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Fifty accurate copies of the authentic Bible Text, Old Testament and New Testament, were transported to Constantinople by order of Constantine from the scriptorium of Eusebius of Caesarea, who was the successor to Pamphilus and Origen, and who had access to Origen’s Hexapla and Origen’s copies of the Apostolic autographs. Ambrose (Letter LXXV To Clementianus §1) says of Origen that he was “less extensive” (Latin minor) in his treatment of the New Testament text, though only in comparison to the stupendous effort he put into the Old Testament Hexapla. The historical context of Origen’s work explains his emphasis on the Old Testament. The existing translation of the Old Testament into Greek, the Septuagint, was under attack, and Origen wished to put the Greek translation used by Christians on the surest possible Hebrew foundation. The Septuagint’s Targum-like translation, reflecting pre-Christian Alexandrian Rabbinic exegesis, had been used to great advantage by Christians to support the claims of Jesus, and was therefore assailed now by those Rabbis who rejected Christianity, in spite of its high reputation in the past. They anathematized its idiosyncratic interpretations and its discursive, exegetical, departures from the letter of the original Hebrew. They commissioned scholars who sympathized with their viewpoint (like Symmachus and Theodotion) to translate the Hebrew into Greek afresh, and preferably in a way that would undermine the Christian’s exegesis of the Old Testament prophecies. This shift in emphasis onto the literal, word-for-word, meaning of the Hebrew, necessitated for the Christians a new Greek translation, without the anti-Christian bias, and that became the focus of Origen’s endeavors. The New Testament texts were less taxing, as the originals were still extant in Origen’s day (Origen being a contemporary of Tertullian). The Apostolic foundational churches could be visited and the originals inspected and copied. Origen spent a considerable part of his life traveling to these distant churches in order precisely to ensure the conformity of his doctrine and writings to the most perfect Apostolic model, untainted by the fantastic heresies which had sprung up in the century preceding his. These were the inspired texts transferred to Constantinople in fifty magnificent copies: Origen’s Hexaplaric Old Testament and the authentic New Testament writings of the Apostles. When Jerome came to revise the Latin Scriptures a half a century or so later, he had only to consult these perfect Origenic Bibles, copies of which had in the meantime been multiplied across the Christian world, to ensure the accuracy of his revision. He failed to do that. Instead, as we shall see, he patched together what he himself calls an “emended collation” of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. These Greek manuscripts were of highly dubious origin, and were selected if, and so long as, they agreed with the flawed and heretical Latin text used in the First Church of Rome. For his Latin Old Testament, he threw overboard the Septuagint in its various extant recensions, Origen’s marked Greek translations in parallel with the Hebrew, and the Greek translations of Origen himself and Eusebius, and, basing himself largely on the Greek of the latter two scholars, but “emending” them where he thought necessary, attempted a translation of the Hebrew himself afresh into Latin, under the advice of Rabbis who rejected the claims of Jesus, and of the very persuasion controverted by Origen and the Greek Church of the East.

Eusebius, Life of Constantine IV xxxvi and xxxvii.


“Constantine’s Letter To EUSEBIUS On The Preparation OF COPIES OF THE SCRIPTURES.

“Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to Eusebius.

“It happens, through the favoring providence of God our Savior, that great numbers have united themselves to the most holy church in the city which is called by my name.1 It seems, therefore, highly requisite, since that city is rapidly advancing in prosperity in all other respects, that the number of churches should also be increased. Do you, therefore, receive with all readiness my determination on this behalf. I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred scriptures (the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church) to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a commodious and portable form, by transcribers thoroughly practiced in their art. The procurator of the diocese has also received instructions by letter from our Clemency to be careful to furnish all things necessary for the preparation of such copies; and it will be for you to take special care that they be completed with as little delay as possible. You have authority also, in virtue of this letter, to use two of the public carriages for their conveyance, by which arrangement the copies when fairly written will most easily be forwarded for my personal inspection; and one of the deacons of your church may be intrusted with this service, who, on his arrival here, shall experience my liberality. God preserve you, beloved brother!”



“Such were the emperor’s commands, which were followed by the immediate execution of the work itself, which we sent him in magnificent and elaborate volumes of a threefold and fourfold form.* This fact is attested by another letter, which the emperor wrote in acknowledgment, in which, having heard that the city Constantia in our country, the inhabitants of which had been more than commonly devoted to superstition, had been impelled by a sense of religion to abandon their past idolatry, he testified his joy, and approval of their conduct. ”

* The parchment copies were usually arranged in quaternions, i. e. four leaves made up together, as the ternions consisted of three leaves. The quaternions each contained sixteen pages, the ternions twelve. Valesius in loc.

1 Viz. “Constantinople”, meaning “the City of Constantine”.

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