Monday, June 27, 2011

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Pt 2

In my previous post I suggested that Pagnini's (Pagninus/Pagnino) translation is the missing link between ancient Hebrew poetry and the language of the King James Bible. The first thing to establish then is that the early translators of the Bible had access to Pagnini's translation and that his translation was distinctive.

Pagnini, an Italian Domican scholar, translated the entire Bible into Latin and published it in 1528. This makes it the first major translation of the Hebrew Bible into Latin since the Latin Vulgate. He also published a Hebrew Latin lexicon. Pagnini's translation was commissioned by Pope Leo X and the printing was licensed by Pope Clement VII. It never replaced the Latin Vulgate as the authoritative text of the Roman church, due to the literal nature of the translation.

Pagnini also preached against Lutherism and Waldenianism as heresies, so his translation would not become "popular" with Protestants. Luther felt that his translation displayed too much influence from the rabbincial tradition. While Pagnini's translation was used by Hebrew scholars for centuries, neither Catholics nor Protestants, place his text in the mainstream of their tradition.

And yet, according to Saebo,
Pagninus's edition of the Bible and the Thesaurus were frequently reprinted, and they were widely used by scholars of all Christian persuasions...
Norton also writes,
After the publication of Pagninus’s translation, 1528, few, perhaps none of the translators would have found themselves working from the original languages alone, aided by nothing more than grammars and dictionaries, and never would they have found themselves working without an already vast knowledge of the text in their heads: most knew the Vulgate intimately.
Pagnini's Latin translation was frequently printed as the Latin text in a Hebrew-Latin Bible, sometimes as the interlinear Latin text to aid in the study of the original Hebrew. While the Complutensian polyglot has the Latin Vulgage between the Hebrew and the Greek of the Old Testament, the Antwerp polyglot also provides Pagnini's Latin as an interlinear text above the Hebrew.

Coverdale cites this translation as one of his source texts, and it would have been known to the translators of the Bishop's Bible, and King James Bible. According to this record,
The Trinitarian Bible Society in their April - June 1979 Quarterly Record cites this volume as being at the disposal of the translators for the KING JAMES BIBLE. The Book: Pagninus, "Thesaurus Linguæ Sanctæ", Lugduni, 1575. ... Pagninus was perhaps the greatest of Christian Lexicographers and whose work was fundamental as an aid to 16th-century scriptural translators
In fact, translators have always referred to all previous transations and commentaries, as well as the original languages. The Greek New Testament, was first printed as a bilingual edition alongside Erasmus' Latin translation, and the Hebrew was printed typically along with either the Vulgate, or Pagnini, or both.

Factors which may have caused Pagnini's translation to fall into the background, are its association with some heresies. Michael Servetus, burned in Geneva as a heretic, was editor for an edition of Pagnini's Bible. Pagnini's translation was also the first to use the name "Jehovah" for יהוה, instead of "Dominus." Luther felt that Pagnini's translation followed the rabbis too much, as did Katherine Bushnell, who was unhappy with the fact that Pagnini introduced the word "desire" into Gen. 3:16.

But there is no reason for Pagnini's translation to be relatively unknown among Bible scholars today. I would argue that his is the single most important translation of the Bible in the Reformation period. We know for certain that both the translation and the lexical work of Pagnini was known to the translators in the King James tradition. I will continue soon with the distinctive nature of Pagnini's translation.


David Reimer said...

Everything I know of Pagnini I have learned from your blog posts, so thank you Suzanne!

I just took a quick look on JSTOR to see what would turn up for a search on "Pagnini" and "Bible". There were a fair few hits, a significant number to do with Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel ceiling; quite a few, too, connected with Servetus.

There's always more to learn!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks so much for the articles, David!