Saturday, March 28, 2009

Truth in the Apocrypha

The official editions of the Vulgate published after Trent continued to include three apocryphal or rather pseudepigraphal books that had not been adjudged inspired (unlike the deuterocanonicals): III and IV Esdras (called I and II Esdras by Protestants; in Catholic enumeration, Ezra and Nehemiah were called I and II Esdras) as well as the Prayer of Manasses; these works were still included ne prorsus interirent - lest they perish utterly.

III Esdras is basically a rehash of parts of I and II Esdras (Ezra and Nehemiah) - but for its chapters iii and iv, being the debate of the three bodyguards about which is greatest: wine, the king, women, or truth.  It is the last portion thereof, a favourite passage and the source of at least one proverbial expression, that I will now quote from the Vulgate and from the 1610 Douay (later editions no longer included these apocryphal parts):

iii, 12b Super omnia vincit veritas. 

iv, 13. 33b Zorobabel inchoavit loqui de veritate: 
35b Veritas magna et fortior præ omnibus. 36 Omnis terra veritatem invocat, cælum etiam ipsam benedicit, et omnia opera moventur, et tremunt eam, et non est cum ea quidquam iniquum. 37 Vinum iniquum, iniquus rex, iniquæ mulieres, iniqui omnes filii hominum, et iniqua illorum omnium opera, et non est in ipsis veritas, et in sua iniquitate peribunt; 38 et veritas manet et invalescit in æternum, et vivit, et obtinet in sæcula sæculorum. 39 Nec est apud eam accipere personas, neque differentias; sed quæ justa sunt facit omnibus, injustis ac malignis, et omnes benignantur in operibus ejus. 40 Et non est in judicio ejus iniquum, sed fortitudo, et regnum, et potestas, et majestas omnium ævorum. Benedictus Deus veritatis. 41 Et desiit loquendo. Et omnes populi clamaverunt, et dixerunt: Magna est veritas, et prævalet. 

iii, 12b ...aboue al thinges truth ouercometh.

iv, 13b.33b Zorobabel... began to speake of truth. 
35b Is not... the truth great, and stronger aboue al thinges? 36 Al the earth calleth vpon the truth, heauen also blesseth it, and al workes are moued, and tremble at it, and there is not any thing with it vniust. 37 Wine is vniust, the king is vniust, wemen are vniust, al the sonnes of men are vniust, and al their workes are vniust, and in them is not truth, and they shal perish in their iniquitie: 38 and truth abydeth, and groweth strong for euer, and liueth, and preuayleth for euer and euer. 39 Neither is there with it acception of persons, nor differences: but the thinges that are iust it doth to al men, to the vniust and malignant, and al men are wel pleased in the workes thereof. 40 And there is no vniust thing in the iudgement therof, but strength, and reigne, and power, and maiestie of [all] worldes. Blessed be the God of truth. 41 And he left speaking. And al the people cryed, and sayd: Great is truth and it preuaileth.

From this last verse - III Esdras iv, 41b - comes the slight misquotation (changing the tense of the verb) Magna est veritas, et prævalebit: Great is truth, and it shall prevail.

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