At the earnest solicitation of large numbers of the religious bodies and laity, we herewith beg leave to introduce to the public a most convenient edition of the Sacred Scriptures, approved by his Eminence, the Cardinal Archbishop of Baltimore, whose recommendation we herewith append.
The Sacred Scriptures form a part of divine revelation; the other part being contained in the depository of the Church, and designated as the unwritten word of God.
This distinction is most happily found couched in the language of St. Paul (2 Thess. 2. 14), " Wherefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word or by our Epistle." The Apostle of the Gentiles thus gives precedence to the unwritten word of God presented to man by the Church, whilst she, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, assumes the office of sole interpreter of the written word, thereby rendering her the sole guardian of the deposit of divine revelation in its twofold form.
On the written revelation, it is highly appropriate that we should here address a few remarks to our readers.
As the book about to be once more presented to the public in a new form claims for itself an origin exclusively divine, we deem it not out of place to furnish, in outline at least, the grounds of that claim.
The work is divided unequally into two parts, viz., the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is a record of God's relations with man antecedently to the advent of the incarnate Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament contains a compendium of the lives of our Saviour and his Apostles, as recorded by the Evangelists and other Apostles.
As to the first part, or Old Testament, the version always recognized by the Church contains many more books than that used by other than Catholics. The reason of this discrepancy is that the Church's version, the Septuagint, the Greek translation from the original Hebrew, and which contained all the writings now found in the Douay version, as it is called, was the version used by the Saviour and his Apostles and by the Church from her infancy, and translated into Latin, known under the title of Latin Vulgate, and ever recognized as the true version of the written word of God.
Hence the Old Testament, containing as it does all embraced in the Septuagint, is not only genuine and authentic, but having the approbation of our Saviour and Apostles, who quoted it exclusively whilst on earth, has superadded to it the supreme character of divine inspiration, which it possesses to the exclusion of all other versions. It stands, therefore, before the world as the sole claimant for integrity, genuineness, authenticity, and inspiration; in a word, as the possessor of every attribute necessary to constitute what no other work can lay claim to, viz., a divinely inspired volume.
Of the genuineness and authenticity of the more recent part of this sacred book, viz., the New Testament, there exists no doubt; but as to its inspiration, the gravest doubts may exist unless an infallible witness thereof can be produced. Whatever grounds may exist vouching for the inspiration of the Apostles as writers, no security whatsoever can be forthcoming for the inspiration of the quotas furnished by Sts. Mark and Luke; the former the writer of a Gospel; the latter also the writer of a Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles; these quotas, forming a prominent part in the composition of the New Testament, remain uninspired, their authors not being Apostles. The only solution to this difficulty is to be found in the testimony of the Church of Christ, which He commands us to " hear," and against which He pledges Himself that " the gates of hell cannot prevail." Her decision, by virtue of the guaranty of her Founder, exalts the New Testament to the dignity of a divinely inspired production, and as she vouches also for the divine character of the Old Testament, we submit to our readers a work that, alone of all publications, comprises, with all the evidences of infallible certitude, the only divine production on earth. The Church of Jesus Christ, by virtue of her divinely endowed infallibility, vouches for the divine origin of the Sacred Scriptures, and as such we respectfully, but confidently, submit them to the public.