From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

VULGATE . 1. The position of the Latin Vulgate, as a version of the original texts of the Bible, has been dealt with in the two articles on the Text of the OT and the NT. But its interest and importance do not end there. Just as the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , apart from its importance as evidence for the text of the OT, has a history as an integral part of the Bible of the Eastern Church, so also does the Vulgate deserve consideration as the Bible of the Church in the West. Although the English Bible, to which we have been accustomed for nearly 300 years, is in the main a translation from the original Hebrew and Greek, it must be remembered that for the first thousand years of the English Church the Bible of this country, whether in Latin or in English, was the Vulgate. In Germany the conditions were much the same, with the difference that Luther’s Bible was still more indebted to the Vulgate than was our AV [Note: Authorized Version.]; while in France, Italy, and Spain the supremacy of the Vulgate lasts to this day. In considering, therefore, the history of the Vulgate, we are considering the history of the Scriptures in the form in which they have been mainly known in Western Europe.

2. The textual articles above mentioned have shown that, when Jerome’s Biblical labours were at an end, about a.d. 404, the Latin Bible as left by him was a very complex structure, the parts of which differed very considerably in their relations to the original Greek and Hebrew texts. The Canonical Books of the OT, except the Psalms, were Jerome’s fresh translation from the Massoretic Hebrew. The Psalms were extant in three forms ( a ) the Roman , Jerome’s slightly revised edition of the OL, which still held its own in a few churches; ( b ) the Gallican , his more fully revised version from the Hexaplar text of the LXX [Note: Septuagint.]; and ( c ) the Hebrew , his new translation of the Massoretic text; of these it was the second, not the third, that was taken into general use. Of the deutero-canonical books, or Apocrypha, Judith and Tobit, with the additions to Daniel, were in Jerome’s very hasty version; the remainder, which he had refused to touch (as not recognized by the Massoretic canon), continued to circulate in the OL. The Gospels were Jerome’s somewhat conservative revision of the OL; the rest of the NT was a much more superficial revision of the same. The Latin Bible, therefore, which we know as the Vulgate was not wholly Jerome’s work, still less did it represent his full and final views on the textual criticism of the Bible; and, naturally, it did not for a long time acquire the name of ‘Vulgate.’ The ‘vulgata editio,’ of which Jerome himself speaks, is primarily the Gr. LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , and secondarily the OL as a translation of it. It is not until the 13th cent. that the epithet is found applied to Jerome’s version by Roger Bacon (who, however, also uses it of the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ); and it was canonized, so to speak, by its use in the decree of the Council of Trent, which speaks of it as ‘hæc ipsa vetus et vulgata editio.’ By that time, however, it differed in many points of detail from the text which Jerome left behind him; and it is of the history of Jerome’s version during this period of some twelve hundred years that it is proposed to speak in the present article.

3. Jerome’s correspondence and the prefaces attached by him to the several books of his translation (notably those prefixed to the Pentateuch, Joshua, Ezra and Nehemiah, Job, Isaiah, and the Gospels) sufficiently show the reception given to his work by his contemporaries. He complains constantly and bitterly of the virulence of his critics, who charge him with deliberate perversions of Scripture, and refuse to make themselves acquainted with the conditions of his task. Especially was this the case with the OT. In the NT Jerome had restrained his correcting pen, and made alterations only when the sense required it [‘Ita calamo temperavimus ut his tantum quæ sensum videbantur mutare correctis, reliqua manere pateremur ut fuerant’ ( PrÅ“f . ad Damasum )]; and though even these were sufficient to cause discontent among many readers, the openings given to adverse criticism were relatively insignificant. But in the case of the OT the basis of the OL rendering to which people were accustomed was the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , the differences of which from the Massoretic Hebrew are often very wide. When, therefore, readers found whole passages omitted or transposed, and the meanings of very many sentences altered beyond all recognition, they believed that violence was being done to the sacred text; nor were they prepared to admit as axiomatic the superiority of the Hebrew text to the Greek, the OT of the Jews to the OT of the Christians. Even Augustine, who commended and used Jerome’s revision of the Gospels, questioned the expediency of the far-reaching changes made in the OT.

4 . Nor was Jerome’s translation assisted by authority to oust its predecessor. Never until 1546 was it officially adopted by the Roman Church to the exclusion of all rivals. It is true that the revision of the Gospels was undertaken at the instance of Pope Damasus, and was published under the sanction of his name; and the Gallican version of the Psalms was quickly and generally adopted. But the new translation of the OT from the Hebrew had no such shadow of official authority. It was an independent venture of Jerome’s, encouraged by his personal friends (among whom were some bishops), and deriving weight from his reputation as a scholar and from the success of his previous work, but in no sense officially commissioned or officially adopted. It was thrown on the world to win its way by its own merits, with the strong weight of popular prejudice against it, and dependent for its success on the admission of its fundamental critical assumption of the superiority of the Massoretic Hebrew to the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] . It is not to be wondered at if its progress in general favour was slow, and if its text was greatly modified before it reached the stage of universal acceptance.

5 . The extant evidence (consisting of occasional statements by ecclesiastical writers, and their ascertainable practice in Biblical quotations) is not sufficient to enable us to trace in detail the acceptance of Jerome’s version in the various Latin-speaking countries. Gaul, as it was the first country to adopt his second Psalter, was also the first to accept the Vulgate as a whole, and in the 5th cent. the use of it appears to have been general there; but Gaul, it must be remembered, from the point of view of Christian literature, was at this time confined mainly to the provinces of the extreme south. Isidore of Seville, however, testifies to the general use of the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] by all churches, as being alike more faithful and more lucid than its predecessors. In the 6th cent. it is probable that its use was general among scholars. Victor of Capua, about 541, finding a Latin version of the Diatessaron according to the OL text, and being desirous of making it generally known, had it transcribed, with the substitution of the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] for the OL. Gregory the Great ( d . 604) used the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] as the basis of his commentary on Job, but speaks of both versions as existing and recognized by the Church (‘Novam translationem dissero, sed, ut comprobationis causa exigit, nunc novam nunc veterem per testimonia assumo; ut, quia sedes Apostolica utraque utitur, mei quoque labor studii ex utraque fulciatur’). On the other hand, Primasius is evidence of the continued use of the OL in Africa; and a considerable number of the extant fragments of OL MSS are of the 6th cent. or later date [see Text of MT [Note: Massoretic Text.] , 20 ]. In general it is probable that the old version was retained by the common people, and by such of the clergy as took little interest in questions of textual scholarship, long after it had been abandoned by scholars. In any case, it is certain that the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] was never officially adopted in early times by the Roman Church, but made its way gradually by its own merits. The continuance of the OL in secluded districts is illustrated by the fact that Cod. Colbertinus ( c ) was written as late as the 12th cent. in Languedoc, and Cod. Gigas ( g of the Acts) in the 13th cent. in Bohemia.

6 . Although this method of official non-interference was probably necessary, in view of the fact that Jerome’s version of the OT was a private venture, and one which provoked much hostile criticism, and although in the end the new translation gained the credit of a complete victory on its merits as the superior version for general use, nevertheless the price of these advantages was heavy. If the Vulgate had enjoyed from the first the protection of an official sanction, which Sixtus and Clement ultimately gave to the printed text, it would have come down to us in a much purer form than is actually the case. Under the actual conditions, it was peculiarly exposed to corruption, both by the ordinary mistakes of scribes and by contamination with the familiar OL. In some cases whole books or chapters in a Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] MS contain an OL text; for some reason which is quite obscure, Mt. especially tended to remain in the earlier form. Thus Codd. g  : 1 , h , r  : 2 all have Mt. in OL, and the remaining Evv. in Vulgate. Cod. Gigas is OL in Acts and Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] , Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] in the rest of the Bible. Cod. p of the Acts is OL in   Acts 1:1 to   Acts 13:6;   Acts 28:16-30 , while the rest of the book is Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] Codd. ff  : 1 , g  : 2 of the Gospels and ff of Cath. Epp. have texts in which OL and Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] are mixed in various proportions. Even where OL elements do not enter to a sufficient extent to be noteworthy, MSS of the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] tend to differ very considerably. In the absence of any central authority to exercise control, scribes treated the text with freedom or with carelessness, and different types of text grew up in the different countries of Western Europe. It is with these different national texts that the history of the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] in the Middle Ages is principally concerned.

7 . During the 5th and 6th centuries, when Jerome’s version was winning its way outwards from the centre of the Latin-speaking Church, the conditions over a large part of Western Europe were ill fitted for its reception. Gaul, in the 5th cent., was fully occupied with the effort first to oppose and then to assimilate the heathen Frankish invaders; and even in the 6th it was a scene of almost perpetual war and internal struggles. Germany was almost wholly pagan. Britain was in the throes of the English conquest, and the ancient British Church was submerged, except in Wales and Ireland. Outside Italy, only Visigothic Spain (Arian, but still Christian, until about 596) and Celtic Ireland were freely open at first to the access of the Scriptures; and in these two countries (cut off, as they subsequently were, from central Christendom by the Moorish invasion of Spain and the English conquest of Britain) the two principal types of text came into being, which, in various combinations with purer texts from Italy, are found in the different MSS which have come down to the present day. From the Visigothic kingdom the Spanish influences made their way northward into the heart of France. Irish missionaries carried the Bible first into southern Scotland, then into Northumbria, then into northern France and up the Rhine into Germany, penetrating even into Switzerland and Italy, and leaving traces of their handiwork in MSS produced in all these countries. Meanwhile Rome was a constant centre of attraction and influence; and to and from Italy there was an unceasing stream of travellers, and not least between Italy and distant Britain. These historical facts find their illustration in the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] MSS still extant, which can be connected with the various churches.

8 . In the 6th and 7th cent. the primacy of missionary zeal and Christian enterprise rested with the Irish Church; but in the latter part of the 7th and the first half of the 8th cent. the Church of Northumbria sprang into prominence, and added to the gifts which it had received from Iona a spirit of Christian scholarship which gave it for a time the first place in Christendom in this respect. In the production of this scholarship the arrival of Theodore of Tarsus as archbishop of Canterbury in 669 happily co-operated, if it was not a chief stimulus; for Theodore and his companions brought with them from Italy copies of the Latin Bible in a purer text than Ireland had been able to provide. There is clear evidence to show that the celebrated Lindisfarne Gospels (Y in Wordsworth’s numeration) was copied from one of these MSS, and the same was probably the case with another Northern copy of the Gospels now in the British Museum (Royal 1 B vii.). The great Cod. Amiatinus (A) itself, the best single MS of the Latin Bible in existence, was written in Northumbria before 716, and must have been copied from MSS brought from Italy either by Theodore or by Ceolfrid of Jarrow, by whose order it was made. Other MSS (notably ∆ and S), written in the north, are closely akin to these, and must he derived from the same source; and this whole group of MSS furnishes the best text of the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] now available. The centres of English scholarship, to which this pre-eminence in Biblical study was due, were the twin monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, of which the most famous members were Ceolfrid and Bede; but their influence spread widely over Northumbria, and was renowned in the more distant parts of England and western Europe.

9 . To this renown it was due that, when a king at last arose in France with a desire to improve the religious education of his country, he turned to Northumbria for the necessary assistance to carry out the reform. The king was Charlemagne, and the scholar whom he invited to help him was Alcuin of York; and the record of their joint achievement constitutes the next chapter in the history of the Vulgate. Alcuin came to France in 781, and was made master of the schools attached to Charlemagne’s court at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen). He was subsequently made titular abbot of Tours, and in 796 he obtained leave to retire to that monastery, where he spent the nine remaining years of his life ( d . 805) in establishing the school of calligraphy for which Tours was long famous. His work in connexion with the Latin Bible falls into two stages. To the earlier part of his life at Aix belongs, in all probability, the beginning of a series of magnificent copies of the Gospels, of which several have survived to the present day. Certainly, they date from about this period, and have their home in the country of the Rhine and the Moselle. They are obviously modelled on the Anglo-Celtic MSS, of which the Lindisfarne Gospels is the most eminent example. Prefixed to each Gospel is a portrait of the Evangelist (in the Byzantine style), a full page of elaborate decoration, and another containing the first words of the Gospel in highly ornamental illumination. The English MSS excel their French successors in elaboration and skill of workmanship; but the French books have an added gorgeousness from the lavish use of gold, the whole of the text being written in gold letters, sometimes upon purple vellum. Hence the whole series of these books (the production of which continued through the greater part of the 9th cent.) is often described as the ‘Golden Gospels.’

10 . The importance of the ‘Golden Gospels’ group of MSS is artistic rather than textual, and although their dependence upon Anglo-Celtic models is obvious, their connexion with Alcuin personally is only hypothetical. It is otherwise in both respects with another great group of MSS, which are directly due to the commission given by Charlemagne to Alcuin to reform the current text of the Vulgate. About the end of 796, Alcuin established the school of Tours, and sent to York for MSS to enable him to carry out his work. On Christmas Day of 801 he presented to the king a complete Bible, carefully revised. Several descendants of this Bible are still in existence, and enable us to judge of Alcuin’s work. They differ from the ‘Golden Gospels’ in being complete Bibles, and in being written in the beautiful small minuscule which at this time, under Charlemagne’s influence, superseded the tortured and unsightly script of the Merovingian and Lombardic traditions, and of which Tours was one of the principal homes. The MS. which appears most accurately to represent the edition of Alcuin at the present day is the Cod. Vallicellianus at Rome (Wordsworth’s V); with this Wordsworth and White associate the ‘Caroline Bible’ (Add. MS 10546 [Wordsworth’s K] In the British Museum), and there are some 8 or 10 other MSS (written mostly at Tours), besides several others containing the Gospels only, which in varying degrees belong to the same group. In text these MSS naturally show a great affinity to the Northumbrian MSS headed by the Cod. Amiatinus, and there is no question that Alcuin introduced into France a far purer text of the Vulgate than any which it had hitherto possessed.

11 . Alcuin’s attempt, however, was not the only one made in France at this period to reform the current Bible text. Another edition was almost simultaneously produced in western France by Theodulf , bishop of Orleans and abbot of Fleury (about 795 821); but its character was very different from that of Alcuin. Theodulf was a Visigoth, probably from Septimania, the large district of southern France which then formed part of the Visigothic kingdom of Spain; and it was to Spain that he looked for materials for his revision of the Latin Bible. The MS which represents his edition most fully (Paris, Bibl. Nal . 9380) has a text closely connected with the Spanish type of which the Codd. Cavensis and Toletanus are the most prominent examples, except in the Gospels, which are akin rather to the Irish type; and a contemporary hand has added a number of variants, which are often Alcuinian in character. With this MS may be associated a volume at Puy, and Add. MS 24124 in the British Museum, which are closely akin to the Paris MS, but follow sometimes its first and sometimes its second reading; the latter (especially in its corrections) has been used by Wordsworth and White along with the Paris MS to represent the Theodulfian edition. All are written in an extremely minute Caroline minuscule.

12 . In spite, however, of the labour spent upon these attempts to improve the current text of the Vulgate, the forces of deterioration were more powerful than those of renovation. Theodulf’s edition, which was a private venture, without the advantages of Imperial patronage, had no wide sphere of influence, and left no permanent mark on the text of the Vulgate. Alcuin’s had, no doubt, much greater authority and effect; yet its influence was only transient, and even at Tours itself the MSS produced within the next two generations show a progressive departure from his standard. On the other hand, the study of the Scriptures was now definitely implanted on the Continent, and the number of copies of them produced in France and Germany shows a great increase. During the 9th cent. splendid copies of the ‘Golden Gospels’ continued to be produced in the valley of the Rhine, and Alcuinian texts at Tours; while a new centre of Scripture study and reproduction came into existence in Switzerland, at the famous abbey of St. Gall . The library and scriptorium of this monastery (many of the inmates of which were English or Irish monks) first became notable under abbot Gozbert (816 836), and perhaps reached the height of their importance under abbot Hartmut (872 883). Many copies of the Bible were written there, and the influence of St. Gall permeated a large portion of central Europe. Here, too, was produced by Walafridus Strabo, dean of St. Gall before 842, the original form of the Glossa Ordinaria , the standard commentary on the Bible in the Middle Ages.

13 . After Alcuin and Theodulf no important effort was made to recover the original text of the Vulgate, though some attempt in this direction was made by Lanfranc, of which no traces seem to survive; but the history of its diffusion can to some extent be followed by the help of the extant MSS, which now begin to increase greatly in number. The tradition of the ‘Golden Gospels’ was carried into Germany, where copies of the Gospels were produced on a smaller scale, with less ornamentation, and in a rather heavy Caroline minuscule, which clearly derive their origin from this source. In France itself, too, the later representatives of this school are inferior in size and execution to their predecessors. Spain and Ireland had by this time ceased to be of primary importance in the circulation of Bible texts. In England a new departure was made, on a higher scale of artistic merit, in the fine Gospels and Service-Books produced at Winchester between about 960 and 1060, the chief characteristics of which are broad bands of gold forming a framework with interlaced foliage. These details, however, relate more to the history of art than to that of the Bible, and with regard to the spread of the knowledge of the Scriptures there is nothing of Importance to note in the 10th and 11th cents. beyond the increase of monasteries in all the countries of western Europe, in the scriptoria of which the multiplication of copies proceeded apace.

14 . In the 12th cent. the most noteworthy phenomenon, both in England and on the Continent, is the popularity of annotated copies of the various books of the Bible. The ordinary arrangement is for the Bible text to occupy a single narrow column down the centre of the page, while on either side of it is the commentary; but where the commentary is scanty, the Biblical column expands to fill the space, and vice versa . The main staple of the commentary is normally the Glossa Ordinaria  ; but this, being itself a compilation of extracts from pre-existing commentaries (Jerome, Augustine, Isidore, Bede, etc.), lent itself readily to expansion or contraction, so that different MSS differ not inconsiderably in their contents. The various books of the Bible generally form separate MSS, or small groups of them are combined. Simultaneously with these, some very large Bibles were produced, handsomely decorated with illuminated initials. Of these the best examples come from England or northern France. These are of the nature of éditions de luxe , while the copies with commentaries testify to the extent to which the Bible was at this time studied, at any rate in the larger monasteries; and the catalogues of monastic libraries which still exist confirm this impression by showing what a large number of such annotated MSS were preserved in them, no doubt for the study of the monks.

15 . A further step in advance was taken in the 13th cent., which is to be attributed apparently to the influence of the University of Paris then at the height of its renown and the intellectual centre of Europe. The present chapter division of the Bible text is said to have been first made by Stephen Langton (archbishop of Canterbury, 1207 1228), while a doctor at Paris; and the 13th cent. (probably under the influence of St. Louis) witnessed a remarkable output of Vulgate MSS of the complete Bible. Hitherto complete Bibles had almost always been very large volumes, suitable only for liturgical use; but by the adoption of very thin vellum and very small writing it was now found possible to compress the whole Bible into volumes of quite moderate size, comparable with the ordinary printed Bibles of to-day. For example, one such volume, containing the whole Bible with ample margins, measures 5 1 / 2×3 1 /2×1¾ inches, and consists of 471 leaves. From the appearance of these Bibles (hundreds of which are still extant) it is evident that they were intended for private use, and they testify to a remarkable growth in the personal study of the Scriptures. The texts of these MSS seem to embody the results of a revision at the hands of the Paris doctors. Correctoria , or collections of improved readings, were issued at Paris about 1230, and at other places during this cent., the best being the ‘Correctorium Vaticanum,’ so called from a MS in the Vatican Library. This revision, however, was superficial rather than scientific, and is of importance in the history of the Vulgate mainly because it established the normal text which was current at the time of the invention of printing. These small Bibles were produced almost as plentifully in England as in France, and in an identical style, which continued well into the 14th century.

16 . After the Parisian revision of the 13th cent. no important modification of the text or status of the Latin Bible took place until the invention of printing two centuries later. The first book to be printed in Europe was the Latin Bible, published in 1456 by Gutenberg and Fust (now popularly known as the Mazarin Bible, from the circumstance that the first copy of it to attract notice in modern times was that in the library of Cardinal Mazarin). In type this Bible resembles the contemporary large German Bible MSS; in text it is the ordinary Vulgate of the 15th century. During the next century Bibles poured from the press, but with little or no attempt at revision of the text. Some MSS were consulted in the preparation of the Complutensian Polyglot; but the only editions before the middle of the 16th cent. which deserve the name of critical are those of Stephanus in 1540 and Hentenius in 1547, which laid the foundations of the modern printed Vulgate. It is, however, to the action of the Council of Trent that the genesis of an authorized text is ultimately due. Soon after its meeting, in 1546, a decree was passed declaring that the ‘vetus et vulgata editio’ of the Scriptures was to be accepted as authentic, and that it should be printed in the most accurate form possible. It was forty years, however, before this decree bore fruit. Sixtus V ., in his short pontificate of five years (1585 90), not only caused the production of an edition of the Greek OT (1587), but in 1590 issued a Latin Bible which he declared was to be accepted as the authentic edition demanded by the Council of Trent. This edition was the work of a board of revisers appointed for the purpose, but Sixtus himself examined their results before they were published, and introduced a large number of alterations (rarely for the better) on his own authority. The Sixtine edition, however, had hardly been issued when it was recalled in 1592 by Clement VIII ., at the instance, it is believed, of the Jesuits, with whom Sixtus had quarrelled; and in the same year a new edition was issued under the authority of Clement, with a preface by the famous Jesuit Bellarmin, in which (to avoid the appearance of a conflict between Popes) the suppression of the Sixtine edition is falsely stated to be due to the abundance in it of printers’ errors, and to have been contemplated by Sixtus himself. The Clementine revisers in many instances restored the readings of Sixtus’ board, which Sixtus himself had altered; and the general result of their labours was to produce a text resembling that of Hentenius, while the Sixtine edition was nearer to that of Stephanus. The bull in which the Clementine edition was promulgated forbade any future alteration of the text and any printing of various readings in the margin, and thereby stereotyped the official text of the Vulgate from that day until this.

17 . Clement’s bull practically closed the textual criticism of the Vulgate in the Roman Church, though Vallarsi was able to print a new text in his edition of the works of St. Jerome in 1734, and Vercellone published a collection of various readings in 1860 64. The course of criticism outside the Roman communion can be briefly sketched. Bentley, with the help of his assistants, made large collections for an edition of the Vulgate, but was unable to carry through his task. Lachmann, in the second edition of his Greek NT (1842 50), added a text of the Vulgate, based on a collation of the Cod. Amiatinus and a few other selected MSS. Corssen in 1885 printed a revised text of Gal. as a sample of a new NT, but has carried his enterprise no further, being perhaps deterred by the appearance of the great Oxford edition now in progress. This edition, planned by Bishop J. Wordsworth of Salisbury, and carried out by him with the assistance of the Rev. H. J. White and others, gives a revised text of the Vulgate with a full critical apparatus and introductions. The four Gospels and Acts have now appeared (1889 1905); it is to be hoped that nothing will prevent the completion of the entire work, which will establish the criticism of at least the Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] NT on a firm foundation. A very bandy text of the NT, with Wordsworth and White’s variants in the margin, has been produced by E. Nestle (1907). Quite recently it has been announced that Pope Pius x. has entrusted the Benedictine order with the revision of the Vulgate text. It is satisfactory to know that they propose to devote themselves in the first instance to the OT.

Literature. The Prolegomena to Wordsworth’s and White’s edition; art. by Bp. Westcott in Smith’s DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.]  ; art. by H. J. White in Scrivener’s Introd. to Crit. of NT  : 4 , with description of 181 of the principal MSS, and art. ‘Vulgate’ in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.]  ; and especially S. Berger’s Hist, de la Vulg. [Note: Vulgate.] pendant les premiers siècles du moyen âge (1893). Specimens of the principal classes of MSS mentioned in the present article may be seen in Facsimiles from Biblical MSS in the British Museum (1900). The best edition of the Clementine Vulgate is that of Vercellone (1861). For fuller bibliography, see Berger, op. cit ., and White’s art. in Hastings’ DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] .

F. G. Kenyon.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

a very ancient Latin translation of the Bible; and the only one the church of Rome acknowledges to be authentic. The ancient Vulgate of the Old Testament was translated almost word for word, from the Greek of the Septuagint. The author of the version is not known. It was a long time known by the name of the Italic, or old version; as being of very great antiquity in the Latin church. It was the common, or vulgar version, before St. Jerom made a new one from the Hebrew original, with occasional references to the Septuagint; whence it has its name Vulgate. Nobilius, in 1558, and F. Morin, in 1628, gave new editions of it; pretending to have restored and re-collated it from the ancients who had cited it. It has since been retouched from the correction of St. Jerom; and it is this mixture of the ancient Italic version, and some corrections of St. Jerom, that is now called the Vulgate, and which the council of Trent has declared to be authentic. It is this Vulgate alone that is used in the Romish church, excepting some passages of the ancient Vulgate, which were left in the Missal and the Psalms, and which are still sung according to the old Italic version. St. Jerom declares that in his revisal of the Italic version, he used great care and circumspection, never varying from that version but when he thought it misrepresented the sense. But as the Greek copies to which he had access were not so ancient as those from which the Italic version had been made, some learned authors have been of opinion that it would have been much better if he had collected all the copies, and, by comparing them, have restored that translation to its original purity. It is plain that he never completed this work, and that he even left some faults in it, for fear of varying too much from the ancient version, since he renders in his commentaries some words otherwise than he has done in his translation. This version was not introduced into the church but by degrees, for fear of offending weak persons. Rufinus, notwithstanding his enmity to St. Jerom, and his having exclaimed much against this performance, was one of the first to prefer it to the vulgar or Italian. This translation gained at last so great an authority, by the approbation of Pope Gregory I, and his declared preference of it to every other, that it was subsequently brought into public use through all the western churches. Although it was not regarded as authentic, except by the council of Trent, it is certainly of some use, as serving to illustrate several passages both of the Old and New Testament.

The two principal popish editions of the Vulgate are those of Pope Sixtus V and Clement VIII: the former was printed in 1590, after Pope Sixtus had collected the most ancient MSS., and best printed copies, summoned the most learned men out of all the nations of the Christian world, assembled a congregation of cardinals for their assistance and counsel, and presided over the whole himself. This edition was declared to be corrected in the very best manner possible, and published with a tremendous excommunication against every person who should presume ever afterward to alter the least particle of the edition thus authentically promulgated by his holiness, sitting in that chair, in qua Petri vivit potestas, et excellit auctoritas, [in which the power of Peter lived, and his authority excelled.] The other edition was published in 1592, by Pope Clement VIII; which was so different from that of Sixtus, as to contain two thousand variations, some of whole verses, and many others clearly and designedly contradictory in sense; and yet this edition is also, ex cathedra, [from the chair,] pronounced as the only authentic one, and enforced by the same sentence of excommunication with the former. Clement suppressed the edition of his predecessor; so that copies of the Sixtine Vulgate are now very scarce, and have long been reckoned among literary rarities. Our learned countryman, Dr. James, the celebrated correspondent and able coadjutor of Archbishop Usher, relates, with all the ardent of a hard student, the delight which he experienced on unexpectedly obtaining a Sixtine copy; and he used it to good and effective purpose in his very clever book, entitled "Bellum Papale," in which he has pointed out numerous additions, omissions, contradictions, and glaring differences between the Sixtine and Clementine editions. All the popish champions are exceedingly shy about recognizing this irreconcilable conflict between the productions of two such infallible personages; and the boldest of them wish to represent it as a thing of nought. But it is no light matter thus to tamper with the word of God.

The Romanists generally hold the Vulgate of the New Testament preferable to the common Greek text; because it is this alone, and not the Greek text, that the council of Trent has declared authentic: accordingly that church has, as it were, adopted this edition, and the priests read no other at the altar, the preachers quote no other in the pulpit, nor the divines in the schools. Yet some of their best authors, E. Bouhours for instance, own, that among the differences that are found between the common Greek and Vulgate, there are some in which the Greek reading appears more clear and natural than that of the Latin; so that the second might be corrected from the first, if the holy see should think fit. But those differences, taken in general, only consist in a few syllables or words; they rarely concern the sense. Beside, in some of the most considerable, the Vulgate is authorized by several ancient manuscripts. Bouhours spent the last years of his life in giving a French translation of the New Testament according to the Vulgate. It is probable that at the time the ancient Italic or Vulgate version of the New Testament was made, and at the time it was afterward compared with the Greek manuscripts by St. Jerom, as they were then nearer the times of the Apostles, they had more accurate Greek copies, and those better kept, than any of those used when printing was invented.

"Highly as the Latin Vulgate is extolled by the church of Rome," says Michaelis, "it was depreciated beyond, measure at the beginning of the sixteenth century by several learned Protestants, whose example has been followed by men of inferior abilities. At

the restoration of learning, when the faculty of writing elegant Latin was the highest accomplishment of a scholar, the Vulgate was regarded with contempt, as not written with classical purity. But after the Greek manuscripts were discovered, their readings were preferred to those of the Latin, because the New Testament was written in Greek, and the Latin was only a version; but it was not considered that these Greek manuscripts were modern in comparison of those originals from which the Latin was taken; nor was it known at that time, that the more ancient the Greek manuscripts and the other versions were, the closer was their agreement with the Vulgate. Our ablest writers, such as Mill and Bengal, have been induced by F. Simon's treatise to abandon the opinion of their predecessors, and have ascribed to the Latin

Vulgate a value perhaps greater than it deserves."

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): ( a.) Of or pertaining to the Vulgate, or the old Latin version of the Scriptures.

(2): ( a.) An ancient Latin version of the Scripture, and the only version which the Roman Church admits to be authentic; - so called from its common use in the Latin Church.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

Is the name of the Latin version of the Scriptures used by the church of Rome. The Old Testament was a very close translation of the Greek Septuagint, not of the Hebrew. It was made at a very early period by an unknown author. A part of this version was afterwards revised by Jerome, and some of the books retranslated from the Hebrew.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [5]

a very ancient translation of the Bible, and the only one acknowledged by the church of Rome to be authentic.

See Bible No. 32.

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

[[Texts And Versions Bible]]

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [7]


Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

is the popular and convenient designation of the common Latin version of the Bible, usually attributed to Jerome. Its great importance in the history of the Christian Church justifies an unusual degree of fullness in its treatment. (See Vernons).

I. Origin And History Of The Name. 1. The name "Vulgate," which is equivalent to Vulgata Editio (the Current text of Holy Scripture), has necessarily been used differently in various ages of the Church. There can be no doubt that the phrase originally answered to the Κοινὴ Ἔκδοσις of the Greek Scriptures. In this sense it is used constantly by Jerome in his commentaries, and his language explains sufficiently the origin of the term: "Hoc juxta LXX interpretes diximus, quorum Editio Tofo Orbe Vulcgta Est" (Hieron. Comm. In  Isaiah 65:20) . "Multum in hoc loco LXX editio Hebraicumque discordant. Primum ergo De Yulgata Editione tractabimus et postea sequemur ordinem veritatis" ( Ibid.  Isaiah 30:22). In some places Jerome distinctly quotes the Greek text: "Porro in editione Vulgata dupliciter legimus; quidam enim codices habent Δῆλοί Εἰσιν , hoc est Manifesti Sunt : alii Δειλαῖοί Εἰσιν , hoe est Meticulosi sive Miseri Sunt" ( Comm. In Osee, 7:13; comp. 8-11 etc.). But generally he regards the Old Latin, which was rendered from the Sept., as substantially identical with it, and thus introduces Latin quotations under the name of the Sept. or Vulgata, editio: "Miror quomodo vulgata editio . . . testimonium alia interpretatione subverterit: Congregabor et glorificabor coram Domino. . . Illud autem quod in LXX legitur: Congregabor et glorificabor coram Domino . . ." (Comm. in  Isaiah 49:5). So again: "Philistheos . . . Alienigenas Vulgata scribit editio" ( Ibid. 14 :29). "Palsestinis quos indifferenter LXX alienigenas vocant" (Comm. in  Ezekiel 16:27). In this way the transference of the name from the current Greek text to the current Latin text became easy and natural; but there does not appear to be any instance in the age of Jerome of the application of the term to the, Latin version of the Old Test. without regard to its derivation from the Sept., or to that of the New Test.

2. Yet more, as the, phrase Κοινὴ Ἔκδοσις , came to signify an uncorrected (and so corrupt) text, the same secondary meaning was attached to Vulgata Editio. Thus in some places the Vulgata Editio stands in contrast with the true Hexaplaric text of the Sept. One passage will place this in the clearest light: "Breviter admoneo aliam esse editionem quam Origenes et Caesariensis Eusebius, omnesque Grecise translatores Κοινήν , id est, Communem, appellant, atque Vulgatam, et a plerisque nunc Λουκιανός dicitur; aliam LXX interpretum que, in Ἑξαπλοῖς codicibus reperitur, et a nobis ip Latinum sermonem fideliter versa est Κοινή autem ista, hoc est, Communis Editio, ipsa est qume et LXX, sed hoc interest inter utramque; quod Κοινή pro locis et temporibus et pro voluntate scriptorum vetus corrupta editio est; ea autem quae habetur in Ἑξαπλοῖς et quam nos vertimus, ipsa est quae in eruditorum libris incorrupta et immaculata LXX interpretum translatio reservatur" ( Ep. 106, Ad Sun. Et Feret. § 2).

3. This use of the phrase Vulgata Editio to describe the Sept. (and the Latin version of the latter) was continued to later times. It is supported by the authority of Augustine, Ado of Vienne. (A.D. 860), R. Bacon, etc.; and B1ellarmine distinctly recognizes tile application of the term, so that Van Ess is justified in saying that the Council of Trent erred in a point of history when they described Jerome's version as "vetus et vulgata editio, quae longo tot seculorum usu in ipsa ecclesia probata est" ( Gesch. p. 34). As a general rule, the Latin fathers speak of Jerome's version as "our" version. ( Nostra Editio, Nostri Codices ); but it was not unnatural that the Tridentine fathers (as many later scholars) should be misled by the associations of their own time, and adapt to new circumstances terms which had grown obsolete in their original sense. When the difference of the (Greek) Vulgate of the early Church and the (Latin) Vulgate of the modern Roman Church has once been apprehended, no further difficulty need arise from the identity of name (comp. Augustine, ed. Benedict. [Paris, 1836], 5, 33; Sabatier, 1, 792; Van Ess, Gesch. p. 24-42, who gives very full and conclusive references, though he fails to perceive that the Old Latin was practically identified with the Sept.).

II. The Old Latin Versions.

1. Origin. The history of the earliest Latin version of the Bible is lost in complete obscurity. All that can be affirmed with certainty is that it was made in Africa. During the first two centuries the Church of Rome, to which we naturally look for the source of, the version now identified with it, was essentially Greek. The Roman bishops bear Greek names; the earliest Roman liturgy was Greek; the few remains of the Christian literature of Rome are Greek. The same remark holds true of Gaul (comp. Westcott, Hist. Of Canon Of N.T. p. 269, 270, and ref.); but the Church of North Africa seems to have been Latin speaking from the first. At what date this Church was founded is uncertain. A passage of Augustine (Cont. Donat. Ep. 27) seems to imply that Africa was converted late; but if so the Gospel spread there with remarkable rapidity. At the end of the 2nd century, Christians were found in every rank and in every place; and the master-spirit of Tertullian, the first of the Latin fathers, was then raised up to give utterance to the passionate thoughts of his native Church. This Church father distinctly recognizes the general currency of a Latin version of the New Test., though not necessarily of every book at present included in the canon, which even in his time had been able to mould the popular language (Adv. Prax. 5 "In usu est nostrorum per simplicitatem interpretationis." De Honog. 11 "Sociamus plane non sic esse in Grseco authentico quomodo in usum exiit per duarum syllabarum aut callidam aut simplicem eversionem"). This was characterized by a "rudeness" and "simplicity" which seem to point to the nature of its origin. In the words of Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. 2, 16 [11]), "any one in the first ages of Christianity who gained possession of a Greek MS., anti fancied that lie had a fair knowledge of Greek and Latin, ventured to, translate it" ("Qui scripturas ex Hebraea lingua in Graecam verterunt numerari possunt, Latini antem interpretes nullo, modo, Ut enim cuivii primis fidei temporibus in manus venit codex Grecus et aliquantulum facultatis sibi utriusque linguve habers videbatur, aunsus est interpretari"). Thus the version of the New Test. appears to have arisen from individual and successive efforts; but it does not follow, by any means, that numerous versions were simultaneously circulated, or that the several parts of the version were made independently. Even if it had been so, the exigencies of the public service must soon have given definiteness and substantial unity to the fragmentary labors of individuals. The work of private hands would necessarily be subject to revision for ecclesiastical use. The separate, books would be united in a volume, and thus a standard text of the whole collection would be established. With regard to the Old Test., the case is less clear. It is probable that the Jews who were settled in North Africa were confined to the Greek towns; otherwise it might be supposed that the Latin version of the Old Test. is in part anterior to the Christian era, and that (as in the case of Greek) a preparation for a Christian Latin dialect was already made when the Gospel was introduced into Africa. However this may have been, the substantial similarity of the different parts of the Old and New Test. establishes a real connection between them, and justifies the belief that there was one popular Latin version of the Bible current in Africa in the last quarter of the 2nd century. Many words which are either Greek (machlera, sophia, perizoma, poderis, agonizo, etc.) or literal translations of Greek forms (vivifico, justifico, etc.) abound in both, and explain what Tertullini meant when he spoke of the "simplicity" of the translation.

2. Character. The exact literality of the Old version was not confined to the most minute observance of order and the accurate reflection of the words of the original; in many cases the very forms of Greek construction were retained in violation of Latin usage. A few examples of these singular anomalies will convey, a better idea of the absolute certainty with which, the Latin commonly indicates the text that the translator had before him than any general statements:

 Matthew 4:13, "habitavit in Capharnlanm Mdaritimnam." 4:15, "terra Neptalim vianss maris." 25, "ab Jerosolymis... et tranns Jordanem."  Matthew 5:22, "reus erit In Gehennam iagis."  Matthew 6:19, "ubi timnea et Comtestura exterminat."  Mark 12:31, "Majus Hortum Praeceptorum, aliud non est."  Luke 10:19, "nihil Vos nocebit."  Acts 19:26, "non solnm Eplhesi sed pmane totius Awe."  Romans 2:15, "inter se Cagitatioint Accusantium veletiam defendentim."  1 Corinthians 7:32, "sollhaitus est quae sunt Domini." It is obvious that there was a constant tendency to alter expressions like these, and in the first age of the version it is not improbable that the continual Grecism which marks the Latin texts of DI ( Cod. Bezae ) and E2 ( Cod. Laud. ) had a wider currency than it could maintain afterwards.

3. Canon. With regard to the African canon of the New Test., the Old version offers important evidence, From considerations of style and language, it seems certain that the Epistle to the Hebrews, James, and 2 Peter did not form part of the original African version, a conclusion which falls in with what is derived from historical testimony (comp. The Hist. of the Canon of the N.T. p. 282 sq.). In the Old Test., on the other hand, the Old Latin erred by excess, and not by defect; for, as the version was made from the current copies of the Sept., it included the Apocryphal books which are commonly contained in them, and to these 2 Esdras was early added.

4. Revision. After the translation once received a definite shape in Africa, which could not have been long after the middle of the 2nd century, it was not publicly revised. The old text was jealously guarded by ecclesiastical use, and was retained there at a time when Jerome's version was elsewhere almost universally received. The well-known story of the disturbance caused by the attempt of an African bishop to introduce Jerome's cucurbita for the old hedera in the history of Jonah (August E. 104, ap. Hieron. Epp. quoted by Tregelles, Introduction, p. 242) shows how carefully intentional changes were avoided. But, at the same time, the text suffered by the natural corruptions of copying, especially by interpolations, a form of error to which the gospels were particularly exposed. In the Old Test. the version was made from the unrevised edition of the Sept., and thus from the first included many false readings, of which Jerome often notices instances (e.g. Esp. 104, ad Sun. et Fret.).

The Latin translator of Irenaeus was probably contemporary with Tertullian, and his renderings of the quotations from Scripture confirm the conclusions which have been already drawn as to the currency of (substantially) one Latin version. It does not appear that he had a Latin MS. before him during the execution of his work, but he was so familiar with the common translation that he reproduces continually characteristic phrases which he cannot be supposed to have derived from any other source (Lachmann, N.T. 1, p. 10:11). Cyprian (died A.D. 257) carries on the chain of testimony far through the next century; and he is followed by Lactantius, Juvencus, J. Firmicus Maternus, Hilary the Deacon (Ambrosiaster), Hilaryvof Poitiers (died A.D. 449), and Lucifer of Cagliari (died A.D. 370). Ambrose and Augustine exhibit a peculiar recension of the same text, and Jerome offers some traces of it. From this date MSS. of parts of the African text have been preserved and it is unnecessary to trace the history of its transmission to a later time.

But while the earliest Latin version was preserved generally unchanged in North Africa, it fared differently in Italy. There the provincial rudeness of the version was necessarily more offensive, and the comparative familiarity of the leading bishops with the Greek texts made a revision at once more feasible and less, startling to their congregations. Thus, in the 4th century, a definite ecclesiastical recension (of the gospels, at least) appears to have been made in North Italy by reference to the Greek, which was distinguished by the name of Itala. This Augustine recommends on the ground of its close accuracy and its perspicuity (De Doctmr Christ. 15, "In ipsis interpretationibus Itala cueteris preferatur, nam est verborum tenacior cum perspicuitate sententiae"), and the text of the gospels which he follows is marked by the latter characteristic when compared with the African. In the other books the difference cannot be traced with accuracy; and it has not yet been accurately determined whether other nation all recensions may not have existed (as seems certain from the evidence which scholars have recently collected) in Ireland (Britain), Gaul, and Spain.

The Itala appears to have been made in some degree with authority; other revisions were made for private use, in which such changes were introduced as suited the taste of scribe or critic. The next, stage in the deterioration of the text was the intermixture of these various revisions; so that at the close of the 4th century the gospels were in such a state as to call for that final recension which was made by Jerome.

5. Remains. It will be seen that, for the chief part of the Old Test. and for considerable parts of the New Test. (e.g. Apoc. Acts), the old text rests upon early quotations (principally Tertullian, Cyprian, Lucifer of Cagliari for the African text, Ambrose and Augustine for the Italic). These were collected by Sabatier with great diligence up to the date of his work; but more recent discoveries (e.g. of the Roman Speculum) have a furnished a large store of new materials which have not yet been fully employed. (The great work of Sabatier, already often referred to, is still the standard work on the Latin versions. His great fault is his neglect to distinguish the different types of text African, Italic, British, Gallic a task which yet remains to be done. The earliest work on the subject was by Flaminius Nobilius. Vetus Test. Sec. LXX Latine Redditum, etc. [Rom., 1588]. The new collations made by Tischendorf, Maiai Miinter, Ceriani, have been noticed separately.) (See Italic Version).

III. Labors Of Jerome.

1. Occasion. It has been seen that at the close of the 4th century the Latin texts of the Bible current in the Western Church had fallen into the greatest corruption. The evil was yet greater in prospect than at the time; for the separation of the East and West, politically and ecclesiastically, was growing imminent, and the fear of the perpetuation of false and conflicting Latin copies proportionately greater. But in the crisis of danger the great scholar was raised up who, probably alone for fifteen hundred years, possessed the qualifications necessary for producing an original version of the Scriptures for the use of the Latin churches. Jerome-Eusebius Hieronymus was born in A.D. 329 at Stridon, in Dalmatia, and died .at Bethlehem in A.D. 420. From his early youth he was a vigorous student, and age removed nothing from his zeal. He has been well called the Western Origen (Hody, p. 350); and if he wanted the largeness of heart and generous sympathies of the great Alexandrian, he had more chastened critical skill and closer concentration of power. After long and self-denying studies in the East and West, Jerome went to Rome (A.D. 382), probably at the request of Damasus the pope, to assist in an important synod (Ep. 108, 6), where he seems to have been at once attached to the service of the pope (ibid. 123; 10). His active Biblical labors date from this epoch, and in examining them it will be convenient to follow the order of time.

2. Revision Of The Old Latin Version Of The N.T. Jerome had not been long at Rome (A.D. 383) when Damasus consulted him on points of scriptural criticism ( Ep. 19 "Dilectionis tuse est ut ardenti illo strenuitatis ingenio vivo sensu scribas"). The answers which he received ( Ep. 20 :21) may well have encouraged him to seek for greater services; and, apparently in the same year he applied to Jerome for a revision of the current Latin version of the New Test. by the help of the Greek original. Jerome was fully sensible of the prejudices which such a work would excite among those "who thought that ignorance was holiness" ( Ep. Ad Marc. 27); but the need of it was urgent. "There were," he says, "almost as many forms of text as copies" ("tot sunt exemplaria paene quot codices" [Pre ; In Ev.] ) . Mistakes had been introduced "by false transcription, by clumsy corrections, and by careless interpolations" ( Ibid. ); and in the confusion which had ensued the one remedy was to go back to the original sourced ("Graeca veritas, Graeca origo"). The gospels had naturally suffered most. Thoughtless scribes inserted additional details in the narrative from the parallels, and changed the forms of expression to those with which they had originally been familiarized (ibid.). Jerome therefore applied himself to these first ("hec praesens praefatiuncula pollicetur quatuor tantum Evangelia"). But his aim was to revise the Old Latin, and not to make a new version. When Augustine expressed to him his gratitude for "his translation of the Gospel" (Ep. 104, 6, "Non parvas Deo gratias agimus de opere tuo quo Evangelitim ex Greco interpretatus es"), he tacitly corrected him by substituting for this phrase "the correction of the New Test." (ibid. 112, 20, "Si me, ut dicis, in N.T. emendationaze suscipis.... For this purpose he collated early Greek MSS., and preserved the current rendering wherever the sense was not injured by it ("Evangelia codicum Grsecorum emendata collatione sed veterum. Qum ne nmultum a lectionis. Latina, consuetudille discreparent, ita calamo temperavimus [all. imperavimus] ut his tantum quse sensum videbantur mutare, correctis, reliqua manere pateremur ut fuerant" [Praef. ad Dan.]). Yet although he proposed to himself this limited object, the various forms of corruption which had been introduced were, as he describes, so numerous that the difference of the Old and Revised (Hieronymian) text is throughout clear and striking. Thus, in Matthew 5 we have the following variations:

'''Old Latin'''


7 ipsis miserebitur Deus.

7 ipsi miscricordiam consequentur.

11 dixerint

11 dixerint mentientes.

- - propterjustitiam.

- - propter me.

12 ante vos patres eorum ( Luke 6:26).

12 ante vos.

17 non veni solvere legem aut prophetas.

17 non veni solvere

18 fiant: coelum et terra transibunt, verba autem mea non proeteribunt.

18 fiant.

22 fratri sno sine causa.

22 fratri sno.

25 es cum illo in ira.

25 es in via cum eo (and often).

29 eat in gehenuam.

29 mittatur in gehenuam.

37 quod autem amplius.

37 quod autem his abundantius.

41 adhue alia duo.

41 et alia duo.

43 odies.

43 odio habebis.

44 vestros, et benedicite qui maledicent vobis et benefacite.

44 vestros benefacite.

Of these variations, those in  Luke 6:17;  Luke 6:44 are only partially supported by the old copies, but they illustrate the character of the interpolations from which the text suffered. In John, as might be expected, the variations are less frequent. The 6th chapter contains only the following:

'''Old Latin'''


2 sequebatur autem.

2 et sequebatur.

21 (volebant).

21 (voluerunt).

23 quem benedixerat Dominnns[alii aliter]).

23 (gratias agente Domino)

39 haec est enim.

39 haec est autem.

- - (patris mei).

- - (Patris mei qui misit me).

53 (manducare).

53 (ad manducandum).

66 (a patre).

66 (a patre meo).

67 ex hoc ergo.

67 ex hoc.

Some of the changes which Jerome introduced were, as will be seen, made purely on linguistic grounds, but it is impossible to ascertain on what principle he proceeded in this respect. Others involved questions of interpretation ( Matthew 6:11, Supersubstantials for Ἐπιού Σιος ) . But the greater number consisted in the removal of the interpolations by which the synoptic gospels especially were disfigured. These interpolations, unless his description is very much exaggerated, must have been far more numerous than are found in existing copies; but examples still occur which show the important service which he rendered to the Church by checking the perpetuation of apocryphal glosses:  Matthew 3:3;  Matthew 3:15 (5:12); (9:21); 20:28; (24:36).;  Mark 1:3;  Mark 1:7-8;  Mark 4:19;  Mark 16:4; Luke ( Luke 5:10); 8:48; 9:43, 50; 11:36; 12:38; 23:48;  John 6:56. As a check upon further interpolation, he inserted in his text the: notation of the Eusebian Canons (See New Testament); but it is worthy of notice that he included in his revision the famous pericope,  John 7:53;  John 8:11, which is not included in that analysis.

The preface to Damasus speaks only of a revision of the gospels, and a question has been raised whether Jerome really revised the remaining books of the New Test. Augustine (A.D. 403) speaks only of "the Gospel" (Ep. 104, 6, quoted above), and there is no preface to any other books, such as is elsewhere found before all Jerome's versions or editions. But the omission is probably due to the comparatively pure state in which the text of the rest of the New Test. was preserved. Damasus had requested (Preaf. ad Dam.) a revision of the whole; and when Jerome had faced the more invidious and difficult part of his work, there is no reason to think that he would shrink from the completion of it. In accordance with this view he enumerates. (A.D. 398) among his works "the restoration of the (Latin version of the) New Test. to harmony with the original Greek." (Ep. ad Lucin. 71, 5: "N.T. Grecam reddidi auctoritati, ut enim Veterum Librorum fides de Hebreis voluminibus examinanda est, ita novorum Grecae [?] sermonis normam desiderat." De Vir. 111. 135. "N.T. Grecae fidei reddidi. Vetus juxta Hebraicam traistuli.") It is yet more directly conclusive as to the fact of this revision that in writing to Marcella (cir. A.D. 385) on the charges which had been brought against him for "introducing changes in the gospels," he quotes three passages from the epistles in which he asserts the superiority of the present Vulgate reading to that of tie Old Latin ( Romans 12:11, "Domino Servientes ," for "Tempori servientes;" 1 rim. 5, 19, add. "nisi sub duobus.aut tribus testibus;" 1, 15, "fidelis sermo," for "humanus sermo"). An examination of the Vulgate text, with the quotations of ante-Hieronymian fathers and the imperfect evidence of MSS., is itself sufficient to establish the reality and character of the revision. This will be apparent from a collation of a few chapters taken from several of the later books of the New Test.; but it will also be obvious that the revision was hasty and imperfect; and in later times the line between the Old Latin and the Hieronymian texts became very indistinct. Old readings appear in MSS. of the Vulgate, and, on the other hand, no MS. represents a pure African text of the Acts and epistles.

 Acts 1:4-25

OLD Latin

4 cum conversaretur cum illis quod audistis a me.

4 convescens quam andistis per os meum.

5 tingemini.

5 baptizabbimini.

6 at illi convenientes.

6 Igitur qui convenerant.

7 at ille respondens dixit.

7 Dixit autem.

8 superveniente S. S.

8 supervenientis S. S.

10 intenderent. Comp. 3(4):12; 6:15; 10:4; (13:9).

10 intuerentur.

13 ascenderunt in superiora.

13 in coenaculum ascenderunt.

- - erant habitantes.

- - manebant.

14 perseverantes unanimes orationi.

14 persev. Unanimiter in oratione.

18 Hie-igitur adquisivit.

18 Et hic quidem possedit.

21 qui convenerunt nobiscum viris.

21 viris qui nobiscum sunt congregati.

25 ire. Comp. 17:30.

25 ut abiret.

 Acts 17:16-34

16 circa simulacrum.

16 idololatrice deditam.

17 Judaeis.

17 cum Judaeis.

18 seminator.

18 seminiverbius.

22 superstitiosos.

22 superstitiosiores.

23 perambulans.

23 proeterienns.

- - culturas vestras.

- - simulacra vestra.

26 ex uno sanguine.

26 ex uno.

 Romans 1:13-15

13 Non autem arbitror.

13 nolo antem.

15 quod in me est promptus sum.

15 quod in me promptum est.

 1 Corinthians 10:4-29

4 sequenti se (sequenti, q) (Cod. Aur. f ).

4 consequente eos.

6 in figuram.

6 in figura (f) (g).

7 idolorum cultores (g corr.) efficiamur.

7 idololatrae (idolatres, f) efficiamini (f).

12 putat (g. corr.).

12 existimat (f).

15 sicut prudentes, vobis dico.

15 ut 9sicut, f, g) prudentibus loquor (dico, f, g).

16 quem (f, g).

16 cui.

- - communicatio (alt.) (f,g).

- - participatio.

21 participare (f, g).

21 participes esse.

29 infideli (g).

29 (aliena); alia (f).

 2 Corinthians 3:11-18

14 dum (quod g corr.) non revelatur (g corr.).

14 non revelatum (f).

18 de (a g) gloria in gloriam (g).

18 a claritate in claritatem.

 Galatians 3:14-25

14 benedictionem (g).

14 pollicitationem (f).

15 irritum facit (irritat, g).

15 spernit (f).

25 veniente autem fide (g).

25 At ubi venit fides (f).

 Philippians 2:2-30

2 unum (g).

2 idipsum (f).

6 cum constitutus (g).

6 cum esset (f).

12 dilectissimi (g).

12 carissimi (f).

26 sollicitus (taedebatur, g).

26 maestus (f).

28 sollicitus itaque.

28 festinantius ergo (fest. ego, f: fest. autem, g).

30 parabolatus de anima sua (g).

30 tradens animam suam (f).

 1 Timothy 3:1-12

1 Humanus (g corr.).

1 fidelis (f).

2 doeibilem (g).

2 doctorem (f).

4 habentem in obsequio.

4 habentem subbditos (f,g).

8 turpilucros.

8 turpe lucrum sectantes (f) (turpil, s.g).

12 filios bene vegentes (g corr.).

12 qui filiis suis bene proesint (f).

3. Revision Of The Old Test. From The Sept. About the same time (cir. A.D. 383) at which he was engaged on the revision of the New Test., Jerome undertook also a first revision of the Psalter. This he made by the help of the Greek, but the work was not very complete or careful, and the words in which he describes it may, perhaps, be extended without injustice to the revision of the later books of the New Test.: "Psalterium Romae emendaram et julxta LXX interpretes, Licet Cursin Magna Illad Ex Parte correxeram" ( Praf In Lib. Psalm ) . This revision obtained the name of the Roman Psalter, probably because it was made fir the use of the Roman Church at the request of Damasus, where it was retained till the pontificate of Pius V (A.D. 1566), who introduced the Galician Psalter generally, though the Roman Psalter was still retained in three Italian churches (Hody, p. 383, "nin una Rome Vaticana ecclesia, et extraurbem in Mediolanensi et in ecclesia S. Marci, Venetils"). In a short time "the old error prevailed over the new correction," and, at the urgent request of Paula and Eustochius, Jerome commenced a new and more thorough revision (Gallican Psalter). The exact date at which this was made is not known, but it may be fixed with great probability very shortly after A.D. 387, when he retired to Bethlehem, and certainly before 391, when he had begun his new translations from the Hebrew. In the new revision Jerome

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

vul´gā́t  :

I. Name And Its History

1. Present Usage

2. Earlier Usage

3. Post-Hieronymic

4. Historical Importance of the Vulgate

II. Origin

1. Corruption and Confusion of Old Versions

2. Heresy

3. Inevitable Separation of East and West

4. Request of Pope Damasus

III. Jerome 'S Translations And Revisions : Method

1. The New Testament

Gospels or Whole New Testament?

2. Old Testament from the Septuagint

3. Translation of Old Testament from the Hebrew

IV. Subsequent Recensions And History Of Vul GATE

1. In the Manuscripts

2. Printed Vulgate

V. Manuscripts Of Vulgate

VI. Latinity

VII. Use Of Vulgate Versions


I. Name and Its History.

1. Present Usage:

The term "Vulgate" with us means but one thing - the standard authoritative Bible of the Latin or Roman church, prepared mostly by the labors of Jerome. But this is not the original use of the word and it was never so used by Jerome himself; indeed, it did not at first refer to a Latin version or translation at all. The word "Vulgate" comes from the adjective or participle vulgata which usually accompanied editio , and meant at first current or regularly used text. It was originally used as the equivalent of κοινὴ ἔκδοσις , koinḗ ékdosis = the Septuagint. Jerome and Augustine both use the term in this sense.

2. Earlier Usage:

Jerome ( Commentary in   Isaiah 65:20 ), " Hoc juxta Septuagint interpretes diximus, quorum editio toto orbe vulgata est " (and same place  Isaiah 30:22 ), vulgata editio again refers to the Septuagint. Elsewhere Jerome actually gives the Greek words (of the Septuagint) as found in editione vulgata ( Commentary in Osee 7 13). Augustine identifies the expression with the Septuagint ( De doctr. christ ., xvi. 10): " Secundum vulgatam editionem, hoc est interpretum Septuaginta ." The term editio vulgata was next extended to the form in which the Septuagint was at first known to the West - the Old Latin versions (see Latin; Latin Versions ), although, as Westcott remarks, there does not appear to be any instance in the age of Jerome of the application of the term to the Latin version of the Old Testament without regard to its derivation from the Septuagint or to that of the New Testament, so that Jerome usually intended the Septuagint though he quoted it in Latin form. Vulgata editio , having acquired the meaning of the current or ordinarily used text of Septuagint, was once again extended to mean a corrupt or uncorrected text as opposed to the standard emended Septuagint version of Origen's Hexapla, and in this sense is used by Jerome as synonymous with antiqua or vetus editio .

Epistle cvi. 2 deserves citing in this connection: " Admoneo aliam esse editionem quam Origenes et Caesariensis Eusebius omnesque Graeciae translatores ( κοινήν , koinḗn ), i.e. communem appellant atque vulgatam, et a plerisque ( Λουκιανός , Loukianós ) nunc dicitur: aliam Septuagint interpretum quae in ( Ἑξαπλοῖς , Hexaploı́s ) (i.e. of Origen) codicibus reperitur, et a nobis in Latinum sermonem fideliter versa ... ( κοινή , koinḗ ) ( communis editio ) ... vetus corrupta editio est, ea antem quae habetur in ( Ἑξαπλοῖς , Hexaploı́s ) et quam nos vertimus, ipsa est quae in eruditorum libris incorrupta et immaculata Septuagint interpretum translatio reservatur ." ("I recall that one is the text which Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea and all the Greek translators call the ( κοινή , koinḗ ), i.e. the common and current text, and is now called by most persons Lucian's (version); the other is the text of the translators of the Septuagint which is found in the codices (or books) of Origen (or the Hexapla), and has been faithfully translated by us into the Latin language ... the koinē (the ordinary text) the old corrupted text, but that which is found in the Hexapla, and which we are translating, is the same one which the version of the translators of the Septuagint has preserved unchanged and immaculate in the books of the scholars.")

3. Post-Hieronymic:

It was only very slowly that Jerome's version acquired this name, the phrase editio vulgata being applied to the Septuagint or the Old Latin versions of the Septuagint sometimes down to medieval times, while Jerome's translation was known as editio nostra, codices nostri, translation emendatior, or translation quam tenet Rorn ecclesia . The Tridentine Fathers were therefore guilty of an anachronism when they referred to Jerome's translation as vetus et vulgata editio . Roger Bacon was apparently the first, in the 13th century, to apply the term Vulgata in our sense (not exclusively, but also to the Septuagint), and this usage became classic through its acceptance by the Tridentine Council (" vetus et vulgata editio ").

4. Historical Importance of the Vulgate:

The interest of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) will be apparent when we reflect that this translation proved to be to the West what the Septuagint had been to the East, that it was prepared with great care by the greatest scholar whom Latin Christianity produced, that it was for hundreds of years the only Bible in universal use in Europe, that it has given to us much of our modern theological terminology as well as being the sponsor for many Greek words which have enriched our conceptions. It has also proved of primary importance as an early and excellent witness to the sacred text. Add to this that "directly or indirectly it is the real parent of all the vernacular versions of Western Europe" except the Gothic of Ulfilas. For English-speaking students it possesses peculiar interest as the source of the earlier translations made by the Venerable Bede, and portions of the Old Testament were translated in the 10th century from the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) by AElfric. Its greatest influence was exerted in the English version of Wycliffe - a literal translation from the Vulgate (1383). And Coverdale's Bible (1535) was "faithfully and truly translated out of Dutch (i.e. German of Luther) and Latin." The Rheims and Douay version was based on the Vulgate, though "diligently conferred with the Hebrew and Greek." The Vulgate exercised considerable influence upon Luther's version and through it upon our the King James Version.

II. Origin.

1. Corruption and Confusion of Old Versions:

Latin Christianity had not been without a Bible in its own language. Old Latin versions are found in North Africa as early as the middle of the 3century and are found in the texts of Cyprian and Tertullian. But these translations were characterized by "simplicity," "rudeness" and provincialism. There was not one standard authoritative version with any ecclesiastical recognition. Versions were rather due to "individual and successive efforts." Augustine says that anyone who got hold of a Greek manuscript and thought he knew Greek and Latin would venture on a translation. These versions originated in Africa and not from Rome, else they had been more authoritative. Besides, the first two centuries of the Rom church were rather Greek; the earliest Christian literature of Rome is Greek, its bishops bear Greek names, its earliest liturgy was Greek. When the church of Italy became Lat-speaking - probably at the end of the 3century - the provincialisms of the African version rendered it unfit for the more polished Romans, and so recensions were called for. Scholars now recognize a European type of Old Latin text. And Westcott thinks a North Italian recension (at least in the Gospels) was made in the 4th century. and known as the Itala (see Latin ), and which he recognizes in the Itala mentioned in Aug., De doctr. christ ., xv, as "verborum tenacior cum perspicuitate sententiae"; but F.C. Burkitt ( The Old Latin and the Itala , 54 ff) takes the Itala here as referring to Jerome's version. Amid such confusion and the appearance of national or provincial recensions, the Latin church became conscious of the need of a standard edition. There were almost as many types of texts as there were manuscripts: "Tot exemplaria paene quot codices," says Jerome ( Preface to Gospels ). Independent and unauthorized or anonymous translatitons" - especially of the New Testament - aided by the gross carelessness of scribes, made confusion worse confounded. Augustine complains of this "Latinorum interpretum infinita varietas."

2. Heresy:

In addition to the inconvenience in preaching and the liturgical variations, a greater demand for an authoritative version arose from the continual watch of the early church against heretics. Confusion of text abetted heresy, and the absence of a standard text made it harder to refute it. Besides, the Jews, with one authoritative text, laughed at the confusion of the Christian Scriptures.

3. Inevitable Separation of East and West:

The inevitable separation of East and West, both politically and ecclesiastically, and the split between Greek and Latin Christianity, rendered the existence of a standard Latin text imperative. Christianity was felt to be the religion of a book, and hence that book must be inspired and authoritative in every word - even in its order of words.

Pope Damasus determined to remedy this state of affairs, and with all the authority of the papal see commissioned Jerome to produce an authentic and standard authorized version

4. Request of Pope Damasus:

The pope's choice could not have fallen upon a more competent scholar - a man who had been providentially gifted and prepared for the task. Jerome - his Latin name was Eusebius Hieronymus - was born at Stridon on the borders of Dalmatia about 340 AD, or a little later, of Christian parentage. He had the advantages of the best classical education and became a devoted student of the best Latin writers. In a dream he saw a vision of judgment, and on claiming to be a Christian he was rebuked: "Mentiris, Ciceronianus es , non Christianus." He began his theological studies in Gaul; but later sought the seclusion of ascetic life in the desert near Antioch. Here he studied Hebrew from a converted rabbi in order to subdue fierce passions by the difficulties of that language. About 375 or 376 began his correspondence with Damasus. In 382 he came to Rome, and became the intimate friend and adviser of Damasus.

III. Jerome's Translations and Revisions: Method.

1. The New Testament:

These fall into three main groups: (1) revision of the New Testament; (2) Old Testament juxta the Septuagint; (3) Old Testament from Hebrew. The exact date of the pope's commission is not given: it was probably in 382 - the year of Jerome's arrival in Rome - or early in 383, in which year the Gospels appeared in revised form. Damasus asked simply for a revision of the Old Latin versions by the help of the Greek rather than a new version Jerome collated Greek manuscripts, and carefully compared them with the "Italian" type of Old Latin texts; where possible the Old Latin was preserved. Thus, Jerome approached the task with a conservative spirit. Still the result was a considerable departure from the Old Latin version, the changes being (1) linguistic, removal of provincialisms and rudeness, (2) in interpretation, e.g. supersubstantialis for ἐπιούσιον , epioúsion , in the Lord's Prayer, (3) the removal of interpolations, (4) the insertion of the Eusebian Canons.

Gospels or Whole New Testament?

It is disputed whether Jerome revised the whole New Testament or only the Gospels.

Against the revision of the whole New Testament the arguments briefly are: (1) That Augustine, writing 20 years after the appearance of the revised Gospels, speaks only of "Gospel": "Evangelium ex Graeco interpretatus est" (Epistle civ. 6); but Augustine may here be speaking generally or applying "Gospel" to the whole New Testament. (2) Jerome in his preface apparently speaks of "only four Gospels" ("quattuor tantum evangelia"). (3) The rest of the New Testament does not show the same signs of revision as the Gospels. (4) The absence of the prefaces usual ("solita praefatione") to Jerome's revised versions. On the other hand, to more than counterbalance these, (1) Damasus required a revision of the whole New Testament, not only of the Gospels ( Preface of Damasus ). (2) In other statements of Jerome he expressly says he revised the New Testament (not Gospel or Gospels); in Epistle cxii. 20, he seems to correct Augustine's evangelium by writing: " Si me, ut dicis, in Novi Testamenti emendatione suspicis ," and in Epistle lxxi. 5, "I translated the New Testament according to the Greek" (" Nt G raecae reddidi auctoritati "); compare also De Vir . Ill., cxxxv. (3) Jerome quotes passages outside the Gospels where his version differed from the Old Latin Vss , e.g.  Romans 12:11;  1 Timothy 1:15; compare Epistle xxvii. (4) Damasus died at the end of 384 - perhaps before the rest of Jerome's revision was published, and so Jerome thought no further prefaces needed.

2. Old Testament from the Septuagint:

The more likely conclusion is that Jerome revised the whole New Testament, though not all with equal care. His revision was hasty and soon became more or less confused with the Old Latin versions to which the people clung as they do to all old versions. Having probably completed the New Testament from the Greek, Jerome began immediately on the Old Testament from the Greek of the Septuagint.

(1) Roman Psalter.

He commenced with the Psalms, which he simply emended only where imperatively required (compare preface), and cursorily (circa 384). This revision is called the Rom Psalter ( Psalterium Romanum ), which continued in use in Rome and Italy till it was displaced under the pontificate of Plus 5 by the Gallican Psalter, though the Roman Psalter is still used in Peter's, Rome, and in Mark's, Milan.

(2) Galliean Psalter.

This Psalter soon became so corrupted by the Old Latin version that Jerome (circa 387) undertook a second revision at the request of Paula and Eustochium. This became known as the Gallican Psalter because of its early popularity in Gaul. It was also made from the Septuagint, but with the aid of other Greek versions. Jerome adopted in it the critical signs used by Origen - a passage enclosed between an obelus and two points being absent from the Hebrew but present in the Septuagint, that between an asterisk and two points being absent from the Septuagint but supplied from Theodotion ( Preface to Psalms ).

(3) Rest of the Old Testament.

About the same time Jerome published translations of other Old Testament books from the Septuagint. Job was revised very soon after the Gallican Psalter. The preface to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles and Chronicles is extant to show he had revised these books. Job and Psalms are the only books of this revision juxta Septuagint extant.

It is again disputed whether Jerome completed the whole Old Testament in this revision because (1) the usual prefaces are again lacking (except to the books already mentioned), and (2) in his prefaces to the revision from the Hebrew Jerome makes no reference to an earlier revision of his own; (3) the work implied was too great for the brief space possible and must have been done between 387,390 (or 391), for by this latter date he was already on the translation from the Hebrew. But Jerome was a phenomenal worker, as we learn that his translation of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Canticles from the Hebrew was made in three days. And his commentary on Ephesians was written at the rate of 1,000 lines a day.

Jerome probably completed the whole, as we infer from his own direct positive statements. He speaks of "mea in libris canonicis interpretatio" (Epistle cxii. 19; see references in Westcott), and in the preface to the Books of Solomon after the Septuagint he states he did not correct Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, "desiring only to emend the canonical books" ("tantummodo canonicas scripturas vobis emendare desiderans"). Once again, he speaks of having carefully translated the Septuagint into Latin ( Con Ruf ., ii. 24; compare Epistle lxxi).

3. Translation of Old Testament from the Hebrew:

If the postscript to Epistle cxxxiv, to Augustine is genuine, Jerome complains he had lost the most of his former labors by fraud (" pleraque enim prioris laboris fraude cuiusdam amisimus "). And Augustine requests ( Epistle xcvi. 34) from Jerome his versions from the Septuagint (" Nobis mittas, obsecro, interpretationem tuam de Septuagint quam te edidisse nesciebam "). Having in the course of these labors discovered the unsatisfactory condition of the Septuagint text and his friends pleading the need of a translation direct from the Hebrew, Jerome began this huge task about 390 with Samuel and Kings, which he published with the Prologus galeatus ("helmeted prologue") next the Psalms (circa 392), Job and the Prophets (393), 1,2 Esdras (circa 394) (3,4 being omitted), Chronicles (396). Then followed a severe illness until 398, when "post longam aegrotationem" he translated Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Canticles. He then started on the Octateuch: "Octateucho quem nunc in manibus habeo" ( Epistle lxxi. 5), the Pentateuch being first translated in 401, Joshua, Judges, Ruth and Esther soon after (xl.4: "post sanctae Paulae dormitionem"). Tobit and Judith were translated for him from Chaldee into Hebrew from which he then translated them into Latin (circa 405), and shortly before or after these he added the apocryphal additions to Daniel and Esther. Baruch he passed over. Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus were not revised by him. Whether he revised Maccabees is doubtful. Thus was completed in 15 strenuous years (390-405) a work which has proved a κτῆμα ἐς ἀεί , ktḗma es aeı́ (Thucydides i. 22), "a possession for all time." The translation was largely undertaken at the request of friends and at no papal request. Indeed Jerome did not pretend to be working for publicity; he actually asked one friend not to show his translation.


But human nature rarely recognizes merit in its own generation, and the spirit of conservatism rose in rebellion against beneficial innovation. Jerome was accused of slighting the Septuagint, which even in the eyes of Augustine was equally inspired with the Hebrew original. Jerome's fiery temper and his biting tongue were not calculated to conciliate.

IV. Subsequent Recensions and History of Vulgate.

1. In the Manuscripts:

By degrees the fierce opposition died down, and even by the time of Jerome's death men were beginning to perceive the merits of his version which Augustine used in the Gospels. Some parts of Jerome's Vulgate (390-405 A.D.) won their way to popularity much sooner than others - the Old Latin versions died hard and not without inflicting many a wound on the Vulgate. His Psalter from the Hebrew never ousted the Gallican which still holds its place in the Vulgate. Some scholars were able to appreciate Jerome's edition sooner than others. And it was at different dates that the different provinces and countries of the West adopted it. Pelagius used it in his commentary on the Pauline Epistles. As might be expected, the Old Latin versions retained their place longest in the place of their origin - N orth Africa. Britain proved the next most conservative. The old versions were never authoritatively deposed, and so Jerome's version was compelled to win its way by its own merits. In the 5th century - especially in Gaul - it continued to grow in popularity among scholars, being adopted by Vincent of Lerins, Eucherius of Lyons, Sedulius, and Claudianus Mamertus, and Prosper of Aquitaine. In the next century its use became almost universal except in Africa, where the Old Latin was retained by Junilius and Facundus. At the close of the 6th century. Pope Gregory the Great acknowledges that the new (i.e. the Vulgate) and the old are both equally used by the Apostolic See; and thus the Vulgate was at least on equal footing with the old. In the 7th century the Old Latin retreats, but traces of it survive down into the Middle Ages, affecting and corrupting the Jerome version. Mixed texts and conflated readings arose - the familiarity of the Old Latin in lectionaries and liturgies telling on the Vulgate. The New Testament, being only a revision and not a fresh translation, and being most in use, degenerated most.

(1) As early as the 6th century the need of an emendated Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) text was felt, and Cassidorius undertook to revise part of it. This was merely private enterprise and did little to stem the flood of corruption.

(2) About the close of the 8th century, Charlemagne commissioned an Englishman Alcuin, abbot of Martin, Tours, to produce a revised text on the basis of the best Latin manuscripts, without reference to the Greek text. Alcuin sent to York for his manuscripts and thus produced a text after British manuscripts. On Christmas Day, 801 AD, he presented the emperor with the emended text. The authority by which this text was prepared and its public use together with the class of manuscripts used did much to preserve a pure Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) text and stay interpolations: "The best manuscripts of his recension do not differ widely from the pure Hieronymian text" (Westcott).

(3) Another recension of about the same date - but a scholar's private enterprise - was produced by a Visigoth, Theodulf, bishop of Orleans. He made the Spanish family of manuscripts together with those of Southern France the basis of his text. His inscribing variant readings in the margin really helped the process of corruption. His text - though prepared at enormous labor - was far inferior to that of Alcuin and exerted little influence in face of the authoritative version of Alcuin. manuscripts were rapidly multiplied in the 9th century on the Alcuinian model by the school of Tours, but with carelessness and haste which helped to a speedy degeneration of the text. Again the confusion called for remedy.

(4) In the 11th century Lanfranc, bishop of Canterbury (1069-89), attempted correction - apparently with little success. About the middle of the 12th century, Stephen Harding of Citeaux produced a revision - extant in manuscript in Dijon public library (number 9), as did also Cardinal Nicolaus. The increased demand for Bibles in the 13th century gave opportunity for further corruption of the text - publishers and copyists being indifferent as to the character of manuscript chosen as a basis.

(5) In consequence of the fame of the University of Paris in the 13th century and the enormous activity in producing Bible manuscripts, there resulted a type of text called by Roger Bacon Exemplar Parisiense, for which he has nothing good to say.

(6) In the same century steps were taken toward a standard text and to stay corruption by the drawing up of correctoria, i.e. books in which the readings of Greek and Latin manuscripts were weighed to decide a text, the authority of Fathers cited, etc. Some of the principal correctoria are: Correctorium Parisiense known also as Senonense - one of the worst, following the Parisian type of text; Correotorium Vaticanum , the best; Correctorium Sorbonicum , in the Sorbonne; Correctorium Dominicanum .

2. Printed Vulgate:

(1) Early Editions.

Little more was done till the invention of printing, and the first products of the press were Latin Bibles. Unfortunately at first the current text was accepted without any critical labors, and so the earliest printed Vulgates only perpetuated an inferior text. Only a few from among some hundreds of early versions can be noted: ( a ) the Mazarin Bible - one of the most beautiful and valuable books in the world - printed at Mainz about the middle of the 15th century (1455, Westcott) by Gutenberg, Schoffer or Fust; ( b ) the first Bible published at Rome in 1471 by Sweynheym and Pannartz and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1475; ( 100 ) 1504 a Paris edition with variant readings; ( d ) an edition in Complutensian Polyglot (1514 ff) from ancient manuscripts and from the Greek; ( e ) practically the first critical edition, by Robertus Stephanus (lst edition 1528,2nd 1532, reprinted later), of interest as being practically the basis of the standard Roman Vulgate; ( f ) Hentenian critical edition (Louvain, 1547). Attempts to produce a corrected text by aid of the original were made by Erasmus in 1516, Pagninus in 1518 ff, Cardinal Cajetan, Steuchius in 1529, Clarius in 1542, etc. Even new translations were made by both Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars. This bewildering number of versions and the controversies of the 16th century called for a standard edition. The Council of Trent (1546) took up the matter and decreed that the "ipsa vetus et vulgata editio quae Iongo tot saeculorum usu in ipsa ecclesia probata" ("the same old and ordinarily used text which has been approved in the church itself by the long usage of so many centuries") should be regarded as authentic ( authentica ). By this they apparently meant the Jerome version, but did not state in which manuscript or printed edition it was to be found.

(2) Sixtine Edition (1590).

No further steps were taken for the present to secure a standard official Bible for the church - the private edition of John Hentenius of Louvain serving in the meanwhile until the pontificate of Sixtus V. This pope entrusted the work to a committee under Cardinal Caraffa, but he himself strenuously cooperated. Manuscripts and printed editions were examined, but the original Greek or Hebrew was to be regarded as decisive in difficulties. The result was published as the Sixtine edition of the Vulgate by the Vatican press in 1590 (see title on 1st and 2nd pages). The text resembles the Stephanus edition of 1540. A new puzzling method of verse enumeration was introduced. As one would expect, there was prefixed to the edition a Bull Aeternus ille , etc., in which the divines gave themselves credit for their painstaking labors, and the result was declared the authorized Vulgate of the Tridentine Council, "pro vera, legitima, authentica et indubitata, in omnibus publicis privatisque disputationibus ..." ("by virtue of truth, usage, authenticity and certainty, in all public and private disputes"). Errors of printing were corrected by the pen or by pasting a slip of paper with the correction over the error. This edition was not to be reprinted for 10 years except at the Vatican, and after that any edition must be compared with the Vatican edition, so that "not even the smallest particle should be altered, added or removed" under pain of the "greater excommunication." Sixtus died the same year, and the Jesuit Bellarmine persuaded Clement 8 to recall the Sixtine edition and prepare another standard Vulgate in 1592.

(3) Clementine Edition (1592).

In the same year appeared the Clementine edition with a preface by Bellarmine asserting that Sixtus had himself determined to recall his edition on account of printers' errors (from which it was remarkably free). The pains and penalties of the Sixtine Bull were evaded by printing the book as a Sixtine edition, actually printing the name of Sixtus instead of Clement on the title-page: Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti Quinti Pont. Max. iussu recognita atque edita . The awkward system of verse enumeration of the Sixtine was dropped. The text itself was rather of the Hentenian type. No future edition was to be printed except on the exact pattern, "even to the smallest particle" of the Vatican edition. Thanks largely to the papal Bull this Clementine edition of 1592 still remains the official version of the Roman Catholic church. A second edition appeared in 1593, and a third in 1598. Roman Catholic scholars were discouraged from undertaking a new version, and Protestant scholars were, until recently, too occupied with the original texts.

Bentley's projected edition of the New Testament never appeared. Under cover of the works of Jerome a corrected text was published by Vallarsi, 1734 - really the completion and revision of the edition of Martianay of 1706. Little more was done in the way of critical editions till the latter half of the 19th century.

(4) Modern Critical Editions.

In 1861 Vercellone reprinted the Clementine Vulgate (with an excellent preface), the names of Sixtus and Clement both appearing on the title-page. In 1906 an edition - Biblical Sac Vulgatae edition by Hetzenauer - was published at Oeniponte. (The majority of recent editions have been confined to the New Testament or part of it: Tischendorf, Nov. Test. Latin: textum Hieronymi ... restituit , Leipzig, 1864; Hetzenauer, Nov. Test. Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) ed.: ex Vat. editions earumque correctorio critice edidit P.M.H ., Oeniponte, 1899.) The Oxford Vulg, prepared by Bishop J. Wordsworth and H.J. White, of which the first part was issued in 1889, is a comprehensive work of great value. P. Corssen published the first installment of a Vulgate New Testament ( Epistle ad Gal , Berlin, 1885). This is exclusive of the printed editions of several important manuscripts. Pope Plus 10 entrusted the preparation of a revised edition of the Vulgate to the Benedictine order - but as yet nothing has appeared.

V. Manuscripts of Vulgate.

To give a satisfactory list would be impossible within our space limits. The number is legion - estimated at about 8,000. As yet the same order has not been called out of the chaos of Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) and Old Latin manuscripts in the manner in which Westcott and Hort have reduced the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament to a system. The student may conveniently approach the subject in White's list in the 4th edition of Scrivener, A P lain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament , 2 67 ff, or the longer one by Gregory in Tischendorf's New Testament Greek , 8th edition, III, 983 ff, also in Westcott's article in Db or White's in Hdb  ; Vercellone, Variae Lectiones , 1860; Berger, Histoire de la Vulgate , 374 ff.

VI. Latinity.

Space permits only a few general remarks. The Latin of the old versions was simple, rude and vernacular, abounding in literalisms and provincialisms. In many ways, in vocabulary, diction and construction, it offended scholars. As was natural Jerome smoothed the roughness of the old versions and removed the most glaring solecisms and offensive provincialisms. His work is a masterpiece - like our the King James Version - in the harmonious blend of simple, popular, forceful language and a scholarly graceful translation. "As a monument of ancient linguistic power the translation of the Old Testament stands unrivaled and unique" (Westcott). The Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) has enriched our language by introducing many Greek words, "apostle," "evangel," "synagogue," "baptism," etc. It has also given us much of our theological vocabulary, "edification," "justification," "propitiation," "regeneration," "Scripture," etc. It still retains many marks of its birth in (1) Old Latin words elevated from the vernacular, (2) Africanisms: clarifico , etc., saeculum for mundus , long compound verbs like obtenebrare , etc., (3) Graecisms, like the use of the pronoun for the article, as hic mundus = ὁ κόσμος , ho kósmos , (4) Hebraisms, like adposuit ut apprehenderet et Petrum (  Acts 12:3; see special works mentioned in "Literature").

VII. Use of Vulgate.

In the Old Testament the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is not of much importance for the criticism of the Hebrew text, because of the freedom which Jerome permitted himself in translation, and because our present Massoretic Hebrew text had by that time taken on its present form. But on the Septuagint it often throws a very useful light. In the New Testament Jerome's version ranks practically in importance with our oldest and best Greek manuscripts in establishing (in conjunction with the Old Latin Vss ) the received Greek text of the 4th century, both by way of supplementing and correcting our Greek authorities. It is in the Gospels that Jerome's work is most thorough and useful. His version also supplies many a hint for the interpretation of our Greek text.

VIII. Differences Between Vulgate and Our English Versions.

Apart from differences of rendering and minor points, the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) text differs from the English in the order of the books, in the amount contained in some of them, in the occasional divergence of chapter and verse enumeration. The New Testament is practically the same in the Clementine text, though the order of books varies in many manuscripts - the Catholic Epistles being placed sometimes after Acts. In some manuscripts the Epistle to the Laodiceans is found. Most variety obtains in the Old Testament. The sequence of canonical books is the same, but the apocryphal books are interspersed among them and not placed at the end. Tobit and Judith are inserted between Nehemiah (2 Esdras) and Esther, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus between Canticles and Isaiah. Baruch follows Lamentaions, chapter 5 of which is called the "Prayer of Jeremiah the Prophet"; 1,2 Maccabees are placed after Malachi; 3,4 Esdras and Prayer of Manasses appear as an appendix after the New Testament. In Psalms the divergence is considerable, the Vulgate - like the Hebrew - counting the title as the first verse.  Psalm 9;  10 of our version =   Psalm 9 in Vulgate, so that the Vulgate is one Psalm behind the English till   Psalm 114:1-8 , then  Psalm 114:1-8; 115 again form one Psalm = Vulgate 113. The Vulgate is now two behind. Matters are equalized by Ps 116 being divided into two in the Vulgate (= 114; 115), and 147 again = two Vulgate  Psalm 146:1-10; 147. Thus, only Psalms 1 through 8 and 148 through 150 run the same. Against Jerome's advice the apocryphal parts of Daniel and Esther were accepted as integral parts of those books, the Song of Three Children being inserted at  Daniel 3:23 , Susanna forming chapter 13 and Bel and the Dragon chapter 14. Ad Esther is linked on to the end of Esther. In conclusion, the present Vulgate, as Westcott remarks, is a composite of elements belonging to every period and form of the Latin version, including (1) unrevised Old Latin (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees and Baruch); (2) Old Latin corrected from the Septuagint (Psalter); (3) Jerome's free translation from the original (Job and Judith); (4) Jerome's translation from the original (the Old Testament except the Psalter); (5) Old Latin revised from Greek manuscripts (the Gospels); (6) Old Latin cursorily revised (the rest of the New Testament).


This is too vast to cite, but in some of the following works sufficient bibliographies will be found: Berger, Hist de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siecles du moyen age , 1893; H. Hody, De bib. textibus originalibus , 1705; F. Kaulen, Gesch. der Vulg , 1868; Van Ess, Pragmatisch-krit. Gesch. der Vulg , 1824; E. Nestle, Urtext u. Uebersetzungen der Bibel , 1897, and Ein Jubilaum d. tat. Biblical , 1892. Two splendid articles - each by an authority - in Db (Westcott) and in Hdb (White). A very readable account is in Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient manuscripts , 165 ff, and in his Handbook to the Text Crit. of the New Testament , 168 ff. For the language: Ronsch, Itala u. Vulgata , 2nd edition, 1875; A. Hartl, Sprachliche Eigentumlichkeiten d. Vulg , 1864.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [10]

A version of the Bible in Latin executed by St. Jerome ( q. v .), and was in two centuries after its execution universally adopted in the Western Christian Church as authoritative for both faith and practice, and from the circumstance of its general reception it became known as the Vulgate ( i. e . the commonly-accepted Bible of the Church), and it is the version accepted as authentic to-day by the Roman Catholic Church, under sanction of the Council of Trent. "With the publication of it," says Ruskin, "the great deed of fixing, in their ever since undisturbed harmony and majesty, the canon of Mosaic and Apostolic Scripture, was virtually accomplished, and the series of historic and didactic books which form our present Bible (including the Apocrypha) were established in and above the nascent thought of the noblest races of men living on the terrestrial globe, as a direct message to them from its Maker, containing whatever it was necessary for them to learn of His purposes towards them, and commanding, or advising, with divine authority and infallible wisdom, all that it was best for them to do and happiest to desire. Thus, partly as a scholar's exercise and partly as an old man's recreation, the severity of the Latin language was softened, like Venetian crystal, by the variable fire of Hebrew thought, and the 'Book of Books' took the abiding form of which all the future art of the Western nations was to be an hourly expanding interpretation."