A few weeks ago our assistant priest, who is teaching adult formation classes each week, put in a plug for the Vulgate in one of his off hand remarks.
In the last chapter of John we have the famous exchange between Our Lord and Peter where Peter is asked 3 times "Do you love me?". This is the rendering in the Douay-Rheims:
John 21:16 - 17
5 When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. 17 He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.
First, some reference so you can see what you are reading:
amo: to love, like, be fond of, cherish.
diligo: to choose out, esteem highly, prize, love.
New Vulgate: (Clementine Vulgate is the same)
15 Cum ergo prandissent, dicit Simoni Petro Iesus: “ Simon Ioannis, diligis me plus his? ”. Dicit ei: “ Etiam, Domine, tu scis quia amo te ”. Dicit ei: “ Pasce agnos meos ”.
16 Dicit ei iterum secundo: “ Simon Ioannis, diligis me? ”. Ait illi: “ Etiam, Domine, tu scis quia amo te ”. Dicit ei: “ Pasce oves meas ”.
17 Dicit ei tertio: “ Simon Ioannis, amas me? ”. Contristatus est Petrus quia dixit ei tertio: “ Amas me? ”, et dicit ei: “ Domine, tu omnia scis, tu cognoscis quia amo te ”. Dicit ei: “ Pasce oves meas.
I hope I get this right...
Our priest pointed out that in this exchange, Christ was asking diligis me?. He is not asking, "are you fond of me." Amo is friendship love. Christ was asking something greater and then finally accepted Peter's love even at the lowest level he could give. Peter was grieved because twice after Christ asked him "dligis me?" and then "amas me?" it finally sunk in. Christ lowered himself (again) to the level of a man. He meets us where we are. It is quite a meditation.
This was a plug for the Vulgate he said, as this differentiation didn't come over even into the Douay-Rheims Bible. The Vulgate, being in Latin has the capacity word for word to better reflect the underlying Greek text. Not only that, Latin is much more accesible to most of us than Greek. Sure its not perfect but at least we can come closer to the original by using a parallel ancient language. I went home and looked this up in my copy of the New Vulgate (Thank you Moonshadow!) and sure enough there it was.
So I began thinking of all the places where John is called the Beloved disciple. At the foot of the Cross is one that sticks out.
John 19:26, 27
26 When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. 27 After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.
New Vulgate Version
26 Cum vidisset ergo Iesus matrem et discipulum stantem, quem diligebat, dicit matri: “ Mulier, ecce filius tuus ”.
27 Deinde dicit discipulo: “ Ecce mater tua ”.
We always think of "beloved" disciple as sort of this touchy feely kind of thing. At least that has been my impression. John was honored, esteemed, and chosen out by Christ. Thus we are to follow the example of Christ and esteem, honor, (diligebat) , cherish (amo), and love his Church.