The Old Latin Gospels: A Study of Their Texts and Language

The Old Latin Gospels: A Study of Their Texts and Language

The Old Latin Gospels: A Study of Their Texts and Language

The Old Latin Gospels: A Study of Their Texts and Language


This book is the first overall study of the texts and language of the Old Latin Gospels, the versions of the four Gospels that predate the Vulgate of Jerome. In this book three main questions are addressed. Do the various extant manuscripts represent the remains of many originally separateversions, or local variants of a single main tradition? How do we analyse the translation techniques used to produce these texts? What do these translations tell us about the development of post-classical, non-literary Latin, and vice versa? Dr Burton approaches the issue of monogenesis versuspolygenesis through a systematic analysis of the vocabulary of each individual Gospel. He reassess the traditional description of these Gospels as 'literal' and 'vulgar', examining the extent to which these terms are meaningful and applicable.


This book is the first attempt to give a general account of the language and textual history of the Old Latin Gospels. My first encounter with the Old Latin Gospels was in an undergraduate class on vulgar Latin, ten years ago. Dissatisfaction with a received opinion piqued my interest, and led me to choose them as a topic for my doctoral dissertation. In preparing that dissertation, I found myself trespassing into various fields not on my original route; from textual transmission to early Christian studies, from Romance philology to translation theory. It is hoped this work will be of interest to specialists in these and related fields; and that where others are in turn dissatisfied with it, they will be sufficiently intrigued to go out and prove me wrong.

As a novice author, I have many debts of gratitude to acknowledge, First among these is to the teachers who first introduced me to Latin and to New Testament studies: Stan Wolfson, John Arnold, and Tony Collier. Among my University teachers, my greatest debt is undoubtedly to Bob Coleman. It was disagreement with a remark of his that first led me to study the Old Latin Gospels for myself; that was not our last disagreement, but I hope I have learnt as much from his patient courtesy towards a brash and opinionated student as I have from his massive knowledge of Latin and linguistics. The faults in this book were such as neither he nor anyone else could talk me out of. The Faculty of Classics in Cambridge, and later the University of St Andrews, have both in their very different ways provided both support and stimulation; my thanks go to both. Jim Adams and †Caroline Bammel, who examined my original dissertation, offered many useful suggestions. The world knows their scholarship too well for it to need any encomium here. Gillian Clark was generous in encouraging me to produce this book; Roger Wright was bracingly clear-headed as ever. Hilary O'Shea, Enid Barker, Georga Godwin, and Virginia Williams were kindly, efficient, and made sure this work sneaked in before the Research Assessment Exercise door slammed shut.

My biggest debts I cannot well describe, let alone repay, to my parents, and to Cristina.


Crail . . .

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