A translation of the Ambrosiaster text on I Corinthians 14.
Beta Revision 2.
The Ambrosiaster text was first written in the fourth-century in Rome and reflects Latin Christian thought. The text has particular value in discovering how fourth-century Latin Christians understood Paul’s controversial passage on speaking in tongues.
The Ambrosiaster text on I Corinthians 14 offers some rich information on speaking in tongues. No further comment is offered here, only the translation.
For introductory notes on this translation along with commentary go to: Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s Corinthians 12-14.
Comment. In. Epist. I ad Corinthios 14
(Vers. 1) “Follow after charity, be zealous for spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophecy.” Next to charity, he encourages the person who more cherishes the desire of doing prophecy, because there are an extremely great amount of spiritual categories that he enumerates, prophecy is nevertheless better which profits to the benefit of the Church, that they should learn every matter of the divine law.
In fact anyone who dedicates their soul to it. He personally receives a gift from it. Solomon says, “to know the law is understanding of the best kind” (Wisdom 6:16).1 In fact, by relying2 on charity, knowledge is not being puffed-up but has been tamed, accomplishing according to the benefit in all things.
(Vers. 2) “For the one who speaks in a tongue is not speaking to men but to God, but no one hears for by the spirit he is speaking mysteries.” This is what he says because he who is speaking in an unknown language3 is speaking to God because God alone knows all things. Human beings certainly do not know, for that reason as well no one has been accomplished by this thing. “for by the spirit he is speaking mysteries.” It is not making sense because he is unfamiliar with what he is saying.4
(Vers. 3) “But the one who prophecies is speaking to men for the edification, exhortation and the encouragement.” For one is being built up when he learns the solution of a question. The encouragement then is done for him, that he5 would permit the requirement of one who goes about to prophesy. He is certainly being consoled because he sees what has been held in contempt of instruction with expectation. For knowledge of the Law strengthens souls and of a greater hope to sucess.
(Vers. 4) “The one who speaks in a language [personally] builds himself up.6 “The one who certainly prophesies builds up the Church.” That is to say, that perhaps this person only knows what he speaks alone, edifies himself alone. On the other hand, the one who prophesies, edifies all the common people,7 provided that anyone who is to speak is to be understood by everyone. He teaches the prophets are the interpreters8 of the Scriptures just as indeed the prophet is to predict future things which they are in a state of ignorance. Therefore in this present reality, the one who makes evident the sense of Scripture which is obscure to many, is called prophecy.
(Vers. 5) “While I wish you all to speak in tongues, however more rather that you should prophecy.” He could not prohibit to speak in languages which he says such to be a superior gift of the Holy Spirit but rather learning is gained by means of prophecy because it is more productive. “For greater is the one who prophecies than the one who speaks in a language, unless it is being interpreted.” Because if he will be able to interpret, it will not be inferior because it edifies the Church. For this is greater because it profits all. For in fact this one who is speaking in languages by the gift of God which is likewise being interpreted, just as those 12 in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:4).
(Vers. 6) “Now then brothers if I would come to you speaking in languages, what will I profit you unless I should speak to you either in a revelation or knowledge,9 or prophecy or instruction?” The one signifies all these things, for nobody will be able to teach unless he is being understood.
(Vers. 7, 8) “Yet some things without a soul gives sound whether a pipe or harp, if they did not give a distinction of sound, how will it be recognized,10 what is being played by the pipe or what is being played on a harp?11 And if the trumpet indeed produces an uncertain sound, by such a thing will it prepare them for battle?” Seeing that the examples persuade more easily than words, he points out by examples by which they should easily understand those ones must not to speak in languages in the Church who cannot interpret.12 Namely, anyone that should be speaking, is no-one going to understanding anything?
(Vers. 9) “So also you by means of a language except you have produced expressive speech,13 how will it be known what it is you are speaking? For you will be speaking into the air.” This is accomplishing nothing. “For suppose14 there are many kinds of languages in this world and none without a voice.”15 “There are (certainly) many kinds of languages,” it says, but they possess their very own meanings of voice that are to be understood.
(Vers. 10,11) “If then I would not know the power of the voice, I am to him to whom I am speaking a barbarian and he who is speaking to me a barbarian.” He certainly does not advise that one should prefer that they should appear in a barbarian language between them. But because the matter is of harmony one ought to pursue between them that they should glory in delight on either side through the unity of understanding.
(Vers. 12) “So also you, seeing that you are zealous imitators, seek that you prophecy for the building-up of the Church.”16 Because it is useful to explain the Scriptures (for the mind is being inspired and rejoices when it learns something about the Scriptures and how much more does it become the importance in this office,17 so much it abandons sins)18  therefore he shows transformational learning by this office.
(Vers. 13) “Therefore the one who speaks in a language, he should pray that he may interpret.” Him who desires to speak in tongues, he teaches that one ought to pray in order that he should receive the gift of interpreting for the purpose that he may be useful in19 his zeal to others.
(Vers. 14) “For if I will have prayed in a language, my spirit prays but my mind is without fruit.” It is clear our soul is ignorant, if he should speak in a language which he does not know, just as Latin men who are singing Greek, by being a delightful sound of words, yet these ones do not know anything they are saying. However the Spirit which was given in baptism, knows anything the soul may pray for, while speaking or whether he concludes in an unknown language from it. But on the other hand, the mind which is the soul, is unfruitful. For who can have fruit who does not know what he is speaking?
(Vers. 15) “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, I will also pray with understanding. I am also to say a Psalm by the spirit and I am to say a Psalm also with understanding.”20 He says this, because when he speaks in any specific language which he was previously unfamiliar with. Since not only by his spirit, which I said had been given in baptism, knows what he should pray but yet again the soul is not ignorant in the same way and in the manner of a Psalm.21
(Vers. 16) “Else, if you should bless with the spirit.” It is this, if you are speaking the praise of God in an unknown language to those who are hearing, “who is to supply the realm of the uneducated? How is he to say amen upon your blessing because he does not know22 what you are to be saying.” The unskilled is the one who hears that does not understand, he is ignorant of the end of the speech, and does not respond amen, [in other words] it is the truth, in order that the benediction be confirmed. For the confirmation of the prayer is being satisfied through these who respond “amen” in order that they should approve everything that has been said as a true testimony by the minds of those who hear.
(Vers. 17) “For you give thanks well.” He speaks about it, who who speaks with what is apprehended from it because he knows what he is saying.23 “But no other is being built-up.” Certainly, if you are meeting for the purpose of building up the Church, they ought to speak in it [the language] that those who are hearing may understand. For instance, of what benefit is it that any person should speak in a language which he only knows, regardless of who hears, does it profit nothing? For that reason he ought to be silent24 in the Church, that if they should speak, that they should profit those who are hearing.
(Vers. 18) “I thank God that I speak in the language of every one of you.” Seeing that he stated to speak in languages as being the higher gift of the Holy Spirit, for that reason he points to God that he was to be able to speak in every language. And perhaps lest a rival was appearing to speak this by means of the use of words,25 that person indeed shows himself to speak in the languages of all of these and that it does not greatly benefit.
(Vers. 19) “But in the Church,” it is said, “I wish to speak five words according to the Law that I may also build up others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” He [Paul] says it to be more useful speaking in small words in the making of a speech in order that everyone should understand than to have a lengthy speech in obscurity. These were from the Hebrews who at length in the Syrian language and, for the most part, in Hebrew26 were indulging in homilies or presentations for approval. For they were boasting calling themselves Jews according to the right of Abraham, that the same apostle held this to no account, teaching, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Indeed these ones who are mimicking, they prefer to speak in their unknown language to the people in the Church which belongs to them.27
(Vers. 20) “Brothers, do not wish to produce things by the senses of a child but let one be in malice of childhood that you would be perfect in senses.”28 He wishes those to be perfect, that they are to understand that it is to be necessary for the instruction of the Church. The ones who are withdrawing from malice and errors, they were eager for these things which they were accomplishing for the benefit of the brothers.29 For this is perfect in sense that he urges it in order that he should be useful to anyone, especially with the brothers.
(Vers. 21)“In the Law it was written,30 “that in other languages and in other lips I will speak to this people and they still will not hear me, says the Lord.”” (Isaiah 28:11) The Lord spoke this about such a thing that He knew these ones would not believe in the Saviour. For speaking in other languages and in other lips the New Testament is to be preached. As Jeremiah the prophet says: “Behold the days will come, says the Lord, and I will accomplish the New Covenant to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah, not according to that which I made with their fathers” (Jeremiah 31:31). It is this, for the method had been altered to speak in a different way than those who had the words of the Old Law. When they hear to release the Sabbath, the new moon being cancelled, to be free of circumcision, to be altering the sacrifices, to be permitting foods which have been prohibited to eat a little while ago, preaching Christ the God of God.31 This is speaking in other languages and other lips. And so neither did the faithless want to listen to God. Thus one is able also to understand that because many of the Jews were spiteful and therefore it was not worthy to speak to them the Gospel in a revelation, that they spoke to them in parables, and therefore that it is not being shown to them who are the ones who understand because they were wicked neither also would they reform themselves. While the ones who have merit32 were benefitting themselves to hear the words of God by means of the the exposition. From whence the disciples say to the Lord: “Lord, why do you speak to those in parables?” (Matt. 13:10).33 And the Lord, “because it was given to you,” it says, “to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but not to those, that those who do see, are not to see, and those who hear are not to understand” (Matt. 13:11 and 13 [parts]).34 Lest the unworthy ones would secure salvation that these ones judged achievement according to their own merit, neither in any way did the ones who had been driven back to God want to make amends.
(Vers. 22) “Therefore languages they are as a sign.” It is this, the words of God concealed by a veil of unknown languages, nor do they appear by deceit, and when the unknown languages are being heard,35 it is to be a sign, because it was made on account of faithlessness, lest the ones hearing are to understand. “By all means it is not for those who believe, but for the non-believers.”36 This is what he said, because they go on in languages to the unbeliever37 for the purpose of hiding the meanings. “but prophecy is not for the disobedient but for those who believe.” This is, it is not relevant for the believers to hear a language which they should not understand. But to the unbeliever, they are not worthy to understand even as Isaiah the prophet Isaiah says, “Go and say to this people, you will able to listen by hearing and you will not understand, etc.,” (Isaiah 6:9).
(Vers. 23) “If the whole Church will come together as one and they are to speak in every language, but when infidels or common persons are to enter, will they not say because you are mad?” It is clear that if everyone is to speak in diverse languages, a certain undisciplined commotion of the people occurs as if the madness of someone who suffers.38
(Vers. 24, 25) “But if everyone is to prophecy, and moreover any infidel or uneducated is to enter, being rebuked in all, being proved false in all, the secrets of his heart are made manifest. Then at that time this one who falls on his face will pay homage to God, proclaiming that God is among you.” For when he understands and is being understood, the ones who hear praise God and give glory to Christ, perceives that it is true and is bound to give homage in worship, by which he sees to conduct nothing which has been painted [over], nothing according to darkness, just as it is with the pagans, to which the eyes are veiled from.
These were not observing the things they call sacred. They resolved to mock in various foolish ways. 39 For all who desire the dark corners of deceit also demonstrate false things instead of true ones.
For that reason, there is nothing crafty with us, [and] nothing under the veil, but simply one God is to be praised. “From whom they are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom is all things” (I Cor. 8:6). For if it is to be nothing that is understood, whether he should randomly disperse40 by its agency, he can teach a misleading thought that is unique and vain, therefore the one that sings41 in languages because it is of decency42 if he should lay bare [the truth].43
(Vers. 26) “What is it then brothers? When you come together each one of you has a song.” That is they are speaking praise to God through song.44 “He has a teaching.” That is, he has a narration of the meaning by spiritual wisdom. “He has a revelation.” That is, prophecy regarding the hidden things by the favor of the Holy Spirit is a basis for discussion which reaches to the mind of every person. “He has a language.” That those who were able to speak in a language, they were not to be discouraged. He permitted them to speak in languages. Still yet interpretation was to follow. He therefore says, “He has an interpretation.” That if an interpreter45 was to be present, a spot was to be given belonging to those preparing to speak in languages.
“Let all things be done for the edification of the Church.” This conclusion is that no one is to be useless in the Church, and this to the greater extent the one who is bound to exert himself that even the unskilled ones can become accomplished. Neither that it is to be through the inexperience of a gloomy person.46 Therefore for that reason he wishes all persons who have been prepared to come together with the diverse spiritual gifts, in order that the minds are watchful for these ones in greed, encouraging each other in turns, they were to emulate the best gifts for the glory of the brothers.
(Vers. 27) “If any speaks in a language, by two, or at the most three and specifically that one shall interpret,”47 This is, two or three and no more are to be speaking in languages, but one at a time, not each at the same time. Lest they were to appear to be insane. “at the most three.” Lest the ones speaking in languages and their translations were to occupy the day and prophets do not have the time explaining the Scriptures who are the illuminators48 of the whole Church.
[Editors note: There is a substantial shift in vocabulary, grammar and style begins at verse 28 until the end of this chapter. It is often incoherent and hard to follow as a translator. I have left parts of the following in a machine-translation state. What follows is not guaranteed for complete accuracy]
(Vers. 28) “That if there would be no interpreter, let him be silent in the Church. He is to speak to himself and to God.” This is, let him silently pray inside himself or he is to speak to God who hears all [any type of] silence. For the person ought to speak in the Church which should be profitable for everyone.
(Vers. 29) “For two or three prophets are to speak, and others are to examine or to inquire.”49 He insisted the method here by which it was about to be asserted, “Two or three are to speak.” However, each one at a time as above. While he entrusted others to examine about those things which come in a doubtful state, or that which cannot be understood about matters whose natures are diverse,50 in order that they elucidate most plainly.51
(Vers. 30) “That if it [any thing] would be a revelation to someone else who is sitting, the first is to be silent.” That is, the highest one should grant the lowest, so that if he is capable, he can speak.52 Not that it is to be done reluctantly, because the gift can be given also to that person. While he appears to be inferior because he has not been allowed by those who are superior. For just as the whole cannot be parcelled out in one, even with superior ones, it cannot be for some, however much inferior [they are] that nothing is being imparted [to them], for no one is devoid [of some type of gift] in the grace of God.
(Vers. 31) “For you are all to prophecy by each one at a time, that all are to learn, and all are to be encouraged.” This tradition is of the Synagogue which he wants us to follow because he is certainly writing to Christians but indeed to those who have been reared Gentiles, not Jews. So that the ones who are seated go about debating, seniors with rank in the chair, the ones that follow on the benches, the lesser ones on the pavement on the mats.53 By which If any of these lesser ones would be in a revelation, he obtains a place which ought to be given for speaking, neither should he be looked down upon, because they are the members of the body.
(Vers. 32) “And the spirit of prophets is54 subject to the prophets.” Namely because it is one and the same Spirit, the things regarding the future through the speaking of the prophets, [and] anything which they reveal the Scripture, he [the Spirit] pours Himself to the method and charactistic of the occasion, for that reason he said; “is subject to prophets.” He was theoretically to illuminate the talents with this hope because the intention of the Spirit is good things. For he [the prophet] has come to go about and explain about the matters of God with the noblest intention. He should satisfy the conduct of an honourable life.55
For instance the same thing was also written concerning the Saviour. “for they were drinking of of the spiritual rock which follows, for the rock was Christ.”56 That is, to be subjected is as to follow. Therefore, He followed, that with those who are failing by human standards, He was to draw near to provide help. Therefore, the subject of the Spirit is being assigned, that He should help the noble efforts in the situation that He furnishes. Therefore the subject appears that he completes the work undertaken of another.57
(Vers. 33) “For he is not the author of dissension but of peace.”58 Because he is then the author of peace, by which the Saviour is saying, “My peace I give to you, peace I leave with you” (John 14:27).59 No person can regulate60 another to not speak, nor should one be obligated for speaking, the eagerness is bound to be contradicted, that it is resisted, lest it potentially makes for discord in the body. Namely, which those being called upon in peace, they ought to be eager in patience, lest the laws of peace be unbound. “Even as I teach in all the Churches of the saints.”61 With this assertion he encourages them, that they should do what he instructs, he testifies to similarily preach in the Churches of the saints at any time.
(Vers. 34) “Your women are to remain silent in the Church.”62 Now he relates what he had overlooked namely just as he instructs the women to cover-up63 in the Church (I Cor. 11:5), in a manner that shows they are peaceful and modest. It is worth the trouble that they are being covered. For if man is in the image of God, it is not with the woman, and has been subjected under the male in the law of nature; how much greater ought they to be subject in the Church on account of respect of him of the male, that it had been entrusted of these that the leader is of a man as well. “Namely, it is not being permitted for them to speak, but to be in silence, as also the Law says.”64 What does the Law say? “Your alteration is to your husband, and he will be master over you.”65 This Law [in regards to this] is special.
From this Sarah was calling her husband Abraham, lord, and by this [Law] they are being ordered to be in silence, lest the decree be diminished in what has been said above in the Law, of whom mindful of Sarah, she was subject to her husband, as it was written, however much it is to be one flesh (Gen. 2:24), but it is being commanded to be subject as as result of two reasons, because she is from man and entered into sin through the female gender.
(Vers. 35) “On the other hand if they want to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is shameful for women to speak in Church.” It is shameful, because it is against the teaching that they assume to speak on matters of the Law in the house of God. He instructs that the women are to be subject to their husbands. While they understand the man is to have the highest rank in that place and more competent than themselves, that in the house of God they are to be idle with requests, holding back their speech. They are to lay open [their] ears that they are to listen in such a way the mercy of God has conquered death through Christ, who had become king over the women. For if they should intend to speak in the Church, it is a dishonour, for that reason because they are being covered-up in order that they are to appear humble. This scenario, on the other hand, when they show immodest traits66 from it, that is also a reproach to husbands, for likewise the husbands are being marked according to the haughtiness of [their] wives.
(Vers. 36) “Can it be the word of God had proceeded from you or can it be it came for you only?”67 They are words of accusing. Namely as follows: they had become pompous, as if this status was to have been promised to them. By their example the rest of the gentiles were to be called to the faith whether or not persons were ready to receive the grace of God through the apostles preaching.68 Namely, they were boasting about themselves as if they were granted a greater privilege than those joining the faith were receiving,69 from which he says, “Or did the word of God come for you only.”70
For everyone who wants to acquire something which he knows is not to be needed by someone else, while in some form he approaches to the purchase with pride, as if the person is going to apply a favor to the one selling. For that reason this Apostle argued in regards to the Corinthians that they were presenting such a great many things in the glorification of foolishness from these things, as if these particularl ones were not being obedient to the words of the faith, that no one would arise71 who could believe. As he says to the Jews, “It was necessary to you first to speak the words of this life. But because you rebuffed it, undeserving are you who are preparing for eternal life. Behold, we turn to the gentiles” (Acts 13:46).72
(Vers. 37) “If any are being esteemed to be a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize what I write to you, that they are commandments of the Lord.” This teaching touches on the above, having been mindful of the false apostles by which they have been corrupted, who are not divinely inspired for the needs of men, but they were teaching earthly things. For that reason, he teaches here it is no value to deliver his own personal opinion, but of the Lord, that to anyone who are to pursue securing a blessing are not to give glory to men but to God,73 which he continually preaches with confidence, possessing a free conscience because he does not want to please men but God. From which he does not behave unseemly with sinners so that that they may grow, but also he admonishes so that they may desist [from sin].
(Vers. 38) “But if anyone does not know, he will not be known.” More correctly that the one who exists who does not know of the Lord which the Apostle speaks about, he will be not known by the Lord in the day of judgement, when the Lord says, “Amen I say to you, I do not know you” (Math. 25:12).
(Vers. 39) “On account of that brothers, cherish the ambition of prophesying.”74 Although he goes about arguing these points and blames and chastises about many things,75 for the reason76 they had pulled-away from his tradition. Yet he still calls them brothers because Isaiah says to the people of the the Lord: “Say to them, they do not rightly walk in my ways, you are our brothers” (Isaiah 66:5).77 Therefore, one was to take comfort with such things said after the rebukes, because he calls them brothers. And he urges for the expression78 of prophecy in order that they were to be more prepared with the constant debate and explanation of the divine law and that they could learn to identify the perverse things that it are the preachings of false-apostles.
“And be unwilling to prohibit speaking in languages.” And this by means of charity, that whoever can speak in languages, if an interpreter would be at hand, they are not to be forbidden, nor should it cause dissension.
(Vers. 40) “Moreover let all things be honourably done and according to order.” This is, according to the order which was stated above. For that matter is honourably done because it is being done in peace and instruction.■
Translated from the Latin text found in MPL. Vol. 17. Ad. Opera S. Ambrosii Appendix. Comment. In Epist. Ad I Cor. Col. 257ff
The Latin Ambrosiaster text can be found at The Ambrosiaster Latin text on I Corinthians 12-14
- This one is considerably different than the Vulgate, “cogitare ergo de illa sensus est consummatus.” The context here in the Vulgate refers to wisdom not law.
- charitate subnixa
- “loquitur incognita lingua.” Gerald Bray translates it as “someone who speaks in tongues.” (Page 184) Ambrosiaster leaves the term ambiguous. Is it miraculously speaking in a foreign language that even the speaker does not know? Or simply speaking in a foreign language that the speaker does already now? The ancient writer fails to clarify.
- “non sensu, quia ignorat quod dicit.” This text is ambiguous. Is it the same person who is speaking does not know what he is saying, or is it a person speaking and another not knowing what he is saying? Gerald Bray translates it as “Moreover, such a person is speaking in the Spirit and not with his mind, because he has no idea what he is saying.” (Page 184) Bray’s translation is a paraphrase that aligns with modern thought on the subject but does not match the Latin.
- “Qui loquitur lingua, se ipsum aedificat” I am trying to translate here the emphaticness of se ipsum.
- “omnem plebem aedificat.” I may be trying to be too modern politically correct here. Ambrosiaster may directly be referencing the “entire lower class.”
- “Prophetas interpretes dicit Scripturarum.” This clause makes no grammatical sense. Both prophetas and interpretes are nouns in the accusative plural and not adjectives. I could translate as “he teaches the prophetical interpretations of the Scriptures,” but I don’t think either the noun prophetas can act in this way and the context does not allow for it. It is common for ecclesiastical Latin to omit the present verb, esse, in many obvious situations. However, this is usually in the nominative. Here it is being used in the accusative sense since Prophetas is the accusative of dicit. Both prophetas and interpretes agree in case, number and gender so I think this is the most plausible translation.
- notitia: the Vulgate has scientia.
- quomodo congoscetur as opposed to the Vulgate’s quomodo scietur
- quod per tibiam canitur as opposed to the Vulgate’s quod canitur. Also these instruments are referring to Genesis 4:21 where they represent the first musical instruments invented.
- interpretari: pres. pass. inf. Whitaker believes it is a deponent. I translated it with this in mind.
- nisi singificantem sermonem dederitis as opposed to the Vulgate’s “nisi manifestum sermonem dederitis.” Significantem is referencing the musical instruments and its artistic merit. I think “expressive” is better than “meaningful.”
- Ambrosiaster text reads, “Nam multa, ut puta, genera linguarum…” Vulgate reads, “Tam multa ut puta genera linguarum.” The question here is how to translate “…ut puta.” The text has it closed with commas. It is almost a sentence unto itself. The question here is whether it should be taken adverbally “namely, for instance” or as a verb. English translations for almost 800 years have always used it adverbally. It just does not seem right, but not enough wrong to challenge with an alternative. However, “suppose” gives a better feel for the context here and does fit in the semantic range. I will compromise with this selection.
- Ambrosiaster has “. . .et nihil sine voce. Multa (quidem) generea sunt linguarum.” The “multa (quidem)…” does not exist in the Vulgate. I think it is a printer’s error. The quote marks are set wrong. It should read “…et nihil sine voce.” “Multa (quidem) generea sunt linguarum.” This conclusion is based on his system of quoting and commenting throughout the document. The end of the citation with “inquit” makes this the obvious choice.
- “…,ut prophetetis” whereas the Vulgate has “ut abundetis.” My English translation would prefer, “strive for the building-up of the Church, as a result you should prophecy.” It varies from Douay-Rheims on this one because of the placement of the comma in the Ambrosiaster text. My translation may be doubtful because an alternative text has “aemulationem Ecclesiae quarite in prophetis” “you are to seek for the building up of the Church with regards to the prophets.” (See MPL: 17. Col. 268 note at the bottom). This Latin text does not appear conclusive. It does demonstrate that the point of translation has some point of historic controversy. However, my case is far from conclusive so the Douay-Rheims approach has to be maintained.
- of prophecy
- This whole text in parenthesis has a vocabulary that is not consistent with the rest of the text. It is not known if the editor of Migne put the parenthesis there for that reason, or it was someone else previous,. It simply does not correctly fit in. The vocabulary, at my novice experience, suggests it is a later addition.
- proficiat:The verb, proficio, usually is reserved for “make, accomplish, effect” according to Whitaker. Lewis agrees but goes on to write some alternate usages, “In partic., to be useful, serviceable, advantageous, etc., to effect, accomplish; to help, tend, contribute, conduce.” I think Ambrosiaster has a heavy emphasis in his writing on benefit or usefulness. Therefore I think ‘usefulness’ is the best choice, though it does not work well with an accusative case and I had to put the sentence into a dative form.
- “Quid est ergo ? Orabo spiritu, orabo et mente ; psalmum dicam spiritu, psalmum dicam et mente.” The Vulgate has, “quid ergo est orabo spiritu orabo et mente psallam spiritu psallam et mente.” Ambrosiaster has psalmum dicam instead of psallam.
- Bray has this last portion as “…but his rational mind also knows what is being prayed. Nor is it ignorant of what is sung.” I think he is right in noting that it refers to singing. Since my translation is a static than dynamic one, the option of singing is left out of the main translation.
- Ambrosiaster: “Quis supplet locum idiotae ?” Note the grammatical insertion of the question mark. This is not in the Vulgate. This concept is completely separated which the Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims translates as part of a longer sentence. The Vulgate reads, “ceterum si benedixeris spiritu qui supplet locum idiotae quomodo…” Also “quia nescis quid dicas” “You do not know what you are to be saying.” The Vulgate reads, “quid dicas nescit.” I think the Ambrosiaster text has a typographic error and nescis should really be nescit. The context really suggests that it is an error.
- Bray has “Paul is here speaking of God, who understands what a person is saying, even when the person does not.” I do not think that fits with the Latin, De eo dicit, qui cognita sibi loquitur, quia scit quid dicat.
- It is printed “tecere” here instead of “tacere.” I am assuming it is another misprint or is it simply a regionalism? I am not sure, but it does not match any dictionary entry. There is no such verb that exists as tecere. It is likely a misprint.
- Et ne forte quasi æmulus per invidiam hoc dicere videretur
- Hi ex Hebræis erant, qui aliquando Syra lingua, plerumque Hebræa. Note: in a previous iteration, I translated this as “by Hebrew women” because it is an uncommon usage, it is in the feminine, and Whitaker’s Words suggest it to mean Hebrew Women (a later usage). However, context and a footnote in the Latin copy strongly suggest this means the Hebrew language. It is adjectivally relating to lingua which is a feminine noun which accounts for why it is in the feminine.
- ie.: they will speak in a language that is native to them such as Hebrew or Syriac. An alternate codex has “Hos quidam imitantes… restitutum est,” “Indeed these ones who are mimicking, they prefer to speak in their unknown language which has been restored to the people in the Church.” Restitutum est does not fit well and I think this is why it got relegated to a footnote than an actual part of the text.
- ie.: that your sins and problems would be those things that children do, not the major ones that adults do, and that you would have the maturity of an adult in the good things that adults can do.
- I could use “brethren” here instead of “brothers” which makes it gender neutral and modern, but this is not accurate to the text. Ambrosiaster wrote during a time of strong male dominance and purposely thought this way. To alter the translation to a more gender neutral term does not reflect accurately what he was thinking.
- The writer is referring to Isaiah 28:11 and assumes is part of the Law, which according to Hebrew tradition is not correct. There are certain Christian circles in history, which I cannot substantiate but have learned from previous readings, that all of the Bible is considered to be the Law and a full legal text. This is why I am assuming Ambrosiaster included Isaiah as part of the Law.
- Deum de Deo. This may be some sort of maxim I am missing but perhaps this is similar to a majestic plural in Hebrew.
- merentes: nom. or acc. pl. pres part. common from mereor, which Ambrosiaster uses frequently from chapter 12 onwards as a verb and noun. This is one of his premium points.
- “Domine, quare in parabolis loqueris illis” while the Vulgate has “quare in parabolis loqueris eis.”
- It is not uncommon for Latin commentators to string together various verses from different parts. They assume one has advanced knowledge to know that unimportant pieces of Biblical text have been purposely left out for brevity and that the reader will fill in the missing pieces. Ambrosiaster quoted from a Biblical Latin text that utilized the subjunctive in subordinate clauses here whereas the Vulgate did not. The translation here reflects this fact and tries to capture the nuance.
- Hoc est, velamine incognitæ obscurati sunt sermones Dei, ne videantur a perfidis, et cum audiuntur incognitæ linguæ
- “Non utique iis qui credunt, sed non credentibus.” The Vulgate reads “Itaque linguae in signum sunt non fidelibus sed infidelibus”
- incredulis dative/ablative plural of incredulus. “unbelieving, disbelieving, incredulous; disobedient.” Also the Biblical text, “Prophetia autem non incredulis, sed iis qui credunt” as opposed to the Vulgates, “prophetia autem non infidelibus sed fidelibus,” I believe the emphasis here in the Old Itala is on disobedience. This is especially done in light of Thomas Aquinas, whose ancient interpretation of the Corinthian text aligns tongues as a sign against the disobedience of the Jews against the New Covenant but I do not think Ambrosiaster catches this concept. He simply thinks it means unbeliever.
- quasi phrenesin patientis. This is the first time the author clearly used a Greek loan word, phrenesin. It even appears to be left in the Greek accusative case. It usually means madness, patientis is in a participle form here, and the semantic range is quite large. Owing to the fact that it is attached to a Greek loanword, it is hard to get this one right. I leave my translation of these two words as doubtful.
- “variis se vanitatibus cernant illudi.” Illudi: pres. pass. inf. “to play at or with any thing, to sport with, amuse one’s self with… To make sport or game of, to jest, mock, or jeer at, to ridicule.” This passage could alternatively read, “Not that they can call those ones who can see sacred, they see for the purpose to be taking advantage of the situation]with their foolish ways.”
- si reveletur
- “Unusquisque vestrum canticum habet” whereas the Vulgate has, “unusquisque vestrum psalmum habet.” Why he has canticum instead and totally underplays the concept of psalmum, It is not known.
- interpres: according to Whitaker it also means translator as well as interpretor. It is not known which one to choose but will remain conservative and stay with the traditional English Bible choice.
- “ne quid sit corporis per imperitiam tenebrosum.” Although corporis is dominantly translated as body, I take corporis here to mean something more generic, according to Lewis and Short it can also mean, person, body, community. Person fits better but this may change in the final translation.
- “et particulatim ut unus interpretetur” whereas the Vulgate, “et per partes et unus interpretetur”
- “Prophetae autem duo vel tres loquantur, et alii examinent, vel interrogent.” The Vulgate reads, “prophetae duo aut tres dicant et ceteri diiudicent.”
- qui diversa sunt ingenia
- ut disputatione planiore dilucidentur
- ut si potest dicat
- “ut sedentes disputent, seniores dignitate in cathedris, sequentes in subselliis, novissimi in pavimento super mattas.”
- “Et spiritus prophetarum prophetis subjectus est.” The Vulgate reads, “et spiritus prophetarum prophetis subiecti sunt.” I tend to like Ambrosiaster’s version better, but this is simply personal opinion.
- ut ingenia accenderet hac spe, quod Spiritus conatus bonos adjuvet. Desiderio enim optimo ad Dei res enarrandas subvenit : ut impleat boni propositi voluntatem. Bray has: “…in order to encourage minds with the hope that the Spirit would support their best efforts.The Spirit comes to the aid of the best desires, and helps people to speak the things of God, so that they may perfect what they have undertaken to do.”
- “Bibebant autem de spiritali sequente petra, petra autem erat Christus.” The Vulgate reads, “bibebant autem de spiritali consequenti eos petra petra autem erat Christus.”
- I think the authors’s explanation of the “spiritual rock which follows, for the rock was Christ” is a weak association. It is difficult to translate the Latin to make this work. Bray has “He followed in order to bring help when human efforts failed. The Spirit is said to be subject so that he may facilitate the good efforts which he prompts. “To be subject” is the same thing as “to follow.” The Spirit appears to be subject because he bring the labors of others to completion.”
- “Non est enim dissensionis auctor, sed pacis.” The Vulgate reads, “non enim est dissensionis Deus sed pacis.”
- “Pacem meam do vobis, pacem relinquo vobis.” The Vulgate reads, “pacem relinquo vobis pacem meam do vobis.”
- nemo alterum non sinat dicere
- “Sicut in omnibus Ecclesiis sanctorum doceo.” The Vulgate seems to be missing doceo, “sicut in omnibus ecclesiis sanctorum,” though Douay-Rheims translates it as though it does exist.
- “Mulieres vestrae in Ecclesia taceant.” The Vulgate has, “mulieres in ecclesiis taceant.” With the addition of vestrae in the sentence, it negates translating the subjunctive as a jussive.
- velari: to wear a veil
- “Non enim permittitur illis loqui, sed esse in silentio, sicut et lex dicit.” There is a variant in another manuscript that reads, “Non enim permittitur illis loqui, sed subditas esse, sicut et lex dicit.” The Vulgate reads, “non enim permittitur eis loqui sed subditas esse sicut et lex dicit.”
- “Ad virum tuum conversio tua, et ipse tui dominabitur.” The Vulgate reads, “et sub viri potestate eris et ipse dominabitur tui.” It is interesting to note the English translation found in Saeculum: history and society in the theology of St. Augustine By Robert Austin Markus, (Pg. 202) where he translates the Itala as, “and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power and shall have dominion over thee.” He was quoting from the Douay-Rheims translation of the Vulgate, not the Itala.
- “An a vobis verbum Dei profectum est, aut in vos solus devenit ?” The Vulgate has, “an a vobis verbum Dei processit aut in vos solos pervenit.”
- aut non essent aliqui, qui possent suscipere gratiam Dei, apostolis prædicantibus. Bray has “that they imagined no one would believe if the apostles were the preachers!”
- quam acciperent, accedentes ad fidem
- “Aut in vos solos devenit verbum dei.” This is different from his first citation from the same source which read, “aut in vos solos devenit.” Why the difference? I can only conjecture but I think this has to do with a later scribe addition. “aut in vos solos devenit” is from the Old Itala and “Aut in vos devenit verbum dei,” is from a later, likely medieval version.
- “Vobis primum oportebat loqui verba vitae hujus : sed quia repulistis ea, indignos vos facientes aeternae vitae, ecce convertimur nos ad gentes.” The Vulgate reads, “vobis oportebat primum loqui verbum Dei sed quoniam repellitis illud et indignos vos iudicastis aeternae vitae ecce convertimur ad gentes.”
- “ut quibus suadet, Deo acquisiti non hominibus videantur.” Another manuscript reads, “ut quibus suadendo acquisiti, non hominibus dent gloriam, sed Deo.” I went with the alternate manuscript because it makes more sense. Literally it reads “that to which are bound to be urged of securing favour are not to give glory to men but to God.”
- Propter quod, fratres, aemulationem habete prophetandi. The Vulgate reads, itaque fratres aemulamini prophetare.
- “et in multis reprehendat et corripiat.” “in multis” here makes no grammatical sense. It is neither in the ablative or accusative case which the preposition in normally precedes. I am pretending it is an ablative though the case suggests it is either a genitive or nominative one.
- “eo”. It is used adverbally here rather than as pronoun
- “Dicite iis qui non recte ambulant in viis meis : Fratres nostri estis vos.” This does not resemble what is in the Vulgate and this would be a good discussion on its own which I will not spend the time here to do.