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Table of contents
1 Origin and Meaning
2 Different versions
3 Relation with the Old Latin Bible
4 Nova Vulgata
5 Issues of translation
6 External links

Origin and Meaning

The Vulgate Bible is an early 5th-century translation of the Bible into Latin made by St. Jerome on the orders of Pope Damasus I. It takes its name from the phrase vulgata editio, "the edition for the people" (cf. Vulgar Latin), and was written in an everyday Latin used in conscious distinction to the elegant Ciceronian Latin of which Jerome was a master. The Vulgate was designed to be both more accurate and easier to understand than its predecessors.

Different versions

Jerome was responsible for at least three slightly different versions of the Vulgate. The Romana Vulgate was the first, but it was soon replaced by later versions except in Britain, where it continued to be used until the Norman Conquest in 1066. Next was the Gallicana Vulgate, which Jerome produced a few years later. It had some minor improvements, especially in the Old Testament. This became the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church a few decades after it was produced. The Hispana Vulgate is largely identical to the Romana except for the Book of Psalms, which Jerome re-translated from the Hebrew for this version. (In the other Vulgates the Psalms were mostly translated from Greek, but were checked against Hebrew and Aramaic sources; this was done since they were already very familiar to the worshippers in this form and a completely new translation of the Psalms was felt to be too radical a change.)

Relation with the Old Latin Bible

The Latin Bible used before the Vulgate and usually known as the Vetus Latina, or "Old Latin", was not translated by a single person or institution, nor even uniformly edited. The individual books varied in quality of translation and style -- modern scholars often refer to the Old Latin as being in "translationese" rather than standard Latin. Jerome did not completely re-translate the original Greek and Hebrew and exactly how much revision he did is unclear. He certainly translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew and the Gospels from the Greek. Whether he translated other parts of the New Testament or just revised them from Old Latin translations is not known with certainty. At first, Jerome did not want to include the Deuterocanonical books. However, Augustine of Hippo argued for their inclusion, and Pope Damasus insisted on it, so these books were included and the Old Testament canon of the Vulgate was mostly the same as that of the Septuagint, which was at that time the translation most widely used by Greek-speaking Christians.

Nova Vulgata

There is another version of the Vulgate, called the Nova Vulgata. This is the current official Latin version published by the Roman Catholic Church. The main difference in the Nova Vulgata is that it takes account of the textual criticism of recent years and in places reflects the changes in such texts as the United Bible Society's critical text.

Issues of translation

Jerome had a Greek model for both the Old and the New Testaments: the New Testament was written in Greek and the Old Testament, originally written in Hebrew, was used by Christians, as noted above, in a Greek translation called the Septuagint made in the first century before Christ. The linguistic separation between Hebrew and Latin is nearly as vast as the linguistic separation between Latin and Greek is narrow, and the Vulgate New Testament, in particular, sometimes follows the Greek model word for word. Latin and Greek are both highly inflected languages with very flexible word-order, but the attempt to render such things as the richer array of Greek participles sometimes resulted in clumsy Latin that was preserved in the English of the King James Bible. We can see this in Luke 2:15, for example:

Greek: Και εγενετο ως απηλθον απ' αυτων εις τον ουρανον οι αγγελοι και οι ανθρωποι οι ποιμενες ειπον προς αλληλους: Διελυωμεν δη εως Βηυλεεμ και ιδωμεν το ρημα τουτο το γεγονος ο ο κυριος εγνωρισεν ημιν.

(Literal translation: And it-happened that they-withdrew from them into the heaven the angels and the men the shepherds said to each-other: let-us-go-over then to Jerusalem and see the thing that [demonstrative pronoun] the happened which the Lord has-declared to-us.)

Latin: Et factum est ut discesserunt ab eis angeli in caelum, pastores loquebantur ad invicem: transeamus usque Bethleem et videamus hoc verbum, quod factum est, quod fecit Dominus et ostendit nobis.

(Literal translation: And it-happened as they-withdrew from them into heaven angels, shepherds said to each-other: let-us-go-over to Bethlehem and see this thing which has happened which the Lord has-done and has-declared to-us.)

English: And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

External links