Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2019.10.32 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019.10.32

Theodore A. Bergren, A Latin-Greek index of the Vulgate New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 403.   Tübingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 2018.  Pp. x, 261.  ISBN 9783161560248.  €114.00.  

Reviewed by Daniel King, Cardiff University (

The index here reviewed consists of a straightforward list of Latin words found in the Vulgate New Testament and the early Latin versions of the Apostolic Fathers, beneath which is given the Greek word(s) that can, in each case, be assumed to have been the underlying term in the source text. The index is designed to be used in alliance with Schmoller’s Handkonkordanz to the Greek New Testament1 and Kraft’s equivalent concordance of the Apostolic Fathers2—both of which volumes list the Latin equivalents to all the Greek terms in their respective corpora, but give no reverse index. That is precisely what Bergren here supplies.

It is peculiar, inexplicable even, that the current volume makes no mention of the fact that an earlier version of this very index was published already some 27 years ago by the same author.3 The significant difference between the two (1991/2018) versions is that the earlier version indexed the Vulgate New Testament by itself and was followed by a further index to the older Latin translations of the New Testament known collectively as the Vetus Latina (specifically using Valgiglio’s edition of the Vetus Latina and Von Soden’s edition of the “African” translations). There is no explanation from the editor as to why this further index has been omitted from the updated edition, which is to be regretted since research into the texts of the Vetus Latina is substantial and ongoing.

In the present edition this data from the old Latin versions has been replaced by data from the Latin translations of the corpus of texts known collectively as the Apostolic Fathers. Moreover, the two corpora are not indexed separately but have been merged together into a single index while being distinguished by different abbreviations. For example, under induere we have the following entry:

ἀμφιέννυμι Ν33
ἐνδιδύσκω Ν168 F151
ἐνδύω Ν168 F153
N# refer to page numbers in any post-1985 edition of Schmoller’s Handkonkordanz, and F# refer to pages in any post-1985 edition of Kraft’s Clavis. This of course is only a first stage in researching the translation equivalents that Bergren lists. The reader must follow up the references in order to know, for example, how often the Vulgate’s induere reflects each of the above three Greek verbs. This is simple enough to follow. It is a shame, however, that there is no explicit guidance on which editions of Schmoller and Kraft he has used for the index, nor which edition of the Apostolic Fathers underlies Kraft’s concordance. For the Vulgate, we may assume that the Stuttgart edition underlies everything, but exactly which edition of the Stuttgart Vulgate would depend in turn upon the Schmoller edition that was used.

Unfortunately it seems that the index is not always exhaustively accurate. Continuing with the foregoing example, at least one instance of induere in the Stuttgart Vulgate reflects περιβάλλω (Luk 23:11), a rendering that has been missed in this index.

There is some unexplained inconsistency in the way in which textual variants are dealt with. Sometimes variants are given, e.g. paracletus and paraclitus, which both refer to the same Schmoller entry, though only the former will be found in the Stuttgart Vulgate (the other being a spelling variant). On the other hand, where the variation is more substantial it would be impossible to provide an entry. For instance, some mss. of the Vulgate read in error in retributione (Luk 14:14) for in resurrectione. The Greek is indeed ἀναστάσει, but it would have been strange indeed to have included an entry for retributio pointing to ἀνάστασις, and so Bergren does not have one. The variant is an error interior to the Latin tradition and hence has no Greek equivalent, but these are ultimately matters of editorial judgement.

Translation, of course, is never a simple issue of one-to-one correspondence, and it is thus especially useful that Bergren has attempted to show where a pair of Latin words is equivalent to a single Greek, e.g. under residui we are pointed to qui residui sumus as the Vulgate’s rendering of περιλειπόμενοι.

It is worth noting just how often the translation equivalents in the Apostolic Fathers and those in the New Testament turn out to be the same. But there are also some interesting exceptions – e.g. ἔμφυτος λόγος is rendered as insitum verbum at Vulg Jac 1:21, but ἔμφυτος χάρις at Ep.Barn 1:2 is rendered as naturalis gratia.

In the age of digital technology in which academia now lives, it might seem a throwback to make lists such as this one, which have often become dinosaurs in the face of text-based software with powerful search features. However, co-ordinating a source text with its translation is not always an automatable process and software is notoriously poor at dealing with it. Moreover, morphologically-tagged versions of both texts would be needed, and at least for the Vulgate this is often not available to students or scholars. To return to our earlier example of induere, it takes quite some digital gymnastics to locate all the instances of induere in the Vulgate using only computer software, without having manually to remove masses of false positives. Even after this, the researcher would then need to decide in each case which Greek word was the underlying “source” of induere for each context. In Bergren’s index, the editorial work has already done all this, although the editorial judgements still need to be scrutinised rather than blindly relied upon in every case.

There would, however, have been a substantial benefit to the user had the index been placed online as well as in print. A digital version could be used more readily to search for Greek terms. Without this, users must find a copy of Schmoller/Kraft before they can use the index in both directions at once. Nonetheless, for the student who is willing to place Bergren together with Schmoller and Kraft as well as the critical editions of the texts themselves, the present volume is a useful instrument of scholarship that is not entirely drowned out by the digital age.


1.   There have been many editions going back to 1913. The most recent is Schmoller, Alfred, and Beate von Tschischwitz, Handkonkordanz zum griechischen Neuen Testament: nach dem Text des Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (28. Auflage) und des Greek New Testament (5. Aufl.). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014.
2.   Kraft, Heinrich, and Ursula Früchtel, Clavis patrum apostolicorum: Catalogum vocum in libris patrum qui dicuntur apostolici non raro occurrentium. München: Kösel, 1963.
3.   Theodore A. Bergren. A Latin-Greek Index of the Vulgate New Testament based on Alfred Schmoller's Handkonkordanz zum griechischen Neuen Testament with an Index of Latin Equivalences Characteristic of "African" and "European" Old Latin Versions of the New Testament. SBL Resources for Biblical Study, 26. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1991.

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