Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Old Douai-Rheims

The New Testament of Jesus Christ, translated faithfully into English, out of the authentical Latin, according to the best corrected copies of the same... with arguments of bookes and chapers, annotations, and other necessarie helpes... ([Reprod.]) / in the English College of RhemesIn the last Mass of Ages (not the one at the printers right now) I reviewed a reprint of Ronald Knox's translation of the Bible. One of the things I learned along the way was about the differences between the 'old', 1582 Douai-Rheims and the version we all know, the one revised by Bishop Challoner.

The original Douai-Rheims stuck extremely close to the Latin, in order to exclude any possible charge of bringing in its own interpretation - as they (with some justice) criticised early Protestant Bibles for doing. The result was something which did not always look very much like English, and Challoner, a convert Anglican brought up on the Authorised Version, set about in a somewhat haphazard way to improve the style, in the direction of the AV.

Since the old Douai-Rheims is very hard to find in printed form, I was delighted to hear of a website with the whole New Testament on it. You can see it here.

From my first glances at it, it doesn't look too difficult to read - if you leave aside the long 's' and the funny Ws made out of two vs. VVell deferving of our gratitude, I think, are the exiled scholars who brought us this.

Here's Galations, the start of Chapter VI.


  1. Anonymous8:06 pm

    It's interesting, the variance in punctuation- ignoring the markers that separate verses, we're used to seeing:

    All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.

    In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

    While in this edition we see:

    All things were made by him : and without him was made nothing.

    That which was made in him was life, and the life was the light of men and the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.

    Subtly different- part of it seems to have switched sentences.

  2. Latin originally had no punctuation; this has been added down through the centuries. (Of course, it matters where you put it, hence a difference in the example above.)