I have a few articles to look up regarding the authorship of this letter, so I’ll end up posting more on that at a later date. Essentially, there are three contenders: St Jerome, the British heretic Pelagius, and some unknown author. Since patristic scholarship in the early part of the twentieth century had an unfortunate tendency to pin the names of heretics to many various works not otherwise demonstrably theirs or even heretical, I don’t, at this point, consider Pelagius a likely candidate, but rather a faddish suggestion given rather too much attention. These days some idiot would likely suggest St Mary Magdalene. Also, having just worked through seventeen authentic prologues of St Jerome, it is definite that this prologue to Paul’s letters are from someone else, judging by the style and even the vocabulary. It’s not as rambling as St Jerome’s own letters, which are constructed in a much more oral manner (likely because he was actually simply dictating to a scribe most of the time), and certain words of the vocabulary require meanings that are later than the more classical, antiquarian usage of St Jerome. So I opt for an unknown author. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting preface, especially his description of why the letters of Paul are arranged as they are: they are addressed to progressively more accomplished Christians, and apparently in reverse chronological order. How interesting!
I hope everyone has enjoyed my translation of these Vulgate prefaces. I certainly enjoyed the discovery involved in learning what they say, having not read most of them before, and the definite education in Latin they provide. I hope they’re found to be useful. This is the last preface included in Weber’s Biblia Sacra Vulgata, Fourth Edition, which means this first stage of my translation of the Vulgate Prefaces is done with this. Now that I have them all finished in a first draft, I’ll be editing them for consistency, style, etc, and post them all on a single web page. So if anyone wants to use them in a convenient form, with notes and such things, just wait about a week or so. In the meantime, I’ll post links to the blog posts with all the prefaces, which I’m rather surprised to have finished in only three weeks, even with some breaks. Enjoy!
[See also the final draft version of this translation, on this page]
BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE TO THE LETTERS OF PAUL THE APOSTLE
First is asked, for what reason after the Gospels, which are a supplement of the Law and in which are collected for us examples and precepts of living abundantly, the Apostle wanted to send these letters to individual churches. And it was seen to have been for this reason, that, as is known, he strengthened the firstborn of the Church from new arising heresies, so that he cut off present and arising errors and also afterward excluded future questions by the example of the Prophets, who after the publishing of the Law of Moses, in which were collected all the commandments of God, nevertheless still by its revived teaching the people always restrained (their) sins, and because of the example in the books they indeed also left a memorial for us.