LET me assure Ian Maxfield (Letters, 11 June) that my intention was not to belittle Roman Catholic work on Scripture translation or education, but rather to point out the dramatic changes following the Reformation, leading to greater freedom of enquiry and expression. This gives the lie to the accusation made earlier in these columns that the Church is always against free speech and education.
The Douay-Rheims version was a product of the counter-Reformation. It was a translation from the Latin Vulgate, whereas the King James translators used the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. They consulted and used previous translations such as those of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, the Bishop’s Bible and, to a lesser extent, the Douay-Rheims New Testament.
The Douay-Rheims version did not gain great popularity until it was extensively revised by Challoner in the 18th century. He made use of the King James Version. Good scholars make use of all the sources they can get.
It is also worth remembering that Wycliffe and Tyndale were persecuted for their translations of the Scriptures into English. Free availability of the Christian Scriptures is usually opposed by dictatorial regimes.
(Rev Dr) Donald M MacDonald
Blackford Avenue, Edinburgh