I have already written on the Irish Würzburg glosses here. I'm working through Romans 3 for school at the moment and so I thought I would examine the Würzburg glosses to see how an early Irish theologian interpreted the same text in the 8th century.
I've reproduced both the biblical text and the glosses here together. The glosses are italicized and were originally written in Gaelic and Latin.
"(23) For all have sinned and do need the glory of God. (24) Being justified freely by his grace [that is, by faith alone, i.e. the faith of belief in Jesus Christ], through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [that is, it is He that has redeemed and it is He also that is the ransom, i.e. by the blood] (25) Whom God had proposed to be a propitiation [that is, it has been set forth in the mysteries of the Godhead, to make atonement for those who believe his liberation would be in the blood], through faith in his blood, [that is, through the faith of every one who believes in his salvation through His blood] to the showing of his justice, for the remission of former sins."
|The gloss 'Per Fidem Solam' |
added in tiny a tiny hand over 'per gratiam ipsius'
What is interesting is the phrase 'by faith alone'. Our Irish scribe added this gloss in Latin (per fidem solam) over verse 24 'justified freely by his grace' (Iustificati gratis per gratiam ipsius) and then expanded it with a Gaelic gloss relating this justification by faith alone to faith in Christ.
Luther was famously criticized for adding 'alone' (allein) to his German translation of Romans 3.28, 'man is justified by faith [alone]', although it doesn't appear in the Greek (or Latin text). Of course Luther's 1522 translation wasn't the first vernacular translation to add 'alone' to Romans 3.28. Several earlier Roman Catholic editions did the same thing (e.g. the Nuremberg Bible of 1488, the Geneva Italian version of 1476). In a similar fashion our 8th century Irish theologian interpreted Romans 3.24 as teaching justification per fidem solam. Luther, it seems, wasn't alone.
|... id est per fidem solam ...|
... per gratiam ...
To view the codex see here.
For further study see:
Ó Néill, Pádraig P., “The Old-Irish glosses of the prima manus in Würzburg, m.p.th.f.12: text and context reconsidered”, in: Richter, Michael, and Jean-Michel Picard (eds.), Ogma: essays in Celtic studies in honour of Próinséas Ní Chatháin, Dublin: Four Courts, 2002. 230–242.
Breen, Aidan, “The Biblical text and sources of the Würzburg Pauline glosses (Romans 1–6)”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Irland und Europa im früheren Mittelalter: Bildung und Literatur / Ireland and Europe in the early Middle Ages: learning and literature, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1996. 9–16.
Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, “Notes on the Würzburg glosses”, in: Ní Chatháin, Próinséas, and Michael Richter (eds.), Irland und die Christenheit: Bibelstudien und Mission. Ireland and Christendom: the Bible and the missions, Veröffentlichungen des Europa Zentrums Tübingen. Kulturwissenschaftliche Reihe, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1987. 190–199.