Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

[textualcriticism] Re: Bruce Metzger assertions on Greek and Latin in early Rome

Expand Messages
  • schmuel
    Hi, One more on this topic. Here is an excellent section from George T. Stokes relating to the question of Rome and the Greek and Latin usage, including
    Message 1 of 9 , Apr 14, 2012

      One more on this topic. Here is an excellent section from George T. Stokes relating to the question of Rome and the Greek and Latin usage, including Christian services. I added a bit of emphasis.

      Contemporary Review (1881)
      Latin Christian Inscriptions
      George T. Stokes
      Greek became fashionable in Pagan Rime in the second century, under the auspices of the Antonines, of the philosophers, and of the Eastern cults which then held sway. Thus in Greek Justin Martyr addressed his Apologies to the Emperor. In Greek Marcus Aurclius published his Meditations. In Greek wrote Musonius Rufus and all the other philosophers of the age save Apuleius. "Greek became in the second century the philosophical language of Rome," says M. Boissier; and  he assigns as the reason for this change that " Roman philosophy wished to become cosmopolitan, not provincial or local; that Greek was most widespread, the language of the nations most intelligent, most accessible to new ideas; that Latin, in fine, as Cicero bad already confessed in his oration for Archias, was a limited and local, Greek a universal language." This, it will be observed, was not the case in the first century; Latin was not only the language of the court, executive and people, but also of philosophy and literatureĀ—the language of Seneca, Quinictilian, Pliny, as well as of Virgil, Horace, and Ovid. But from the beginning the ecclesiastical language of the Roman Church was Greek; and so were all her official letters, like those of Clement to the Corinthians; and so were her earlier literature and liturgy. This fact, indeed, is so universally acknowledged, that the late Cardinal Wiseman founded on it an ingenious argument proving, that the Itatic version of the New Testament was made in North Africa, and not in Rome or Italy. The change from Greek to Latin took place about the age of Constantine. The Greek clement of the Roman Christian population was then naturally attracted to Constantinople, whereupon the Church service at Rome was translated from the dead Greek into the living Latin, or perhaps it would be more correct to say, that the Greek service was dropped while the Latin service which had grown up by its side for the use of Latin-speaking converts quietly took its place. .... But though the official language of the Church was Greek, though Christianity first and most naturally seized hold of the Greek-speaking part of the population, yet it was ever more and more aggressive, and daily gained fresh accessions from the Latin-speaking majority. Some of its first conquests, too, were made from that proud old Roman nobility which clung to the national language, and loved to patronize the historians and poets and wits who used it. We therefore find that the earliest catacombs were excavated by members of that same nobility, while many of the most ancient monuments record in Latin and not in Greek the memory of themselves and of their dependents.

      And more techie detail about the interrelationship is here:

      The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church,
      Volume 3 (1913)  Charles George Herbermann
      The first great turning-point in the history of the Roman Canon is the exclusive use of the Latin language.  Latin had been used side by side with Greek, apparently for some time. It occurs first as a Christian language, not in Rome, but in Africa.  Pope Victor I (190-202), and African, seems to have been the first Roman bishop who used it (supposing that the Ps.-Cyprian, "De Aleatoribus", is by him; Harnack, "Der Ps.-Cypr. Tracta. de Aleatoribus", Leipzig, 1888) After this time it soon becomes the only language used by popes; Cornelius (251-253) and Stephen (254-257) write in Latin.  Greek seems to have disappeared at Roma as a liturgical language in the second half of the third century (Kattenbusch, Symbolik, II, 331), though parts of the Liturgy were left in Greek.

      The Bruce Metzger material can essentially be discarded. So far there is simply no support for his implying an absence of Latin worship and Bible reading, or for the early Interlinear theory, or the dual readings being the reason for Latin Bibles. The most that can be said is that it is feasible, possible, that Latin Bibles in North Africa and other regions predated Rome. (e.g. the Wiseman approach.)

      Steven Avery
      Queens, NY


      Bruce Metzger
      > the language used by the church at Rome was Greek until the mid-third century


      David Solomoni
      Why Paul wrote in Greek to the Romans
                    (snip Cicero and Juvenal)
      Both Clemens Romanus (ca. 88-98 CE) and Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 98-115 CE) wrote in Greek, Ignatius specifically writing in Greek to the Church of Rome; there are several other examples of writers writing in Greek in Rome in the first centuries CE: for instance, Galen (in Rome after 168 CE, serving as physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus), or Justin Martyr (Apologia, 148-161 CE). On the other hand, the first known Christians writing in Latin are Apollonius and Pope Victor I (late 2nd half of II CE).
                   (snip Catacombs)
      Liturgically, Justin in his First Apology describes how the Eucharist was celebrated in Greek in Rome; on the other hand, we have a fragment of the De Sacramentis written by the Pseudo-Ambrose, ca. 400, where the Roman liturgy is apparently said in Latin. In liturgy then, the transition from Greek to Latin happened somewhere in between these data points, but it seems difficult or controversial to be more precise. We also know that under Pope Damasus (366-384) the Vulgate became the official version of the Bible used in the Roman liturgy. Greek did not disappear completely: for example, those familiar with Roman or Ambrosian Catholic rites can easily remember that parts of the Mass are still in Greek today (notably the invocation Kyrie Eleison). Note also the symbol IH abbreviating the word , the so-called monogram of Christ XP, the two letters - to signify beginning and end, and the iconography of the fish, Greek , acrostic for . In summary, all evidence points to the fact that by the time Romans was written, a substantial part (if not the majority) of the population in Rome was bilingual, that contemporary Christian literature was indeed normally written in Greek, that Greek was a common (if not the usual) language of Roman Christians and a kind of lingua franca, and that Greek continued to be used in Rome and in Roman rites for several more decades and perhaps centuries. The transition from Greek to Latin happened gradually, with Greek's usage progressively disappearing; and by the end of the fourth century CE we have strong indications that Roman liturgy had converged into using Latin rather than Greek in most of its forms.

      The bilingual aspect should be considered carefully.  If half are considered as reasonably bilingual, that means that there are a substantial portion that would want their Bible in their fluent tongue, Greek or Latin.  i.e If 25% of a church community really needs a Bible in their native tongue, then the likelihood is that Bibles in that language will be quickly forthcoming.  The attempt by Bruce Metzger to say that the Roman church would not have a Latin Bible:

      > Bruce Metzger
      > the Old Latin versions would not have originated there, but within those early Christian communities that used Latin.

      is a scholastic failure conjecture.  The possibility of an early second century Itala Bible is very good, although one could say that in some other areas it is that much more a certainty.


      The Bible in translation: ancient and English versions (2001)
      Bruce Manning Metzger
      Because the language used by the church at Rome was Greek until the mid-third century,

      Christians as a Religious Minority in a Multicultural City: Modes of Interaction and Identity Formation in Early Imperial Rome : Studies on the Basis of a Seminar at the Second Conference of the European Association for Biblical Studies (EABS) from July 8-12, 2001, in Rome (2004)
      Early Christians in the City of Rome - Peter Lampe
      In the second century, while Greek was the dominant language of the educated Christians in Rome, a rather uncultivated Latin was being used by some lower class Christian circles in town. In the first half of the third century, however, Latin and Greek were already equally represented on the catacomb inscriptions.
    • JV
      For a theologically charged book, it could have just been that the Greek speaking Church liked what he said and Rome did not. We know from their backgrounds
      Message 2 of 9 , Apr 16, 2012
        For a theologically charged book, it could have just been that the Greek speaking Church liked what he said and Rome did not. We know from their backgrounds that Justin and Irenaeus COULD have written in Greek. I am not saying they didn't, but it wouldn't help me if they did in their case.

        Josephus wrote from the comfort of Rome and did not write in Latin and we KNOW that because he told us so. Yet parts of what he wrote only survived in Latin. However, Josephus is not much help in finding what I'm looking for since he probably learned Greek before moving to Rome too.

        A true vulgare usage should spawn a local dialect under normal cases. Our modern world has a hard time appreciating that since the advent of TV / radio / etc has killed a lot of the local dialects that used to exist in europe. But that would be the norm.

        --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "Barry H." <nebarry@...> wrote:
        > ----- Original Message -----
        > From: JV
        > To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Friday, April 13, 2012 7:24 PM
        > Subject: [textualcriticism] What Language Did Justin or Irenaeus write in?
        > >What is the basis for concluding they wrote in Greek?
        > For Justin, the fact that all surviving manuscripts of his work are in
        > Greek? That there is never any hint that he wrote in any other language?
        > That he studied Greek philosophy? Similarly for Irenaeus. We know from
        > what survives to us that he originally wrote in Greek, and what we have from
        > him in other languages is clearly translation.
        > I suggest that you do some research in standard references.
        > N.E. Barry Hofstetter M.A., M.Div., Th.M.
        > Vice-President for Academic Affairs
        > The North American Reformed Seminary
        > http://www.tnars.net
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.