When Jerome was asked by Pope Damasus in 382 c.e. to produce a reliable version of the Latin Gospels and Psalter, he did not interpret this as a request to produce a new translation from the Greek and Hebrew originals. A Latin translation, or, rather, translations (for there were several versions), which later came to be known as the Vetus Latina (the “Old Latin [Bible]”), already existed. Instead, Jerome set out to create a corrected text of this existing Latin Bible, by comparing it to the Greek. Born in 347 in Stridon, in modern-day Slovenia, Jerome was a student of classical rhetoric in Rome. After his conversion to Christianity, he studied for some time in the east, eventually to return to Rome in 382, where he enjoyed the patronage of Pope Damasus. In 385, after falling out with the Roman clergy and the death of Damasus, he took up residence in the Palestine, where he learned Hebrew and redefined himself as a biblical scholar. It was here that he decided to extend his correction project to the entire biblical text. But by 390, he decided that for some Bible books, he might as well start from scratch and translate directly from the original Hebrew. By the time he had finished the project in 404, he had translated most books of the Bible, and this translation formed the basis of the Latin Bible that would be used for most of the Middle Ages.
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