How Does the Latin Vulgate Compare to the Old Latin Bible?


Quick Answer

The Old Latin Bible refers to all Latin translations of the Bible written before Jerome's Latin Vulgate. These translations were generally intended not for widespread promulgation like the Vulgate but for use in smaller Christian communities.

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Full Answer

A wide variety of Latin translations of the Bible were in existence before the Vulgate, all of which varied in quality and style and none of which commanded universal authority. In response to this, Pope Damasus ordered Jerome to complete an authoritative translation in 382. After its completion, the Vulgate largely replaced all other translations, though some congregations and copyists chose to retain certain, more familiar verses from other editions. The Council of Trent in the 16th century, however, declared the Vulgate to be the official translation of the Church, and the Old Latin translations fell almost entirely into disuse.

No one knows where the Bible was first translated into Latin, although scholars have suggested North Africa and Antioch as possibilities. Scholars are also unsure of when Latin Biblical translations first appeared, though most agree the first Latin translation must have appeared before 210 to 240 AD. What is clear, however, is that by the end of the fourth century, the number of Latin translations was staggering, with contemporary writers such as Augustine of Hippo complaining of the innumerable translations.

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