The translation of the Bible into Latin by Jerome. Pope Damascus commissioned the work in 382 CE because previous Latin translations had been piecemeal, inelegant, and sometimes unreliable. Jerome spent twenty years on the project. For the Old Testament he produced an entirely fresh translation, taking the revolutionary step of relying largely on the original Hebrew and Aramaic, rather than the customary Greek version, the Septuagint (except in the Psalms). Jerome's work on the New Testament followed his predecessors much more closely. The whole project was complete in 405 CE.

Pious tradition prevented Jerome's version from entirely supplanting the older Latin translations for many years, but the Vulgate eventually gained broad acceptance among the Latin‐speaking Christian public. It thus came to be called the versio vulgata, the “common translation,” and to this day remains the official scriptural text of the Roman Catholic church. The first printed book was the Vulgate Bible (see Gutenberg). The Renaissance, with its interest in Greek antiquity, and then later the Enlightenment, with its interest in historical inquiry, were ultimately to challenge the primacy of the Vulgate in the Western church for purposes of critical biblical scholarship.

See also Translations, article on Ancient Languages


Philip Sellew