Question: "What is the Latin Vulgate Bible?"

“The Vulgate” is the popular name given to the Latin version of the Bible, a translation usually attributed to Jerome. Before Jerome’s time, as the number of Latin-speaking Christians grew, the Bible was translated into Latin so that the Christians of the time could understand it. It is believed that the first Latin translation was completed around A.D. 200, although no manuscripts of this era exist today. The first Latin manuscripts were surely created in North Africa, for it seems that the church in North Africa was Latin-speaking from the start as compared to the predominantly Greek-speaking churches in Asia and Europe.

Two centuries later Pope Damasus I commissioned a scholar by the name Jerome to produce one standard Latin text of the Bible; there were as many different Latin versions of the Bible as there were different forms of the text, and Damasus wanted the church to have a standard version to promote universal doctrine. Jerome completed the translation in A.D. 400, and his version was known as the editio vulgate (the current text of Holy Scripture), because he used the common (or vulgar) language of early medieval times.

Jerome started by revising the Gospels, using the Greek manuscripts available. This he did because of the vast differences he found in the various Latin texts that were available. About the same time, he started revising the Old Testament by using the Septuagint (a Greek version of the Old Testament). Jerome also translated the Old Testament into Latin by using the Hebrew text, a task he did without ecclesiastical sanction. The present Vulgate contains elements which belong to every period of its development, including

(1) an unrevised Old Latin text of the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch;
(2) an Old Latin form of the Psalter, which Jerome corrected from the Septuagint;
(3) Jerome's free translation of the books of Job and Judith;
(4) Jerome's translation from the Hebrew Old Testament excluding the Psalter;
(5) an Old Latin revision of the Gospels from Greek manuscripts;
(6) an Old Latin New Testament, revised.

Some of the books mentioned belong to a division known as the "Apocrypha," normally considered books of Jewish origin which lie outside the canon of the Old Testament.