In the link provided, I note that “Augustine's understanding/translation of iustitificare, a Latin term which he held to mean “to make righteous” was “a permissible interpretation of the Latin word”, was “unacceptable as an interpretation of the Hebrew concept which underlies it” – and that this mistranslation became the foundation for the whole Roman Catholic teaching on “justification”.
That is, Augustine missed quite thoroughly the concept of what the Old Testament meant when it said that God was going to “justify” Israel and bring salvation.
I noted further, “This isn’t the only case in which a mistranslation gets made into [Roman Catholic] dogma”.
Fr Bryan did not respond, but this exchanged followed:
Someone named Dennis said:
Regarding #957, your argument goes under the assumption that McGrath is correct and Augustine is wrong. So, it all depends on whom you take as your authority. You implicitly trust McGrath more than Augustine. I disagree. As a matter of fact, I think most people would trust Augustine much more than they would trust McGrath.
Dennis, your appeal to authority is very revealing.
There’s no assumption at all, in the whole piece. We know that words have actual meanings, and we know what those meanings are, and that Augustine didn’t now Hebrew. We know where his understanding of iustitificare came from, and how, precisely, things went wrong. There’s not an assumption in the whole piece.
What I’m saying is we all have an authority. Mine is the Church who has decided on this. Yours is your understanding of McGrath. I think your reading of McGrath is biased on your understanding of Scripture and your disposition on the Catholic Church.
My authority, Dennis, happens to be “what’s true”. What’s really going on there. Your appeal to “authority” to decide a translation issue reminds me of something that Václav Havel wrote in The Power of the Powerless, when he was locked in the deepest bowels of the Soviet system of propaganda:
For even though our dictatorship has long since alienated itself completely from the social movements that give birth to it, the authenticity of these movements (and I am thinking of the proletarian and socialist movements of the nineteenth century) gives it undeniable historicity. These origins provided a solid foundation of sorts on which it could build until it became the utterly new social and political reality it is today, which has become so inextricably a part of the structure of the modern world. A feature of those historical origins was the “correct” understanding of social conflicts in the period from which those original movements emerged. The fact that at the very core of this “correct” understanding there was a genetic disposition toward the monstrous alienation characteristic of its subsequence development is not essential here.
Rome provides the “correct” understanding authoritatively, even if the underlying facts are all wrong. Just like the brutal Soviet regime.
Which came first, however? Which learned this tactic from the other?
It’s true, correlation is not causation. But if its “genetic disposition” looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you have to ask yourself at some point, is it related?