As promised, this is the first installment of our general assessment of Sebastian Schmidt’s Biblia Sacra… Additis Capitum Sumariis et Partionibus, starting with the Gospel of Mark. The reasoning for choosing this book was several, namely (1) the dearth of resources for Classical Lutherans online who are not yet proficient in Latin yet have their fundamentals well-rounded in order to wrestle with so-called live texts[1], (2) a Gospel, being arguably one of the four most familiar books in the Book, should lend itself to sight-reading by this fact and therefore alleviate common translation mental blocks, (3) it is the shortest of these four books and so therefore lends itself to accomplishment (on both my part and yours!) quickest, and (4) it is, by the fact of (3), the most suitable for a test-run.

So, what does this all mean?

In essence, this Latin reader project of the Secundum Marcum Sanctum Evangelium is a project in a trial stage, to not only establish a free online resource for the benefit of the Church but also to dive into this work of Sebastian Schmidt and see what it might have to offer the Church theologically. Admittedly, I am no theologian, but am merely a fallible royal priest armed with the Word of God. At times, my observations from the text might wind up as open questions, answers for which I would be most grateful to discuss down in the comments.

And yet, without further ado, let us begin. (Read along with the Latin Reader, Page 1, published here)

  • I would be remiss not to first mention the boldness eminent in Schmidt’s addition Nimirum, an adverb meaning ‘doubtless, indisputably,’ at the start of verse Marc.I.2. This is to be rendered in the English as “Indisputably just as it was written in the Prophets.” The adverb is a contraction of the phrase ne mirum, which takes the accusative supine as exclamatory and would be aptly translated by the colloquial ‘no doubt!’
  • Next, from the midst of the second and then at the start of the third verse, we get the correlative unoin altero. While this may appear not-so-correlative at first with the former lacking a preposition, this may be easily accounted for as a rhetorical application of variatio, or by the fact that ‘in Prophetis’ preceeds uno and so therefore Schmidt may have seen the preposition as already accounted for in such close apposition.
  • Then, with “Vox clamantis in deserto est” we see the first syntactical completion editorial by Schmidt in this series. For his purposes, the mere participial ‘clamantis’ would suffice, but the existential est needs to proclaim: “There is a voice of one crying[2] in the desert”! Connected with this quotation from Isaiah in a footnote of the original MS are also the appearances of this Scripture in both Matthew III.3, Luke III.4, and John I.23: in the first Gospel the Latin appears composed by Schmidt as “Vox clamantis est in deserto;”, whereas for the physician he writes it as “Vox clamantis in deserto est, dicens,” and John’s rendering is written “Ego sum vox clamantis in deserto,” all while the original situs in Isaiah appears as “Vox clamantis est in deserto.” In my personal opinion, I would deem the original and so therefore that then found in Matthew’s Gospel as less emphatic in contrast to the existential proclamation made by the word order found in Mark I.3.
  • The next point for our consideration is partly covered in the grammatical commentary given on the first page of the Latin Reader. The clause for consideration in particular is the dependent clause ut illa implerentur, but the bigger question is from where does it find its independent clause? That is to say, the use of the word ut+a subjunctive mood verb means that we are dealing with a substantive clause of some sort, which can be safely and plainly translated formulaically as “that,” yet we do not know the antecedent to our “that” nor whence it comes. Here, I argue, we have a substantive clause acting nominally, that is to say, as a noun in predicate position to praedictiones. The translation, then, should be wrought “For according to these Prophetic proclamations, namely that these things would be fulfilled, John was there, baptizing in the desert.” In addition to this, however, we must locate the main clause, and equally important, the main verb which sets this apposite substantive clause of result in the secondary sequence with the imperfect subjunctive verb implerentur. Here the options are between positing an unexpressed fuit in the preceding Nam clause or to place the main clause with fuit Joannes; while the former is semantically closer and for that reason more intuitive, one wonders why Schmidt did not include fuit in his italicized clause preceding the substantive ut clause here: perhaps the verbal idea in praedictiones is already pregnant enough with the past, secondary tense for his estimation that it needed not an express fuit.
  • Then, bookending the verse, we have Schmidt’s further interjection 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”: in the grammatical commentary, I have posited that there is an elided passive present infinitive iri, as the clause et mox praedicaturum Ipsum is co-ordinate with jam venisse due to the conjunction et, both clauses being in indirect discourse off of the verb dicebat. Thus praedicaturum iri would be a future passive to demonstrate subsequent, future time in secondary sequence; had the main verb been present tense dicit, the future passive infinitive would still have been rendered praedicaturum iri but would have been translated “will preach” instead of the secondary sequence necessitating “would preach,” as in, “about to preach.” We could reasonably imagine that the direct statement was ‘mox praedicaturus Ipsum!’
  • The insertion that “et omnes baptizantur qui volebant” is interesting, implying that there may have been a heresy abound in Schmidt’s day that claimed involuntary baptism saved.
  • “quae per baptismum ipsis remittebantur confessis” is one of the more theologically interesting glosses at first glance, as it sets up what Schmidt furthers by the end of this section of Scripture: the difference between John’s and Christ’s baptisms. Here, we are told that the confessed sins, the antecedent of quae, are remitted per baptismum ipsis… confessis: that is, they are remitted on account of the baptism because of the confessions themselves. Whereas in v.8 we read “Nam ego quidem tanquam minister baptizo vos aqua: Ipse vero baptizabit vos Spiritu Sancto tanquam baptismi Dominus.”: “For I indeed baptized ye with water as a minister: but indeed That Man will baptize ye with the Holy Spirit as the Lord of baptism.” For fear of overly-extrapolating from this evidence, allow me to simply paraphrase: Schmidt wants us to read John’s baptism as being merely a baptism of water, on account of which confessed sins are remitted because of the confessions themselves, whereas the baptism of Christ is a baptism of the Holy Spirit as only the Lord of baptism may give. A solitary comment occurs to me that Schmidt may just as well be saying that the baptism of the Holy Spirit remits all sins and not merely those confessed at the time of the baptism.
  • For the participle indutus I have glossed the following “induo: to put on oneself, as in the Gr. middle usage of ἐνδύω, see Aeneid.” With the room here to do so, I shall explain that this is a reference to the Vergilian adaptation of Homeric language in Latin poetry. For those unaware, the Greek language possessed three distinct voices, not merely the active and passive as found in Latin, but a third, middle voice. Without going into too much detail, this middle voice could express an action done by oneself with reflexive reference to one’s self, such as, putting on one’s clothes or armor. It is in the latter case especially that Homer expresses his heroes suiting up for battle, and so the Latin language, thanks to Vergil’s Greek literacy, found itself able to occasionally borrow the morphologically passive participle such as indutus and expressing the middle sense out of it. An argument for induo being a loanword from the Greek ἐνδύω may well be possible.
  • textus is a curiosity for its number: why singular? What is its referent? John? The hide? The camel? If we went with the first answer, we would be forcing a middle-voice reading here where it is unprecedented. The second might well make sense, but the problem presents itself as to why it occurred in the plural pilis first and then in the singular. Perhaps semantically hair, as the singular pilus represents, needs to first be pleated into what can then be aggregately referred to as the hair after appearing in the form of a garment.
  • For our final point of discussion I bring to mind the italicized phrase sicut servus aliquis. The question here remains whether Schmidt is breaking-in, so to say, with his own narratorial voice, or if the implied verb is to be imagined in John’s voice: “as if he were some slave,” esset, or “as if I were some slave,” essemus. For which would you argue?
  1. The liveliness of Schmidt’s Biblia Sacra is quite relevant for our purposes here, as there are many live questions as to just how he uses his editorializing methodology, not only theologically but also linguistically: is Schmidt “butting-in” with his own sort of narratorial voice-over? Or are his words meant to blend, thematically and grammatically, in with the text of Holy Writ?
  2. I have here italicized one due to the fact that whereas Greek was able to use a standalone participle such as is seen in the Septuagint’s Φωνὴ βοῶντος I must stress that this is unfounded for Classical Latin and should therefore be recognized as a Grecism imposed on the text. However, even to render the text as “the voice of crying” would be incorrect as then the participle clamantis would be acting as a gerund which more appropriately would have been written as vox clamandi. Yet admittedly the original βοῶντος was not an articular infinitive written as τοῦ βοὰειν and so clamandi is not entirely warranted. We now see how Schmidt may have arrived at his decision.

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