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    Darby, Peter 2017. The Codex Amiatinus Maiestas Domini and the Gospel Prefaces of Jerome. Speculum, Vol. 92, Issue. 2, p. 343.

  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: May 2012

4 - The Latin Bible, c. 600 to c. 900

from Part I - Texts and Versions




For the period under review, the word ‘Vulgate’ (vulgata) is not the most appropriate way to refer to the translations of the Bible by Jerome. First, the term is anachronistic. Only from the beginning of the sixteenth century was it used to designate the commonly encountered content of Latin Bibles, which had been more or less stable since the first printing (at Mainz, c. 1450) and even before. To identify this uniform text, the Council of Trent, in 1546, used the expression vetus et vulgata editio. Second, it is ambiguous. When Jerome and Augustine used the word vulgata, they meant something different – namely, the common, unrevised, Greek Bible, or the Latin translation of this, more or less what we now call Old Latin or Vetus Latina. Third, the term is misleading in that it gives us to understand that the content of a Bible – let us say under Alcuin in 800 – was that of a Bible established already before that date, which is not the case; in fact, Alcuin's Bibles were not yet ‘vulgate’ in the sense of being in common use. Our task here will be to show how one translation rather than another, or one revision rather than another, became sufficiently widespread and privileged to achieve the position of becoming the commonly used one and thus, in a new meaning, ‘vulgate’. In fact, from c. 850 the victory of this new common text was assured, thanks especially, though not exclusively, to the wide diffusion of the Bibles of Tours.

Psalters: Romanum, Gallicanum, Hebraicum

In the case of the psalter, some anachronism may be allowed, because there is no danger of misunderstanding. The old psalter used in central Italy and in England (until the tenth century) is called Romanum. That revised by Jerome according to the Origenian (or Hexaplaric) form of the Septuagint is called Gallicanum, and is the most widespread form of the Latin psalter. That translated by Jerome according to the Hebrew, iuxta Hebraeos, is called Hebraicum.

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The New Cambridge History of the Bible
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