A Review of “Our Authorized Bible Vindicated,” by B. G. Wilkinson


The Argument Upon the “Itala”

One of the arguments used by the author to establish his claim of transmission of the pure apostolic text by the early Christians of northern Italy is this: RABV 12.3

“It is held that the pre-Waldensian Christians of northern Italy could not have had doctrines purer than Rome unless their Bible was purer than Rome’s; that is, was not of Rome’s falsified manuscripts.”—Page 31. RABV 12.4

The utter unsoundness of this argument will readily appear when we apply it to our own movement. According to this view, it would be impossible for us to hold any purer view concerning Christian doctrine than that which is held by the other churches unless we had a purer Bible than they. But we use identically the same Bibles, whether King James or Revised. And it is a great satisfaction to take the very Bibles in the hands of the other denominations and from them establish our distinctive doctrines. Not only so, but the very prophecies which we use to establish our claims concerning the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church are found in the officially authorized Catholic text. The contention utterly collapses in the light of Luther’s experience, and of every marked spiritual advance or reform through the centuries. RABV 12.5

The basis of the argument that the pre-Waldensian Christians had a purer Bible in their possession is the repeated contention that their text known as the Italic or Itala, was transmitted in a pure from direct from Palestine to them. (Pages 23-43.) This assertion seems to make necessary the submission of documentary evidence concerning this manuscript and its origin, even though it be a bit technical. RABV 13.1

The uncertainty in his own contention is clearly recognized even by Mr. Nolan in these words: “Notwithstanding the labors of M. M. Bianchini and Sabatier, much remains to be done with this version [the Itala] the history of which is so little known that the very propriety of its name has been questioned.”—Preface, p. xvii. RABV 13.2

The decisive consideration is whether the Itala was transmitted direct from Palestine, or whether it originated in north Africa. RABV 13.3

Let us note the following testimony: RABV 14.1

Latin Version Traced to Africa :—“It is then to Africa that we must look for the first traces of the Latin ‘Peshito’, the ‘simple’ version of the West.”—“A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament During the First Four Centuries,” by B. F. Westcott, p. 272. RABV 14.2

The same writer then deals with the question of the various Latin versions thus: RABV 14.3

No Independent Latin Versions :—“Even if it be proved that new Latin versions, which agree more or less exactly with the African version, were made in Italy, Spain and Gaul, as the congregations of Latin Christians increased in number and importance; that fact proves nothing against the existence of an African original. For if we call these various versions ‘new,’ we must limit the force of the word to a fresh revision and not to an independent translation of the whole. There is not the slightest trace of the existence of independent Latin versions; and the statements of Augustine are fully satisfied by supposing a series of ecclesiastical recensions [revisions] of one fundamental text which were in turn reproduced with variations and corrections in private MSS. In this way there might well be said to be ‘an infinite variety of Latin interpreters’ while a particular recension [revision] like the ‘Itala’ could be selected for general commendation.”— Ibid, pp. 277, 278. (Italics ours.) RABV 14.4

The learned Dr. Swete adds the results of his exhaustive study and research in this testimony: RABV 14.5

Daughter-Version of the Septuagint :—“To the church of north Africa, on the other hand, the Greek Bible was a sealed book; for Carthage, colonized from Rome before the capital had been flooded by Greek residents, retained the Latin tongue as the language of common life. It was at Carthage, probably, that the earliest daughter-version of the Septuagint, the Old Latin Bible, first saw the light; certainly it is there that the oldest form of the Old Latin Bible first meets us in the writings of Cyprian.”—” An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek,” by Henry Barclay Swete, D. D., p. 88. RABV 14.6

The following quotation from an authority favorably quoted by the author, indicates the close relationship between the Italian family of texts and Jerome’s Vulgate, an attempt made in the fourth century to establish an authorized Latin text: RABV 14.7

Itala a Stepping Stone to Vulgate :—“The Italian family of Bible MSS. presents us with a type of text mainly European, but doubly revised; first in its renderings ‘to give the Latinity a smoother and more customary aspect,’ and secondly in its underlying text, which has been largely corrected from the Greek; in both these points the Italian MSS. are a sort of stepping stone between the European MSS. and Jerome’s Vulgate; and as many of the Biblical quotations in Augustine’s works agree closely with them, it is distinctly probable that it was this revision which he praised as the Itala.”—” A plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament,” Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener, Vol. II, pp. 55, 56. RABV 15.1

Again on page 35, the author uses a quotation from “The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” dealing with the Itala translation, but neglects to take cognizance of an append footnote which says, “The translation here referred to is the Vetus Latina as revised by the church of northern Italy in the fourth century, prior to the final recension of Jerome, commonly called the Vulgate.” (” The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” edited by Philip Schaff, Vol. II, on Christian Doctrine, Book II, chapter 15.) This note makes it clear that the Itala was not an independent text transmitted directly from Palestine, but was a revision of the Old Latin text originating in north Africa and leading up to the Vulgate. RABV 15.2

Further evidence from Dr. Gregory, as to the origin of the Itala translation is found in the following extract: RABV 15.3

Itala Derived From Africa :—“The Old Latin translation arose probably in North Africa. Rome and Southern Italy in Christian circles were too thoroughly Greek at first to need a Latin text. It appears to have been used, for example, by the translator of Irenaeus.”—” Canon and Text of the New Testament,” Casper Rene Gregory, p. 156. RABV 15.4

Additional information, together with a suggestion that the Italic may be identical with the Vulgate of Jerome, is next presented: RABV 16.1

Itala Be Identical With Vulgate:—“When we come down to the 4th cent. we find in Western Europe, and esp. in North Italy, a second type of text, which is designated. European, the precise relation of which to the African has not been clearly ascertained. Is this an independent text which has arisen on the soil of Italy, or is it a text derived by alteration and revision of the African as it traveled northward and westward? ... A technical listing of various MSS. with the official designation follows.... Still later, Professor Hort says from the middle of the 4th cent., a third type, called Italic from its more restricted range, is found. It is represented by Codex Brixianus (f) of the 6th cent., now at Brescia, and Codex Monacensis (q) of the 7th cent., at Munich This text is probably a modified form of the European, produced by revision which has brought it more into accord with the Greek, and has given it a smoother Let in aspect. The group has received this name because the text found in many of Augustine’s writings is the same, and as he expressed a preference for the Itala, the group was designated accordingly. Recent investigation tends to show that we must be careful how we use Augustine as an Old Latin authority, and that the Itala may be, not a pre-Vulgate text, but rather Jerome’s Vulgate. This, however, is still uncertain.”—T. Nichol, in “The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, James Orr. M.A., D.D., General Editor, Vol. III, pp. 1842-1843. RABV 16.2

Another authority, writing on the Scriptures of the Waldenses, states: RABV 16.3

Waldenses Had Only Vulgate :—“The Waldenses of the middle ages were acquainted and could be acquainted with the Vulgate only, as it was generally received in their time; it is even very doubtful whether they had a complete version of it. But of the four supposed Waldensian manuscripts of the New Testament, there are two which also contain Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus.”—History of the Canon of the Holy Scriptures in the Christian Church,” Edward Reuss, Professor in the University of Strassburg, p. 264. RABV 16.4

The claim of the author is that the Waldenses had a pure text of the Bible, transmitted direct to them from Palestine, and that this text was the foundation of the Textus Receptus. But the testimony here submitted shows that the Waldensian Bible was in all likelihood a revision of the Old Latin text originating in northern Africa, and that it was doubtless the last revision of the Old Latin text previous to, and leading up to, the Vulgate edited by Jerome, And some even believe that it was identical with the Vulgate, and. that the Bible of the Waldenses was the Vulgate itself. Therefore the effort to establish the claim that the Waldensian Church possessed manuscripts directly descended from the apostolic originals, collapses. Neither Mr. Nolan in 1815, nor the author of the book under review in 1930, is able to convince any textual critic that this claim is a sound one. But when this claim is overthrown the very foundation of the book under review is removed, and the conclusions which are based upon it are rendered untenable. RABV 16.5