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Been reading the Summa and ran across a verse, or maybe translation, that I couldn’t match up. Aquinas quotes Psalm 11:2 several times and I thought it was a typo but I can’t find the text in any version any where in scripture. Could someone elucidate why?

SUMMA THEOLOGICA First Part (Prima Pars) Question 16. Truth

SIXTH ARTICLE [I, Q. 16, Art. 6] Whether There Is Only One Truth, According to Which All Things Are True?

Psalm 11: 2, "Truths are decayed from among the children of men," says: "As from one man's face many likenesses are reflected in a mirror, so many truths are reflected from the one divine truth."

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The older Latin Vulgate Bible, whose 1592 edition became the official Bible of the Church was already by the time of Aquinas the unofficial standard, and it appears this was the translation he used.

As a note on the numbering, Psalm 10 is an acrostic - the verses begin with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Vulgate counted this as one psalm from first to last letter of the alphabet; other translations from the Hebrew, including the New Vulgate, broke it into two before the verse beginning with lamedh and numbered the second half as Psalm 11,making the psalm in question Psalm 12.

The passage in the older Vulgate, which would have been that available to Aquinas, runs

Salvum me fac, Domine, quoniam defecit sanctus, quoniam diminutæ sunt veritates a filiis hominum.

My translation might be

Make me safe [i.e. "Save me"], Lord, for there is no holy one; for truths have been worn down from [perhaps "from among"] the children of men

which is very nearly the quote referenced from the Douay-Rheims Bible and excerpted in your question. The Nova Vulgata, which is the current official Latin version retranslated from Hebrew and Greek, words the passage almost identically, substituting fideles "faithful/the faithful ones" for veritates "truths".

Looking at the Hebrew original, it appears that Jerome translated the Hebrew word אֱ֝מוּנִ֗ים, an adjective, as a noun. Thus instead of "the faithful/loyal/true ones", he gets "the truths".

It appears then that Aquinas' quote doesn't mean exactly what he thinks it does - though his conclusion is still reasonable.

  • In essence you are saying this is a old translation of what is now often regarded as the second half of Psalms 12:1 – Henry Dec 16 '18 at 9:46
  • Not quite. An old translation of the psalm following what's now regarded as the second half of Psalm 10. – Matt Gutting Dec 16 '18 at 10:00
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The Douay-Rheims translation of Psalm 11:2b reads

…truths are decayed from among the children of men.

or the Vulgate:

…diminutae sunt veritates a filiis hominum.

which St. Thomas quotes verbatim.

The corresponding verse in the book of Psalms in Moseretic-numbered bibles would be 12:2.

  • So the answer is the Summa English version is a translation from the Latin? The Hebrew still doesn’t look anything like 11:2 or 12:2 – Tonyg Dec 16 '18 at 3:15
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    @Tonyg: Try the second half of Psalms 12:1 – Henry Dec 16 '18 at 9:47

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