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Article Info:
published: 10/8/13

Knox's Translation of the Vulgate

What is Knox's Translation of the Vulgate?

The Knox Translation of the Vulgate is an English-language Bible translation from the Latin-language Vulgate, with consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek-language original texts. The Knox translation, named after its translator Ronald Knox, a theologian and priest, is a Catholic Version of the Bible. It was first published in three volumes (Learn more about the Deuterocanonical Books / Apocrypha here.)

In 1936 leaders in the Catholic Church in England commissioned Knox to translate the Vulgate into contemporary English, with consideration given to the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. The New Testament was published in 1945 and the Old Testament in 1950. Knox's translation was not intended to replace the Rheims version but to be used alongside it as noted in the preface. (See the Douay-Rheims translation here.)

Translation usage

With the release of the Knox's version of the Old Testament in 1950, the popularity of translations based on the Vulgate waned as the Church authorities promoted the use of Bibles based primarily on Hebrew and Greek texts following the 1943 encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu. The Knox Bible was, however, one of the approved vernacular versions of the Bible used in the Lectionary readings for Mass from 1965 to the early 1970's along with the Confraternity Bible. The style of the translation is in idiomatic English and much freer in renderings of passages than the Douay version. (See the Confraternity Bible here.)

When the Latin appeared to be doubtful, the translation of the text was based on other languages, with the Latin translation placed in the footnote. Templegate Publishers produced a facsimile of the New Testament in 1997. Baronius Press secured the rights for the work from the Diocese of Westminster in 2009 and their new leather bound edition of Monsignor Knox's translation was published in October 2012.

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, commented on the new Baronius Press edition that "Ronald Knox's translation of the Bible remains an exceptional achievement both of scholarship and of literary dedication. Again and again it successfully avoids conventional options and gives the scriptural text a fresh flavour, often with a brilliantly idiosyncratic turn of phrase. It most certainly deserves republication, study and use."

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