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From: "Peter T. Cash" <PTCash@ibm.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v022.n001
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 23:48:50 

>From: Nigel Price <NigelPrice1@compuserve.com>
>Wombat, a.k.a. Kevin Maroney, wrote:
>>>John 19:30 cum ergo accepisset Iesus acetum dixit consummatum est et
>>>                                                  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>> inclinato capite tradidit spiritum
>>>("And when Jesus had received the vinegar, he said "It is finished" and
>>>bowed his head and gave up his spirit.")
>Yeah, bummer isn't it?  Definitely "consummatum est" ("it is accomplished")
>rather than "terminus est" in the Vulgate.  I still haven't found my copy

>And, of course, I looked at John 19.30 and found "consummatum est", which
>just about put the tin lid on a bad day, much of the afternoon of which I

Fear not, friend Nigel--your position is salvageable. I have it on good
authority that Jesus' grasp of Latin was pretty weak. In fact, he hardly
used it at all, preferring the local patois (Hebrew? Aramaic? Dang, my
seminary days were wasted, I fear. No, the Sergeant doth not jest--he really
spent a year in seminary, during which he learned nothing.)

>>>It's always a danger to assume that words in other languages have the
>>>connotations and nuances that they do in English, of course.

>Absolutely...  Though my Latin dictionary gives "end, conclusion" as one of
>the possible meanings of "terminus", and that is the sense in which Cicero
>seems to have used it (eg "terminus contentionum" = "the end of the

Of course, we all know that the words of Jesus as recorded in the Latin
Vulgate are themselves a translation--actually, a translation of a
translation, since the New Testament was first recorded in Greek...which
Jesus probably didn't speak either. We know also that even the best
translation from one language to another risks a loss of nuance. The exact
choice of words is often problematic--in many cases the translator can
phrase the text in a number of different ways. Thus, I think it reasonable
to posit that the Vulgate could easily have translated Christ's words as
"Terminus est". Heck, it would have been a considerably more elegant
translation, for my money. The fact that the Vulgate does not use this word
choice does not tell decisively against your suggestion that "Terminus Est"
can be translated as "It is finished", and your observation that this is the
way Christ's last words are often translated into English.

>No doubt about it, my theory about the significance of the name "Terminus
>Est" is considerably weakened by the fact that the Vulgate does not use
>this particular wording.  I still maintain that "It is finished" is a
>legitamate translation of the name, though.

And I think you're right, but wrong to so quickly accept the Vulgate's word
choice as relevant to your point. Perhaps Wolfe is on record somewhere as
declaring the Vulgate as the One True and Inerrant Translation; if so, we
should slink back into our foxholes. But if not, I think it's reasonable to
suggest that "terminus est" may be translated into English as "it is
finished", and that Wolfe was aware of this.  I've always been partial to
that translation of the sword's name (and I've said so before).

Sgt. Rock

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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