What is the Vulgate Bible


The Vulgate

According to today's usage, the (Editio) Vulgate is the Latin translation of the entire Bible, as it has been in common use in the Latin Church since the 7th century. It was not created by a single author in one go, but represents a collection of translations which are very different in origin and value.

The emergence of the Vulgate

In 382 AD, Pope Damasus I commissioned the theologian Jerome to produce a uniform Latin translation of the Bible. The translation was given the name "Vulgate" (Latin for "the folk"). It became the most important translation of the Bible in the Middle Ages and shaped the academic language of universities for centuries with its Latin.

In the Old Testament, most of the books of the Vulgate are direct translations of St. Jerome from the Hebrew. The Psalter, however, is an old Latin text that he only corrected based on Origen's Greek Hexapla. And other books, namely Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and Maccabees, still offer an old Latin form today, as Jerome never edited them.

In the New Testament, all books are based on an Old Latin text which has been improved throughout from the Greek, in the Gospels a little more precise, in the remaining parts much more precisely. The processing of the Gospels certainly comes from St. Jerome; the author is unknown for the other books or book groups. Taken together, then, the Vulgate is by no means uniform, and it can only be described in a wider sense as the work of St. Name Jerome, since the greater part comes from him.

The text transmission of the Vulgate up to the Editio Sixto-Clementina

The text of the Vulgate has been preserved in a great number of manuscripts. The various readings in it tell of the eventful fate of a living text that has been reworked over and over again. As a result, Italy, Spain, Gaul and Ireland each deliver their own reviews, which are clearly different from one another. At the time of Charlemagne, Theodulf von Orléans undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, which has been preserved in some manuscripts. But the number of manuscripts derived from Alcuin is greater; and this text determined the further development up to the Parisian Bible of the Sorbonne in the 13th century and its numerous copies. One of them was the submission of the first printed Bible, on which the following Bible prints depend with almost no changes, even the official Editio Sixto-Clementina. Unfortunately, this text has many shortcomings. It often moves away from the handwritten tradition, partly for literary and partly for dogmatic reasons, and thus offers nothing more than a distant echo of the original Vulgate.

Nova Vulgate - Edition for use in the Catholic Church

The Council of Trent declared the Vulgate in 1546 as "a time-honored, general translation that has been tried and tested in the use of the Church over so many centuries," as authoritative for use in the Catholic Church. Following the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), a Nova Vulgate was created, which checked and stylistically revised the Vulgate translation using the basic Hebrew and Greek texts. It was introduced in 1979 and is intended to be used in the Catholic Church wherever biblical texts in Latin are used.

Biblia Sacra Vulgata - edition for theological study

The scientifically authoritative text of the Vulgate today is the Biblia Sacra Vulgata edited by Robert Weber and Roger Gryson. This edition does not reproduce the Clementina, but is a scholarly review based on the manuscripts. The first edition was published in 1969 by the Württemberg Bible Institute. At that time, the work appeared alongside the other scholarly manual editions that had already been published by the Württembergische Bibelanstalt, the Biblia Hebraica by Kittel, the Septuagint by Rahlfs and, in a smaller format, the New Testament by Nestle-Aland. The aim was to create an edition that also presented the original text as precisely as possible in terms of its external layout, while at the same time taking into account the most important variants.

Forty years later, this critical hand edition of the Vulgate is available in its fifth edition and has established itself as the authoritative scientific edition of the Vulgate. The editor-in-chief today is Roger Gryson.