Commonly called a “translation,” Sebastian Schmidt’s rendering of the Bible into Latin, Biblia Sacra, sive Testamentum Vetus et Novum ex Linguis Originalibus in Linguam Latinam Translatum, Additis Capitum Summariis et Partitionibus should be more properly known as a popular Latin commentary. For while we moderns are accustomed to the occasional editorial italics present in various Bible translation traditions such as the N/KJV and NASB et cetera, Schmidt’s italicized editorials in Scripture frequently exercise a liberal duty of theological exegesis.
Indeed, whereas the former, modern translations take the conservative liberty in letting us occasionally know that the, for instance, verbal aspect of a given verb in the imperfect tense happens to have an inceptive aspect and therefore necessitates the addition of the word began, Schmidt on the other hand is confident that when we are told in Holy Scripture that “John was there, baptizing in the desert, and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,” (Ev.Mar.Cap.I v.4) not only do we need to be told before this that “For it was according to those prophetic preachings, that these were being fulfilled,” but also, after, that the baptism was “of one believing in the Christ, whom he was saying had already come, and That One about Whom he would preach.” This certainly is one of the more extreme examples, yet the general rule is demonstrated: Schmidt has zero qualms bookending Scripture with his own commentary, even at a ratio of 2:1 at times.
However, to his credit, Schmidt does visually remove his italics a step further by placing them in parentheses. Nonetheless, the question remains: what exactly was Schmidt’s intention with such extensive comments? Did he conceive of them as merely popular commentary? Or were these parenthetical, italicized editorials of the utmost doctrinal importance, and therefore of equal necessity for study alongside Scripture?
One way or another, we are left with his end-product: his words are on the same page as His are, whether in the spirit of syntactical completion as the N/KJV-NASB tradition endeavors or elsewise. This series will therefore work toward (1) a general assessment of Schmidt’s Scriptural Latin commentary alongside (2) the progressive publication of a Latin reader of the popular commentary with full vocabulary glosses and grammatical analyses. We hope you find as much edification and stimulation as we do in this survey of the work of the great Lutheran scholar Sebastian Schmidt.