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The Bible Didn't Begin as
One Leather-bound Volume


Bible Differences in Names and Titles
Why Are the Archangels Called Saints?
Who Are Theologians?
A Patron for the Sterile?

Bible Differences in Names and Titles

I notice in reading my Bible that the names of the Old Testament books have often been changed to correspond with the Protestant Bible. Any particular reason for this? I have had to go to many of my "old" biblical reference books and write in the changes for convenience during my daily Bible-reading sessions.

Start by realizing that the Bible itself is a collection of writings made over centuries of time. The Bible didn't come fresh from the press of a modern publisher in a handy one-volume hardcover book. Copyists and editors gathered the various books of the Bible and put them together.

From early on, not all agreed on which writings were inspired and to be placed in what we call the Bible. Around the time of Christ, and after, Jerusalem Jews differed from the Hellenist Jews of the Diaspora (dispersion) concerning what books were inspired. The Hellenist Jews regarded more Greek-written books as inspired than did the Jerusalem Jews. For them the books had to have been written in Hebrew.

Those differences were carried over among Christians who would also, in the beginning, differ concerning what books of the Christian era were inspired. All that led to the Church's action at the Council of Trent in 1546. Trent defined what books were to be taken as inspired and thus included in the canon of Scriptures. Just as differences among language groups over what books were inspired went back to their languages of composition, differences in names and spellings sometimes go back to the languages translators used.

It was not until the fourth and fifth centuries (A.D.) that biblical manuscripts divided the Gospels into smaller sections. The division into chapters now followed by all goes back to Stephen Langton of the University of Paris in the 13th century. This division was then used in the Parisian edition of the Vulgate (Latin translation of St. Jerome). The division into verses came with Robert Estienne in the 16th century.

The point is that a lot of hands were involved in shaping modern editions and translations of the Bible.

The name used for the books sometimes depends on the translators or editors, what language they used and how they divided the manuscripts. For instance, did the translator treat Kings and Chronicles as one or separate works?

Working from different languages, did the translators use Greek or Hebrew forms of titles, names and spellings? For example, did the translator follow the Greek and say Isaias or the Hebrew and write Isaiah? Did translators, as they did in the case of the Douay Bible, take over the Greek, titling the writing "Paralipomenon" or go directly back to the Hebrew and use the name "Chronicles"? Did the translator, as in the case of the Douay Bible, think of a manuscript (Kings 1, 2, 3 and 4) as one writing following the Greek system or as separate, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings?

I take it you are using the New American Bible translation most often read in Catholic Church celebrations. The translator of this version, like those of the Jerusalem Bible, went back to the original languages or oldest existing forms of the biblical texts.

In doing so, said Pope Paul VI in an introduction to the New American Bible version, "The translators have carried out the directive of...Pius XII in his famous encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu and the decree of the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum) which prescribed that 'up-to-date and appropriate translations be made in the various languages by preference from the original texts of the sacred books' and that 'with the approval of Church authority, these translations may be produced in cooperation with our separated brethren' so that 'all Christians may be able to use them.'"

Much of this information-and more-you will find in The Bible: An Owner's Manual, by Robert R. Hann (Paulist Press).

Who Are Theologians?

Please tell us about theologians. What are they? Who are they? What do they do? Who gives them authority to be able to lead people astray? Are they appointed by someone?

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines theology as "the study of religious faith, practice and experience: especially the study of God and his relation to the world." And it defines theologian as "a specialist in the-ology."

In Catholic usage, when we speak of theologians we usually imply some special training, education or expertise. In speaking of theologians we are speaking of writers and teachers who concern themselves with God, God's attributes and relation to the universe. Catholic theology itself is divided into five areas: dogmatic, moral, pastoral, ascetical and mystical.

Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia (edited by Peter Stravinskas) states, "The theologian must possess a doctorate or at least a licentiate degree." And, a "theologian's function is to explain and defend the Church's official teachings and to express better some of the Church's teachings in the light of today's terminology and discoveries."

The Catholic theologian examines God and our relations with God and each other in the light of faith and revelation. And the Catholic theologian reasons concerning these things with guidance from the Church's teaching authority.

The authority of the theologian can come from several sources. It may come from education and training-his or her knowledge and the strength of his or her reason and intellect. It may come from the mission or approval he or she is given to teach by a uni- versity and the recognition of peers. Or it may come from the Church's approval of his or her teaching or a mission to teach and write given by the Church.

The theologian's mission is not to mislead or lead people astray. The theo-logian's task is to help us better understand the mysteries and revelation of God, and their implications for our lives. Early Christian theologians explored questions like, "What does it mean to say Jesus is both God and man?" Later theologians pondered over how Mary could have been conceived free from sin. Today's theologian may ask when and if it is morally permissible to disconnect life-support systems.

Why Are the Archangels Called Saints?

I have always wondered why the archangels are called "Saint." Can you tell me?

I suppose the best reason for calling the angels Raphael, Gabriel and Michael "Saint" is to be found in Webster's dictionary. The word saint comes from the Latin sanctus and French saint. Sanctus means holy. And calling or titling a person "Saint" is recognition of his or her holiness. Calling an angel "Saint" is also a recognition of holiness.

Who Is the Italian Santa Claus?

I would like to know who the Italian Santa Claus is. Can you tell me what he's called?

I asked one of my Italian-American, Franciscan friends who spent several Christmases in Rome what he knew about Santa's Italian counterpart. He said that the big day in Italy for gift-giving is the feast of the Epiphany, recalling the Magi and their gifts to the Infant Jesus.

Italians are familiar with St. Nicholas and the stories of his gifts. Some parents give small gifts to their children on his feast day, December 6.

Due to modern communications and commercialism, the Father Christmas character of England and the Nordic nations, who has become very much like Santa Claus, has appeared among the Italians. In Italy, he is called Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) and may bring small gifts at Christmas.

According to Follow the Year: A Family Celebration of Christian Holidays, by Mala Powers (Harper & Row), there is also an old woman, La Befana, who brings Christmas gifts.

A Patron for the Sterile?

The National Enquirer carried an article about a saint named Maria Francesca and a "sterility chair." According to the article, women who are sterile and childless come and sit in this chair that belonged to the saint and pray to conceive. The article says the prayers of thousands have been answered. Who was this saint?

Your letter and the clipping you sent were my first acquaintance with this saint who died in 1791. In Butler's Lives of the Saints and in other dictionaries of the saints you will find this saint under the English listing of St. Mary Frances of Naples. Apparently her father, Francis Gallo, was not only hot-tempered but also rough and brutal to both Mary Frances and her mother. Baptized Anne Mary Rose Nicolette, Mary had much to suffer when she resisted a marriage her father wished to arrange for her. When she refused, the father locked her in a room and gave her only bread and water.

Eventually he was persuaded to allow her to become a Franciscan tertiary. In the beginning she lived at home and devoted herself to prayer and works of piety. Later she took over the management of a priest's household. She was something of a mystic and mystical phenomena were associated with her. She is said to have received the stigmata-the wounds of Jesus-in her own body.

What is her connection with sterile women? The Enquirer clipping seems to indicate that many miracles involving impossible pregnancies were worked through her intercession previous to her canonization in 1867.

Personal response to "concerned about the poor wretch": If a man is acting out his homosexuality and shows no sign of wanting to or being able to live chastely, moral theologians would agree he should not proceed to ordination. A confessor aware of a pattern of sins against chastity should advise the man not to proceed to ordination. Those who must recommend students for ordination should not approve the ordination of candidates manifestly unable to live chastely. This is true of heterosexuals as well as homosexuals.

With that said, the fact of sins against chastity before an ordination would not make the ordination invalid. Canon #1395, however, provides that clerics guilty of living in concubinage or who continue in some other grave external sin against the Sixth Commandment that gives scandal are to be punished, even by suspension and dismissal from the clerical state. The second part of Canon #1395 specifically mentions the cases of force and threats and sins with minors under 16 as deserving of punishments including dismissal.

The fact of personal sin would not make the celebration of the Eucharist-or other sacraments-invalid. To celebrate the Eucharist or other sacraments in mortal sin would be an act of sacrilege but the sacrament would be valid. In the case of the Eucharist the real presence would occur.

As for your other questions, a priest cannot hear his own confession or absolve himself. He must receive the sacrament from and confess to another priest. Nor can a priest absolve anyone over the phone, or the Internet, for that matter! The penitent must be physically present to the absolving priest.



The Wise Man welcomes your questions. If you have a question, please submit it here. Include your street address for personal replies enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, please. Some answer material must be mailed since it is not available in digital form. You can still send questions to: Wise Man, 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
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