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The Celtic Gospels: Their Story and Their…

The Celtic Gospels: Their Story and Their Text

by Lemuel J. Hopkins-James

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Bible (1) British (1) C1 (1) Celtic (1) Gospels (2) history (1) New Testament (1) RB (1) religion (1) versions (1) Vulgate (1)



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Sometimes the center can hold -- but you wish it hadn't.

The Roman Catholic Church, for most of its history, treated the Latin Vulgate as its Bible, rather than the Greek and Hebrew originals of the scriptures. And, when it came time to adopt an official edition of the Vulgate, it held up a book we tend to call the Clementine Vulgate.

This was, frankly, a very bad book, clearly removed not only from the Greek and the Hebrew but even from the fourth century original of the Vulgate. The one side effect of this was to leave a very wide-open opportunity for people to engage in Vulgate scholarship.

This is one example of such work. Hopkins-James took a particular British manuscript and studied it in great detail, looking at other British codices and at the "Old Latin" versions (Latin translations other than the Vulgate). He calls these "Celtic Gospels" because most of them come from the Celtic countries. And it does appear that they developed certain peculiar readings (as books always did in the era of manuscript copying when errors were passed down from copy to copy to copy). That makes this a useful reference for a few books of the Bible.

On the other hand, it is not exactly a joy to use. Hopkins-James scatters information about the various codices he studies all over the place, and never gives a really coherent assessment of their nature or of what he is doing. He does not really describe the Celtic Gospels text. And his methodology hardly deserves the term.

If you want to study the text of the Latin Gospels, this is a useful collation of several mildly important codices. If you want to study early British Christianity, there may be a few useful points, too. But you'll have some wading to do. ( )
  waltzmn | Mar 9, 2012 |
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