vag'-a-bond (nudh, "to wander"): The word is used in the curse pronounced on Cain (Ge 4:12,14). the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes in each case "wanderer," but in Ps 109:10 it retains "vagabonds." "Vagabond Jews" (perierchomai; the Revised Version (British and American) "strolling Jews") were persons who traveled about as professional exorcists (Ac 19:13).


va'-heb (wahebh; Zoob): The name occurs in a quotation from the book of the Wars of Yahweh in Nu 21:14. See SUPHAH. It was apparently in Amorite territory. It is not identified.





van: The adjective of "vanity," and representing the same Hebrew and Greek words as does the latter, with a few additions (chiefly kenos, "empty," and its compounds in the New Testament). And "vain" can always be replaced by its synonym "empty," often with advantage in modern English (Job 15:2; 1Co 15:14, etc.). The exception is the phrase "in vain," and even there the interchange can be made if some (understood) noun such as "ways" be added. So "to take God's name in vain" (Ex 20:7; De 5:11) means simply to take it for an "empty" ("not good") purpose.


van-glo'-ri (kenodoxia): "Vainglory" is the translation of kenodoxia, "empty glory" or "pride," nearly akin to vanity in the modern sense (Php 2:3). Kenodoxos is "vainglorious" (Ga 5:26, "Let us not be desirous of vainglory," the Revised Version (British and American) "Let us not become vainglorious"). In 1 Joh 2:16 the Revised Version (British and American) has "the vainglory of life" (alazoneia tou biou) for "the pride of life"; compare Jas 4:16, "Ye glory in your vauntings" (alazoneia). Kenodoxia is translated "vainglory" (The Wisdom of Solomon 14:14, "For by the vain glory of men they (idols) entered into the world," the Revised Version (British and American) "vaingloriousless"); alazoneia occurs in The Wisdom of Solomon 5:8, translated "vaunting." "Pride is applicable to every object, good or bad, high or low, small or great; vanity is applicable only to small objects; pride is therefore good or bad; vanity is always bad; it is always emptiness or nothingness" (Crabb, English Synonymes).

W. L. Walker


vi'-za-tha, va-iz'-a-tha, va-jez'-a-tha, vaj-e-za'-tha (wayzatha'): One of the sons of Haman (Es 9:9). The form has been held to be corrupt, the Hebrew letter waw (w) being exceptionally tall, and the Hebrew letter zayin (z) exceptionally short (Benfey, Die persischen Keilinschriften (1847), XVIII, 93), and points to Vahyazdata, "Given of the Best-One" (OHL, 255).


val, val'-i:

(1) gay'; either absolute: "from Bamoth to the valley that is in the field of Moab" (Nu 21:20); or with a proper name: "valley of Hinnom," also "valley of the son of Hinnom" (Jos 15:8); "valley of Slaughter" (Jer 7:32); "valley of Zeboim" (1Sa 13:18); "valley of Zephathah" (2Ch 14:10); "valley of Hamon-gog" (Eze 39:11); "valley of Iphtah-el" (Jos 19:14); "valley of the mountains" (Zec 14:5); "Valley of Salt" (2Sa 8:13); "valley of vision" (Isa 22:1); once (in the Revised Version (British and American)) as a place-name: "until thou comest to Gai" (the King James Version "the valley") (1Sa 17:52); also (Revised Version) "Ge-harashim" (1Ch 4:14); compare "valley of craftsmen" (margin "Ge-haharashim") (Ne 11:35).

(2) `emeq, `amoq, "to be deep"; compare Arabic `amuq, "to be deep"; `umq, "depth"; 'Ammiq, a village in the valley of Coele-Syria; absolute: "He could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley" (Jud 1:19); often with place-names: "valley of Achor" (Jos 7:24); "valley of Aijalon" (Jos 10:12); "valley of Gibeon" (Isa 28:21); "vale of Hebron" (Ge 37:14); "valley of Jehoshaphat" (Joe 3:2); "vale of Rephaim," the King James Version "valley of the giants" (Jos 15:8); "vale of Shaveh" (Ge 14:17); "vale of Siddim" (Ge 14:3); "valley of Succoth" (Ps 60:6); compare "valley of Weeping" (the King James Version "Baca") (Ps 84:6); "valley of Beracah" (margin "Blessing") (2Ch 20:26); "valley of decision" (Joe 3:14); "vale of Elah" (margin "terebinth") (1Sa 17:2); "the King's Vale" (Ge 14:17); but "the king's dale" (2Sa 18:18); "Emekkeziz," the King James Version "valley of Keziz" (Jos 18:21).

(3) biq`ah, baqa`, "to cleave," hence, "valley," especially "broad valley" or "plain"; compare Arabic baq`at, "wet meadow" Biqa`, Coele-Syria; absolute: "a land of hills and valleys" (De 11:11); with place-names: "valley of Jericho" (De 34:3); "valley of Lebanon" (Jos 11:17); "valley of Megiddo" (2Ch 35:22); "valley of Mizpah" (Jos 11:8).

(4) nachal, also "river" or "stream"; absolute "Isaac's servants digged (dug) in the valley" (Ge 26:19); with place-names: "valley (the King James Version "river") of the Arnon" (De 2:24); "valley of Eshcol" (Nu 32:9); "valley of Gerar" (Ge 26:17); "valley of Shittim" (Joe 3:18); "valley of Sorek" (Jud 16:4); "valley of Zered" (Nu 21:12).

(5) shephelah, shaphel, "to be low"; compare Arabic safal, "to be low"; the King James Version "valley" or "vale," the Revised Version (British and American) "lowland," the coast and foothills of Western Palestine

(6) aulon, "valley" (Judith 4:4; 7:3; 10:10).

(7) pharagx: "Every valley shall be filled" (Lu 3:5).

The valley gate (Ne 2:13, etc.) may have had about the location of the present Jaffa gate, if by "valley" is meant the valley of Hinnom. If the Tyropoeon is meant, it would have been near the southwestern corner of the charam area.


The valleys of the mountainous part of Palestine are mostly dry, rocky wadies with occasional torrents m the winter season. Those which descend to the W. widen out as they approach the plain and contain broad fields and meadows which in the winter and spring at least are fresh and green. The valley of the Jordan, the valley of Megiddo and the valley of Lebanon (i.e. Coele-Syria) contain much cultivable land: "the herds that were in the valleys" (1Ch 27:29): "They of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley" (1Sa 6:13); "The valleys also are covered over with grain" (Ps 65:13).


Alfred Ely Day


val'-yant, val'-yant-li (chayil; ischuros): "Valiant" in the Old Testament is for the most part the translation of chayil, "power," or "might," and is applied to the courageous and to men of war ("mighty men of valor"), as in 1Sa 14:52; 31:12; 2Sa 11:16, etc.; in some passages ben chayil, "a son of might" (Jud 21:10; 1Sa 18:17; 2Sa 2:7, etc.). A few other Hebrew words (gibbor, etc.) are thus rendered. In the New Testament the word occurs once in the King James Version (Heb 11:34, "valiant in fight"; the Revised Version (British and American) "mighty in war"). "Valiantly" is the translation of the same Hebrew word (Nu 24:18; Ps 60:12, etc.); in one case in the King James Version of chazaq (1Ch 19:13, the American Standard Revised Version "play the man," the English Revised Version "men"). In some instances the Revised Version (British and American) has variations, as "man of valor" for "valiant man" (1Sa 16:18), "valiant" for "strong" (1Ch 26:7,9; Jer 48:14, etc.).

W. L. Walker





(sha`ar ha-gay', "Gate of the Gai"): Is placed (Ne 3:13) between the "tower of the furnaces" and the "dung gate"; from here Nehemiah (2:13) set out on his ride down the "Gai" (Hinnom) to Siloam, and, too (12:31,38), from here the Levites commenced their compass of the city in two directions. It must have been an ancient gate, for Uzziah added towers to it (2Ch 26:9). It was probably near the Southwest corner of the city and near to, if not identical with, the gate found by Bliss near (now in) the Protestant Cemetery.


E. W. G. Masterman


('emeq he-charuts).









(ge' chizzayon): A symbolic name generally understood to signify Jerusalem as being the home of prophetic vision (Isa 22:1,5).




vam'-pir (alaqah): the Revised Version margin for "horseleach" (Pr 30:15) has "vampire."



va-ni'-a (wanyah, meaning unknown): A son of Bani, who had married a foreign wife (Ezr 10:36). The text is, however, doubtful. The Septuagint Codex Vaticanus has Ouiechoa; Codex Sinaiticus Ouierecho; Codex Alexandrinus Ouounia, Lucian Ouania.


"Vanity" does not often occur in the New Testament; but see VAIN, VAINGLORY. In Ac 14:15 we have mataios, "empty," translated "vanities" (of idols); mataiotes, "emptiness," "transitoriness" (Ro 8:20, "The creation was subjected to vanity," frailty, transitoriness); "emptiness," "folly" (Eph 4:17; 2Pe 2:18).

Among other changes for "vanity" the Revised Version (British and American) has "iniquity" (Job 15:35; Ps 10:7); "falsehood" (Ps 12:2; 41:6); "deceit" (Ps 144:8,11); "vapor" (Pr 21:6); "calamity" (Pr 22:8 margin "vanity"); "a breath" (Isa 57:13); "wickedly" (Isa 58:9). Conversely, for "Wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?" (Ps 89:47), "For what vanity hast thou created all the children of men!"; for "Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing" (Isa 41:29), "Behold, all of them, their works are vanity and nought," margin as the King James Version, with "nought" for "nothing."

W. L. Walker



(1) edh: "For he draweth up the drops of water, which distill in rain from his vapor" (Job 36:27); "There went up a mist ['edh] from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground" (Ge 2:6).

(2) nasi', "vapor," i.e. that which rises, from nasa', "to lift": "Who causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth" (Ps 135:7; compare Jer 10:13; 51:16); also translated "clouds": "as clouds and wind without rain" (Pr 25:14).

(3) In Job 36:33, the King James Version has "vapour" ("concerning the vapour") for `alah, alah, "to go up," where the Revised Version (British and American) reads "concerning the storm that cometh up."

(4) qiTor: "fire and hail, snow and vapor" (Ps 148:8); elsewhere, "smoke": "The smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace" (Ge 19:28); "I am become like a wineskin in the smoke" (Ps 119:83).

(5) atmis: "blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke" (Ac 2:19); "For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (Jas 4:14).

The first two of the preceding quotations are interesting as indicating the knowledge that vapor of water from the earth or sea is the source of the rain. Visible vapor, i.e. mist or fog, is much less common in Palestine than in many other countries. In the mountains, however, especially in Lebanon, mists are of frequent occurrence, appearing to those below as clouds clinging to the mountains.

Alfred Ely Day


vash'-ni (washni, see below; the Septuagint's Codex Vaticanus Sanei; Codex Alexandrinus Sani): Read in 1Ch 6:28 the King James Version (Hebrew 13) as the name of the firstborn son of Samuel. According to 1Ch 6:33 (Hebrew 18) and 1Sa 8:2, Samuel's oldest son was Joel, and the second Abijah. The explanation of this is that in 1Ch 6:28 the word taken then as a proper name is really "and second"; so following Septuagint, Lucian, and Syriac we read (as the Revised Version (British and American)), "And the sons of Samuel: the first-born, Joel, and the second Abijah."


vash'-ti (washti; Astin; Old Persian "beautiful woman"): The former queen of Xerxes, whom he divorced. On the 7th day of a great feast which the king was giving to the assembled nobles of the empire and others, he commanded the seven chamberlains who served in his presence to bring the queen into the assembly. We are told (Es 1:11) that his purpose was "to show the peoples and the princes her beauty; for she was fair to look on." The king's command was met by Vashti with a mortifying refusal to obey. The reason which is sometimes assigned for her disobedience--that no man but the king was permitted to look upon the queen--is without foundation. Esther invites Haman on two occasions to accompany the king to a banquet at which she was present. Nor can it be said that there was any lack of recognition of Vashti's high dignity; the seven highest officials of the palace were sent to escort her. The refusal had to be visited with a punishment severe enough to reestablish the supremacy which it threatened to overthrow. She was, accordingly, divorced and dethroned.

There is no known reference to Vashti outside of Esther. The suggestion has been made that Vashti was an inferior wife, or one of the royal concubines. There is nothing, however, to support it; and it is, besides, directly opposed to several statements in the narrative. She is always named "queen" (Es 1:9,11,12,15-18). It is only (Es 1:19) when the decree is proposed to repudiate and degrade her that she is called merely "Vashti." She also (Es 1:9) presides at the banquet for the women. It is evident, therefore, that in the palace of the women there was no higher personage than Vashti.

John Urquhart




volt (natsar, "to guard," "protest"): Isaiah's charge against Israel as "a people that .... lodge in the secret places" (Isa 65:4, margin "vaults," the King James Version "monuments") probably refers to the custom of sleeping in sacred tombs or vaults of idol temples to learn the future through dreams by the method known as incubation.

See DIVINATION, 6, (ii); 7, 1; FAMILIAR; WITCHCRAFT; and Expository Times, IX, 157 ff.


See ASTRONOMY, sec. III, 1.



See WAW.


ve'-dan (wedhan): A place-name occurring only in Eze 27:19, "Vedan and Javan traded with yarn for thy wares." the King James Version, taking the syllable we as the Hebrew conjunction, renders "and Da also." The text is in bad condition. Some read "Dedan," but Dedan is spoken of separately in the following verse. Assuming that Vedan is the correct reading, an identification may be conjectured with Waddan, also called al-`Abwa`, between Mecca and Medina. It was the object of Mohammed's first expedition (Ibn Hisham, 415). The name contains that of the god Wadd who was worshipped chiefly by the Arab tribe Kalb.

A. S. Fulton


ve'-he-ment, ve'-he-ment-li (charishi; epipothesis): "Vehement" (from Latin vehere, "to carry," or ve, "out of," and mens, "mind"), carried away by the mind or force of passion, occurs twice in the Old Testament (So 8:6, the King James Version "a most vehement flame" (jealousy)) as the translation of shalhebheth-yah, "the flame of Yah," which perhaps means lightning (the Revised Version (British and American) "a very flame of Yahweh," margin "a most vehement flame, Hebrew: Yah"); and as the translation of the King James Version charishi, "silent," "still," hence "sultry" (Jon 4:8, the King James Version "a vehement east wind," the Revised Version (British and American) "sultry"). In the New Testament, "vehement desire" is (the King James Version) the translation of epipothesis, "earnest desire" (2Co 7:11, the Revised Version (British and American) "longing").

"Vehemently" is the translation of deinos, "greatly" (Lu 11:53); of ek perissou or ekperissos, "beyond measure" (Mr 14:31, "He spake exceeding vehemently"); of eutonos, "intensely" (Lu 23:10); and in the King James Version of prosrhegnumi, "to break" or "dash upon" (Lu 6:48,49, the Revised Version (British and American) "break").

W. L. Walker

VEIL (1)

val: The following words are so translated in English Versions of the Bible (sometimes the King James Version vail):

(1) miTpachath, Ru 3:15 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "mantle." As the material was strong enough to serve as a bag for a large quantity of grain the Revised Version (British and American) is certainly right; compare Isa 3:22.

(2) macweh, Ex 34:33-35. Paul in his quotation of the passage in 2Co 3:13-16 uses kalumma, following Septuagint. The covering worn by Moses to conceal the miraculous brightness of his face, although, according to Massoretic Text, he seems to have worn it only in private.

(3) macckhah, Isa 25:7; in 28:20 translated "covering." The use in 25:7 is figurative and the form of the "veil" a matter of indifference.

(4) tsammah, the Revised Version (British and American) So 4:1,3 (margin "locks" (of hair)); 6:7; Isa 47:2, the King James Version "locks." The meaning of the word is uncertain and the King James Version may very well be right. If, however, the Revised Version's translation is correct, a light ornamental veil is meant.

(5) tsa`iph, Ge 24:65; 38:14,19. A large wrap is meant, which at times was used to cover the face also. In 24:65 Rebekah conformed to the etiquette which required the veiling of brides (see MARRIAGE). In Genesis 38 one motive for Tamar's use of the veil was certainly to avoid recognition, but it seems clear from the passage that veils were used by courtesans. Why is unknown, perhaps partly to conceal their identity, perhaps partly in parody of the marriage custom.

(6) redhidh, So 5:7 (the Revised Version (British and American) "mantle," margin "veil"); Isa 3:23. A light mantle is certainly meant. In So 5:7 it is torn from the maiden in the watchmen's endeavor to detain her.

(7) parakalumma, The Wisdom of Solomon 17:3 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "curtain."

(8) Verb katakalupto, 1Co 11:6 f, with akatakalupto, "unveil" in 11:5; the King James Version has "cover" and "uncover"; kalupto, 2Co 4:3 (twice), anakalupto, 2Co 3:18; the King James Version "hid" and "open."

It will be seen that there is a certain reference to what in modern times would be termed a "veil" only in (2) above. For a possible additional reference see MUFFLER.

The use of the face veil as a regular article of dress was unknown to the Hebrew women, and if "veil" is to be understood in So 4:1, etc., it was worn as an ornament only. The modern oriental custom of veiling is due to Mohammedan influence and has not been universally adopted by Jewesses in the Orient. In New Testament times, however, among both Greeks and Romans, reputable women wore a veil in public (Plutarch Quaest. Rom. xiv) and to appear without it was an act of bravado (or worse); Tarsus, Paul's home city, was especially noted for strictness in this regard (Dio of Prusa, Tarsica prior, section symbol 48). Hence, Paul's indignant directions in 1Co 11:2-16, which have their basis in the social proprieties of the time. The bearing of these directions, however, on the compulsory use of the hat by modern women in public worship would appear to be very remote.

For the Veil of the Tabernacle and the Temple see next article.

Burton Scott Easton

VEIL (2)

(1) (parokheth; katapetasma; the King James Version vail): In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, the veil that hung between the two holy chambers of the tabernacle is mentioned 23 times (Ex 26:31, etc.). In several places it is termed "the veil of the screen" and it is distinguished from "the screen for the door of the tabernacle" (Ex 35:12,15; 39:34,38). By the latter is meant the curtain that hung outside the holy place, i.e. at the tabernacle entrance. Ex 26:31 informs us that the veil was made of fine-twined linen, and that its colors were blue and purple and scarlet. It was embroidered with cherubim. At each removal of the tabernacle the veil was used to enwrap the ark of the testimony (Nu 4:5). From its proximity to this central object of the Hebrew ceremonial system, the veil is termed "the veil of the testimony" (Le 24:3), "the veil which is before the testimony" (Ex 27:21), etc. In Solomon's Temple the veil is mentioned but once (2Ch 3:14). It was protected by doors of olive wood (1Ki 6:31). In the later temple it is alluded to in 1 Macc 1:22. Its presence in Herod's temple is attested by the statement in each of the Synoptists that at the time of Christ's death the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom, or in the midst (Mt 27:51; Mr 15:38; Lu 23:45; compare in Mishna, Mid. ii. 1; iv.7). This fact is the basis of the profound truth expressed by the writer to the Hebrews that Jesus, by His sacrificial death, opened for all believers a way into the holiest "through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb 10:20). See TABERNACLE; TEMPLE.

(2) See the preceding article and DRESS, V.

W. Shaw Caldecott


van: Only in Job 28:1, the King James Version "a vein for the silver," or motsa', "going forth," "source." Both the King James Version "vein" and the Revised Version (British and American) "mine" are more specialized than motsa', but the Revised Version (British and American) doubtless conveys the original meaning.





ven'-i-z'-n, ven'-z'-n: Is derived (through the French venaison) from the Latin venari, "to hunt," and means properly "the spoils of the chase." As, however, the object of the chase, paragraph excellence, was the deer, venison came to mean usually (as it invariably does in modern English) "deer's flesh." But in English Versions of the Bible this technical force seems not to be implied, for "venison" is used only for the two Hebrew words tsayidh (Ge 25:28; 27:5 ), and tsedhah (Ge 27:3), and both these words (from tsudh, "to hunt") mean simply "game" of any kind.





ver'-i-ti, ver'-i-ti ('abhal, etc.; amen): "Verily," as corroborative adverb, represents various Hebrew and Greek words and particles ('abhal, "truly," in Ge 42:21, etc.; 'akh, "only," "surely," in Ps 66:19; Isa 45:15, etc.). For the King James Version "verily thou shalt be fed" (Ps 37:3, where 'emunah), the American Standard Revised Version has "feed on his faithfulness" and the English Revised Version "follow after faithfulness," margin in both "feed securely." The Greek amen (Hebrew 'amen) is used very frequently in the Gospels as an emphatic confirmation of Christ's sayings (Mt 5:18,26; 6:2; Mr 3:28, etc.), and in John's Gospel is repeated to give additional emphasis (Joh 1:51; 3:3,5,11, The Revised Version (British and American) makes various changes, as "wholly" for "verily" (Job 19:13), "surely" (Ps 39:5; 73:13), "indeed" (Mr 9:12; Ro 2:25; Heb 3:5; 7:5), etc., and sometimes puts "verily" where the King James Version has other words, as "also" (Mt 13:23), "doubtless" (Php 3:8), etc.

Verity is the translation of 'emeth, "truth," "stedfastness" (Ps 111:7, "The works of his hands are verity and judgment," the American Standard Revised Version "truth and justice," the English Revised Version "truth and judgment"); and of aletheia, "truth," "reality," "certainty" (1Ti 2:7), "faith and verity," the Revised Version (British and American) "faith and truth."

W. L. Walker



See COLORS, (3).





jor'-ji-an, goth'-ik, sla-von'-ik:

1. The Georgian Version:

Georgia is the name given to the territory extending to the East of the Black Sea, a country that has had an independent national existence of 2,000 years but is now (under the name Grusinia) a part of the trans-Caucasian domain of Russia. The language has no affinities with any of the recognized groups, but is becoming obsolete under Russian pressure. Christianity was introduced into Georgia m the 4th century, and a national conversion followed. A well-supported tradition makes the first translation of the Bible almost contemporaneous with this conversion and refers it to Mesrop (died 441; see ARMENIAN VERSIONS), but the fact is not quite certain and the beginnings of a native version may really be as much as two centuries later. The oldest manuscript extant is a Psalter of the 7th-8th centuries, and the earliest copy of the Gospels is perhaps a century later; in all, Gregory (Textkritik, 573-75) enumerates 17 Georgian manuscripts of the New Testament, but his list is not exhaustive.

The first printed Bible was produced in the ancient alphabet in Moscow in 1743 and has never been reprinted, but other edd, perhaps only of the New Testament, were issued at least in 1816 and 1818, using the nonecclesiastical alphabet. According to Conybeare (ZNTW, XI, 161-66, 232-39 (1910)) the Georgian version was first made from the Old Syriac and then later (11th century) revised from the Greek In 1910 a new edition, based on two manuscripts dated respectively 913 and 995, was begun (Quattuor Ev. versio Georgia vetus, Petersburg). The Georgian version was used by S. C. Malan, The Gospel according to John, translated from the 11 Oldest VSS, London, 1862.

2. The Gothic Version:

Ulfilas, the Arian bishop of the West Goths and the chief agent in their conversion to Christianity, was also the first translator of the Bible into Gothic, a work for which he had even to invent an alphabet. According to tradition, his translation included the entire Bible with the exception of Kings (which he thought unadapted to the already too warlike character of his converts), but there is doubt whether his work actually included more than the New Testament. Too little of the Old Testament has survived to enable a settling of this question, nor is it possible to tell how much revision the New Testament translation has undergone since Ulfilas' work.

A list of the six Gothic manuscripts is given in HDB, IV, 862, to which is to be added a bilingual Latin-Gothic manuscript containing portions of Luke 24, known as the Arsinoe Fragment (published in ZNTW, XI, 1-38 (1910) and separately (Giessen, 1910)). In all there have been preserved in the Old Testament Ge 5 (in part); Ps 52:2 f; Ne 5-7 (in part), and in the New Testament the Gospels and Pauline Epistles (all incomplete), with quotations from Hebrews. The best complete edition is that of Stamm-Heyne(9) (Paderborn, 1896), but as the version is of basic importance for the history of the Germanic languages there are many editions of various portions prepared for philological purposes.

The Old Testament fragments are a translation of a text very closely allied to the Lucianic Greek (see SEPTUAGINT) and are certainly not from the Hebrew New Testament undoubtedly was made from a text of the type used in Antioch (Constantinople) in the 4th century, with very slight variations, none of which are "neutral" (von Soden classes them as of the I-type). Either in making the translation or (more probably) in a subsequent revision an Old-Latin text was used, of the type of Codex Brixianus (f), and certain Old-Latin readings are well marked. For brief lists of these peculiarities see Burkitt in Journal Theological Studies, I, 129-34 (1900), or von Soden, Schriften des New Testament, I, 1469 f (1906).

3. The Slavonic Version:

It is definitely known that the first Slavonic translation of the Bible was commenced in 864 or earlier by the two brothers Cyril (died 869) and Methodius (died 885), and that the latter worked on it after the former's death. Their work was undertaken for the benefit of the Balkan Slavs, and at first only the liturgical portions (Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Psalms) were translated, but, after the completion of this, Methodius carried the translation farther to include larger portions of the Old Testament. How much of this he accomplished is obscure, but he seems not to have finished the Old Testament entirely, while almost certainly he did not translate Revelation. Uncertain also is the exact dialect used for this work; although this dialect was the basis of the present liturgical language of the Russian church, it has undergone much transformation before arriving at its final stage. At different times the translation of the Bible was revised to conform to the changes of the language, in addition to other revisional changes, and, as a result, the manuscripts (some of which go back to the 10th century) exhibit very varying types of text that have not been satisfactorily classified.

An attempt to bring the discrepant material into order was made about 1495 by Archbishop Gennadius, but he was unable to find Slavonic manuscripts that included the entire Bible and was forced to supply the deficiencies (Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and most of Jeremiah and the Apocrypha) by a new translation made from the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) This Bible of Gennadius was the basis of the first printed edition, made at Ostrog in 1581, although the liturgical portions had been printed earlier (Ac and Epistles first of all in 1564). The Ostrog edition followed Gennadius fairly closely, but Esther, Canticles, and Wisdom were new translations made from the Septuagint. The next revision was undertaken by order of Peter the Great and was performed by using the Greek (Old Testament and New Testament), although the resulting text was not printed until 1751. A slightly emended edition of 1756 is still the official Bible of the Russian church.

This Slavonic version is to be distinguished from the version in the true Russian language, begun first in 1517, revised or remade at various times, with an excellent modern translation first published complete in 1876. See, on the whole subject, especially Bebb in Church Quart. Rev., XLI, 203-25, 1895.


On all three versions see HDB, IV, 861-64, 1902, and the article "Bibelubersetzung" in PRE3, III (1897), with the important supplement in XXIII (1913).

Burton Scott Easton


ver'-i: As adjective (from verus, "true"), "true," "real," "actual," etc. (Ge 27:21,24, "my very son Esau"; Jos 10:27, "this very day"; Joh 7:26, "the very Christ," etc.); chiefly as adverb, "in a high degree," "extremely." As ab adverb it is commonly in the Old Testament the translation of me'odh, and in the New Testament represents, as adjective and adverb, several Greek words, as alethos, "truly" (Joh 7:26, above), autos (Joh 14:11, "the very works' sake"; Ro 13:6), sphodra (Mt 18:31, "very sorry," the Revised Version (British and American) "exceeding sorry"; Mr 16:4, "very great," the Revised Version (British and American) "exceeding"), huper- (in composition 1Th 5:13), etc. the Revised Version (British and American) frequently omits "very," and also substitutes other words for it, as "exceeding" (2Ch 16:8; Mt 26:7; compare above), "sore" (Zec 9:5), etc.

W. L. Walker


ves'-el: Is used freely in English Versions of the Bible to translate keli, the Aramaic ma'n, and skeuos, words all meaning "an implement or utensil" of any kind, when the context shows that a hollow utensil is meant. In 1Sa 21:5, however, the translation of the plural of keli by "vessels" is dubious. English Versions of the Bible evidently intended something in the nature of provision wallets, and the "holiness" of such objects finds partial parallels in Nu 19:15; Le 11:32-34, etc. But in 1Sa 21:8, in the immediate context of the verse above, keli certainly means "weapons," and this translation is quite intelligible in 21:5 also. For war among the Hebrews was a holy function, calling for extreme ceremonial purity (De 23:9-14). See the commentaries. and especially RS2, 455-56. In addition, "vessel" appears in Isa 30:14 for nebhel, "jar"; in Mt 13:48 for aggos, "vessels"; and in Sirach 21:14; Mt 25:4 for aggeion, a diminutive form of aggos. A different use is that of The Wisdom of Solomon 14:1, where "vessel" represents ploion, "a boat," while The Wisdom of Solomon 14:5,6 the King James Version has "weak vessel" for schedia, "raft" (so the Revised Version (British and American)). Vessels of all sorts and kinds and for all sorts of uses were so familiar as to make them natural illustrations for different sorts of human beings (Ho 8:8; Isa 22:24; Jer 22:28, etc.; see POTTER), and through Ac 9:15 the word "vessel" has passed into Christian theology as signifying simply a human being. But the figure of such "vessels" as (passively) filled with different contents is not Biblical. In 1Th 4:4 "vessel" may be taken as a figure for either the man's own body or for his wife. Between these possibilities the commentaries are almost equally divided.

Burton Scott Easton





ves'-tri (meltachah): Once, in 2Ki 10:22, as a place for vestments.


veks, vek-sa'-shun: "Vex," meaning originally to shake or toss in carrying, has a much more intensive meaning in Scripture than in common modern usage. It represents over a score of Hebrew and Greek words, most of them translated by this word only once, and many of them changed in the Revised Version (British and American) into other forms. Thus bahel in Ps 6:2,3,10. is in the American Standard Revised Version "troubled" (in Ps 2:5, the Revised Version margin. "trouble"); tsarar in Ne 9:27 is in the Revised Version (British and American) "distressed";. pascho in Mt 17:15 is "suffereth grievously"; kakoo in Ac 12:1 is "afflict," etc. So "vexation only" in Isa 28:19 is in the Revised Version (British and American) "nought but terror," and there are other changes of this word (compare De 28:20, "discomfiture"; Isa 9:1, "in anguish"). On the other hand, the Revised Version (British and American) has "vex" for "distress" (De 2:9,19); "they that vex" for "the adversaries of" (Isa 11:13); "vexeth himself" for "meddleth" (Pr 26:17), etc.

W. L. Walker


vi'-al: In modern English means "a tiny flask." The word appears in English Versions of the Bible 1Sa 10:1 and the Revised Version (British and American) 2Ki 9:1,3 (the King James Version "box") for pakh, a word found nowhere else and from a root meaning "to pour." The shape and size of the pakh are quite uncertain. In 1 Esdras 2:13; and the King James Version Re 5:8, etc., "vial" translates phiale. The phiale was a flat, shallow bowl (Latin, patera), shaped much like a saucer. Hence, the Revised Version's change to "bowl" in Revelation, a change that should have been made in 1 Esdras also.







vil, vil'-an-i: The original words for "vile" and "villany" are used in about 10 different senses, e.g. despised (1Sa 15:9), despicable (Da 11:21 the King James Version), lightly esteemed (De 25:3), empty (Jud 19:24 the King James Version), foolish (Isa 32:6, the King James Version and the English Revised Version), dishonorable (Ro 1:26), filthy or dirty (Jas 2:2), humiliation (Php 3:21).

Villany occurs but twice in the King James Version (Isa 32:6; Jer 29:23), and signifies emptiness or folly (so the Revised Version (British and American)). From the foregoing meanings it will be seen that the word "vile" does not always bear the meaning which has come to be invariably given it in our present-day speech. Anything common or ordinary or humble might, in the Scriptural sense, be termed "vile." So Job 40:4, the Revised Version (British and American) "Behold, I am of small account"; also "the low estate of his handmaid" (Lu 1:48). Ordinarily, however, the idea of contemptible, despicable, is read into the word.

William Evans


vil'-aj (qaphar, chawwoth, qatserim, banoth, perazoth; kome):

(1) The general term for a village, in common with Aramaic and Arabic is qaphar (So 7:11; 1Ch 27:25; kopher; 1Sa 6:18; kephir, Ne 6:2). This designation is derived from the idea of its offering "cover" or shelter. It is used in combination, and place-names of this formation became prominent in post-Biblical times, probably because the villages so named had then grown into towns. A well-known Biblical instance of such names is Capernaum.

(2) Chawwoth (always "town" in English Versions of the Bible; see HAVVOTH-JAIR) means originally a group of tents (Arabic chiwa'). These in settled life soon became more permanent dwellings, or what we understand by a village. The term, however, is applied only to the villages of Jair in the tribe of Manasseh (Nu 32:41; 1Ki 4:13).

(3) Chatserim likewise came from nomadic life. They were originally enclosures specially for cattle, alongside of which dwellings for the herdsmen and peasantry naturally grew up (see HAZAR-ADDAR; HAZOR). They were unwalled (Le 25:31) and lay around the cities (Jos 19:8).

(4) Banoth is literally "daughters." The word is applied to the dependent villages lying around the larger cities, and to which they looked as to a kind of metropolis (Nu 21:25, etc.); the Revised Version (British and American) "towns" except in Nu 32:42.

(5) Perazoth means "the open country," but it soon came to mean the villages scattered in the open (Eze 38:11; Zec 2:4; Es 9:19). Some have sought to connect the Perizzites with this word and to regard them, not as a distinct people, but as the peasant class. Attempts have also been m

ade to connect perazon in Jud 5:7,11 with the same root, and the King James Version rendered it "inhabitants of the villages." the Revised Version (British and American), on the contrary, gives it the meaning of "rulers." The versions indicate a word meaning authority, and probably the text should be emended to read rozenim, "rulers." A similar emendation is required in Hab 3:14. "Village" in the Revised Version (British and American) of the New Testament invariably represents the Greek kome, but in 2 Macc 8:6 the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha has "village" for chora, lit. "country."


W. M. Christie





1. Hebrew Words:

(1) gephen, usually the cultivated grape vine. In Nu 6:4; Jud 13:14 we have gephen ha-yayin, literally, "vine of wine," translated "grape vine" (Numbers) and "vine," margin "grape vine" (Jgs); 2Ki 4:39, gephen sadheh English Versions of the Bible "wild vine"; De 32:32, gephen cedhom, "vine of Sodom."

(2) soreq, in Isa 5:2, "choicest vine"; soreq, in Jer 2:21, "noble vine"; soreqah, in Ge 49:11, "choice vine"; compare SOREK, VALLEY OF (which see). The Hebrew is supposed to indicate dark grapes and, according to rabbinical tradition, they were unusually sweet and almost, if not quite, stoneless.

(3) nazir, in Le 25:5,11, "undressed vine," the King James Version "vine undressed," margin "separation." This may mean an unpruned vine and be a reference to the uncut locks of a Nazirite, but it is equally probable that nazir should be batsir, "vintage."

For the blossom we have peraq (Isa 18:5), "blossom"; nitstsah, either the blossom or half-formed clusters of grapes (Ge 40:10; Isa 18:5); cemadhar, "sweet-scented blossom" (So 2:13,15; 7:12).

For grapes we have commonly: `enabh (a word common to all Semitic languages) (Ge 40:10; De 32:14; Isa 5:2, etc.); dam `anabhim, literally, "blood of grapes," i.e. wine (Ge 49:11); bocer, "the unripe grape" (Isa 18:5, "ripening grape," the King James Version "sour grape"; Job 15:33, "unripe grapes"; Jer 31:29 f; Eze 18:2, "sour grapes"); be'ushim "wild grapes" (Isa 5:2,4; see GRAPES, WILD); 'eshkol, a "cluster" of ripe grapes (Ge 40:10; So 7:8; Hab 3:17, etc.; compare ESHCOL (which see)); qartsannim, usually supposed to be the kernels of grapes (Nu 6:4).

2. Greek and Latin:

In Greek we have ampelos, "vine" (Mt 26:29, etc.), staphule (Sirach 39:26, "blood of grapes"; Mt 7:16, "grapes," etc.), and botrus (Re 14:18), "cluster of the vine." In the Latin of 2 Esdras vinea is "vine" in 5:23 ("vineyard" in 16:30,43); botrus (9:21) and racemus (16:30) are "cluster"; acinium (9:21) and uva (16:26) are "a grape."

3. Antiquity and Importance:

Palestine appears to have been a vine-growing country from the earliest historic times. The countless wine presses found in and around centers of early civilization witness to this. It is probable that the grape was largely cultivated as a source of sugar: the juice expressed in the "wine press" was reduced by boiling to a liquid of treacle-like consistency known as "grape honey," or in Hebrew debhash (Arabic, dibs). This is doubtless the "honey" of many Old Testament references, and before the days of cane sugar was the chief source of sugar. The whole Old Testament witnesses to how greatly Palestine depended upon the vine and its products. Men rejoiced in wine also as one of God's best gifts (Jud 9:13; Ps 104:15). But the Nazirite might eat nothing of the vine "from the kernels even to the husk" (Nu 6:4; Jud 13:14).

The land promised to the children of Israel was one of "vines and fig trees and pomegranates" (De 8:8); they inherited vineyards which they had not planted (De 6:11; Jos 24:13; Ne 9:25). Jacob's blessing on Judah had much reference to the suitability of his special part of the land to the vine (Ge 49:11). When the leading people were carried captive the poor were left as vine dressers (2Ki 25:12; Jer 52:16), lest the whole land should lapse into uncultivated wilderness. On the promised return this humble duty was, however, to fall to the "sons of the alien" (Isa 61:5 the King James Version).

4. Its Cultivation:

The mountain regions of Judea and Samaria, often little suited to cereals, have always proved highly adapted to vine culture. The stones must first be gathered out and utilized for the construction of a protecting wall or of terraces or as the bases of towers (Isa 5:2; Mt 21:33). Every ancient vineyard had its wine press cut in a sheet of rock appearing at the surface. As a rule the vinestocks lie along the ground, many of the fruit-bearing branches falling over the terraces (compare Ge 49:22); in some districts the end of the vine-stock is raised by means of a cleft stick a foot or more above the surface; exceptionally the vine branches climb into trees, and before a dwelling-house they are sometimes supported upon poles to form a bower (compare 1Ki 4:25, etc.).

The cultivation of the vine requires constant care or the fruit will very soon degenerate. After the rains the loosely made walls require to have breaches repaired; the ground must be plowed or harrowed and cleared of weeds--contrast with this the vineyard of the sluggard (Pr 24:30-31); in the early spring the plants must be pruned by cutting off dead and fruitless branches (Le 25:3,4; Isa 5:6) which are gathered and burned (Joh 15:6). As the grapes ripen they must be watched to keep off jackals and foxes (So 2:15), and in some districts even wild boars (Ps 80:13). The watchman is stationed in one of the towers and overlooks a considerable area. When the grape season comes, the whole family of the owner frequently take their residence in a booth constructed upon one of the larger towers and remain there until the grapes are practically finished. It is a time of special happiness (compare Isa 16:10). The gleanings are left to the poor of the village or town (Le 19:10; De 24:21; Jud 8:2; Isa 17:6; 24:13; Jer 49:9; Mic 7:1). In the late summer the vineyards are a beautiful mass of green, as contrasted with the dried-up parched land around, but in the autumn the leaves are sere and yellow (Isa 34:4), and the place desolate.

5. Vine of Sodom:

The expression "vine of Sodom" (De 32:32) has been supposed, especially because of the description in Josephus (BJ, IV, viii, 4), to refer to the colocynth (Citrullus colocynthis), but it is far more probable that it means "a vine whose juices and fruits were not fresh and healthy, but tainted by the corruption of which Sodom was the type" (Driver, Commentary on Deuteronomy).


Figurative: Every man "under his vine and under his fig-tree" (1Ki 4:25; Mic 4:4; Zec 3:10) was a sign of national peace and prosperity. To plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof implied long and settled habitation (2Ki 19:29; Ps 107:37; Isa 37:30; 65:21; Jer 31:5; Eze 28:26; Am 9:14); to plant and not eat the fruit was a misfortune (De 20:6; compare 1Co 9:7) and might be a sign of God's displeasure (De 28:30; Ze 1:13; Am 5:11). Not to plant vines might be a sign of deliberate avoidance of permanent habitation (Jer 35:7). A successful and prolonged vintage showed God's blessing (Le 26:5), and a fruitful wife is compared to a vine (Ps 128:3); a failure of the vine was a sign of God's wrath (Ps 78:47; Jer 8:13; Joe 1:7); it might be a test of faith in Him (Hab 3:17). Joseph "is a fruitful bough, .... his branches run over the wall" (Ge 49:22). Israel is a vine (Isa 5:1-5) brought out of Egypt (Ps 80:8 f; Jer 2:21; 12:10; compare Eze 15:2,6; 17:6). At a later period vine leaves or grape clusters figure prominently on Jewish coins or in architecture.

Three of our Lord's parables are connected with vineyards (Mt 20:1 ff; 21:28,33 ), and He has made the vine ever sacred in Christian symbolism by His teaching regarding the true vine (Joh 15).

E. W. G. Masterman


vin'-e-ger (chomets; oxos): Vinegar, whose use as a condiment (Ru 2:14) needs no comment, is formed when a saccharine fluid passes through a fermentation that produces acetic acid. In the ancient world vinegar was usually made of wine, although any fruit juice can be utilized in its manufacture, and "vinegar of strong drink" (palm juice?) is mentioned in Nu 6:3. Undiluted vinegar is of course undrinkable, and to offer it to a thirsty man is mockery (Ps 69:21), but a mixture of water and vinegar makes a beverage that was very popular among the poor (Greek oxos, oxukraton, Latin posca--names applied also to diluted sour wine). It is mentioned in Nu 6:3 (forbidden to the Nazirite) and again in the Gospels in the account of the Crucifixion. The executioners had brought it in a vessel (Joh 19:29) for their own use and at first "offered" it to Christ, while keeping it out of reach (Lu 23:36). But at the end the drink was given Him on a sponge (Mr 15:36; Mt 27:48; Joh 19:29,30). In addition, the King James Version, following Textus Receptus of the New Testament, has "vinegar .... mingled with gall" in Mt 27:34, but this rests on a false reading, probably due to Ps 69:21, and the Revised Version (British and American) rightly has "wine." Vinegar, like all acids, is injurious to the teeth (Pr 10:26); and when it is combined with niter an effervescence is produced (Pr 25:20). The appropriateness of the last figure, however, is obscure, and Septuagint reads "as vinegar on a wound," causing pain.

Burton Scott Easton





(Jud 11:33).






vi'-ol (nebhel, nebhel): the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) in Isa 14:11; Am 5:23; 6:5; the King James Version alone in Isa 5:12, the Revised Version (British and American) "lute." "Viol" is derived from Latin vitella, a doublet of vitula, a "viol"; hence, French vielle, doublet of viole. The viol was a bowed instrument, the parent of the violin tribe, and is not a true equivalent for nebhel.



vi'-o-lens; vi'-o-lent: Chiefly for gazal, qamac; bia, and their derivatives. Difficulty is offered only by the very obscure passage Mt 11:12 parallel Lu 16:16. Both Matthew and Luke contain the verb biazetai, but this form maybe either a middle, "presses violently," "storms," or a passive, "is forced." Matthew, in addition, contains the adjective biastai, but whether this is a term of praise, "heroic enthusiasts," or of blame, "hot-headed revolutionaries," is again a problem. Nor can it be determined whether the words "from the days of John the Baptist until now" are meant to include or exclude the work of the Baptist himself. The difference in wording in Matthew and Luke further complicates the problem, and, in consequence, scholars are widely at variance as to the proper interpretation. "The Baptist has fanned a new Messianic storm of ill-advised insurrection," "the Pharisees have shamefully used forcible suppression of God's teachers," "the Kingdom of God comes like a storm and is received by those who have used drastic self-discipline," are instances of the differing explanations proposed.

Burton Scott Easton


vi'-per ('eph`eh (Job 20:16; Isa 30:6; 59:5); echidna (Mt 3:7 = Lu 3:7; Mt 12:34; 23:33; Ac 28:3)): Several vipers are found in Palestine, but it is not certain that 'eph`eh referred definitely to any of them.






1. Statement Not Dogmatic but Vital as History

2. Its Importance to Leaders of the Early Church

3. Hypothesis of Invention Discredits the Church


1. Basis of Virgin-Birth Statement

2. Interrelationship of Narratives

3. Sources, Origin and age of Documents


1. In the New Testament

2. Portrait of Jesus in Synoptic Gospels 3. In Rest of the New Testament

4. Oppositions to the Doctrine

5. Its Importance to Modern Thought


I. Definition.

"Virgin-birth" is the correct and only correct designation of the birth statement contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. "Immaculate conception" is of course manifestly a blunder due to the confusion of one idea with another. "Supernatural or miraculous birth" will not do, because there is no intimation that the process of birth was in any way exceptional. "Supernatural or miraculous conception" is equally unsatisfactory as it involves a question-begging comparison between the birth of Christ and the exceptional births of the Sons of Promise (e.g. Isaac, John the Baptist, etc.). The only statement which is sufficiently specific is "virgin-birth," inasmuch as according to the New Testament statement Mary was at the time of this birth virgo intacta.

II. The Textual Question.

We may deal with this division of our subject very briefly, because if we are to allow any weight at all to textual evidence there is no question as to the infancy narratives, either in whole or in part. Their position is flawless and unassailable. There is a voluminous literature devoted to the discussion of the subject, but it is notably jejune even for critical writing, and much more impressive for ingenuity and dialectic skill in arguing a poor case than for anything in the way of results. We do not hesitate to refer the reader who is interested in discussions of this sort to entirely satisfactory reviews of them found elsewhere (see Machen, Princeton Review, October, 1905; January, 1906; and Orr, The Virgin Birth of Christ). We may summarize the entire discussion in the words of Johannes Weiss (Theologische Rundschau, 1903, 208, quoted by Machen, ut sup.): "There never were forms of Mt and Lu without the infancy narratives." One point only we shall consider in this connection; namely, the disputed reading of Mt 1:16. The Ferrar group of manuscripts (nos. 346, 556, 826, 828) interpose a second "begat" between the names Joseph and Jesus. It is affirmed that this reading with the variants represents an original form of the genealogy preserved in the Gospels which affirms the literal sonship of Jesus to Joseph. The first and most obvious remark to be made upon this question is, granting--what is extremely uncertain--that this reading is original, it does not prove nor begin to prove the point alleged. This is now widely conceded. For one thing, the word "begat" is used elsewhere for legal or putative fatherhood (compare Mt 1:12 and see GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST). Allen's statement of the case indicates clearly enough that the radical use of this variation has broken down (see ICC; "Matthew," 8). This writer holds that the reading of Sam 1 ("Jacob begat Joseph. Joseph, to whom was betrothed Mary the Virgin, begat Jesus, called the Messiah," Mt 1:16) is nearest the original form. By four steps, which he enumerates in order, he conceives that the original text, which was intended to convey the idea of a legal fatherhood on the part of Joseph, was modified so as to guard the statement from misinterpretation. This hypothesis is ingenious if somewhat complicated. The weak spot in the whole case (for the variation) lies in the fact that all manuscripts concur in the name of Mary and the term "virgin." It is evident, in any view of the relative standing of the various readings,

(1) that the genealogy as deposited in public or private record would read: "Jacob begat Joseph, Joseph begat Jesus,"

(2) that the person who used the genealogy in the Gospel and placed it in connection with Mt 1:18-25

(a) had Mary particularly in mind and inserted the names of women to prepare the way for the mention of Mary, all of which was a departure from usual and orderly procedure;

(b) that he used the word "begat" in the legal sense throughout (1:8,12; compare 1Ch 3:11,12,19);

(c) that he believed in the virgin-birth as evinced by the connection and the use of names of women including Mary's.

There is therefore no basis for the idea that the genealogy, even without the strongly attested relative clause of Mt 1:16, ever meant anything but an attestation of the virgin-birth.

III. The Historical Question.

1. Statement Not Dogmatic but Vital as History:

The twofold birth announcement of Matthew and Luke is a statement of historical or, more strictly speaking, biographical fact. The accounts, as we shall see, are very rigidly confined to the matter of fact concerned. It is not a dogma and receives very little doctrinal elaboration even in the infancy narratives themselves. It is an event, wholly real or wholly imaginary. The statement of it is wholly true or entirely false. But as a historical statement this narrative is of peculiar quality and significance.

(1) It touches upon the most delicate matters, at a place where the line between that which is most sacred and that which is most degraded in human life is closely drawn. To discredit it leaves the most intimate mystery of our Lord's earthly life under the shadow of suspicion. It is therefore a statement of the greatest personal moment in the evangelic record.

(2) It involves the secret history and public honor of a family most dear and sacred to the entire Christian body. It records the inner and outer experiences of the mother of the Lord and of His brethren, themselves honored leaders in the church.

(3) It touches upon the central mystery of the Lord's person in such a way as to involve either a very important contribution to the doctrine of the incarnation or a very serious mutilation of the truth. We may dismiss altogether the contention of many, that whether true or not the fact is of no great importance. It must be of importance. No fact in which the relationship of Jesus to His ancestors according to the flesh, to His mother, to the laws of life in the race at large, are so evidently and so deeply involved can possibly be a matter of indifference. The nature of His experience in the world, the quality and significance of His manhood, the fundamental constitution of His person, the nature and limits of the incarnation are necessarily and vitally concerned in the discussion. It is impossible to begin with the acceptance or rejection of the fact and arrive by logical processes at like convictions on any fundamental matter in the region of Christology.

2. Its Importance to Leaders of the Early Church:

All this must have been as patent to the earliest believers as to ourselves. The men who incorporated this incident into the gospel narrative could not possibly have been blind to the importance of what they were doing (compare Lu 1:3). In view of these facts it would be well for the serious student to ask himself this question: "On the hypothesis of invention, what manner of men were they who fabricated these narratives and succeeded in foisting them upon the church so early as to dominate its earliest official records and control the very making of all its creeds?" It is clear that deliberate invension is the only alternative to historical credit. We may throw out of court as altogether inadmissible the hypothesis that the church as a whole, by a naive and semi-unconscious process, came to believe these stories and to accept them without criticism. Rumors always grow in the absence of known facts, especially where curiosity is keen. Absurd rumors multiply among the credulous. But no statement contrary to natural expectation was ever yet promulgated among people of even average intelligence without meeting the resistance of incredulity on the part of some individuals who wish to inquire, especially if means of verification are within reach. In this particular instance, the issue may be stated much more sharply. At no period reasonably to be assigned for the origin and incorporation of these documents could they have been honestly accepted by any member of the Christian community, sufficiently taught to occupy a position of authority. If the story was invented, there must have been a time when Jesus was universally accepted as the son by natural generation of Joseph and Mary. The story surely was not invented before His birth nor for some time after. The first person, therefore, who spoke contrary to the prevalent and natural belief must have had it from the family, which alone knew the truth, or else have been a wanton and lying gossip. Such a story is recognizable on the face of it as authoritative or pure invention. There is no middle ground. It could not have been recounted without being challenged for its strangeness and for its contravention of the accepted belief. It could not have been challenged without the exposure of its groundless and fraudulent character, for the simple reason that the lack of positive and authoritative certification would be its immediate and sufficient condemnation. It is not difficult to draw the portrait of the inventor of this story. He must have been lacking, not only in the sense of truthfulness, but also in the elementary instinct of delicacy, to have invaded the privacy of the most sacred home known to him and deliberately invented a narrative which included the statement that Mary had come under suspicion of wrongdoing in such a way as to shadow the life of her Son. He must also have been doctrinally lax in the extreme, as well as temperamentally presumptuous, to have risked a mutilation of the truth by an invention dealing with such essential matters.

3. Hypothesis of Invention Discredits the Church:

Moreover, this hypothesis demands that this fabrication must have met with instantaneous and universal success. It passed the scrutiny of the church at large and of its authorized teachers, and was never challenged save by a small group of heretics who disliked it on purely dogmatic grounds.

To whatever origin in the way of suggestion from without one may attribute the story--whether one may ascribe it to the influence of Old Testament prophecy, or Jewish Messianic expectations in general, or to ethnic analogies, Babylonian. Egyptian or Greek--the fact remains that the story had to be invented and published by those who ought to have known better and could easily have known better had they possessed sufficient interest in the cause of truth to have made even casual inquiries into the credentials of such an important statement offered for their acceptance. It is fairly true to say that ethnic analogies for the birth of Christ fail (see article on "Heathen Wonder-Births and the Birth of Christ," Princeton Review, January, 1908). It is also true that the rooted Sere conviction shared by the Hebrews, that family descent is to be traced through the male line only, so persistent even among the New Testament writers that both evangelists, on the face of them, trace the lineage of Joseph, would have acted as an effectual barrier against this particular legendary development. It is further true that no passage of the Old Testament, including Isa 7:14, can be adduced as convincing evidence that the story was invented under the motive of finding fulfillment for Messianic predictions (see IMMANUEL). But far more satisfactory is the elementary conviction that the founders of the Christian church and the writers of its documents were not the kind of men to accept or circulate stories which they knew perfectly well would be used by unbelief in a malignant way to the discredit of their Master and His family. The hypothesis of invention not only leaves an ugly cloud of mystery over the birth of Jesus, but it discredits beyond repair every man who had to do with the writing and circulation of the Gospels, down to and including the man who professes to have "traced the course of all things accurately from the beginning," according to the testimony of those who were "eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Lu 1:2 f). It is simply impossible to save the credit, in any matter involving honesty or commonsense, of one who uses words like these and yet incorporates unauthenticated legends into the narrative to which he has thus pledged himself.

One may venture at the close of this section of the discussion to point out that everything which the inventor of this story must have been, the narrators of it are not. Both narratives exhibit a profound reverence, a chaste and gracious reserve in the presence of a holy mystery, a simplicity, dignity and self-contained nobility. of expression which are the visible marks of truth, if such there are anywhere in human writing.

IV. The Critical Question.

1. Basis of Virgin-Birth Statement:

The infancy narratives evidently stand somewhat apart from the main body of apostolic testimony. The personal contact of the disciples with Jesus, upon which their testimony primarily rests, extended from the call of the disciples, near the opening of the ministry, to the resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. It is hyper-skepticism to deny that the substance of the gospel narrative rests upon the basis of actual experience. But all four evangelists show a disposition to supplement the immediate testimony of the disciples by the use of other well-attested materials. Luke's introductory paragraph, if it was written by an honest man, indicates that he at least was satisfied with nothing less than a careful scrutiny of original sources, namely, the testimony, written or oral, of eyewitnesses. It may reasonably be surmised that this was the general attitude of the entire group of apostles, evangelists and catechists who are responsible for the authorship and circulation of the Gospels.

But, to say nothing of the infancy narratives, for one of which Luke himself is responsible, these writers have embodied in the narrative the ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism and temptation of Jesus, all of which events happened before their fellowship with Jesus, strictly speaking, began. In particular, assuredly no disciple was an eyewitness of the temptation. None the less the narrative stands, simply because imaginative invention of such an incident in the absence of accredited facts cannot reasonably be considered. The fact that the birth narratives do not rest upon the testimony of the same eyewitnesses who stand for the ministry of Jesus does not discredit them as embodying reliable tradition, unless it can be proved that they contradict the rest of the apostolic testimony or that no reliable witness to the events in question was within reach at the time when the documents were composed. In the present instance such a contention is absurd. The very nature of the event points out the inevitable firsthand witnesses. There could be no others. In the absence of their decisive word, bald invention would be necessary. To charge the entire church of the time (for this is what the hypothesis amounts to) as particeps criminis in its own official and documentary deception is an extreme position as unwarranted as it is cruel.

The internal harmony of the facts as recorded points in the same direction. The silence or comparative lack of emphasis with reference to the birth of Christ on the part of the other New Testament writers is to be explained partly on the basis of doctrinal viewpoint (see V, below) and partly because an ingrained sense of delicacy would naturally tend to reticence on this point, at least during the lifetime of Mary and the Lord's brethren. The following intimately corresponding facts are sufficiently significant in this connection:

(1) that the fact of Jesus' unique birth could not be proclaimed as a part of His own teaching or as the basis of His incarnate life;

(2) that He was popularly known as the son of Joseph;

(3) that the foster-fatherhood of Joseph, as embodied in the genealogy (see GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST), was the recognized basis of His relationship to the house of David. All these facts appear just as they should in the narrative.

The very fact that the genealogies, ending with the name of Joseph, and the current representations of Jesus as Joseph's son, are allowed to appear in the same documents in which the virgin-birth statements appear, together with the entirely congruous facts that the main synoptic narrative does not emphasize the event, and that neither Paul nor John nor any other New Testament writer gives it a prominent place, is indication enough that it rested, in the opinion of the entire witnessing body, on a sufficient basis of evidence and required no artificial buttressing. Internal harmonies and incidental marks of truthfulness are of the utmost importance here because in a narrative so complex and vital it would have been easy to make a misstep. Since none was made, we are constrained to believe that the single eye to truth filled the apostolic mind with light. Every item, in the infancy narratives themselves, as well as in the more strictly doctrinal statements of other New Testament books, is as we should expect, provided the birth statement be accepted as true. Internal evidence of truthfulness could not be stronger.

2. Interrelationship of Narratives:

This general conclusion is confirmed when we come to consider the relationship of the two narratives to each other. To begin with, we have two narratives, differing greatly in method of treatment, grouping of details, order and motive of narration, and general atmosphere. It is evident that we have two documents which have had quite a different history.

In two points, at any rate, what might be considered serious discrepancies are discoverable (see BIBLICAL DISCREPANCIES). These two points are:

(1) the relationship of the Massacre of the Innocents and the journey to Egypt, as related by Matthew, to Luke's account, which carries the holy family directly back to Nazareth from Bethlehem after the presentation in the temple;

(2) the discrepancy as to the previous residence at Nazareth (Luke) and the reason given for the return thither (Matthew).

As to (1) it is quite clear that Matthew's account centers about an episode interpolated, so to say, into the natural order of events (see INNOCENTS, MASSACRE OF THE). It is also clear that the order of Luke's narrative, which is in the highest degree condensed and synoptic, does not forbid the introduction of even a lengthy train of events into the midst of Lu 2:39 (compare condensation in 2:40-42,51,52). It may easily be that the lacunae in each account are due to a lack of knowledge on the part of either writer as to the point supplied by the other. Matthew may not have known that the family had resided formerly in Nazareth, and Luke may not have known that a return to Galilee as a permanent residence was not contemplated in the original plan. The difficulty here is not serious. We consider the discrepancy as it stands as of more value to the account as indicating the independence of the two accounts and the honesty of those who incorporated them into the Gospels without attempting to harmonize them, than any hypothetical harmonization however satisfactory. We introduce this caveat, however, that Matthew had an especial reason for introducing the episode connected with Herod and for explaining the residence at Nazareth during our Lord's early years as occurring by divine authority (see Sweet, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ, 218 f, for discussion of this point; and compare INNOCENTS, MASSACRE OF THE).

We are now free to consider the remarkable convergence of these two documents. The following particulars may be urged:

(1) the synchronism in the Herodian era; (2) the name "Jesus" given by divine authority before birth;

(3) Davidic kinship;

(4) the virgin-birth;

(5) the birth at Bethlehem;

(6) residence at Nazareth.

In addition we may urge the essential and peculiar harmony of descriptive expressions (see V, below) and the correspondence of the inner and outer experiences of Mary.


3. Sources, Origin and Age of Documents:

We have now reached the final and crucial point of this phase of our discussion when we take up the question as to the sources, origin and date of these narratives. Our method of approach to the general question of their credibility delivers us from the necessity of arguing in extenso theories which have been framed to account for the narrative in the absence of historical fact. We resort to the simple and convincing principle that the story could not have been honestly composed nor honestly published as derived from any source other than the persons who could have guaranteed its trustworthiness. Every indication, of which the narratives are full, of honesty and intelligence on the part of the narrators is an argument against any and all theories which presuppose a fictitious origin for the central statement. Negatively, we may with confidence assert that wide excursions into ethnic mythology and folklore have failed to produce a single authentic parallel either in fact or in form to the infancy narratives. In addition to this, the attempt to deduce the story from Messianic prophecy also fails to justify itself. In addition, there are two considerations which may justly be urged as pointing to trustworthy sources for the narrative: First, the strongly Hebraic nature of both narratives. It has often been pointed out that nowhere in the New Testament do we find documents so deeply tinged with the Hebraic spirit (see Adeney, Essays for the Times, number XI, 24 f; and Briggs, New Lights on the Life of Christ, 161 f). This statement involves both narratives and is another evidence of profound internal unity. A second important fact is that the doctrinal viewpoint is Jewish-Christian and undeveloped. The term "Holy Spirit" is used in the Old Testament sense; the Christology is undeveloped, omitting reference to Christ's preexistence and interpreting His sonship as official and ethical rather than metaphysical. The soteriology is Jewish and Messianic, not unfolding the doctrine of the cross. All these facts point in one direction, namely, to the conclusion that these documents are early. It is impossible reasonably to suppose that such documents could have been composed in the absence of sources, or by persons devoid of the historical spirit, after the death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus had shed such light upon His person and mission as to transform both Christology and soteriology through the ideas of incarnation, atonement and the Trinity.

It is still asserted, in the face of the most convincing evidence to the contrary, that the infancy narratives are late addenda to the gospel tradition as a whole. This idea is due, primarily, to a confusion of thought between origin and publication. The latter must have been coincident with the original issue of the Gospels in their present form. The textual evidence here is convincing. On the other hand, the main body of testimony incorporated into the Gospels at the time of their publication had been in the hands of the apostles and their helpers for some years, as evidenced by the Pauline letters and the Book of acts. In all probability the sources upon which the infancy narratives rest, which had their origin and received the impress which characterizes them in the period antecedent to the public ministry of Jesus, came into the hands of the Gospel writers toward the end of the formative period at the close of which the Gospels were issued. In other words, the story of the Lord's birth was withheld until the time was ripe for its publication. Two occasions may have served to release it: the death of Mary may have made it possible to use her private memoirs, or the rise of anti-Christian calumny may have made the publication of the true history imperative. At any rate, the narratives show every indication of being contemporary documents of the period with which they deal. This fact puts an additional burden of proof, already heavier than they can bear, upon those who would antagonize the documents. We may reasonably affirm that the narratives will bear triumphantly any fair critical test.

V. The Doctrinal Question.

1. In the New Testament:

The discussion of the doctrinal significance of the virgin-birth statement falls naturally into three parts:

(1) Its doctrinal elaboration in the New Testament;

(2) its historic function in the development of Christian doctrine;

(3) its permanent value to Christian thought.

We begin with the narratives themselves. As has just been said, they were incorporated into the Gospels at a time when the New Testament Christology had reached maturity in the Pauline and Johannine writings and the Epistle to the Hebrews. The doctrine of the incarnation was fully unfolded. It had been unequivocally asserted that in Jesus all the fullness of the Godhead was historically and personally manifested (Joh 1:14; Php 2:5-8; Col 1:18; 2:9; Heb 2:14). In contrast with these statements the infancy narratives not only, as adverted to above, exhibit on the surface a rudimentary Christology, but in several items, of profound interest and most surprising tenor, show that the birth notice was not apprehended or stated in view of the doctrine of the incarnation at all.

The detailed justification of this statement follows:

(1) Matthew (see 1:18-25) does not use the term "Son of God." The only expression implying a unique relationship to God, other than in the "of Holy Spirit" phrase, twice used, is in the word "Immanuel" quoted from Isaiah, which does not necessarily involve incarnation. At the beginning of the genealogy Jesus is introduced as the son of David, the son of Abraham.

(2) The assertion as to His conception by Holy Spirit is conditioned by three striking facts:

(a) His conception is interpreted in terms of conception by the power of Holy Spirit, not of begetting by the Father. The Old Testament expression "This day have I begotten thee," used twice, occurs in quite a different connection (Heb 1:5; 5:5).

(b) The term "Holy Spirit" is used without the article.

(c) The phrase descriptive of the being conceived is expressed in the neuter, `the thing conceived in her is of Holy Spirit' (to gar en aute gennethen ek pneumatos estin hagiou).

The implication of these three facts is

(i) that the sonship of Jesus through His exceptional birth is interpreted in terms of divine power working upon humanity, not as the correlative of divine and essential fatherhood; it is the historical sonship that is in view (contrast with this the two passages in Hebrews referred to above);

(ii) the writer is speaking in the Old Testament sense of "Holy Spirit" as the forthgoing of creative power from God, not as personal hypostasis;

(iii) he is also emphasizing (in the use of the neuter) the reality of the physical birth. These three facts, all the more remarkable because they are attributed to a heavenly messenger who might be expected to speak more fully concerning the mystery, exclude the supposition that we have one historic form of the doctrine of incarnation. On the contrary, had we no other statements than those found here we should be unable logically to postulate an incarnation. Every statement made concerning Jesus, apart from the virgin-birth statement itself, might be true were He the son of Joseph and Mary.

The case is far stronger when we turn to Luke's account, in spite of the fact that the terms "Son of the Most High" and "Son of God" ordinarily implying incarnation are used. We notice

(d) that the anarthrous use of "Holy Spirit" reappears and that a poetic parallelism defines the term (Lu 1:35), making "Holy Spirit" = "Power of the Most High";

(e) that the neuter phrase is also found here, "the holy thing which is begotten," etc. (dio kai to gennomenon hagion klethesetai);

(f) that future tenses are used in connection with His career and the titles which He bears: "He shall be (as the outcome of a process) great," and "He shall be called (as a matter of ultimate titular recognition) the Son of the Most High" (Lu 1:32); "The holy thing .... shall be called the Son of God" (Lu 1:35).

In these instances the title is connected directly with the career rather than the birth. Even the "wherefore" of Lu 1:35, in connection with the future verb, carries the power of God manifested in the holy conception forward into the entire career of Jesus rather than bases the career upon the initial miracle. These three facts taken together exclude the reference to any conception of the incarnation. The incarnation is directly and inseparably connected with Christ's eternal sonship to the Father. The title "Son of God" includes that but does not specify it. It includes also the ethical, historical, human sonship. The term "Holy Spirit" used without the article also is a comprehensive expression covering both a work of divine power in any sphere and a work of divine grace in the personal sphere only.

These accounts are concerned with the historic fact rather than its metaphysical implications. This historic fact is interpreted in terms of a divine power in and through the human career of Jesus (which is so stated as to include an impersonal, germinal life) rather than a dogmatic definition of the Messiah's essential nature. The omission of all reference to pre-existence is negatively conclusive on this point. The divine power manifested in His exceptional origin is thought of as extending on and including His entire career. This leads us directly to a second phase in the interpretation of Christ and compels to a reconsideration at a new angle of the miracle of His origin.

2. Portrait of Jesus in Synoptic Gospels:

The narrators of the life and ministry of Jesus on the basis of ascertained fact and apostolic testimony were confronted with a very definite and delicate task. They had to tell with unexaggerating truthfulness the story of the human life of Jesus. Their ultimate aim was to justify the doctrine of incarnation, but they could not have been unaware that the genuine and sincere humanity of Christ was a pillar of the doctrine quite as much as His essential Deity. To portray the human experience of a being considered essentially divine was the Herculean task attempted and carried to a successful issue in the Synoptic Gospels. These writers do not conceal for a moment their conviction that they are depicting the career of the wonder-working Son of God, but they never forget that it is a career of self-limitation within the human sphere, the period of self-imposed and complete humiliation undertaken on behalf of the Father, "for us men and for our salvation." Hence, the nature and limitations of the narrative. Mark omits reference to the virgin-birth. Matthew and Luke narrate it and forthwith drop it. These facts are exactly on a paragraph. It is no more remarkable that Mark omits the story than that Matthew and Luke make so little of it. To allege either fact as a motive to doubt is to misinterpret the whole situation. By the terms of their task they could do nothing else. The Fourth Gospel and the Epistles announce that the human life of Jesus was due to the voluntary extra-temporal act of a pre-existent Divine Being, but in the synoptic narrative four passages only hint at pre-existence, and then as incidental flashes from the inner consciousness of Jesus. This omission is no more remarkable and no less so than the omissions noted above. By the terms of their task the synoptic writers could do nothing else. The fact of pre-existence could be announced only when the earthly task had been triumphantly finished (see Mr 9:9,11). During the entire period of the earthly life as such Jesus was under trial (note Mt 3:17, correctly translating the aorist; compare the remarkable words of Joh 10:17), performing a task, accomplishing a commission, achieving a victory as human son. The story of the Temptation exhibits the conditions under which Jesus performed His task. The temptations were one and all addressed to His consciousness as God's Son. They were resisted on the sole basis of self-humiliation and dependence. The entire synoptic narrative is consistent with this representation. Jesus is consciously one in will and spirit with God, but that oneness with God is consummated and conducted in the Spirit, through faith, by prayer. They describe His entire career of holiness, wisdom and power, each unique, in the terms of the Spirit-filled, trustful, prayerful human life. Here is the vital point. They disclose the eternal Sonship (in which beyond question they believe) on its ethical, not on its metaphysical side, by prediction of His future triumph rather than by definition of His person. In such a narrative, consistently carried out, there can be no resort to the preexistent, eternal Sonship, nor to the miracle of His human origin in the story of His career under trial. In particular, the miracle, whereby His germinal connection with the race was established could not extend to the personal and spiritual life in which His victory was His own through the personal Holy Spirit. The argument from the virgin-birth to His sinlessness (see IMMACULATE CONCEPTION) was made by the church, not by the New Testament writers. The sinlessness of Christ was His own achievement in the flesh which He sacrificed through His holy will of obedience to the Father.

3. In Rest of the New Testament:

This leads us to a third phase of development in the New Testament doctrine of incarnation. In the Fourth Gospel and the Epistles it is asserted that the innermost moral significance of the earthly career of Jesus lay in the fact that it was the consistent carrying-out of an extra-temporal volition of divine mercy and love whereby He became the Revealer of God and the Saviour of men. This doctrine is based upon the story of the human career completed in the glorification which, according to the testimony, ensued upon His death and disclosed His place in the divine sphere of being. But it is also based upon the virgin-birth narrative and grounded in it. Attention has already been called to the fact that the virgin-birth is not (in the infancy narrative) connected with the metaphysical sonship of Jesus. All that is said then, doctrinally, concerning Jesus might be true were He the son of Joseph and Mary. On the contrary, what is said in John and the Epistles depends upon the virgin-birth narrative for its foundational basis. It has often been asserted that Paul and John do not refer to the virgin-birth. This statement the present writer takes to be more than doubtful, but if it is true, all the more striking is the indirect and unconscious testimony to the virgin-birth involved in their doctrinal reliance upon it. According to these writers the incarnation was due to a divine act of self-limitation whereby the divine mode of existence was exchanged for the human (Php 2:5-11 et al.). According to the infancy narrative, the birth of Jesus was due to a divine creative act whereby a human life began germinally and passed through the successive stages of growth to maturity. The synoptic narrative outside the infancy narrative supplies a third point, that the entire conscious personal career of Jesus upon earth was lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. The infancy narrative is the keystone of an arch, one half resting upon the synoptic account, the other upon the doctrinal construction of Joh and the Epistles. The virgin-birth statement by its adoption of Old Testament terminology makes room for a divine activity both in the impersonal and in the personal spheres. The doctrine of incarnation implies that as in every new human being the creative divine power manifests itself impersonally in germinal beginnings, so in the life of Christ the divine power conditions itself within the impersonal forces of germinant life with this important and suggestive difference: In the career of Jesus there issues from the sphere of germinal beginnings not a new human person created from the life-stock of the race, but the personal human life, including all human powers, of a pre-existent divine person self- conditioned and self-implanted within the human sphere. The central conscious self, the agent of His activities and the subject of His experiences in the historic sphere was the eternal Son of God. His life in the human sphere was that of a true human being in the full actuality of a human life. Hence, it follows, since ordinary generation involves necessarily (that is the intent of it) the origination of a new person not hitherto existing, that the birth of Jesus could not have been by ordinary generation. The birth of Christ through ordinary generation would have involved a quite incomprehensible miracle, namely, the presence and action of the ordinary factors in human origins with a contrary and unique result. The virgin-birth is the only key that fits the vacant space in the arch. In addition it may reasonably be urged that the relationship of human parents to each other, ordinarily a natural, necessary and sacred act, could have no part in this transaction, while the very fact that Mary's relationship was to God alone, in an act of submission involving complete self-renunciation and solitary enclosure within the divine will, fulfils the spiritual conditions of this unique motherhood as no other imaginable experience could.

4. Oppositions to the Doctrine: Historically the virgin-birth statement performed a function commensurate with the importance ascribed to it in this discussion rather than the current depreciation of it. The doctrine of Christ was menaced in two opposite directions, which may be designated respectively by the terms "Ebionite" and "Gnostic." According to the former teaching (the word "Ebionite" being used in a general sense only), Jesus was reduced to the human category and interpreted as a Spirit-led man or prophet, in the Old Testament meaning of the term. According to the opposite tendency, He was interpreted as divine, while His human experience was reduced to mere appearance of a temporary external union with the Logos. The virgin-birth statement resisted both these tendencies with equal effectiveness. On the one hand, it asserted with unequivocal definiteness a real humanity conditioned by true birth into an actual connection with the race. On the other hand, it asserted an exceptional birth, setting Jesus apart as one whose entrance into the world was due to a new, creative contact of God with the race. Historically, it is difficult to see how the New Testament doctrine could have escaped mutilation apart from the statement, seemingly framed with express reference to conditions arising afterward, which so wonderfully guarded it. The holy mystery of the Lord's origin became the symbol of the holier mystery of His divine nature. It thus appears in every one of the historic creeds, an assertion of fact around which the belief of the church crystallized into the faith which alone accounts for its history, a profound and immovable conviction that Jesus Christ was really incarnate Deity.

5. Its Importance to Modern Thought:

The importance for modern thinking of the virgin-birth statement is threefold:

(1) First, it involves in general the question, never more vital than at the present time, of the trustworthiness of the gospel tradition. This particular fact, i.e. the virgin-birth, has been a favorite, because apparently a vulnerable, point of attack. But the presuppositions of the attack and the method according to which it has been conducted involve a general and radical undermining of confidence in the testimony of the gospel witnesses. This process has finally met its nemesis in the Christus-myth propaganda. The virgin-birth statement can be successfully assailed on no grounds which do not involve the whole witnessing body of Christians in charges of blind credulity or willful falsification, very unjust indeed as respects their character and standing in general, but very difficult to repel in view of the results of denial at this point.

(2) The virgin-birth is important for the simple historical reason that it involves or is involved in a clear and consistent account of the Lord's birth and early years. Apart from the infancy narratives we are utterly without direct information as to His birth, ancestry or early years. Apart from these narratives we have no information as to the marriage of Joseph and Mary; we are shut up to vague inferences as to this entire period. No biographer ever leaves these points obscure if he can avoid it. It is very earnestly suggested that those who cast discredit upon the infancy story do not clearly recognize the seriousness of the situation brought about in the absence of any narrative which can be trusted as to this vital point. Calumny there is and has been from an early day. If there is nowhere an authoritative answer to the calumny, in what sort of a position is the Christian believer placed? He can assert nothing, because apart from what he has too lightly thrown away he knows nothing.

(3) Lastly, the more closely the statement as to the Lord's birth is studied, the more clearly it will be seen that it involves in a most vital and central way the entire doctrine of the incarnation. This doctrine is an interpretation of facts. Those facts stand together. In the midst of those facts, harmonizing with them, shedding light upon them and receiving light from them, resting upon the same consentient testimony is the statement, which is thus worded in the oldest symbol of our historical faith: "Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary" (see APOSTLES' CREED). There is no adequate reason why the intelligent believer should feel uncertain as to this statement of our holy religion.


There is a vast and growing literature which more or less directly deals with the subject of our Lord's birth. The literature may be classified as follows:

(1) Lives of Christ;

(2) critical commentaries on Matthew and Luke;

(3) critical and historical investigations of Christian origins;

(4) monographs on the Apostles' Creed;

(5) monographs and articles on the specific subject.

For a list and analysis of discussions see Sweet, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ, 354-57.

Louis Matthews Sweet


vur'-jin; vur-jin'-i-ti:

(1) bethulah, from a root meaning "separated," is "a woman living apart," i.e. "in her father's house," and hence "a virgin." Bethulah seems to have been the technical term for "virgin," as appears from such a combination as na`arah bhethulah, "a damsel, a virgin," in De 22:23,28, etc. An apparent exception is Joe 1:8, "Lament like a virgin bethulah .... for the husband of her youth," but the word is probably due to a wish to allude to the title "virgin daughter of Zion" (the translation "a betrothed maiden" is untrue to Hebrew sentiment). and the use of "virgin" for a city (Isa 37:22, etc.; compare Isa 23:12; 47:1) probably means "unsubdued," though, as often, a title may persist after its meaning is gone (Jer 31:4). The King James Version and the English Revised Version frequently render bethulah by "maiden" or "maid" (Jud 19:24, etc.), but the American Standard Revised Version has used "virgin" throughout, despite the awkwardness of such a phrase as "young men and virgins" (Ps 148:12). For "tokens of virginity" ("proofs of chastity") see the commentary on De 22:15 ff.

(2) `almah, rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) by either "damsel" (Ps 68:25), "maiden" (so usually, Ex 2:8, etc.), or "virgin" with margin "maiden" (So 1:3; 6:8; Isa 7:14). The word (see OHL) means simply "young woman" and only the context can give it the force "virgin." This force, however, seems required by the contrasts in So 6:8, but in 1:3 "virgin" throws the accent in the wrong place. The controversies regarding Isa 7:14 are endless, but Septuagint took `almah as meaning "virgin" (parthenos). But in New Testament times the Jews never interpreted the verse as a prediction of a virgin-birth--a proof that the Christian faith did not grow out of this passage. See IMMANUEL; VIRGIN BIRTH.

(3) parthenos, the usual Greek word for "virgin" (Judith 16:5, etc.; Mt 1:23, etc.). In Re 14:4 the word is masculine. In 1Co 7:25 ff the Revised Version (British and American) has explained "virgin" by writing "virgin daughter" in 7:36-38. This is almost certainly right, but "virgin companion" (see Lietzmann and J. Weiss in the place cited.) is not quite impossible.

(4) neanis, "young woman" (Sirach 20:4).

(5) Latin virgo (2 Esdras 16:33).

The Old Testament lays extreme emphasis on chastity before marriage (De 22:21), but childlessness was so great a misfortune that death before marriage was to be bewailed (Jud 11:37,38). Paul's preference for the unmarried state (1Co 7:29 if) is based on the greater freedom for service (compare Mt 19:12), and the Greek estimate of virginity as possessing a religious quality per se is foreign to true Jewish thought (such a passage as Philo Mund. opif., section symbol 53, is due to direct Greek influence). Some have thought to find a trace of the Greek doctrine in Re 14:4. But 144,000 lst-century. Christian ascetics are out of the question, and the figure must be interpreted like that of Jas 4:4 (reversed).

Burton Scott Easton


vur'-tu: This word has two quite distinct meanings in the King James Version: (1) It was formerly often used in the now obsolete sense of "manly power," "valor," "efficacy" (Latin, virtus, "manly strength" or "excellence," from vir, "man"):

"Trust in thy single virtue; for thy soldiers

All levied in thy name, have in thy name

Took their discharge."

--Shakespeare, King Lear, V, iii, 103 ff.

It was also used in the sense of a mighty work, a miracle. Thus Wycliffe translates Mt 11:20: "Thanne Jhesus bigan to saye repreef to cities in whiche ful many vertues of him weren don." So in the King James Version, Mr 5:30; Lu 6:19; 8:46, in the sense of "power," "miraculous energy or influence" (dunamis, "inherent power, residing in the nature of a thing"; contrast exousia, "power arising from external opportunity or liberty of action"). In these passages it is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) "power" (as elsewhere in the King James Version; compare Ac 3:12, etc.). (2) In its ordinary modern meaning of "moral goodness" it occurs in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) The Wisdom of Solomon 4:1; 5:13; 8:7; Php 4:8; 2Pe 1:3,5. In these passages it stands for arete, the usual classical term for "moral excellence" (originally "fitness" of any sort), used in Septuagint to translate words meaning "glory," "praiseworthiness," as in Hab 3:3; Isa 42:12; 63:7 (of God); Zec 6:13 (of the Messiah). The Septuagint sense may color the meaning of the word as applied to God in 2Pe 1:3 the Revised Version (British and American); as also in its plural use (of God) in 1Pe 2:9 (the King James Version "praises," the Revised Version (British and American) "excellencies").

The adjective "virtuous" occurs in the King James Version, the English Revised Version Ru 3:11; Pr 12:4; 31:10 (the American Standard Revised Version "worthy"), and the adverb "virtuously" in Pr 31:29 (the American Standard Revised Version "worthily"), in each case for chayil, "strength," "force" (whether of body or of mind), then in a moral sense of "worth," "virtue."

D. Miall Edwards


vizh'-un (chazon, chizzayon, mar'ah; horama, optasia): Psychologists find that man is prevailingly and persistently "eye-minded." That is, in his waking life he is likely to think, imagine and remember in terms of vision. Naturally then, his dreaming is predominantly visual; so strongly visual, we are told, that it is not rare to find dreams defined as "trains of fantastic images." Whether man was made this way in order that God might communicate with him through dreams and visions is hardly worth debating; if the records of human life, in the Bible and out of it, are to be trusted at all, there is nothing better certified than that God has communicated with man in this way (Ps 89:19; Pr 29:18; compare Am 8:11,12; Ho 12:10). If one is disposed to regard the method as suited only to primitive peoples and superstitious natures, it still remains true that the experience is one associated with lives and characters of the most saintly and exalted kind (1Sa 3:1; Jer 1:11; Eze 1:1; Da 2:19; Ac 9:10; 10:3; 16:9).

The vision may come in one's waking moments (Da 10:7; Ac 9:7); by day (Cornelius, Ac 10:3; Peter, Ac 10:9 ff; compare Nu 24:4,16) or night (Jacob, Ge 46:2); but commonly under conditions of dreaming (Nu 12:6; Job 4:13; Da 4:9). The objects of vision, diverse and in some instances strange as they are, have usually their points of contact with experiences of the daily life. Thus Isaiah's vision of the seraphim (Isa 6:2) was doubtless suggested by familiar figures used in the decoration of the temple at Jerusalem; Paul's "man of Macedonia" (Ac 16:9) had its origin in some poor helot whom Paul had seen on the streets of Troas and who embodied for him the pitiful misery of the regions across the sea; and "Jacob's ladder" (Ge 28:12) was but a fanciful development of the terraced land which he saw sun-glorified before him as he went to sleep. Among the recurring objects of vision are natural objects--rivers, mountains, trees, animals--with which man has daily and hourly association.

The character of the revelation through vision has a double aspect in the Biblical narrative. In one aspect it proposes a revelation for immediate direction, as in the ease of Abram (Ge 15:2 and frequently); Lot (Ge 19:15); Balaam (Nu 22:22), and Peter (Ac 12:7). In another aspect it deals with the development of the Kingdom of God as conditioned by the moral ideals of the people; such are the prophetic visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Micah, and the apoealypses of Daniel and John. The revelation for immediate direction has many correspondences in the life of the devout in all ages; the prophetic vision, dealing in a penetrating way with the sources of national growth and decay, has its nearest approach in the deliverances of publicists and statesmen who are persuaded that the laws of God, as expressed in self-control, truth, justice, and brotherly love, are supreme, and that the nations which disregard them are marked for ultimate and speedy extinction.

From the nature of the vision as an instrument of divine communication, the seeing of visions is naturally associated with revivals of religion (Eze 12:21-25; Joe 2:28; compare Ac 2:17), and the absence of visions with spiritual decline (Isa 29:11,12; La 2:9; Eze 7:26; Mic 3:6).

One may see visions without being visionary in the bad sense of that word. The outstanding characters to whom visions were vouchsafed in the history of Israel--Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Jesus and Paul--were all men of action as well as sentiment, and it is manifest from any fair reading of their lives that their work was helped and not hindered by this aspect of their fellowship with God. For always the vision emphasizes the play of a spiritual world; the response of a man's spirit to the appeal of that world; and the ordering of both worlds by an "intelligent and compelling Power able to communicate Himself to man and apparently supremely interested in the welfare of man.

Charles M. Stuart


viz-i-ta'-shun, vis-(pequddah; episkope): In Biblical writings, the divine investigation or inspection of men's character and deeds with a view to apportioning to them their due lot, whether of reward or of chastisement; divine dispensation of mercy or of punishment.

(1) In a general sense: "Visited after the visitation of all men" (Nu 16:29), i.e. in natural death, the usual lot of men, as opposed to a calamitous death; "She shall have fruit in the visitation of souls" (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:13 the King James Version), i.e. in the time of divine judgment. So Sirach 18:20 and perhaps 1Pe 2:12.

(2) In a good sense, of God's care, providence and mercy: "Thy visitation (the Revised Version margin "care") hath preserved my spirit" (Job 10:12). So Lu 19:44, and, according to some, 1Pe 2:12 (see above).

(3) Most frequently in an evil sense, of calamity or distress viewed as divine punishment: "What will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far?" (Isa 10:3). So Jer 8:12; 10:15; 11:23; 23:12; 46:21; 48:44; 50:27; 51:18; Ho 9:7; Mic 7:4; The Wisdom of Solomon 14:11.

D. Miall Edwards








void: The uses of "void" in English Versions of the Bible are all modern, except for the phrase "void place" in the King James Version 1Ki 22:10 parallel 2Ch 18:9 (the Revised Version (British and American) "open"); 2 Macc 14:44 (so the King James Version and the Revised Version margin). On the Old Testament passages see OPEN PLACE. In 2 Maccabees the Greek word is keneon, which may mean either "an open place," in general, or, specifically, "the hollow between the ribs and the hip," whence the Revised Version (British and American) "his side." Moffatt in Charles' Apocrypha translates "the open street."


vol'-um: This word (from Latin volvere, "roll"), twice used in the King James Version (Ps 40:7 (Hebrew meghillah); Heb 10:7), is better in English as "roll" in the Revised Version (British and American).



vol'-un-ta-ri: For the sake of variety the King James Version in Le 7:16; Eze 46:12 (bis) has rendered nedhabhah, by "voluntary offering" instead of the usual "freewill offering" (so the Revised Version (British and American)). The words "of his own voluntary will" in Le 1:3 the King James Version are a pure gloss, properly omitted in the Revised Version (British and American), as they represent nothing in the Hebrew text. 1 Macc 2:42 has "voluntarily" as part of the translation of hekousiazo, the Revised Version (British and American) "willingly."


vof'-si (wophci, meaning unknown): Father of Nahbi the Naphtalite spy (Nu 13:14); but the text is doubtful. The Septuagint's Codex Vaticanus has Iabei; Codex Alexandrinus, Codex F, and Lucian Iabi.


vou (nedher; euche; 'iccar, found only in Nu 30:6,8,10 and translated horismos, by the Septuagint: A vow could be positive (nedher) and included all promises to perform certain things for, or bring certain offerings to, God, in return for certain benefits which were hoped for at His hand (Ge 28:20-22, Jacob; Le 27:2,8; Nu 30; Jud 11:30, Jephthah; 1Sa 1:11, Hannah; 2Sa 15:8, Absalom; Jon 1:16, vows of heathen); or negative ('iccar), and included promises by which a person bound himself or herself to abstain from certain things (Nu 30:3). Nowhere in the Old Testament do we find the making of vows regarded as a religious duty (De 23:22), but the fulfilling of a vow was considered as a sacred and binding duty (De 23:21-23; Jud 11:35; Ec 5:4; compare Ps 22:25; 66:13; 76:11; 116:18). A vow was as binding as an oath (see OATH) and therefore to be kept to the letter; and it was not to be lightly made (Pr 20:25). A father could veto a daughter's vow, and a husband a wife's. If a husband did not veto a wife's vow, and then caused her to break it, the sin was his and not hers (Nu 30, passim). It seems that vows were considered binding only when actually uttered (De 23:23). Persons, including one's self, animals, land and other possessions, could be vowed, but all these could be redeemed with money (see JEPHTHAH), which money was to be estimated by the priest, except in the case of a clean animal. In the case of land, houses and unclean animals a fifth part of the estimated value was to be added to make up the redemption money. In the case of land the sum was greater or smaller as the coming year of Jubilee was far off or near (Le 27, passim). Nothing which was by nature holy could be made the object of a vow, e.g. firstlings, tithes, etc. (Le 27:26,28,30); and, on the other hand, an abomination, e.g. the hire of a prostitute, could not be made the object of a vow (De 23:18). In Mal 1:14 the offering of what was of less value than what had been vowed is vigorously condemned.

In the New Testament Jesus refers to vows only to condemn the abuse of them (Mt 15:4-6; Mr 7:10-13; compare Talmud, Nedharim, and see CORBAN). In Ac 18:18 (compare Ac 21:23,24) Paul desires to show his Jewish brethren that he is willing to keep the forms of Jewish piety so long as they do not clash with his Christian conscience (compare 1Co 9:21). For the vow of the Nazirite, see NAZIRITE.

Paul Levertoff


voi'-aj, ship'-rek.





1. Present Usage

2. Earlier Usage

3. Post-Hieronymic

4. Historical Importance of the Vulgate


1. Corruption and Confusion of Old Versions

2. Heresy

3. Inevitable Separation of East and West

4. Request of Pope Damasus


1. The New Testament Gospels or Whole New Testament?

2. Old Testament from the Septuagint

3. Translation of Old Testament from the Hebrew


1. In the Manuscripts

2. Printed Vulgate





I. Name and Its History.

1. Present Usage:

The term "Vulgate" with us means but one thing--the standard authoritative Bible of the Latin or Roman church, prepared mostly by the labors of Jerome. But this is not the original use of the word and it was never so used by Jerome himself; indeed, it did not at first refer to a Latin version or translation at all. The word "Vulgate" comes from the adjective or participle vulgata which usually accompanied editio, and meant at first current or regularly used text. It was originally used as the equivalent of koine ekdosis = the Septuagint. Jerome and Augustine both use the term in this sense.

2. Earlier Usage:

Jerome (Commentary in Isa 65:20), "Hoc juxta Septuagint interpretes diximus, quorum editio toto orbe vulgata est" (and same place Isa 30:22), vulgata editio again refers to the Septuagint. Elsewhere Jerome actually gives the Greek words (of the Septuagint) as found in editione vulgata (Commentary in Osee 7 13). Augustine identifies the expression with the Septuagint (De doctr. christ., xvi. 10): "Secundum vulgatam editionem, hoc est interpretum Septuaginta." The term editio vulgata was next extended to the form in which the Septuagint was at first known to the West--the Old Latin versions (see LATIN; LATIN VERSION), although, as Westcott remarks, there does not appear to be any instance in the age of Jerome of the application of the term to the Latin version of the Old Testament without regard to its derivation from the Septuagint or to that of the New Testament, so that Jerome usually intended the Septuagint though he quoted it in Latin form. Vulgata editio, having acquired the meaning of the current or ordinarily used text of Septuagint, was once again extended to mean a corrupt or uncorrected text as opposed to the standard emended Septuagint version of Origen's Hexapla, and in this sense is used by Jerome as synonymous with antiqua or vetus editio.

Epistle cvi.2 deserves citing in this connection: "Admoneo alia m esse editionem quam Origenes et Caesariensis Eusebius omnesque Graeciae translatores (koinen), i.e. communem appellant atque vulgatam, et a plerisque (Loukianos) nunc dicitur: aliam Septuagint interpretum quae in (Hexaplois) (i.e. of Origen) codicibus reperitur, et a nobis in Latinum sermonem fideliter versa ..... (koine) (communis editio) .... vetus corrupta editio est, ea antem quae habetur in (Hexaplois) et quam nos vertimus, ipsa est quae in eruditorum libris incorrupta et immaculata Septuagint interpretum translatio reservatur." ("I recall that one is the text which Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea and all the Greek translators call the (koine), i.e. the common and current text, and is now called by most persons Lucian's (version); the other is the text of the translators of the Septuagint which is found in the codices (or books) of Origen (or the Hexapla), and has been faithfully translated by us into the Latin language .... the koine (the ordinary text) .... is the old corrupted text, but that which is found in the Hexapla, and which we are translating, is the same one which the version of the translators of the Septuagint has preserved unchanged and immaculate in the books of the scholars.")

3. Post-Hieronymic:

It was only very slowly that Jerome's version acquired this name, the phrase editio vulgata being applied to the Septuagint or the Old Latin versions of the Septuagint sometimes down to medieval times, while Jerome's translation was known as editio nostra, codices nostri, translation emendatior, or translation quam tenet Rorn ecclesia. The Tridentine Fathers were therefore guilty of an anachronism when they referred to Jerome's translation as vetus et vulgata editio. Roger Bacon was apparently the first, in the 13th century, to apply the term Vulgata in our sense (not exclusively, but also to the Septuagint), and this usage became classic through its acceptance by the Tridentine Council ("vetus et vulgata editio").

4. Historical Importance of the Vulgate:

The interest of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) will be apparent when we reflect that this translation proved to be to the West what the Septuagint had been to the East, that it was prepared with great care by the greatest scholar whom Latin Christianity produced, that it was for hundreds of years the only Bible in universal use in Europe, that it has given to us much of our modern theological terminology as well as being the sponsor for many Greek words which have enriched our conceptions. It has also proved of primary importance as an early and excellent witness to the sacred text. Add to this that "directly or indirectly it is the real parent of all the vernacular versions of Western Europe" except the Gothic of Ulfilas. For English-speaking students it possesses peculiar interest as the source of the earlier translations made by the Venerable Bede, and portions of the Old Testament were translated in the 10th century from the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) by AElfric. Its greatest influence was exerted in the English version of Wycliffe--a literal translation from the Vulgate (1383). And Coverdale's Bible (1535) was "faithfully and truly translated out of Dutch (i.e. German of Luther) and Latin." The Rheims and Douay version was based on the Vulgate, though "diligently conferred with the Hebrew and Greek." The Vulgate exercised considerable influence upon Luther's version and through it upon our the King James Version.

II. Origin.

1. Corruption and Confusion of Old Versions:

Latin Christianity had not been without a Bible in its own language. Old Latin versions are found in North Africa as early as the middle of the 3rd century and are found in the texts of Cyprian and Tertullian. But these translations were characterized by "simplicity," "rudeness" and provincialism. There was not one standard authoritative version with any ecclesiastical recognition. Versions were rather due to "individual and successive efforts." Augustine says that anyone who got hold of a Greek manuscript and thought he knew Greek and Latin would venture on a translation. These versions originated in Africa and not from Rome, else they had been more authoritative. Besides, the first two centuries of the Ro church were rather Greek; the earliest Christian literature of Rome is Greek, its bishops bear Greek names, its earliest liturgy was Greek. When the church of Italy became Lat-speaking--probably at the end of the 3rd century--the provincialisms of the African version rendered it unfit for the more polished Romans, and so recensions were called for. Scholars now recognize a European type of Old Latin text. And Westcott thinks a North Italian recension (at least in the Gospels) was made in the 4th century. and known as the Itala (see LATIN), and which he recognizes in the Itala mentioned in Aug., De doctr. christ., xv, as "verborum tenacior cum perspicuitate sententiae"; but F.C. Burkitt (The Old Latin and the Itala, 54 ff) takes the Itala here as referring to Jerome's version. Amid such confusion and the appearance of national or provincial recensions, the Latin church became conscious of the need of a standard edition. There were almost as many types of texts as there were manuscripts: "Tot exemplaria paene quot codices," says Jerome (Preface to Gospels). Independent and unauthorized or anonymous translatitons"--especially of the New Testament--aided by the gross carelessness of scribes, made confusion worse confounded. Augustine complains of this "Latinorum interpretum infinita varietas."

2. Heresy:

In addition to the inconvenience in preaching and the liturgical variations, a greater demand for an authoritative version arose from the continual watch of the early church against heretics. Confusion of text abetted heresy, and the absence of a standard text made it harder to refute it. Besides, the Jews, with one authoritative text, laughed at the confusion of the Christian Scriptures.

3. Inevitable Separation of East and West:

The inevitable separation of East and West, both politically and ecclesiastically, and the split between Greek and Latin Christianity, rendered the existence of a standard Latin text imperative. Christianity was felt to be the religion of a book, and hence that book must be inspired and authoritative in every word--even in its order of words.

Pope Damasus determined to remedy this state of affairs, and with all the authority of the papal see commissioned Jerome to produce an authentic and standard authorized version

4. Request of Pope Damasus:

The pope's choice could not have fallen upon a more competent scholar--a man who had been providentially gifted and prepared for the task. Jerome--his Latin name was Eusebius Hieronymus--was born at Stridon on the borders of Dalmatia about 340 AD, or a little later, of Christian parentage. He had the advantages of the best classical education and became a devoted student of the best Latin writers. In a dream he saw a vision of judgment, and on claiming to be a Christian he was rebuked: "Mentiris, Ciceronianus es, non Christianus." He began his theological studies in Gaul; but later sought the seclusion of ascetic life in the desert near Antioch. Here he studied Hebrew from a converted rabbi in order to subdue fierce passions by the difficulties of that language. About 375 or 376 began his correspondence with Damasus. In 382 he came to Rome, and became the intimate friend and adviser of Damasus.

III. Jerome's Translations and Revisions: Method.

1. The New Testament:

These fall into three main groups:

(1) revision of the New Testament;

(2) Old Testament juxta the Septuagint;

(3) Old Testament from Hebrew.

The exact date of the pope's commission is not given: it was probably in 382--the year of Jerome's arrival in Rome--or early in 383, in which year the Gospels appeared in revised form. Damasus asked simply for a revision of the Old Latin versions by the help of the Greek rather than a new version Jerome collated Greek manuscripts, and carefully compared them with the "Italian" type of Old Latin texts; where possible the Old Latin was preserved. Thus, Jerome approached the task with a conservative spirit. Still the result was a considerable departure from the Old Latin version, the changes being

(1) linguistic, removal of provincialisms and rudeness,

(2) in interpretation, e.g. supersubstantialis for epiousion, in the Lord's Prayer,

(3) the removal of interpolations,

(4) the insertion of the Eusebian Canons.

Gospels or Whole New Testament?

It is disputed whether Jerome revised the whole New Testament or only the Gospels.

Against the revision of the whole New Testament the arguments briefly are:

(1) That Augustine, writing 20 years after the appearance of the revised Gospels, speaks only of "Gospel": "Evangelium ex Graeco interpretatus est" (Epistle civ.6); but Augustine may here be speaking generally or applying "Gospel" to the whole New Testament.

(2) Jerome in his preface apparently speaks of "only four Gospels" ("quattuor tantum evangelia").

(3) The rest of the New Testament does not show the same signs of revision as the Gospels.

(4) The absence of the prefaces usual ("solita praefatione") to Jerome's revised versions.

On the other hand, to more than counterbalance these,

(1) Damasus required a revision of the whole New Testament, not only of the Gospels (Preface of Damasus).

(2) In other statements of Jerome he expressly says he revised the New Testament (not Gospel or Gospels); in Epistle cxii.20, he seems to correct Augustine's evangelium by writing: "Si me, ut dicis, in Novi Testamenti emendatione suspicis," and in Epistle lxxi.5, "I translated the New Testament according to the Greek" ("NT Graecae reddidi auctoritati"); compare also De Vir. Ill., cxxxv.

(3) Jerome quotes passages outside the Gospels where his version differed from the Old Latin VSS, e.g. Ro 12:11; 1Ti 1:15; compare Epistle xxvii.

(4) Damasus died at the end of 384--perhaps before the rest of Jerome's revision was published, and so Jerome thought no further prefaces needed.

2. Old Testament from the Septuagint:

The more likely conclusion is that Jerome revised the whole New Testament, though not all with equal care. His revision was hasty and soon became more or less confused with the Old Latin versions to which the people clung as they do to all old versions. Having probably completed the New Testament from the Greek, Jerome began immediately on the Old Testament from the Greek of the Septuagint.

(1) Roman Psalter.

He commenced with the Psalms, which he simply emended only where imperatively required (compare preface), and cursorily (circa 384). This revision is called the Ro Psalter (Psalterium Romanum), which continued in use in Rome and Italy till it was displaced under the pontificate of Plus V by the Gallican Psalter, though the Roman Psalter is still used in Peter's, Rome, and in Mark's, Milan.

(2) Galliean Psalter.

This Psalter soon became so corrupted by the Old Latin version that Jerome (circa 387) undertook a second revision at the request of Paula and Eustochium. This became known as the Gallican Psalter because of its early popularity in Gaul. It was also made from the Septuagint, but with the aid of other Greek versions. Jerome adopted in it the critical signs used by Origen--a passage enclosed between an obelus and two points being absent from the Hebrew but present in the Septuagint, that between an asterisk and two points being absent from the Septuagint but supplied from Theodotion (Preface to Psalms).

(3) Rest of the Old Testament.

About the same time Jerome published translations of other Old Testament books from the Septuagint. Job was revised very soon after the Gallican Psalter. The preface to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles and Chronicles is extant to show he had revised these books. Job and Psalms are the only books of this revision juxta Septuagint extant.

It is again disputed whether Jerome completed the whole Old Testament in this revision because (1) the usual prefaces are again lacking (except to the books already mentioned), and (2) in his prefaces to the revision from the Hebrew Jerome makes no reference to an earlier revision of his own; (3) the work implied was too great for the brief space possible and must have been done between 387 and 390 (or 391), for by this latter date he was already on the translation from the Hebrew. But Jerome was a phenomenal worker, as we learn that his translation of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Canticles from the Hebrew was made in three days. And his commentary on Ephesians was written at the rate of 1,000 lines a day.

Jerome probably completed the whole, as we infer from his own direct positive statements. He speaks of "mea in libris canonicis interpretatio" (Epistle cxii.19; see references in Westcott), and in the preface to the Books of Solomon after the Septuagint he states he did not correct Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, "desiring only to emend the canonical books" ("tantummodo canonicas scripturas vobis emendare desiderans"). Once again, he speaks of having carefully translated the Septuagint into Latin (Con Ruf., ii.24; compare Epistle lxxi).

3. Translation of Old Testament from the Hebrew:

If the postscript to Epistle cxxxiv, to Augustine is genuine, Jerome complains he had lost the most of his former labors by fraud ("pleraque enim prioris laboris fraude cuiusdam amisimus"). And Augustine requests (Epistle xcvi.34) from Jerome his versions from the Septuagint ("Nobis mittas, obsecro, interpretationem tuam de Septuagint quam te edidisse nesciebam"). Having in the course of these labors discovered the unsatisfactory condition of the Septuagint text and his friends pleading the need of a translation direct from the Hebrew, Jerome began this huge task about 390 with Samuel and Kings, which he published with the Prologus galeatus ("helmeted prologue") next the Psalms (circa 392), Job and the Prophets (393), 1 and 2 Esdras (circa 394) (3 and 4 being omitted), Chronicles (396). Then followed a severe illness until 398, when "post longam aegrotationem" he translated Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Canticles. He then started on the Octateuch: "Octateucho quem nunc in manibus habeo" (Epistle lxxi.5), the Pentateuch being first translated in 401, Joshua, Judges, Ru and Esther soon after (xl.4: "post sanctae Paulae dormitionem"). Tobit and Judith were translated for him from Chaldee into Hebrew from which he then translated them into Latin (circa 405), and shortly before or after these he added the apocryphal additions to Daniel and Esther. Baruch he passed over. Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus were not revised by him. Whether he revised Maccabees is doubtful. Thus was completed in 15 strenuous years (390-405) a work which has proved a ktema es aei (Thucydides i.22), "a possession for all time." The translation was largely undertaken at the request of friends and at no papal request. Indeed Jerome did not pretend to be working for publicity; he actually asked one friend not to show his translation.


But human nature rarely recognizes merit in its own generation, and the spirit of conservatism rose in rebellion against beneficial innovation. Jerome was accused of slighting the Septuagint, which even in the eyes of Augustine was equally inspired with the Hebrew original. Jerome's fiery temper and his biting tongue were not calculated to conciliate.

IV. Subsequent Recensions and History of Vulgate.

1. In the Manuscripts:

By degrees the fierce opposition died down, and even by the time of Jerome's death men were beginning to perceive the merits of his version which Augustine used in the Gospels. Some parts of Jerome's Vulgate (390-405 A.D.) won their way to popularity much sooner than others--the Old Latin versions died hard and not without inflicting many a wound on the Vulgate. His Psalter from the Hebrew never ousted the Gallican which still holds its place in the Vulgate. Some scholars were able to appreciate Jerome's edition sooner than others. And it was at different dates that the different provinces and countries of the West adopted it. Pelagius used it in his commentary on the Pauline Epistles. As might be expected, the Old Latin versions retained their place longest in the place of their origin--North Africa. Britain proved the next most conservative. The old versions were never authoritatively deposed, and so Jerome's version was compelled to win its way by its own merits. In the 5th century--especially in Gaul--it continued to grow in popularity among scholars, being adopted by Vincent of Lerins, Eucherius of Lyons, Sedulius, and Claudianus Mamertus, and Prosper of Aquitaine. In the next century its use became almost universal except in Africa, where the Old Latin was retained by Junilius and Facundus. At the close of the 6th century. Pope Gregory the Great acknowledges that the new (i.e. the Vulgate) and the old are both equally used by the Apostolic See; and thus the Vulgate was at least on equal footing with the old. In the 7th century the Old Latin retreats, but traces of it survive down into the Middle Ages, affecting and corrupting the Jerome version. Mixed texts and conflated readings arose--the familiarity of the Old Latin in lectionaries and liturgies telling on the Vulgate. The New Testament, being only a revision and not a fresh translation, and being most in use, degenerated most.

(1) As early as the 6th century the need of an emendated Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) text was felt, and Cassidorius undertook to revise part of it. This was merely private enterprise and did little to stem the flood of corruption.

(2) About the close of the 8th century, Charlemagne commissioned an Englishman Alcuin, abbot of Martin, Tours, to produce a revised text on the basis of the best Latin manuscripts, without reference to the Greek text. Alcuin sent to York for his manuscripts and thus produced a text after British manuscripts. On Christmas Day, 801 AD, he presented the emperor with the emended text. The authority by which this text was prepared and its public use together with the class of manuscripts used did much to preserve a pure Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) text and stay interpolations: "The best manuscripts of his recension do not differ widely from the pure Hieronymian text" (Westcott).

(3) Another recension of about the same date--but a scholar's private enterprise--was produced by a Visigoth, Theodulf, bishop of Orleans. He made the Spanish family of manuscripts together with those of Southern France the basis of his text. His inscribing variant readings in the margin really helped the process of corruption. His text--though prepared at enormous labor--was far inferior to that of Alcuin and exerted little influence in face of the authoritative version of Alcuin. manuscripts were rapidly multiplied in the 9th century on the Alcuinian model by the school of Tours, but with carelessness and haste which helped to a speedy degeneration of the text. Again the confusion called for remedy.

(4) In the 11th century Lanfranc, bishop of Canterbury (1069-89), attempted correction--apparently with little success. About the middle of the 12th century, Stephen Harding of Citeaux produced a revision--extant in manuscript in Dijon public library (number 9), as did also Cardinal Nicolaus. The increased demand for Bibles in the 13th century gave opportunity for further corruption of the text--publishers and copyists being indifferent as to the character of manuscript chosen as a basis.

(5) In consequence of the fame of the University of Paris in the 13th century and the enormous activity in producing Bible manuscripts, there resulted a type of text called by Roger Bacon Exemplar Parisiense, for which he has nothing good to say.

(6) In the same century steps were taken toward a standard text and to stay corruption by the drawing up of correctoria, i.e. books in which the readings of Greek and Latin manuscripts were weighed to decide a text, the authority of Fathers cited, etc. Some of the principal correctoria are: Correctorium Parisiense known also as Senonense--one of the worst, following the Parisian type of text; Correotorium Vaticanum, the best; Correctorium Sorbonicum, in the Sorbonne; Correctorium Dominicanum.

2. Printed Vulgate:

(1) Early Editions.

Little more was done till the invention of printing, and the first products of the press were Latin Bibles. Unfortunately at first the current text was accepted without any critical labors, and so the earliest printed Vulgates only perpetuated an inferior text. Only a few from among some hundreds of early versions can be noted:

(a) the Mazarin Bible--one of the most beautiful and valuable books in the world--printed at Mainz about the middle of the 15th century (1455, Westcott) by Gutenberg, Schoffer or Fust;

(b) the first Bible published at Rome in 1471 by Sweynheym and Pannartz and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1475;

(c) 1504 a Paris edition with variant readings;

(d) an edition in Complutensian Polyglot (1514 ff) from ancient manuscripts and from the Greek;

(e) practically the first critical edition, by Robertus Stephanus (lst edition 1528, 2nd 1532, reprinted later), of interest as being practically the basis of the standard Roman Vulgate;

(f) Hentenian critical edition (Louvain, 1547).

Attempts to produce a corrected text by aid of the original were made by Erasmus in 1516, Pagninus in 1518 ff, Cardinal Cajetan, Steuchius in 1529, Clarius in 1542, etc. Even new translations were made by both Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars. This bewildering number of versions and the controversies of the 16th century called for a standard edition. The Council of Trent (1546) took up the matter and decreed that the "ipsa vetus et vulgata editio quae Iongo tot saeculorum usu in ipsa ecclesia probata" ("the same old and ordinarily used text which has been approved in the church itself by the long usage of so many centuries") should be regarded as authentic (authentica). By this they apparently meant the Jerome version, but did not state in which manuscript or printed edition it was to be found.

(2) Sixtine Edition (1590).

No further steps were taken for the present to secure a standard official Bible for the church--the private edition of John Hentenius of Louvain serving in the meanwhile until the pontificate of Sixtus V. This pope entrusted the work to a committee under Cardinal Caraffa, but he himself strenuously cooperated. Manuscripts and printed editions were examined, but the original Greek or Hebrew was to be regarded as decisive in difficulties. The result was published as the Sixtine edition of the Vulgate by the Vatican press in 1590 (see title on 1st and 2nd pages). The text resembles the Stephanus edition of 1540. A new puzzling method of verse enumeration was introduced. As one would expect, there was prefixed to the edition a Bull Aeternus ille, etc., in which the divines gave themselves credit for their painstaking labors, and the result was declared the authorized Vulgate of the Tridentine Council, "pro vera, legitima, authentica et indubitata, in omnibus publicis privatisque disputationibus ...." ("by virtue of truth, usage, authenticity and certainty, in all public and private disputes"). Errors of printing were corrected by the pen or by pasting a slip of paper with the correction over the error. This edition was not to be reprinted for 10 years except at the Vatican, and after that any edition must be compared with the Vatican edition, so that "not even the smallest particle should be altered, added or removed" under pain of the "greater excommunication." Sixtus died the same year, and the Jesuit Bellarmine persuaded Clement VIII to recall the Sixtine edition and prepare another standard Vulgate in 1592.

(3) Clementine Edition (1592).

In the same year appeared the Clementine edition with a preface by Bellarmine asserting that Sixtus had himself determined to recall his edition on account of printers' errors (from which it was remarkably free). The pains and penalties of the Sixtine Bull were evaded by printing the book as a Sixtine edition, actually printing the name of Sixtus instead of Clement on the title-page: Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti Quinti Pont. Max. iussu recognita atque edita. The awkward system of verse enumeration of the Sixtine was dropped. The text itself was rather of the Hentenian type. No future edition was to be printed except on the exact pattern, "even to the smallest particle" of the Vatican edition. Thanks largely to the papal Bull this Clementine edition of 1592 still remains the official version of the Roman Catholic church. A second edition appeared in 1593, and a third in 1598. Roman Catholic scholars were discouraged from undertaking a new version, and Protestant scholars were, until recently, too occupied with the original texts.

Bentley's projected edition of the New Testament never appeared. Under cover of the works of Jerome a corrected text was published by Vallarsi, 1734--really the completion and revision of the edition of Martianay of 1706. Little more was done in the way of critical editions till the latter half of the 19th century.

(4) Modern Critical Editions.

In 1861 Vercellone reprinted the Clementine Vulgate (with an excellent preface), the names of Sixtus and Clement both appearing on the title-page. In 1906 an edition--Biblical Sac Vulgatae edition by Hetzenauer--was published at Oeniponte. (The majority of recent editions have been confined to the New Testament or part of it: Tischendorf, Nov. Test. Latin: textum Hieronymi .... restituit, Leipzig, 1864; Hetzenauer, Nov. Test. Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) ed.: ex Vat. editions earumque correctorio critice edidit P.M.H., Oeniponte, 1899.) The Oxford Vulg, prepared by Bishop J. Wordsworth and H.J. White, of which the first part was issued in 1889, is a comprehensive work of great value. P. Corssen published the first installment of a Vulgate New Testament (Epistle ad Gal, Berlin, 1885). This is exclusive of the printed editions of several important manuscripts. Pope Plus X entrusted the preparation of a revised edition of the Vulgate to the Benedictine order--but as yet nothing has appeared.

V. Manuscripts of Vulgate.

To give a satisfactory list would be impossible within our space limits. The number is legion--estimated at about 8,000. As yet the same order has not been called out of the chaos of Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) and Old Latin manuscripts in the manner in which Westcott and Hort have reduced the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament to a system. The student may conveniently approach the subject in White's list in the 4th edition of Scrivener, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, II 67 ff, or the longer one by Gregory in Tischendorf's New Testament Greek, 8th edition, III, 983 ff, also in Westcott's article in DB or White's in HDB; Vercellone, Variae Lectiones, 1860; Berger, Histoire de la Vulgate, 374 ff.

VI. Latinity.

Space permits only a few general remarks. The Latin of the old versions was simple, rude and vernacular, abounding in literalisms and provincialisms. In many ways, in vocabulary, diction and construction, it offended scholars. As was natural Jerome smoothed the roughness of the old versions and removed the most glaring solecisms and offensive provincialisms. His work is a masterpiece--like our the King James Version--in the harmonious blend of simple, popular, forceful language and a scholarly graceful translation. "As a monument of ancient linguistic power the translation of the Old Testament stands unrivaled and unique" (Westcott). The Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) has enriched our language by introducing many Greek words, "apostle," "evangel," "synagogue," "baptism," etc. It has also given us much of our theological vocabulary, "edification," "justification," "propitiation," "regeneration," "Scripture," etc. It still retains many marks of its birth in (1) Old Latin words elevated from the vernacular, (2) Africanisms: clarifico, etc., saeculum for mundus, long compound verbs like obtenebrare, etc., (3) Graecisms, like the use of the pronoun for the article, as hic mundus = ho kosmos, (4) Hebraisms, like adposuit ut apprehenderet et Petrum (Ac 12:3; see special works mentioned in "Literature").

VII. Use of Vulgate.

In the Old Testament the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is not of much importance for the criticism of the Hebrew text, because of the freedom which Jerome permitted himself in translation, and because our present Massoretic Hebrew text had by that time taken on its present form. But on the Septuagint it often throws a very useful light. In the New Testament Jerome's version ranks practically in importance with our oldest and best Greek manuscripts in establishing (in conjunction with the Old Latin VSS) the received Greek text of the 4th century, both by way of supplementing and correcting our Greek authorities. It is in the Gospels that Jerome's work is most thorough and useful. His version also supplies many a hint for the interpretation of our Greek text.

VIII. Differences between Vulgate and Our English Versions.

Apart from differences of rendering and minor points, the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) text differs from the English in the order of the books, in the amount contained in some of them, in the occasional divergence of chapter and verse enumeration. The New Testament is practically the same in the Clementine text, though the order of books varies in many manuscripts--the Catholic Epistles being placed sometimes after Acts. In some manuscripts the Epistle to the Laodiceans is found. Most variety obtains in the Old Testament. The sequence of canonical books is the same, but the apocryphal books are interspersed among them and not placed at the end. Tobit and Judith are inserted between Nehemiah (2 Esdras) and Esther, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus between Canticles and Isaiah. Baruch follows Lamentaions, chapter 5 of which is called the "Prayer of Jeremiah the Prophet"; 1 and 2 Maccabees are placed after Malachi; 3 and 4 Esdras and Prayer of Manasses appear as an appendix after the New Testament. In Psalms the divergence is considerable, the Vulgate--like the Hebrew--counting the title as the first verse. Psalms 9; 10 of our version = Ps 9 in Vulgate, so that the Vulgate is one Psalm behind the English till Ps 114, then Psalms 114; 115 again form one Psalm = Vulgate 113. The Vulgate is now two behind. Matters are equalized by Ps 116 being divided into two in the Vulgate (= 114; 115), and 147 again = two Vulgate Psalms 146; 147. Thus, only Psalms 1-8 and 148-150 run the same. Against Jerome's advice the apocryphal parts of Daniel and Esther were accepted as integral parts of those books, the So of Three Children being inserted at Da 3:23, Susanna forming chapter 13 and Bel and the Dragon chapter 14. Ad Esther is linked on to the end of Esther. In conclusion, the present Vulgate, as Westcott remarks, is a composite of elements belonging to every period and form of the Latin version, including

(1) unrevised Old Latin (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees and Baruch);

(2) Old Latin corrected from the Septuagint (Psalter);

(3) Jerome's free translation from the original (Job and Judith);

(4) Jerome's translation from the original (the Old Testament except the Psalter);

(5) Old Latin revised from Greek manuscripts (the Gospels);

(6) Old Latin cursorily revised (the rest of the New Testament).


This is too vast to cite, but in some of the following works sufficient bibliographies will be found: Berger, Hist de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siecles du moyen age, 1893; H. Hody, De bib. textibus originalibus, 1705; F. Kaulen, Gesch. der Vulg, 1868; Van Ess, Pragmatisch-krit. Gesch. der Vulg, 1824; E. Nestle, Urtext u. Uebersetzungen der Bibel, 1897, and Ein Jubilaum d. tat. Biblical, 1892. Two splendid articles--each by an authority--in DB (Westcott) and in HDB (White). A very readable account is in Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient manuscripts, 165 ff, and in his Handbook to the Text Crit. of the New Testament, 168 ff. For the language: Ronsch, Itala u. Vulgata, 2nd edition, 1875; A. Hartl, Sprachliche Eigentumlichkeiten d. Vulg, 1864.

S. Angus


vul'-tur (da'ah; Septuagint gups, and iktinos; Latin Vulturidae): Any member of a family of large birds that subsist wholly or in part on carrion. The largest vulture of Palestine was the Lammer-geier. This bird waited until smaller vultures, eagles and hawks stripped a carcass to the bone, then carried the skeleton aloft and dashed it on the rocks until the marrow could be secured. This was a favorite delicacy. This bird was fond of tortoise also, and is said to have dropped the one that struck the bald head of Aeschylus, which the bird mistook for a stone, so causing the death of the poet. Several smaller species, including "Pharaoh's chickens," flocked all over Palestine. These were protected by a death penalty for their value as scavengers in cities. They fed on carcasses of animals that killed each other, ate putrid fish under the nests of pelican and cormorant, followed caravans across the desert, and were ready for offal thrown from animals dressed for feasting. They flocked over the altars for the entrails from sacrifice, and devoured scraps cast aside by tent-dwellers and residents of cities. They paired with affectionate courting and nested in crevices, in walls, hollow trees and on cliffs. They raised only one pair of young to the season, as the nestlings were over two months old before they took wing. The young were white at first, then black feathers enveloped them. On account of their steady diet of carrion, no one ever has been able to use their flesh for food, although some daring ornithologists have tried. For this reason the vulture was placed among the abominations and should by right have headed the lists (Le 11:18; De 14:13). The other references that used to be translated "vulture" in the King James Version, the Septuagint elaphos, Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) correctly milous) are changed to "falcon" and "kite." Isa 34:15 changes "vulture" to "kite." Job 28:7 changes "vulture" to "falcon."

Gene Stratton-Porter