they be by good examination amended ".
On the other hand, that there was no large demand for the Bible as a whole in the vernacular is clear from the fact that no English edition even of the New Testament was printed until 1525, when Tyndale's unauthorised version appeared.
In 1534 Convocation petitioned for an English version of the whole Bible, and in the following year, under the sinister patronage of Cromwell, Coverdale's Bible was published, being the first complete edition of the Scriptures printed in English. Though it received no ecclesiastical sanction, it was not interfered with, and many of its phrases, familiar by long and frequent use, passed into the Authorised Version. Coverdale was also the editor of Cromwell's " Great Bible," which was published in 1539 and ordered to be placed in all the churches. Subsequent editions were numerous, one of which at least had the authorisation of the Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall. This " Great Bible " has been of lasting mark, because from it is derived the " Prayer-Book Version " of the psalms which the Authorised Version was never able to replace, and the phrasing of which has entered so intimately into the national life and literature as to be for all time inseparable therefrom.
The next translation of the Bible that calls for special notice is the Geneva version, so called because it was executed at Geneva by a group of Reformers, headed by Whittingham, a connection by marriage of Calvin. This edition, which approximated more to the Hebrew, introduced into England for the first time the division of the Bible into verses, following in this the arrangement of Robert Etienne, the great printer, better known to us as Stephanus. Though the Geneva Bible was never read in the churches, it was largely used for private reading, and a great number of editions was called for to supply the demand for family Bibles.
The success of this version, which was first published in 1560, reacted on the Great Bible, which was henceforth regarded as less accurate, and therefore no longer suitable for official ecclesiastical use. This led to the further revision of the Great Bible, which became known as the Bishops' Bible from the large number of Anglican prelates employed on it. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, himself acted as editor. The Bishops' Bible replaced the Great Bible in all the churches immediately upon its appearance in 1568 ; but it never succeeded in supplanting the Geneva version, which continued to be the most popular for private use. The latter had the advantage of being issued in compact and handy form, and the popularity it attained is shown by the fact that more than a hundred different editions were issued before a century had elapsed.
This was the state of affairs that confronted the Catholic scholars exiled at Douay when in 1568 Dr. Allen succeeded with their help in founding the English College there. They were quick to realise that there was a great popular demand for the Bible in English, and that the English people, still as a body Catholic, were reading the Scriptures in versions that could only be regarded as translated with controversial bias, and which were accompanied with marginal commentaries or notes, Anglican or Calvinistic as the case might be, but heretical in doctrine, and anti-Catholic in tone. Not that the Douay theologians approved of this wholesale and indiscriminate Bible reading; in fact their Introduction to the New Testament contains a long passage in which the unrestricted handling of the Sacred Books is shown to be a source of evil rather than good, and the arguments in this sense are drawn from the abuses of the times. " We must not imagin that in the primitive church . . . the translated Bibles into the vulgar tonges were in the hands of every husbandman, artificer, prentice, boies, girles, mistresse, maide, man: that they were sung, plaied, alleaged of every tinker, taverner, rimer, minstrel: that they were for table talk, for alebenches, for boates, and barges, and for every prophane person and companie. No, in those better times men were neither so ill nor so curious of themselves so to abuse the blessed booke of Christ: neither was there any such easy means before printing was invented, to disperse the copies into the handes of every man as now there is." But if men could not be deterred from this indiscriminate use of the Scriptures, it were at least well that they should have a faithful rendering. Their purpose the Douay translators thus explained in the completed work: " We, therefore, having compassion to see our beloved countriemen, with extreme danger of their soules, to use onely such prophane translations, and erroneous men's mere phantasies, for the pure and blessed word of truth, much also moved thereunto by the desires of many devout persons, have set forth for you (benigne readers) the New Testament to begin withal, trusting that it may give occasion to you, after diligent perusing thereof, to lay away at least such their impure versions as hitherto you have been forced to occupie".
The Douay diaries record the beginning and the end of the work. In the account of the year 1578 we read :—
"On October 16, or thereabout, Mr. Martin, Licentiate, began a translation of the Bible into English, that so at length he might counteract the corruptions of the heretics by which they have so long lamentably imposed upon nearly all the people of our country. And in order that the work—which it is hoped will be most useful,—may be published the sooner, he completes two chapters every day, and to ensure greater correctness, Dr. Allen, our President, and our Master, Mr. Bristow, read through these same chapters and [MS. imperfect] . . . faithfully correct them according to their wisdom." *
In the translation the Vulgate was professedly followed in preference to the Greek, as indeed must be the case in all Catholic translations, owing to the supreme authority which the Church attaches to the Vulgate; but, as the title-page shows, it was also carefully collated with the Greek and Hebrew versions throughout.
Cardinal Allen had a wide reputation for his knowledge of Scripture, and was a member of Cardinal Carafa's Commission for emending the text of the Septuagint, as a preparation for the revision of the Vulgate, which was then in contemplation. The notes on the Old Testament are believed to have been written by Dr. Worthington, afterwards president; those on the New Testament were by Bristow himself. The New Testament was completed while the college was at Rheims, and published during the year 1582; but though the translation of the Old Testament was vigorously carried on to a conclusion, it was many years before means could be found to publish it. At length, after more than a quarter of a century, it appeared, the first volume in 1609, the second in the following year. It therefore came out in time to influence in some respects the Anglican Authorised Version of 1611. The Rheims New Testament was indeed well known in England, because the controversial character of Bristow's notes forced it on the attention of the Anglican Divines. One of these, Fulke, Master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, had answered it by the odd expedient of reprinting it, notes and all, in parallel columns with the New Testament from the Bishops' Bible, accompanied by his own notes. One result of this proceeding was to procure a far wider circulation of the Catholic version than Catholics themselves could have obtained for it. Fulke's edition, which came out in 1589, also reappeared in 1601 and 1617, while the fourth edition of each of these rival issues of the Rheims Testament appeared in the same year, 1633.
The Old Testament was published again in 1635, after which date it was never reprinted. Even with regard to the New Testament, after the fourth edition in 1633 no further edition appeared for close on a hundred years, until in 1730 Dr. Witham published his version in two volumes.1 It is strange that for a whole century-—a period which included the brief yet energetic revival of James II.—there should have been no attempt to reproduce the Catholic translation in more modern form, but the fact that it was not done, emphasises the necessity there was in Dr. Challoner's time for a new and thorough revision. To carry this undertaking through to a successful issue much required to be done. First and foremost was the question of the text itself. No change having been effected in the current version for a hundred and fifty years, the first and chief need was to revise those passages which by lapse of time had become obsolete. Many expressions usual in Elizabethan English had become antiquated, and even unintelligible to ordinary readers in the Georgian era. Nor was this all. The English of the Douay Bible was in itself out of the common. Indeed, on its first publication, that remarkable convert, Sir Tobie Mathew, intimate friend of Bacon, and no mean judge, humorously declared that it was not English at all. That the translators were able to pen English not unworthy of their own great epoch, is shown, indeed, by many a noble passage, but they were so anxious to follow the Vulgate with scrupulous fidelity that they frequently render a Latin word by an equivalent itself more Latin than English; and even invented such Latinisms for the purpose. Thus the Vulgate phrase " concorporales et comparticipes" appears in the Douay version as " Concorporate and comparticipant". The " Deo odibiles" of Romans i. 30 becomes " Odible to God," and " semetipsum exinanivit" (Phil. ii. 7) is translated " He exinanited himself," while three verses later we read, " That in the name of Jesus every knee bowe of the celestials, terrestrials and infernals ".
These are extreme cases, but similar instances are of sufficiently frequent occurrence to justify the effort to simplify the version. The translators themselves were conscious of the difficulty likely to be caused by such expressions, and in their preface they defend some of these renderings, including the " exinanited " of Philippians ii. 7, and the other curious word used in the same epistle, " reflorished " (iv. 10), on the ground that there were no proper equivalents in English. They further argued that by frequent use such words, though of classical origin, would become as familiar as Amen, Alleluia, Hosanna and other Hebrew words. This, however, had not proved to be the case, and the sense of the Scriptures was obscured, rather than helped, by such close adhering to the letter. Such phrases as " There is left a sabbatisme for the people of God " (Heb. iv. 10); or "tempted in all things by similitude, except sinne" (Heb. iv. 15), seem needlessly difficult, while some sentences are barely intelligible at all. Thus in Hebrews xiii. 16 we read, "And beneficence and communication do not forget, for with such hostes God is promerited". And in Ephesians vi. 12, "For our wrestling is not against flesh and bloud: but against Princes and Potestats, against the rectors of the world of this darkness, against the spirituals of wicked-nes in the celestials ".
While noting these instances of stiff and pedantic usage, it is well to remember that these are exceptional. The substance and "woof and warp" of our Douay version is vigorous and noble English. When the superiority of the Anglican version is urged, as is frequently the case, we must not forget how much, in the New Testament at least, the Authorised Version owes to Rheims. In quite recent years this influence has not only been admitted by Anglican writers, but exhaustively studied and estimated.1 Many phrases and happy renderings were borrowed by the editors of the Authorised Version from that of Rheims, and when Dr. Challoner in his turn looked to the Authorised Version for suitable English phrases with which to replace the obsolete Latinisms, he was only returning a compliment paid in an earlier age.
Another point of scarcely less importance was the revision of the notes, particularly those to the New Testament. For Gregory Martin's notes, learned and weighty as they were, were directed against a class of adversaries that had long since passed away. To single out for straightforward denunciation particular errors in vogue in Elizabeth's time was no longer needful, and in general the notes to the Bible could with advantage be made less polemical.
Bishop Challoner's work, then, was in the first place thoroughly to revise the text, including in this process the work of securing conformity with the Clementine Vulgate, which had, of course, not been published when the Rheims New Testament was issued, but which appeared in 1592. In the next place he had to revise or rewrite the notes and short Introductions to the various books. His method with regard to the text, roughly speaking, was to take the Douay Bible as the groundwork. When he met with a word or phrase which seemed to him to need simplifying, he usually, or at least very frequently, had recourse to the Authorised Version, always avoiding, however, a very close reproduction and seeming of set purpose to retain minor differences. Often he altered a phrase by transposing words or entirely changing them for others: In this process clearness is often gained at some sacrifice of dignity.
A comparison of any page of Dr. Challoner's edition with Douay, on the one hand, and the Authorised Version on the other, will exhibit his course of proceeding. To take one short and familiar phrase as an illustration, we may look at the first verse of the psalm Miserere. In the Douay Bible this reads, " Have mercie on me, O God, according to thy great mercie. And according to the multitude of thy commiserations take away myne iniquitie." Here Dr. Challoner retains the body of the verse, but for the Latin " commiserations " he substitutes " tender mercies " from the Authorised Version, and again follows the latter by changing "take away" into "blot out," as being more faithful to the Vulgate "dele". The only minor alteration he makes in this verse was to alter " mine," which he probably, though unfortunately, regarded as archaic, into " my".
As an instance of alterations made without reference to the Authorised Version, we may take verse 14 in the same psalm, in which the Douay reads, " Render unto me the joy of thy salvation, and confirm me with the principal spirit". Here he only follows the Anglican in changing " render " into " restore," and then ignoring the translation " and uphold me with thy free spirit," he rewrites it as "and strengthen me with a perfect spirit".
More common instances of alterations made by his own independent judgment are to be found on every page in the recasting of sentences, by which they read more in accordance with the taste of his own age. It was unfortunately just in these purely literary changes that the bishop's limitations made themselves felt, and his emendations have often been regretted by later scholars. Thus Cardinal Wiseman wrote: " Though Dr. Challoner did well to alter many too decided Latinisms, which the old translators retained, he weakened the language considerably by destroying inversion, where it was congenial at once to the genius of our language and the construction of the original, and by the insertion of particles where they were by no means necessary ".1
Another alteration of a widespread character made by Challoner, which Cardinal Wiseman regrets, is the substitution in all cases of " the Lord " instead of " our Lord," by which the Douay translators nearly always rendered "Dominus". This difference between the original Catholic and Protestant versions was not without deep significance, and it was a bold step on Dr. Challoner's part to effect this change. The point was so clearly at issue between Catholics and Protestants that the note upon it (i Tim. vi. 20) is specially referred to in the Preface to the original Rheims New Testament. The argument there is that phrases and words which may De harmless in themselves ought to be avoided if they have been adopted by heretics in such a way as to imply new and erroneous views. " And though some of the said terms have been by some occasion obiter, without ill meaning, spoken by Catholics before these heretics arose, yet now knowing them to be the proper speeches of heretics, Christian men are bound to avoid them. Wherein the Church of God hath ever been as diligent to resist novelties of words as her adversaries are busy to invent them. For which cause she will not have us communicate with them, nor follow their fashion and phrase newly invented, though in the nature of the words sometime there be no harm. ... As now we Catholics must not say ' the Lord' but ' our Lord,' as we say our Lady for His mother, not the Lady. Let us keep our forefathers' words, and we shall easily keep our old and true faith that we had of the first Christians." 1
Probably Dr. Challoner, considering that the extreme heat both of persecution and controversy had passed away, and that discussions were being conducted, if with no less determination, yet in a more moderate manner, felt that the reason for avoiding this particular form had ceased to exist in a pressing degree, and as it was undeniably nearer the Vulgate, he would be justified in adopting it. And in truth Cardinal Wiseman does not make out a convincing case against the change. He defends the original Douay usage of " our Lord " by analogy from the Syrian Rite, and there leaves the question, merely hinting in his conclusion at the practical distinction which may be drawn between Scripture on the one hand, and popular speech and traditional prayers on the other. " If therefore it be considered too great a departure from accuracy in translation to restore the pronoun in the text of our version, let us at least preserve it in our instructions, and still more in our formularies of prayer." It is precisely this distinction, added to the enhanced accuracy of translation, that sufficiently and adequately defends Dr. Challoner's procedure on this point.
Another minor point that called for consideration was the spelling of some of the proper names. As a general rule he followed the Douay version, with such slight modifications as Isaias for Isaie, and Jeremias for Jeremie. But in some instances there is discrepancy between the Douay Bible and the Rheims New Testament: thus, for instance, the former has Isaie where the latter has Esay. In these cases he introduced uniformity, taking his substitutes direct from the Vulgate. Sometimes he is not consistent with himself: thus in one case we have " Ezekiel" and " Macchabees," while the books themselves are headed " Ezechiel" and " Machabees ". These, however, are small points. His principle was to follow the Vulgate for the Old Testament, and ordinary English usage for the New. From all that has been said, some idea can be gained of the difficulties Dr. Challoner had to face in undertaking his new version of the Douay Bible, and the manner in which he met them. The result of his patient labour is, like all his work, marked by care and thoroughness, and in this special case we may note the courage with which he set himself to a task which no one since has been found to face, and the broadminded-ness with which he approximated to the Authorised Version where he thought it better. He and the Catholics of his age have been regarded by their posterity as penned within the narrowest limits of orthodoxy, even to the extent of incurring the reproach of a blind conservatism. That they were straitly orthodox is true; yet we find them on occasion not afraid to follow lines of action, the contemplation of which fills our more complex and apprehensive age with misgivings. Dr. Challoner's version of the Scriptures has never been thought by Catholics to be a final or ideal solution of a standing difficulty. Charles Butler wrote of it: " The version is imperfect. A more correct version is perhaps at present the greatest spiritual want of the English Catholics." But though nearly a hundred years have gone by since these words were written, no one has been found bold enough to face the storm of criticism and of difficulties which such an undertaking would call into being. The fact that Dr. Challoner was himself a bishop secured for his version acceptance at the hands of the rulers of the Church. His great courage and habitual indifference to what others might say against him made it easy for him to follow out his own path, regardless of outcry. The emendations he required he found in the Anglican Version, and with the fearless Catholic instinct that absorbs all that is best in the world around, and presses it into the service of the Church, he boldly adopted them. Even in his day it needed a bishop to make himself responsible for the attempt. He succeeded in effecting a practical compromise which, evoking no enthusiasm, has at least served as the basis and groundwork of all subsequent versions.
Yet though his services in this respect have been amply acknowledged, Catholics have not been blind to the shortcomings of this edition. Charles Butler's opinion as to the necessity of a new version has already been quoted. Many years later Cardinal Wiseman expressed the same view :—
" We cannot but regret that no one properly qualified and properly authorised has yet been found to undertake such corrections and improvements in our received version, as would finally settle its text, and save it from the repeated liberty which has been taken with it. To call it any longer the Douay or Rheims version is an abuse of terms. It has been altered and modified till scarce any verse remains as it was originally published: and so far as simplicity and energy of style are concerned, the changes are in general for the worse." 1
One more witness we may cite, as being one who, by his knowledge of the Bible and mastery of the English tongue, speaks with high authority. Cardinal Newman, in his " History of the Text of the Rheims and Douay Version of the Holy Scripture" 2 devotes a section to " Dr. Challoner's Bible". In the main he adopts Cardinal Wiseman's conclusion, though he shows greater reverence towards " the pious prelate, to whom the English Church is so much indebted ". Having considered several passages in detail, he continues :—
" Looking at Dr. Challoner's labours on the Old Testament as a whole, we may pronounce that they issue in little short of a new translation. They can as little be said to be made on the basis of the Douay as on the basis of the Protestant version. Of course there must be a certain resemblance between any two Catholic versions whatever, because they are both translations of the same vulgate ; but this connection between the Douay and Challoner being allowed for, Challoner's version is even nearer to the Protestant, than it is to the Douay; nearer, that is, not in grammatical structure, but in phraseology and diction."1
In details he considers that " undoubtedly he has sacrificed force and vividness in some of his changes ". Another point to which Newman draws attention is the fact that Challoner's text of the New Testament has, both during his lifetime and after his death, by himself as well as by others, been subjected to a continual modification, while the Old Testament has continued with but little variation.
" Challoner's revision is the first and the last to which the Douay version of the Old Testament has been subjected ; the text remains almost verbatim as he left it. . . . The same, however, cannot be said of Challoner's New Testament, and for this reason, if for no other, that the texts of his editions vary from each other; and moreover, as he was not the author of all the changes introduced into the later editions, (for as Charles Butler tells us, ' alterations were made in every edition to his dissatisfaction,') it is not wonderful that the tendency to fresh changes which was powerful enough even in his lifetime to introduce itself in spite of his wishes into his own work, should have had actual results after his death." 2
This passage from the Cardinal's essay fitly leads to the two points that remain to be mentioned: the appearance of the various editions of the bishop's translation, and their effect on the different versions used to-day in Great Britain, Ireland, America and indeed throughout the English-speaking world.
There is nothing to show how long the entire work took to complete, but it appears that the New Testament was taken in hand first, and submitted for approval to two theologians at Douay, Dr. Green, the president, and Mr. Walton, the professor of theology. Their approbation is dated 26th September, 1748, which shows that the New Testament was finished at latest by the summer of that year. It was published in 1749, by itself, without waiting for the completion of the Old Testament. This latter must have occupied the bishop for the better part of two years, as it was not published until 1750.
In one respect it was a great improvement on its predecessors. Frequent complaint had been made of the inconvenient bulk of the folio and quarto volumes.1 Dr. Challoner avoided this inconvenience by publishing his Bible in five neat octavo volumes, well and clearly printed, the second edition of the New Testament forming the fifth volume. There is no printer's name, but a comparison of the type with that used in works published by Thomas Meighan, the Catholic bookseller of Drury Lane, shows that it was in all probability printed and published by him.2 The New Testament could also be obtained without the Old, and the sale was large enough to lead the bishop to prepare a third edition, with very numerous changes. This was published in 1752.
It is curious that the most exhaustive study and comparison of the various editions of Dr. Challoner's New Testament has been made not by Catholics, but by a Protestant. Dr. Cotton, the Archdeacon of Cashel, in 1855, published his Rhemes and Doway: an Attempt to shew what has been done by Roman Catholics for the diffusion of the Holy Scriptures. Writing of this work, Cardinal Newman, while paying tribute to the author's " minute, exact and persevering diligence," points out how marked it is by " incidental insinuation, sometimes unfair, sometimes ignorant, always ill-natured, to the disadvantage of Catholic Ecclesiastics".8 Yet notwithstanding its unpleasant tone, there is much careful research in the book, and among other information it gives in an Appendix (No. v., p. 35) a long, complete collation of the three earliest editions of Dr. Challoner's New Testament. The result of this comparison is striking, for whereas Dr. Cotton calculates that the second differs from the first in 124 passages, he states that the third differs from the first in more than 2,000 places of the text.
A second edition of the whole Bible was published in 1764, which included the fourth edition of the New Testament. The latter reached two more editions during Dr. Challoner's lifetime, the fifth in 1772, and the sixth in 1777, both published by James Coghlan, who became the principal Catholic bookseller during the latter part of the century.
After Dr. Challoner's death the effect of his work, if not his actual performance, gained ever-widening influence. So far as the Old Testament is concerned, we may say that his rendering remains the standard Catholic version, while his New Testament has served as the basis of nearly all the numerous and dissimilar texts which have since been published. The considerable element that remains common to all is his work. This will be seen from the briefest summary of the different English versions from the time of his death onward. The story begins in Ireland, where in 1783, two years after Challoner's death, Archbishop Carpenter approved of the New Testament often referred to under his name, though it was edited by Dr. MacMahon, an Irish priest of good repute as a scholar. Eight years later, in 1791, the same editor published for Dr. Troy, who had succeeded Dr. Carpenter, a complete edition of the whole Bible. This is the edition which became so widely used, not only in Ireland, but also in England, under the name of Dr. Troy's Bible. As the preface states, it was founded on the version of Bishop Challoner, though MacMahon's alterations were very considerable. It is further interesting, because so far as the New Testament is concerned, it was the origin of the English version issued by Dr. Wiseman in 1847. It is therefore the direct ancestor, not only of many editions used in Ireland, but of several English reprints.
Another Irish edition of the Bible, formed still more closely on Challoner, was Dr. Murray's Bible, published in 1835, from which came the widely diffused Dr. Denvir's New Testament (1838 and succeeding years), and Dr. MacHale's New Testament (1846). As Dr. Murray's Bible has gradually supplanted that of Dr. Troy in Ireland, and has been followed by many of the most popular reprints in England, it will be seen that Challoner's text has by this means come to be once more the most widely used version, both in this country and in Ireland. In England we find again that it was the groundwork of the three chief editions of the early nineteenth century, Dr. Gibson's Bible (1816-17) Syers's Bible (1811-13) and, best known of all, the Haydock Bible (1811-14) and its derivatives.
In Scotland, Dr. Hay's Bible, which first came out in 1761, again avowedly follows Challoner's text, as also does the American edition published in Philadelphia in 1805.
From this brief and far from exhaustive outline will be seen how far-reaching have been the effects of Dr. Challoner's edition of the Bible. We may sum up our results in Cardinal Newman's words :—
" Considering, then, Dr. Troy is followed by the editions of Haydock, Dr. Murray, Dr. Denvir and Cardinal Wiseman, which we have taken to represent the current text or texts of the day, we are safe in saying, first, that Challoner's revision has been hitherto a final one ; next that there is at present as regards the Old Testament, one and only one received text, or very nearly so."1
So far as the New Testament is concerned, the editions have borrowed and re-borrowed with such frequent interchange, that it is quite a complicated task to arrive at the history of each individual edition, but here once more judgment may be pronounced by Cardinal Newman, at least with regard to the chief versions, all of which he traces to one or other of Challoner's early editions, when he writes " that Dr. Murray and Dr. Denvir follow Challoner's early editions and that Cardinal Wiseman and Mr. Haydock follow his later editions, and Dr. Troy's ".2
Thus it is that when we regard the way in which the actual words of our versions find their way through sermons, catechisms, and prayer-books into every-day Catholic life, it is possible to see clearly how great a work Dr. Challoner, with all his limitations, achieved in revising the early versions of Douay and of Rheims.
JThus the popular sixpenny New Testament published of late years by Messrs. Burns & Oates follows Dr. Murray's adaptation, representing Challoner's 1749 text.
lDubhn Review, vol. ii., p. 475 et seqq., " Catholic Versions of the Scripture," an unsigned article on Lingard's translation of the Gospels, which he subse quently republished in his Essays on Various Subjects.
1 Dublin Review, July, 1894, republished in The Old English Bible and other Essays, London, 1897, p. 161.
1See Dr. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, second edition, 1896.
1 Dr Nary's new version of the New Testament published in Ireland in 1718 never attained wide or lasting popularity, though it ran to a second edition m the following year. Dr. Witham's translation also reached a second edition (in 1733). His rendering is the only one which influenced later versions to any material degree.
1 See The Part of Rheims in the Making of the English Bible, by James G, Carleton, D,D. (Oxford, 1902).
1 Dublin Review, vol. ii., p. 476.
1 Annotations to i Tim. vi. 20, p. 585.
1 Dublin Review, 11., 476.
2 Rambler, July, 1859 ; reprinted in Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical.
1 Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical, p. 370.
2 Ibid., p. 383.
1 See Dr. Witham's Preface.
view is held by Mr. Gillow, Bibl Diet. Eng. Cath., i., 455; but Dr.
Cotton (op. at., sup., p. 50) ascribes it to Richard Fitzsimons, a Dublin printer,
on the ground that the first editions, including that of 1764, are all from the same
press; but his copy of the 1764 edition contains "a list of subscribers, almost all
bearing Irish names ; and a list of books sold by Fitzsimons ". But this would be
easily explained by Fitzsimons taking copies from Meighan m sheets, and bind
ing up his own list of subscribers and his advertisements with them.
s Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical, pp. 359-60.
1 Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical, p. 395. 2Ibid., p. 399.