'multiplication of nothings' - searching out the contra Vulgate Prologue authenticity arguments

Steven Avery

sister threads

Raising the Ghost of Arius - Grantley McDonald

Vulgate Prologue - super-evidence

'multiplication of nothings' - searching out the contra Vulgate Prologue authenticity arguments
Before going over the contra arguments against the authenticity of the Vulgate Prologue from Jerome, we have to remember that there is a burden of evidence on both sides.

A prima facie reading of the Vulgate Prologue "fits". We will see that the common contra opposition tries to use this against authenticity. Of course, a forger tries to look like Jerome! Its very appearance of authenticity proves that it is a forgery! (sic).

A theory of forgery has to struggle with means motive and opportunity for a crass forgery. Who did this supposed nefarious deed, what was their motive, and how did they manage to get it into Codex Fuldensis under the nose of Victor of Capua and then take over the Latin text-line!

Many elements to consider, we we look at the various arguments, the multiplication of nothings, that the Vulgate Prolougue is not from Jerome.


Steven Avery

Jerome sections from Ehrman

Ehrman with some notes on Jerome:

Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics - (2012)
Bart Ehrman


There was ... a letter of Jerome suspected by Rufinus (Adv. Rufin. 3.2), and another letter allegedly by Jerome about false translations of Scripture (Adv. Rufin 3.25; also 2.24). Jerome himself wonders if a letter of Augustine’s is actually his (Epist. 102,1).
Forged letters became a real and widespread problem in the highly charged polemical environment of the Christian community at the end of the fourth Christian century and into the fifth. And so we have the complaint of Jerome:

My brother Eusebius writes to me that, when he was at a meeting of African bishops which had been called for certain ecclesiastical affairs, he found there a letter purporting to be written by me, in which I professed penitence and confessed that it was through the influence of the press in my youth that I had been led to turn the Scriptures into Latin from the Hebrew; in all of which there is not a word of truth.

That he was not the author of the letter should have been obvious from the style; in any event, Jerome considers himself fortunate, tongue in cheek, for not being “self-accused” by the forger of truly criminal activity.

It was impossible for him, accomplished as he was, to copy any style and manner of writing, whatever their value may be; amidst all his tricks and his fraudulent assumption of another mans personality, it was evident who he was. ... I wonder that in this letter he did not make me out as guilty of homicide, or adultery or sacrilege or parricide or any of the vile things which the silent working of the mind can revolve within itself. Indeed I ought to be grateful to him for having imputed to me no more than one act of error or false dealing out of the whole forest of possible crimes. (Adv. Ruf. 2.24)50

50. Translation of W. H. Fremantle in NPNF, 2nd scries, vol. 3.

In another place Jerome himself is falsely accused by Rufinus of forging a letter in the name of Pope Anastasius, a letter that, as it turns out, was genuine (Adv. Ruf. 3,20). Elsewhere Rufinus feels that he has been unjustly accused of forging a letter in Jerome’s name to a group of African bishops (Jerome, Adv. Ruf. 3,25). Again, Jerome writes Augustine to ask if the letter he has received is actually by him (Epist. 102.1). As we have already seen, Augustine too exposed a forgery of a letter allegedly by Victorinus summoning him to a council meeting.51

It should not be objected that the forging of letters is generically different from the forging of literary works. Generic differences do matter. But many of the early Christian forgeries we will be examining—including those found in the New Testament—are precisely letters

51. Augustine, Lipist 59, 1

Jerome, as we have seen, on one occasion had to defend himself against slurs leveled against him in a forged correspondence: “he found there a letter purporting to be written by me ... in all of which there is not a word of truth.45

45. Adv. Rufm. 2.24
Epistles (Jerome), 102.1 75, 83

Steven Avery

Ehrman warning about Speyer criteria

Jerome on one Speyer element:

For Speyer, there are also instances in which the religious pseudepigraphy is “false” rather than “genuine.” This is when a later author, cognizant of Greek rationalistic modes of thought and conversant with ideas of authorship, pretended to be under the inspiration of a divine being, and somewhat cynically then produced an imitation of a genuinely religious pseudepigraphon.

This further differentiation, however, reveals a principal problem with the category. It represents an attempt to render a historical judgment (what kind of pseudepigraphon is this work?) on the basis of a nonhistorical criterion (what is the state of mind of the author? Does he genuinely feel inspired by the divine?).15

15- Speyer claims that one can determine if a writing falls under the category based on 'observations
concerning language, style, composition and not least of all the psychology of such a writing” (Beobach-
tung von Sprache, Stil, Komposition und nicht zuletzt der Psychologic einer derartigen Schrilt; p. 37).
But he never explains the criteria that are to be used in making the judgment on these, or any other,
grounds. As a result, the corpus of “genuine religious pseudepigrapha’ appears to be a group of writings
determined on the basis of a critic s “best guess." p. 37

Steven Avery

possible Speyer and Fischer references that may include Vulgate Prologue to the Canonical Epistles

Lateinische Bibelhandschriften im frühen Mittelalter (Freiburg: Herder, 1985)
Bonifatius Fischer

Die literarische Fälschung im heidnischen und christlichen Altertum. Ein Versuch ihrer Deutung
Wolfgang Speyer

While Fischer will have Fuldensis issue, it is unlikely that either of these have any direct Vulgate Prologue authenticity writing.