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ART. II. Father Curci's New Translation of the Gospels; or, a Roman Catholic Priest on the State of his Church.

(1) Il Nuovo Testamento. Volgarizzato ed eposta in Note esegetiche e morali. Da CARLO M. CURCI, Sac.

(2) The New Testament. Translated and expounded in Exegetical and Practical Notes. By CHARLES M. CURCI, Priest. Turin, Rome, and Florence. 1879.

PERHAPS the most noteworthy figure in all the body of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church at the present time is the author of this book-Carlo Curci, priest,' as he curtly calls himself; 'Father Curci,' as he is commonly called; and Priest of the Company of Jesus,' as it is usual for Jesuits to style themselves, and as Father Curci is still entitled to call himself. And it will be seen at once that an entirely new version of the New Testament, with a body of exegetical and practical notes considerably exceeding in bulk that of the text, by such a man, must afford a most interesting subject of examination and observation. But such an examination would require, and would be well worth a far more extended and lengthened study than could be presented efficaciously in such an article as the present. The purpose of the present writer is only to deal-and that not exhaustively with the preface which Father Curci has prefixed to his work, and which the reader will soon perceive to be of no small interest and importance.

A few words, however, may first be said, sufficient to let the reader, who may be disposed to enter on this examination for himself, know what Father Curci's work is—at least materially. The translation is printed in a large imperial octavo form, in two parallel columns, one containing the Vulgate, and the other the new translation. At the foot of each page-occupying for the most part a good deal more than half of it—is the new body of commentary, exegetical and moral, or practical. The two volumes published on the first of September contain the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. A third, containing the Epistles, is to appear shortly. The two volumes contain 864 very large pages, besides 52 closely printed pages of preface. They are very handsomely got up; and are published at the remarkably low price of sixteen (paper) francs-less than fourteen francs in gold. Nothing appears from title-page to colophon of the old forms of

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'imprimatur,'' nihil obstat,' and the rest; but on the last page of the second volume is a note stating that the volumes are published with the approbation of the ecclesiastical authority-a by no means unimportant or uninteresting statement, as will be seen.

Though the present writer cannot, as has been said, undertake the very large and arduous task of examining and giving an account of Father Curci's translation and his notes, it will not be uninteresting to the reader, before proceeding to the consideration of the preface, which is the proper subject of this paper, to give him in as few words as may be a portion of Father Curci's own account of the ideas and purposes which he brought to the execution of his task.

It will be said (remarks Curci), Does not Italy possess the Bible of the excellent Monsignore Martini, which has been for so many years in the hands of the clergy and the laity? What need was there then to make another? Truly it does not seem to indicate any great zeal for the Holy Scriptures that we should have remained with only that translation for no less than a century (Martini's translation was first published in Turin, from 1769 to 1781), without our ever having thought of producing anything that might be better fitted to the conditions of a society which, in the course of a hundred years, has, with incredible rapidity, become altogether other than it then was. The scriptures certainly remain the same, but the equipments destined to facilitate the understanding of them, and to render it profitable-translation, exegesis, and practical application, that is to say-ought to answer to the various exigencies of the persons to whom they are intended to be of service. And if the first two of these are always by their nature susceptible of improvement, the third may in certain cases require modification under pain of remaining barren of those fruits which are principally expected from it. Treating of these three heads, I will say a few words with regard to each of them, as to the desirability, or rather the necessity, that some one should attempt the amelioration in question. But speaking generally, it may be said that it would be something more than wonderful if a work of this kind (Martini's translation), which was completed towards the end of the last century, had still preserved its primitive freshness, and should be adapted to the greatly changed tendencies of our century, now so near its end.

Having thus justified the effort to produce a new and ameliorated translation and commentary, and having given briefly the history of the Vulgate (of which he remarks that it would be a great error to imagine it so faultless as to need no improvement), Father Curci proceeds to make some remarks on the subject of the translation of the Scriptures in general, which I think the reader will be glad to read.

Whoever reads (says he) a language foreign to him, makes, without being conscious of it, a mental version, substituting, step by step, his own words and forms for those which are not his own. But in the process of

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this substitution, equivoques and changes of no unimportant nature arise, from the fact that it is not in every man's power to find the word that fully corresponds to that which he would translate. And yet more than in the case of simple words, the matter is difficult when habits of mind and their mentally exchangeable belongings are concerned; and most of all in the case of figurative expressions, proper to the mental constitution of each nation, and frequently without any corresponding figure in another tongue. The confusion of ideas arising from the supposed synonymousness of words and phrases, which has been severely animadverted on by Fisher, in his erudite 'Prolusions,' and by our own Tommaseo, in the preface to his Synonyms,' is a great obstacle to the right understanding of the scriptures, specially by reason of the Hebrew idioms, in which the ideas first presented themselves, and of the Greek forms with which they were subsequently invested. In the case of the New Testament, indeed, they were reclothed at their birth; since, although the authors wrote in Greek, their vernacular was nevertheless a Semitic language; and thus the words are, indeed, Greek (in St. Luke, who was a good Grecian, they are of entire purity), but the forms are almost always those of the maternal idiom. When no heed is given to these facts, and the Latin words are without more ado rendered by vernacular phrases, either suggested by fading school recollections, or by the unsafe guidance of hurriedly composed vocabularies, there is great danger of not discovering the true sense of some texts, and sometimes of obtaining unintelligible nonsense.

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Having spoken of the aids to a true interpretation of the Holy Scriptures to be derived from due attention to the points he has been insisting on, Father Curci proceeds to give the reader two examples, in which want of attention to what is supposed to be a very small matter in language, the articles,' has led to mistranslation involving serious difficulty of interpretation. It will be observed that our English version is, according to Curci, as faulty in the two passages to be mentioned as the Italian translations.

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Jesus (Matthew ix. 13), answering the Pharisees, who were scandalized at his frequenting the company of sinners, says, Non veni vocare justos, sed peccatores.' And lo! our translators, not even excepting Diodati, who was an almost superstitious follower of the Greek, translate the phrase, Non venni a chiamare i giusti, ma i peccatori "—I came not to call the just, but sinners, &c.-Whereupon, however, this question arises: What just men did Jesus find in the world who had no need to be called by Him, or who were just without His calling? Many interpreters get out of the difficulty as best they may with exceedingly unsatisfactory replies, as, indeed, they must needs be, inasmuch as they are based on the false supposition that Jesus said what the translators represent Him to have said. But if the Greek text is consulted, it will be found that those two substantives are without the definite article; and that He really said, I came not to call just men' (of which there were without Him none), 'but sinners' (which all were). This is rendered the more certain from the fact that the Syro-Chaldee, like the Hebrew, from which it is derived, though it had no articles properly so called, had particles, which perfectly supplied the place of them, as is shown at large by Gesenius (Lex. p. 239) and Winer (Grammatik des Neutest. Sprachidioms,' 6 Àufl.)

I consider it certain, therefore, that Our Lord, when He pronounced the words in question, did not use the article, as neither did Matthew, who reported the words in the same language. The Vulgate is not in fault, because the Latin has no articles, which is a great defect in that most noble ancient tongue. But it ought to have been understood from the sense, that in the passage in question a determinate and existing thing could not have been spoken of. And the translator who, turning the words into a language furnished with articles (as are all modern languages, those of Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic origin as well as those derived from the Latin), introduced the article, and thus caused a difficulty to arise, which does not exist, has no excuse. Similarly (John xx. 22), Jesus risen, breathing on the Apostles, said, Accipite Spiritum Sanctum' (Receive ye the Holy Ghost'). And our versions render the words, Ricevete Lo Spirito Santo.' But how is this? Was not the Holy Ghost promised to them after the Ascension? And if the apostles received It then, what could they have received on the day of Pentecost? But, in fact, Jesus did not say, Receive THE Holy Ghost. He said, as in the Greek, Receive Holy Spirit; meaning a partial participation of it confined to the particular purpose for which it was imparted; that is to say, for the power of remitting sins. But as to the Holy Ghost, the third of the Divine persons, the promise that It was to be received when Jesus had ascended to heaven, as accordingly took place, remained unaltered.


It would be very interesting to follow further Father Curci's exposition of the method he has pursued in the preparation of his translation and notes. But considerations of space compel me to refer those interested in such matters to his pages; while we turn to that portion of his preface which sets forth more generally the state of things in the Roman Church--a state of things which renders, in his opinion, such a work as he has laboured at urgently necessary. For this, in fact, is the main purpose of the present paper.

It will probably be remembered by many readers that Father Curci, the highly esteemed and, one may say, celebrated member of the Company of Jesus, published some four years ago five volumes of Exegetical and Moral Lectures on the Four Gospels,' to which work, as to the present volumes, a long preface was prefixed. This preface was published also separately, and had in that form a very much larger circulation than the lectures themselves. In fact, it produced a violent and dangerous storm in the Church. At that time the energies-one may not unfairly say the entire energies-of the rulers of the Church were directed to the hopes and possibilities of recovering that temporal power of which the Pontiff had been deprived. And the main scope of Father Curci's preface was to combat the wisdom, or at all events the opportuneness, of all such endeavours and hopes. Not that the celebrated Jesuit condemned or disapproved of the enjoyment of a principality and temporal power by the

Head of the Church. Such, he said, had been God's disposition and the purpose of His Divine Providence; and that condition of things had been, and would continue to be, if it could be restored, eminently salutary to the human race. It was for the world which had, in its blindness and wickedness, destroyed that condition of things, to rue and suffer for the loss of it. For the Church, though it had been the means of enabling her to accomplish for mankind much that could not otherwise, humanly speaking, have been attained-the condition of wealth, honour, and power resulting from that temporal power had often been a great and sore temptation to those enjoying them. It might well be that that condition of things had been destroyed, or at least suspended, by a beneficently Divine Providence for the retempering and purifying of the Church. The promises of our Lord to the Church, it was eloquently urged, were vainly quoted and relied upon by those who looked to the not remote restoration of the Pontiff to the position he had lost. Christ, it was argued and shown, had never made any promise of temporal prosperity, much less of temporal sovereignty to His Church. If the gates of hell should never prevail against it, the Divine meaning unmistakeably was that the spiritual truths entrusted to its keeping should never perish or be lost. Looking again to the human aspect of the matter, there was no ground whatever for thinking that the restoration of the temporal power was, within any period not beyond human ken, in any degree probable. There were, said Curci, no indications whatever that the revolution '-which in Romanist ecclesiastical language means all the modern, social, and intellectual tendencies that have so notably changed the face and spirit of the world, and specially of Italy, within the last half century-was at all likely to be arrested in its onward course. With great boldness and notable candour, he insisted on the fact that the men* who had begun this revolution' had been educated by the Church when she had been in the plentitude of her power! They had been in her hands to fashion, and she had moulded them so! From all which the writer concluded that the task which now lay before the Church was not to strive after, to intrigue for, or spend its energies in sighing for, the restoration of the temporal power, but to labour in singleness of spirit for the recovery of its hold on, and influence over the world, by those same means by which, with God's help and blessing, it had first acquired spiritual power and influence.

It need hardly be said that doctrines such as these, put forth

* Of course the author is speaking here of Italy.

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