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Peace on Earth

Saint Jerome’s translation of the Gospel of Saint Luke, Chapter 2, verse 14, is a direct translation from the original Greek: Gloria in altissimus Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.

The King James Bible would later translate this as Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men, not as precise a translation as Saint Jerome’s, and with a whole other meaning; those Jewish angels in King James are wishing peace to everybody, not only to those who deserve it.

The Protestants in England, zealots themselves of course, but having been excommunicated by the Vatican, might have heard in the angelic hallelujahs something a little more expansive; they were included if all were included. The world was growing, it was true; there was a brave new world out there with unexplored continents in it, and the Word of God was no longer in Latin but English where understanding was a given. Or was it?

Painting by Giotto Di Bondone from Scenes of the Life of Christ, Scene della vita di Cristo (1304 – 06)

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