Vulgate

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Vulgate

Vulgate (vŭl´gāt) [Lat. Vulgata editio=common edition], most ancient extant version of the whole Christian Bible. Its name derives from a 13th-century reference to it as the "editio vulgata." The official Latin version of the Roman Catholic Church, it was prepared c.AD 383–AD 405 by St. Jerome (c.342–420) at the request of Pope St. Damasus I, his patron. The Vulgate was intended to replace the Old Latin version (the "Itala" ), which was translated from the Greek. Jerome first revised the Old Latin Gospels, translating them in 383–84. Using the Septuagint and Origen's Hexapla, he set to work (385–89) on Job, the Psalms, Chronicles, the books attributed to Solomon, and chapters 40–55 of Isaiah. From 390–405, Jerome used the Hebrew Masoretic text, with the aid of several rabbis, for the basis of his translation. Regarding the Psalms, Jerome made three versions: the Roman Psalter, a mild revision of the Old Latin translation of the Septuagint, used in the Roman liturgy until c.1570; the Gallican Psalter, a revision of the Old Latin to parallel it with the Hebrew Masoretic text; and the later Hebrew Psalter, a new translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text. Texts of the Vulgate now contain the Gallican Psalter. As to the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, Jerome made hasty translations of Tobit, Judith, and the additions to Daniel and Esther; the rest he did not touch, hence the Vulgate includes Old Latin versions of them. From the 5th cent. the Vulgate was popular in the West; by the early Middle Ages it was used everywhere by the Latin churches of the West. All the early vernacular translations were from the Vulgate, which was the first Bible printed on Gutenberg's press. In 1546 the Council of Trent made the Vulgate the official version of the Catholic Church, and in 1592 the official text with no variants was promulgated by Clement VIII. All subsequent editions of the Vulgate published with the church's imprimatur represent this Clementine edition.

See J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome (1975); B. M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament (1977). See also the Benedictine and the Stuttgart editions.

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