Outline of Bible-related topics
Vetus Latina ("Old Latin" in Latin), also known as Vetus Itala ("Old
Italian"), Itala ("Italian") [n 1] and Old Italic, is the collective
name given to the
Latin translations of biblical texts (both Old
Testament and New Testament) that existed before the Vulgate, the
Latin translation produced by
Jerome in the late 4th century. The
Vetus Latina translations continued to be used alongside the Vulgate,
but eventually the
Vulgate became the standard
Bible used by the
Catholic Church, especially after the
Council of Trent
Council of Trent (1545–1563)
Vulgate translation as authoritative for the text of
Scripture. However, the
Vetus Latina texts survive in places in the
liturgy (eg., the Pater Noster).
As the English translation of
Vetus Latina is "Old Latin", they are
also sometimes referred to as the
Old Latin Bible, although they
are written in the form of
Latin known as Late Latin, not that known
as Old Latin. The
Vetus Latina manuscripts that are preserved today
are dated from AD 350 to the 13th century.
3 Comparison with Vulgate
4 See also
7 External links
There is no single "Vetus Latina" Bible. Instead,
Vetus Latina is a
collection of biblical manuscript texts that are
Latin translations of
New Testament passages that preceded Jerome's
After comparing readings for Luke 24:4–5 in Vetus Latina
Bruce Metzger counted "at least 27 variant readings in
Vetus Latina manuscripts that have survived" for this passage
alone. To these witnesses of previous translations, many scholars
frequently add quotations of biblical passages that appear in the
works of the
Latin Fathers, some of which share readings with certain
groups of manuscripts. As such, many of the
Vetus Latina "versions"
were generally not promulgated in their own right as translations of
Bible to be used in the whole Church; rather, many of the texts
that form part of the
Vetus Latina were prepared on an ad hoc basis
for the local use of Christian communities, to illuminate another
Christian discourse or sermon, or as the
Latin half of a diglot
manuscript (e.g. Codex Bezae). There are some
Vetus Latina texts that
seem to have aspired to greater stature or currency; several Vetus
Latina manuscripts Gospels exist, containing the four canonical
Gospels; the several manuscripts that contain them differ
substantially from one another. Other biblical passages, however, are
extant only in excerpts or fragments.
The language of
Vetus Latina translations is uneven in quality, as
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo lamented in
De Doctrina Christiana
De Doctrina Christiana (2, 16).
Grammatical solecisms abound; some reproduce literally Greek or Hebrew
idioms as they appear in the Septuagint. Likewise, the various Vetus
Latina translations reflect the various versions of the Septuagint
circulating, with the African manuscripts (such as the Codex
Bobiensis) preserving readings of the Western text-type, while
readings in the European manuscripts are closer to the Byzantine
text-type. Many grammatical idiosyncrasies come from the use of Vulgar
Latin grammatical forms in the text.
Jerome undertook the revision of
Latin translations of Old
Testament texts in the late 4th century, he checked the
Vetus Latina translations against the Hebrew texts that were then
available. He broke with church tradition and translated most of the
Old Testament of his
Vulgate from Hebrew sources rather than from the
Greek Septuagint. His choice was severely criticized by Augustine, his
contemporary; a flood of still less moderate criticism came from those
Jerome as a forger. While on the one hand he argued for
the superiority of the Hebrew texts in correcting the
both philological and theological grounds, on the other, in the
context of accusations of heresy against him,
Jerome would acknowledge
Septuagint texts as well.
Vulgate offered a single, stylistically consistent
translated from the original tongues, and the Vetus Latina
translations gradually fell out of use. Jerome, in a letter, complains
that his new version was initially disliked by Christians who were
familiar with the phrasing of the old translations. However, as copies
of the complete
Bible were infrequently found, Vetus Latina
translations of various books were copied into manuscripts alongside
Vulgate translations, inevitably exchanging readings.
Vetus Latina translations of single books continued to be found in
manuscripts as late as the 13th century. However, the Vulgate
generally displaced the
Vetus Latina as the standard
Bible to be used by the Catholic church, especially after the
Council of Trent
Council of Trent (1545–1563).
Comparison with Vulgate
Below are some comparisons of the
Vetus Latina with text from critical
editions of the Vulgate.
The following comparison is of Luke 6:1–4, taken from the Vetus
Latina text in the Codex Bezae:
Et factum est eum in Sabbato secundoprimo abire per segetes discipuli
autem illius coeperunt vellere spicas et fricantes manibus
Factum est autem in sabbato secundo, primo, cum transíret per sata,
vellebant discípuli eius spicas, et manducabant confricantes manibus.
And it came to pass on the second first sabbath, that as he went
through the corn fields, his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat,
rubbing them in their hands.
Quidam autem de farisaeis dicebant ei, Ecce quid faciunt discipuli tui
sabbatis quod non licet?
Quidam autem pharisæorum, dicebant illis : Quid facitis quod non
licet in sabbatis?
And some of the Pharisees said to them: Why do you that which is not
lawful on the sabbath days?
Respondens autem IHS dixit ad eos, Numquam hoc legistis quod fecit
David quando esurit ipse et qui cum eo erat?
Et respondens Jesus ad eos, dixit : Nec hoc legistis quod fecit
David, cum esurisset ipse, et qui cum illo erant?
And Jesus answering them, said: Have you not read so much as this,
what David did, when himself was hungry, and they that were with him:
Intro ibit in domum Dei et panes propositionis manducavit et dedit et
qui cum erant quibus non licebat manducare si non solis sacerdotibus?
quomodo intravit in domum Dei, et panes propositionis sumpsit, et
manducavit, et dedit his qui cum ipso erant : quos non licet
manducare nisi tantum sacerdotibus?
How he went into the house of God, and took and ate the bread of
proposition, and gave to them that were with him, which is not lawful
to eat but only for the priests?
Vulgate text survives in places in the liturgy, such as the
following verse well known from Christmas carols, Luke 2:14, whilst
Vetus Latina is closer to the Byzantine tradition:
King James Version (1611)
Gloria in excelsis Deo, et super terra pax in hominibus
Gloria in altissimis Deo, et in terra pax in hominibus bonæ
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
Vulgate text means, "Glory [belongs] to God among the high, and
peace [belongs] to men of good will on earth". The
Vulgate text means
"Glory [belongs] to God among the most high and peace among men of
good will on earth".
Probably the most well known difference between the
Vetus Latina and
Vulgate is in the Pater Noster, where the phrase from the Vetus
Latina, quotidianum panem, "daily bread", becomes supersubstantialem
panem, "supersubstantial bread" in the Vulgate.
^ See, for example, Quedlinburg Itala fragment.
^ a b W. E. Plater and H. J. White, A Grammar of the Vulgate, Oxford
at the Clarendon Press: 1926, paragraph 4.
^ Metzger, Bruce (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its
Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration. Oxford University Press.
p. 72. ISBN 9780195166675.
^ Rebenich, S.,
Jerome (Routledge, 2013), p. 58.
^ Text taken from
Codex Bezae and the Da Vinci Code Archived
2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine., A textcritical look at the
Rennes-le-Chateau hoax, Wieland Willker, 2005
^ I Wordsworth, H.I. White, H.F.D. Sparks, Novum Testamentum Domini
Nostri Jesu Christi Latine secundum editione S. Hieronymi, Oxonii
^ Stuttgart Vulgate, Biblia Sacra iuxta Vulgatam versionem,
adiuvantibus Bonifatio Fischer OSB, Iohanne Gribomont OSB, H.F.D.
Sparks, W. Thiele, recensuit et brevi apparatu instruxit Robertus
Weber OSB, editio tertia emendata quam paravit
Bonifatius Fischer OSB
cum sociis H.I. Frede, Iohanne Gribomont OSB, H.F.D. Sparks, W.
^ Punctuation taken from Biblia sacra Vulgatae editionis, Michael
^ Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Latine, Novam Vulgatam Bibliorum
Sacrorum Editionem secuti apparatibus titulisque additis ediderunt
Kurt Aland et Barbara Aland una cum Instituo studiorum textus Novi
Testamenti Monasteriensi (Westphalia), Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,
1884–1998, Lc 2,14, citing Wordsworth, supra, and Stuttgart, supra
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Vetus Latina Institut, Beuron/Germany
Vetus Latina – Resources for the study of the
English, German, and Latin)
Vetus Latina Iohannes – An electronic edition of the manuscripts of
Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles – About the edition of the Latin
versions of the Books of Acts (in German)
Tanakh.info – Polyglot of the
Tanakh featuring the text of Old Latin
version of the
Old Testament with a new English translation.
Books of the Bible
Old Testament Protocanon
Additions to Esther
Baruch / Letter of Jeremiah
Additions to Daniel
Song of the Three Children
Bel and the Dragon
Prayer of Manasseh
1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan
Paralipomena of Baruch
Letter of Baruch
Chapters and verses
Major prophets / Minor prophets
Old Testament canon
New Testament canon
Dead Sea Scrolls
New Testament manuscript categories
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Other books referenced in the Bible
New Testament apocrypha
Synod of Hippo