I looked about 30 versions of English Bible, of Hebrews 2:17, I found all of them have (high priest) or (chief priest). Only DRB has (priest), the Latin Vulgate has (pontifex).

(pontifex)=member of the principal college of priests.

Hebrews 2:17 (DRB):

Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful priest before God, that he might be a propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17 Latin Vulgate:

  1. unde debuit per omnia fratribus similare ut misericors fieret et fidelis pontifex ad Deum ut repropitiaret delicta populi

Are there versions other than DRB have (priest), not (high priest)?

Wycliffe Bible has: a faithful bishop.

DRB (Douay-Rheims Bible) has (high priest) as translation of (pontificem) of the Latin Vulgate of Hebrews 3:1.

Thus, Hebrews 2:17, pontifex=priest. DRB. Hebrews 3:1, pontificem=high priest. DRB.

  • The original Greek is αρχιερευς, Strong 749. Thayer renders this as 'chief priest' or 'high priest'. The Greek word αρχιερευς is applied to both Caiaphas and Annas in both Mark and Acts. The prefix αρχ- would indicate that it is not just a priest but an high priest or chief priest. – Nigel J Apr 23 '20 at 15:54

The Greek word (in Heb 2:17) ἀρχιερεὺς (archiereus) means "leading priest" or more commonly, "high priest".

The etymology of the Latin "pontifex" is highly disputed. Its most probably original meaning was "maker of roads and bridges". It was a title originally used by the Caesars who also added the epithet, "maximus". Thus, their title, "Pontifex Maximus" means "greatest builder of roads and bridges".

This title was much prized by the medieval popes as is obvious from the countless inscriptions all over the Vatican.

"pontifex" is used in the Latin rather sparingly (eg, John 18:3, 13, etc). In most occasions, "priest" is translated as "sacerdotum"; and "high priest" as "principis sacerdotum" (eg, Matt 26:3, 51, 57, 58, 62, 53, 65, etc). Thus, the Latin is inconsistent and the DRB reflects this.

Even the Jerusalem Bible (translated from the Latin) uses "high priest" as does the NAB (a Catholic Bible) as well. I can find no explanation for this inconsistency in the Latin text.

  • are there versions other than DRB having "priest", not "high priest"?, Anyway, thank you for your great effort.+1. – salah Apr 23 '20 at 22:54
  • could you include the comment in your answer? – salah Apr 23 '20 at 23:10
  • do you mean inconsistency in DRB? – salah Apr 24 '20 at 8:52
  • I mean that the Latin is inconsistent and the DRB faithfully reproduces this inconsistency. – Dottard Apr 24 '20 at 9:49
  • the Latin word is "pontifex" means, clearly, "high priest". Look Hebrews 3:1 in DRB and the Latin Vulgate. DRB sometimes be unfaithful to Latin Vulgate. Pontifex=high priest. – salah Apr 24 '20 at 10:03

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