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The Vulgate ( Latin for popular ) is the term used to denote generally widespread and customary text versions, including popular adaptations of literary material such as the Alexander story . In a narrower sense, the term (Biblia) Vulgate describes the Latin version of the Bible which was widespread in the Middle Ages and which prevailed over various older Latin translations of the Bible (collective term Vetus Latina ). The term Vulgate itself is post-medieval.

Development of the Biblia vulgata

Vulgate Sistine

On behalf of Pope Damasus , his confidante Jerome began a revision of the Latin translations of the Gospels after 382 . To a lesser extent, he also worked on the other writings of the New Testament . After the Pope's death in 384, Jerome moved to Bethlehem and turned to translating the Old Testament . Jerome initially translated some Old Testament books from the Greek Septuagint : the Psalter , the Book of Job , the Proverbs , the Song of Songs , the Book of Ecclesiastes, and the first and second books of the Chronicle . From 393 he had a translation of the entire Old Testament followed, according to his own statements "according to the Hebrew" (iuxta Hebraeos), but probably also on the basis of the Hexapla edition prepared by Origen , which in addition to the Greek Septuagint version and other Greek translations also contained the Hebrew text in Greek transcription . More recent research now rates Jerome's Hebrew language skills higher again.

The text revised by Jerome continued to compete with other Latin translations that were in use at the same time. As a result, Latin Bible manuscripts created after 400 took over individual readings of Jerome or, conversely, older readings got into copies of the Jerome text, so that the original wording of its version is uncertain in detail. It was not until around the 8th to 9th centuries that the text version, which essentially went back to Jerome, became established and thus became the Vulgate. At the instigation of Charlemagne , the Frankish scholars Alkuin and Theodulf von Orléans tried to secure the text.

With the invention of the printing press in the middle of the 15th century, the Vulgate experienced a great deal of reproduction, beginning with the Gutenberg Bible . It was also the basis of the 18 pre-Lutheran German Bible translations .

Luther, on the other hand, based his translation on the Latin text of the Bible in the edition of Erasmus of Rotterdam, which was only recently available in print . In Luther's retinue, the Protestant movement rejected the Vulgate as being less original (the Greek text of the time also contained errors) and preferred the Hebrew and Greek versions as the source texts for Bible translations into the vernacular. In 1529 Martin Luther published his own partial revision of the Vulgate for scholars .

The Catholic Church, however, stuck to the Vulgate. It also became the basis of the Eck Bible, which was deliberately published against Luther's translation . The Council of Trent declared the Vulgate binding in 1546 and initiated the preparation of an official, as error-free as possible (“quam emendatissime”) edition. Pope Sixtus V arranged for an improved Vulgate (Sixtina) to be published in 1590 , but this was withdrawn after his death and replaced in 1592 by the Sixto-Clementina organized by Clement VIII . Even Robert Bellarmine now presented the higher authority of the Hebrew and Greek text out: "You are the source, the Vulgate of Bach."

In order to edit the Vulgate according to historical-philological principles, a critical edition began to be published in Oxford in 1889. In 1907 Pope Pius X also commissioned the Benedictine order with a critical edition . On this basis, in 1969 Robert Weber and Roger Gryson published the Biblia Sacra Vulgata , which is based on the oldest manuscripts. For historical (liturgy and dogma-historical) research, this is the authoritative edition.

In the course of the liturgical reform, the celebration of the liturgy in Latin became uncommon in most Catholic parishes in the mid-1960s. Nevertheless, the texts of the Vulgate are still used today in various religious orders (Benedictines, Cistercians, Carthusians).

In 1979, initiated by the Second Vatican Council , a new edition of the Vulgate based on the Hebrew and Greek text witnesses, the Nova Vulgate , was published, based on the current state of textual criticism . To strengthen their use, the Vatican published the instruction Liturgiam authenticam in 2001 . When publishing authentic books of the Roman liturgy, the Nova Vulgate should now be used. These in turn serve as the basis for the translations into the vernacular.

See also


  • Biblia sacra. Iuxta Vulgatam versionem . Recensuit et brevi apparatu critico instruxit Robertus Weber (reviewed and explained with a critical apparatus by Robert Weber). 5th, revised edition, edited by Roger Gryson. German Biblical Society, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-438-05303-9 (authoritative scientific edition).

German translation

  • Biblia Sacra Vulgate. Latin and German . Edited by Andreas Beriger , Widu-Wolfgang Ehlers , Michael Fieger with the participation of numerous specialist colleagues . Tusculum Collection , Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2018, 5 volumes.
    • Vol. 1: Genesis - Exodus - Leviticus - Numbers - Deuteronomy
    • Vol. 2: Iosue - Iudices - Ruth - Samuhel - Malachim - Verba dierum - Ezras - Tobias - Iudith - Hester - Iob
    • Vol. 3: Psalmi - Proverbia - Ecclesiastes - Canticum canticorum - Sapientia - Iesus Sirach
    • Vol. 4: Isaias - Hieremias - Baruch - Ezekiel - Daniel - XII Prophetae - Maccabeorum
    • Vol. 5: Evangelia - Actus Apostolorum - Epistulae Pauli - Epistulae Catholicae - Apocalypsis - Appendix


  • Hermann Rönsch : Itala and Vulgate. The language idiom of the early Christian Itala and the Catholic Vulgate taking into account the Roman vernacular. Explained by examples . Elwert, Marburg 2nd edition 1875 (Reprint Hueber, Munich 1965).
  • Friedrich Stummer : Introduction to the Latin Bible . Schöningh, Paderborn 1928.
  • Bonifatius Fischer: Contributions to the history of the Latin Bible texts (Vetus Latina / From the history of the Latin Bible 12). Herder. Freiburg 1986 ISBN 3-451-00496-8
  • Pierre-Maurice Bogaert: La Bible latine des origines au Moyen Age. Aperçu historique, état des questions . In: Revue théologique de Louvain , Vol. 19 (1988), pp. 137-159.
  • Samuel Berger, Histoire de la Vulgate pendant les premiers siècles du Moyen Age (Paris 1893).
  • Vulgate in Dialogue. A Biblical On-Line Review ( )

Web links

Wiktionary: Vulgate  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Vulgate  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Peter Stotz : The Bible in Latin - inviolable? Zurich 2011 (= Medieval Perspectives, 3), p. 9.
  2. Pierre Nautin: Article Hieronymus , in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 15 (1986), pp. 304-315, here pp. 309-310.
  3. ^ Alfons Fürst : Current tendencies of the research on Hieronymus . In: Adamantius , Vol. 13 (2007), pp. 144–151, also Uta Heil, Art. Hieronymus , in: The scientific Bibellexikon on the Internet (WiBiLex), January 2009.
  4. a b Vulgate
  5. ^ Liturgiam authenticam - The use of vernacular languages ​​in the publication of the books of the Roman liturgy