Jerome and the Latin Vulgate

Jerome and the Latin Vulgate
c. 405 A.D.

Beginning in 382 A.D., a Roman Catholic scholar by the name of Jerome began translating the Bible into Latin at the request of Pope Damasus I.

Jerome’s work, known as the Latin Vulgate, was completed in 405 A.D. It remains practically unchanged and is still in use in the Roman Catholic Church today.

“Vulgate” is Latin for “vulgar”, because it was written in the common, or vulgar, Latin dialect.

The Vulgate was the standard version of the Bible for Roman Catholics for over one and a half millennia. Since Latin was only studied by priests and scholars, the vast majority of people could not read or understand the Vulgate, even though they would hear passages from it every time they went to church.

Until 1450, when Gutenberg printed the Vulgate, copies were also very rare and expensive. During the Protestant reformation in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Bible was finally translated into modern languages, against great resistance from the Church. Finally in the mid-20th Century, the Roman Catholic Church abandoned the use of Latin for liturgy. However, this remains one of the most historically important Latin texts.


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