THE FACTS ABOUT the words VERBUM AND VERBO AND WHY NO TRUE BIBLE BELIEVER SHOULD ACCEPT THOSE WORDS!
by Robert Breaker
Although all defenders of modern Bibles in Spanish use a Spanish Bible that reads "Verbo" in John 1:1 in speaking of Jesus Christ, very few know how or why their Bible reads this way. Nor do they realize that this is a CATHOLIC WORD derived from a Roman Catholic Latin text. Still, they defend that word dogmatically. The question must be asked, "Why?" Is it because they too are Catholic? Or is it rather just ignorance on their part? How could they claim to be anti-catholic, but then choose a word given to us by the Catholics themselves? This is a pertinent and important question.
In this article, facts will be given to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the Spanish Bible did not always read this way. Further, it will prove to any true Bible Believer why we should not use that term. For if we are truly Bible Believers, we should not wish to accept Catholic terms that have been inserted into our Bibles by the papists themselves.
Cipriano de Valera said it best in 1602 when he penned the words, "For it is not right to conform the certain with the uncertain, the word of God with the word of men." The question then to you today is, "Do you want GOD'S words in your Bible or man's CATHOLIC words?" The choice is up to you.
This article will deal with two different languages, Latin and Spanish. And it will expose those hypocritical LIARS today who defend the Spanish word "Verbo" and the Latin word "Verbum" while at the same time they claim to be in English King James Bible defenders, and true Bible Believers and anti-papists. How could they make this claim while trying to defend Catholic words in other languages?
Let us begin where we should begin. Let's beginning in the beginning. The King James says, "In the beginning was the Word..." in John 1:1.
Now, how does this passage read in Spanish? Let's look at eight different versions to see. The following is from Stephen Hite's "Octapala," a work which gives the New Testament verse by verse of eight different Spanish versions. Look at each one in John 1:1:
Now notice first off that the older Protestant versions from the fifteen and sixteen hundreds are all in agreement with the word "Palabra" in speaking of Jesus Christ, the "Word" in English. But then notice the change. In 1793 we suddenly have a new word substituted into the text. Instead of Palabra, we find, "Verbo." Why is this? And why do those versions after that 1793 all use Verbo as well?
The fact of the matter is the 1793 text is that of one Felipe Scio de San Miguel, a Catholic who was authorized by the Catholic Church to translate the Bible into Spanish directly from the Roman Catholic Vulgate!
And what is the word in the Catholic Vulgate in speaking of Jesus Christ in John 1:1? It is the Latin word "Verbum." It does not take much imagination to see that the word Verbo is a derivative of the Latin word Verbum. In fact, they have the exact same root. So to argue that Verbo is not a Catholic word is to present a very shallow argument. The words look very close. But to some, this isn't enough information. So we must delve deeper into the Latin text itself.
Mr. Luis Vega wrote an article entitled, "Breaker's Allegation of 'Verbo' Refuted," in which he states that Robert Breaker has "shockingly declared that the word 'Verbo' is a Catholic word." (Is it really that much of a shock? It won't be as we look further into it). He further states, "The ONLY way the word 'Verbum' could be accurately considered a Catholic word is if it originated from the Roman Catholic RELIGION or a Catholic TEXT." (emphasis mine on those words in all caps).
Mr. Luis has set the bar for us. Thus, let's look at the facts to see if the Latin word Verbum does indeed come from the Catholic religion and the Catholic text, for as we study, we find that Sermo rather than Verbum has been the preferred Latin word by the early church before 200 A.D.
I cite the following from Marjorie O'Rourke Boyle, who wrote the scholarly work, "Sermo; Reopening the Conversation on Translating Jn. 1:1," published in 1977 by North-Holland Publishing. The words in Bold all caps I have added for emphasis.
"Tertullian [160-225 A.D.] and Cyprian [who died in 258 A.D.] quote Sermo in EVERY CITATION of the opening of the Johannine prologue. In addition to eight quotations, there is Tertulian's valuable, impartial testimony Adversus Praxean that THE CUSTOM OF LATIN CHRISTIANS WAS TO READ, 'In principio era SERMO,' although he preferred ratio to Sermo. Cyprian twice quotes Jn 1:1 in Adversus Iudaeos ad quirinum as 'in principio fuit SERMO, et SERMO erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Sermo.' He also interprets Sermo as Christ in three three Psalm verses and a passage from the Book of Revelation. CYPRIANO IS ACKNOWLEDGED A SUPERIOR SOURCE OF THE OLD LATIN BIBLE BECAUSE OF HIS ANTIQUITY, and because he repeats almost one-ninth of the New Testament. But if the modern theory of dual North African and European sources for the Old Latin Bible is correct, then Sermo in Tertulian and Cyprian may only demonstrate the former tradition. No European patristic writings in Latin contemporaneous with Tertullian survive for comparison. SERMO REMAINS THEN THE EARLIEST EXTANT LATIN TRANSLATION OF logos IN JOHN 1:1 and on Tertullian's word the reading commonly circulated."
For this hefty confession, it's hard to believe that Verbum has always been the word used in Latin. But we must continue, for we find specifically who it was that changed the word from Sermo to Verbum. I quote from the same source.
"Verbum FIRST OCCURS as a translation for logos in John 1:1 in Novatian's tract on the Trinity, but he reports Sermo also. After Novatian this ambivalence about Sermo and Verbum disappears until Augustine REVIVES IT. Hilary nine times cites the opening verses of the Johannine prologue an IN EVERY INSTANCE, logos is translated as Verbum. By the fourth century Verbum is UNIVERSALLY PREFERRED IN THE WEST."
Now, anyone who knows about the CATHOLIC CHURCH knows that they started around 324-325 A.D. with Constantine. Thus, we have a source here telling us that before that time, SERMO was the accepted reading. But then we find that someone begins using Verbum also, and began to prefer that reading. Who was that? Let's read on:
"...Eusebius Vercellensis' treatise on the Trinity quotes verbum in every citation of the prologue. His evidence is important not ony because he may have transmitted the oldest European version of the Gospels, preserved in the codex Vercellensis, but because he prefixes his citation of the verse with the explicit phrase, 'It is written.' Isaac Judaeus, in his exposition on the CATHOLIC FAITH at about the same time, also quotes verbum in the prologue, preceded by 'thus it is said.'"
Notice this. We have men who quote verbum and they are connected with the Catholic faith. I continue quoting:
"...Lactantius quotes verbum as the translation for logos in John 1:1, but in the context of the demonstration that logos means SERMO or ratio... The tradition of sermo as a translation for logos in Jn. 1:1 surfaces again with AUGUSTINE'S statement of two manuscript traditions, one which transcribed Sermo and the other, Verbum... Perhaps Jerome was ignorant of Sermo as the traditional translation for logos in Jn. 1:1. Without leaving an explanation, he chose Verbum, a decision which astonished Erasmus."
Now, let us stop for a moment and look at what we've just read. Augustine wrote many works, and they all are very Catholic in nature. In fact, many of the modern Catholic doctrines comes from him. Further, we see mention of Jerome. Who was he? He was commissioned to put forth the authoritative, official Roman Catholic Bible in Latin, which we now call the LATIN VULGATE. Are you starting to see how this all comes together? The true Church, the early Church used Sermo. The corrupt, CATHOLIC church chose to depart from God's word and insert their own word into the text, Verbum.
Now, some people would not be bothered by this, thinking they are just synonyms, and therefore not a problem. So let's again get back to our article by Boyle and read some more interesting statements:
"Although the fathers sometimes used the words interchangeably, sermo and verbum are NOT SYNONYMOUS. THEY MAY EVEN BE REGARDED AS ANYONYMS. VERBUM MAY BE ARGUED A GRAMMATICALLY INACCURATE, at least INAPPROPRIATE translation for logos in Jn. 1:1. Among its denotations, logos means speech: a continuous statement, narrative, oration; verbal expression or utterance; a particular utterance or saying; expression, utterance, speech regarded formally... in opposition to a discrete word (verbum) [which]...was a continuous statement such as a FABLE, LEGEND, STORY, or speech delivered in a court of assembly. Rarely meaning a single word logos could never signify grammatically a vocable... During the fourth century sermo became the Christian word for preaching, including catechesis and exegesis."
Do you get this? Sermo had to do more with PREACHING, while Verbo had to do more with fables, legends, and stories. Why is this important? For as we study Jerome, we find that he went to school in Alexandria, Egypt, and we can tie his professors back to Origen and then clear back to Plato and Aristotle and the Greek metaphorical teachings of the Bible, rather than the literal understanding of it. In other words, they spiritualized many passages and looked at them as only legend rather than accepting them dogmatically as true. And as you study the Catholic Church, you find that because of this they have always either added to, subtracted from, or changed the Biblical text according to their own desires, because they didn't believe it to be literal.
So here we have the connection of the word Sermo with the early church 100 to 200 years after Jesus Christ. Then we find the word adopted by the Catholics who do not believe the scriptures are infallible, and who have a practice of changing God's word. So it was without a doubt, the Catholics who changed the Latin text from Sermo to Verbo.
What does this matter, some might say? Good question, for it does matter. Why because it's not only a grammatical question, but a doctrinal one. Let's continue reading together from Boyle's work:
"Verbum is grammatically the single word...Verbum means one word... In the singular its meaning may extend to a sententia, but THIS USAGE IS ANTE-CLASSICAL. The widest range of speech with verbum properly includes is a proverb. In grammatical parlance, verbum is a verb. THE GREK COUNTERPART OF VERBUM IS NOT logos but legeis, precisely a vocable that logos CAN NEVER SIGNIFY GRAMMATICALLY... There appears to be in Latin patristic thought, and this is speculation on a rationale for verbum, a fusion or CONFUSION OF THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST AS REVELATION (logos) and as the only-begotten (monognehs) so tha the Son has been conceptualized as one Word. Trinitarian definitions of the Son's distinction from the Father reflected CHRISTIAN BELIEF IN THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST'S MEDIATION IN THE DIVINE ECONOMY. TERTULLIAN FIRST CLAIMED THAT THE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY ARE NUMERICALLY DISTINCT, although inseparable, and thus 'capable of being counted.' BUT IT WAS AUGUSTINE WHO...WISHED TO DISCLOSE A SON WHO WAS THE UNIQUE, SINGLE GENERATION OF THE FATHER...HE HARMONIZED THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON WITH VERBUM... Aquinas refined the confusion by arguing that because God understands himself and all creation by one act, only one Word is begotten. His doctrine of verbum does include belief in the Son as the Father's revealing conversation with all creatures, BUT HIS CHOICE OF THE TERM VERBUM UNDERMINES IT."
That's a lot to read, I know. But look at what that's saying. It says Augustine chose Verbum because he was messed up in his doctrine. Thus, Sermo vs Verbum becomes not only a grammatical issue, but a DOCTRINAL ISSUE! To use Verbum is to confuse people about the trinity. Is Jesus one only or his he part of the godhead which consists of three?
Now let's get back to the grammatical issue of the Latin word Verbum. Let us continue to read Boyle, for it there we understand more plainly how Sermo portrays Jesus as part of the trinity, while Verbum shows him more of a single unit and not necessarily part of the trinity:
"For Erasmus, editing the first Greek and Latin edition of the New Testament, this semantic indiscretion of the early Church diminished its faithful testimony to Christ as the Father's eloquent oration to men. 'Sermo' he argued, 'more perfectly explains why the evangelist wrote logos, because among Latin-speaking men verbum does not express speech as a whole but on particular saying. But Christ is for this reason called logos: because whatsoever the Father speaks, he speaks through the Son.' Because the logos is the Father's copious discourse, his sufficient revealing oration, verbum (on word) IS INADEQUATE to designate him. ...Erasmus [therefore] restored Sermo. ...One can choose verbum... or one can employ the GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT SERMO, RENDERING THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT FAITHFULLY, AND RESTRICT ITS THEOLOGICAL APPLICATION.
Now, I realize this has been very long. But look at what we have learned about the word Verbum in comparison to the earlier word Sermo. Without a doubt, verbum is the Catholic word, a word which downgrades, albiet ever so slightly, the deity of Christ. Further, it is not grammatically correct, and it opens the door to legend and fable rather than the literal teaching of who Jesus Christ really is: GOD manifest in the flesh. Finally, should we argue with such a notable scholar as Erasmus, who said that the correct and faithful rendering of the Greek N.T. word logos is indeed Sermo in Latin and not Verbum?
These are the simple facts between the words, Sermo vs Verbum. And since Hispanic people are known as "Latinos" shouldn't we when we are looking at the Latin words which speak of Jesus make sure we choose the correct Latin word? That Latin word would not NOT be the Catholic word Verbo. Thus, why should we desire a word in Spanish that comes from that word? Why choose Verbo over Palabra? Wouldn't we be choosing Catholicism over the early Church? And, in choosing Verbo over Palabra, wouldn't we be choosing sound doctrine over watered down doctrine.
In translating the Bible, we do not need the Latin Vulgate text. In fact both Reina and Valera were very much against the Catholic Latin Vulgate. Just look at the words of Cassiodoro de Reina in his Spanish Bible in speaking of that version:
"First, we declare that we have not followed completely or in all the old Latin translation, that is in common use: for although its ancient authority is mighty, neither one or the other should excuse the many errors that it has, departing so many innumerable times from the truth of the Hebrew text; others adding; others transposing from one place to another, all of which though could well be prevented, it cannot be denied."
If Reina did not appreciate the Vulgate and he proclaimed it had many errors, why should we Hispanics and Spanish-speakers desire to have a Spanish translation that willingly choses to use the Catholic word "Verbo," which came directly from the Catholic Vulgate, anti-early Church reading of "Verbum?"
Many of those today who defend Verbo claim to be King James only in English. If this be so, why are they so against the word "Palabra?" For if you translated from Greek to English or Greek to Spanish, the Greek word logos would be word and palabra.
Without a doubt, someone is very unstable in their thinking.
With this stated, let's move away from what we've proven to be a Catholic word in the Latin Verbum, and let's now look at the Spanish word "Verbo" used in many modern translations.
Above we've seen that this word was not found in any Spanish Bible text until 1793, when a CATHOLIC SPANIARD put it there. Why? Because he took it DIRECTLY from the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate. (Or to be fair, he took the ROOT word "verb..." straight from the Catholic text. Why should we allow that word to take root in our text?)
So how did it then get into those many so-called "Protestant Versions" after that date in Spanish? For we clearly see the word Verbo used in the 1865, the 1909, and the 1960. (It's even currently used in the modern Gomez 2004 and 2010). The reason is because of the SPANISH INQUISITION, which did not officially end until the end of the 1880's (when it stopped finally in south America). And because of this, many Bible Societies which claimed to be Protestant took the old Valera Bible of 1602 (which used Palabra in John 1:1) and they mixed it with the Catholic text of Scio, (which reads Verbo in John 1:1). Their motive was to make their translations appear to be Catholic to the papists, and their hope was that they would not be burned by the Catholic priests who often practiced book burnings of Protestant literature.
Bill Kincaid supports this with the following words, "With the end of the Inquisition... the Foreign Bible Society (British) began distributing Catholic Spanish Bibles adapted (Apocrypha and notes removed) from the Felipe Scio (1790's). Scio was a Roman Catholic priest whose translation was reprinted presumably with hopes it would be allowed to circulate."
This is where the word Verbo was inserted into the Protestant texts. But should we accept what they did? Especially now, since the Spanish Inquisition is long over? Shouldn't we now go BACK to the old Protestant word?
Imagine what those who use a Bible today with the word "Verbo" have done. They have allowed the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Bible Societies to bully them into using a Roman Catholic term. And just as the Catholic Church changed Sermo to Verbum in Latin several centuries after Christ, they have now changed Palabra to Verbo in Spanish several centuries after the reformation. What's next? Changing Word to Verb in English Bibles?
No, anyone who knows of the horrible atrocities of the Catholic Church under the Spanish Inquisition, and the false doctrine they've formed in opposition to the true Church of God over the centuries should not let Catholicism dictate which word they should use. We should not allow Papists to change our Bibles! Be it in one word, or many words. We who are true Bible Believers should be righteously indignant and take a stand against this! Sadly, many who claim to be true Bible Believers do the exact opposite, and defend Verbo overPalabra in their Spanish text.
Let us look at their reasons why they seek to defend such a catholic word.
First, many claim that Verbo is superior to Palabra as it is a masculine word rather than a feminine Spanish word like palabra. They then claim that because of the rules of Spanish grammar, the word palabra must be spoken of as ella in the text, and that this word always means she. But is this true?
No, the truth is that just because a word in Spanish is masculine or feminine does not mean that the actual thing the word references is masculine or feminine. No one was calling Jesus a "woman" in using "La Palabra" to speak of him. In fact, all the old Spanish Bibles called him that, and they were not labeling Christ a female or effeminate.
There are many times in which the Spanish scriptures speak of Jesus in the form of a word that is feminine. But that does not make our Lord and Saviour a woman. For example, Jesus is called:
La Luz, La Resureccion, La Vida, La Verdad, La Puerta, etc.
None of these make him a female. They are only the gender of the words, not the gender of the person.
Thus, this argument is very foolish indeed, and is either the argument of someone who doesn't know Spanish and basic Spanish grammar, or it is someone who is manifesting too much of the chauvinistic "macho" Latino attitude that is so prevalent in Latin America. But this is an emotional argument, and not a grammatical one.
Next, those who today defend Verbo over Palabra do so by saying that God used the Catholics to preserve for us the right word Verbo.
If they want to defend this argument, then more power to them. But the facts are very transparent. God didn't use Catholics to give us his word or words. God has always had his true Church throughout the history of the Church age, and he has used the King James translators to give us the pure, preserved, inerrant, infallible, inspired, word of God today in the English language. Now, most of the guys who claim to be KJV only in English would agree with this statement. But then they would make an about face in Spanish and claim that it's different, and in Spanish God rather used Roman Catholics to give Spanish-speakers his word for them, even though it doesn't read like the KJV.
This is a totally illogical position, and hardly worthy of comment. Further, if those Spaniards of yester year that went through the Spanish Inquisition and suffered continually for the cause of Christ and his word were here today, I'm sure they'd cry aloud against such a irrational idea. For it's always been the Catholic Church that sought to PROHIBIT people from translating the scriptures into other languages than Latin. And if and when they did allow it, they only permitted translations from the VULGATE, their own official Bible. You know the one with "errors," or at least that's what Reina said about that version. I'm sure those old Spanish Protestants would roll over in their graves if they could hear this argument being propagated today by those who claim to be true Bible Believers.
The final argument I've heard used in defense of Verbo in Spanish is that of it's usage being so widely accepted for the last 300 years, that it is the only word that Spanish-speakers will understand today. But is this true? Should we allow the Roman Catholic Church to define words and change the Spanish language and force us to speak a certain way? I trow not!
Verbo is a papist word from a papal text. It is a Catholic word, period! But most of these guys who defend it, while claiming to be anti-papist, run to the Spanish dictionary. They usually choose the Real Academia (Royal Academy) Spanish Dictionary. But they hardly ever consider that this dictionary is BIAS towards Catholicism, and it's for this reason that they define Verbo as the only word to apply to Jesus in Jn. 1:1. But not all dictionaries define Verbo as the only possible word that can be used. In fact, Palabra is perfectly acceptable.
This ends our study on the word Verbo. It is author's hope that Spanish and English Speakers alike will awake to the fact that they have allowed the Catholic Church to dictate to them what they should read in reference to Jesus Christ in John 1:1 in the Spanish Bibles. It should be further mentioned that the only Spanish Bible available today that goes clear back to the old Protestant Spanish Bibles of the Reformation in keeping Palabra rather than Verbo is the Valera 1602 Purified Spanish Bible.
It is my hope that people will stand up and speak out on this issue. For if they do not, what more will the Catholic Church give us? And if they give the papists their Bibles, what more will they give? And how much closer shall they move to the Catholic Church? We already see ecumenicalism all around us, and we find that it's purpose is to take Christians denominations back to Rome. Will you go along with them? Or will you stand alone?
For more reading on the words "verbo" vs. "palabra" please click on the following links below: