Nova Vulgata

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Nova Vulgata
John paul 2 coa.svg
Country Vatican City
Language Classical Latin
GenreOfficial Bible of the Catholic Church
Published1979 (2nd revised edition in 1986)
Preceded by Sixto-Clementine Vulgate  

The Nova Vulgata (complete title: Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio; abr. NV), also called the Neo-Vulgate or New Latin Vulgate, [1] is the official Classical Latin translation of the original-language texts of the Bible from modern critical editions published by the Holy See for use in the contemporary Roman rite. It was completed and promulgated in 1979 by John Paul II. A second, revised, edition was promulgated in 1986, again by John Paul II. It is the official Latin text of the Catholic Church.


Before the Nova Vulgata, the Clementine Vulgate was the standard Bible of the Catholic Church. [2]

The Nova Vulgata is not a critical edition of the historical Vulgate. Rather, it is a revision of the text intended to accord with modern critical Hebrew and Greek texts, and to produce a style closer to Classical Latin. [3]


Elaboration of the text

In 1907, Pope Pius X commissioned the Benedictine Order to produce as pure a version as possible of Jerome's original text after conducting an extensive search for as-yet-unstudied manuscripts, particularly in Spain. [4] Pope Pius XI established the Pontifical Abbey of St Jerome-in-the-City in 1933 to complete the work.

By the 1970s, the Benedictine edition was no longer required for official purposes because of liturgical changes that had spurred the Vatican to produce a new translation of the Latin Bible, the Nova Vulgata. [5] In consequence, the abbey was suppressed in 1984. [6] Five monks were nonetheless allowed to complete the final two volumes of the Old Testament, which were published under the abbey's name in 1987 and 1995. [7] The Oxford editors had already published a full critical text of the Vulgate New Testament, and no attempt was made to duplicate their work.[ citation needed ]

The Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium mandated a revision of the Latin Psalter, to bring it in line with modern textual and linguistic studies while preserving or refining its Christian Latin style. In 1965, Pope Paul VI appointed a commission to revise the rest of the Vulgate following the same principles. The Commission published its work in eight annotated sections, and invited criticism from Catholic scholars as the sections were published. The Latin Psalter was published in 1969, the New Testament was completed by 1971, and the entire Nova Vulgata was published as a single-volume edition for the first time in 1979. [8]

The foundational text of most of the Old Testament is the critical edition commissioned by Pope Pius X and produced by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Jerome. [8] The foundational text of the Books of Tobit and Judith is from manuscripts of the Vetus Latina , rather than the Vulgate. The New Testament was based on the 1969 edition of the Stuttgart Vulgate, and hence on the Oxford Vulgate. All of these base texts were revised to accord with the modern critical editions in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. [9] A number of changes were also made where modern scholars felt that Jerome had failed to grasp the meaning of the original languages, or had rendered it obscurely. [10]

The Nova Vulgata does not contain some books that were included in the earlier editions but omitted by the canon promulgated by the Council of Trent. Those omitted books are the Prayer of Manasses, the 3rd and 4th Book of Esdras (sometimes known by different names: see naming conventions of Esdras), Psalm 151, and the Epistle to the Laodiceans.[ citation needed ]


In 1979, after decades of preparation, the Nova Vulgata was published, and was made the official Latin version of the Bible of the Catholic Church in the apostolic constitution Scripturarum Thesaurus  [ de ], promulgated by Pope John Paul II on April 25, 1979. [5] [11]

A second edition, published in 1986, added a Preface to the reader, [10] an Introduction to the principles used in producing the Nova Vulgata, [12] and an appendix containing three historical documents from the Council of Trent and the Clementine Vulgate. [13] This second edition included the footnotes to the Latin text found in the eight annotated sections published before 1979. It also replaced the few occurrences of the form Iahveh,[ citation needed ] used when translating the Tetragrammaton, with Dominus, in keeping with an ancient tradition. [14]

Liturgiam authenticam

In 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam . This text established the Nova Vulgata as "the point of reference as regards the delineation of the canonical text". Concerning the translation of liturgical texts, the instruction states:

"Furthermore, in the preparation of these translations for liturgical use, the Nova VulgataEditio, promulgated by the Apostolic See, is normally to be consulted as an auxiliary tool, in a manner described elsewhere in this Instruction, in order to maintain the tradition of interpretation that is proper to the Latin Liturgy. [...] [I]t is advantageous to be guided by the Nova Vulgata wherever there is a need to choose, from among various possibilities [of translation], that one which is most suited for expressing the manner in which a text has traditionally been read and received within the Latin liturgical tradition" [15]

This recommendation is qualified, however: the instruction specifies (n. 24) that translations should not be made from the Nova Vulgata, but rather "must be made directly from the original texts, namely the Latin, as regards the texts of ecclesiastical composition, or the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, as the case may be, as regards the texts of Sacred Scripture". The instruction does not recommend translation of the Bible, or of the liturgy, based upon the Latin Nova Vulgata; the NV must instead simply be used as an "auxiliary tool". [16]

Textual characteristics

Most of the approximately 2,000 changes made by the Nova Vulgata to the traditional text of Jerome's revision of the Gospels in the Stuttgart Vulgate are minor and stylistic in nature. [17] [18]

In addition, in the New Testament the Nova Vulgata introduced corrections to align the Latin with the Greek text, something that has been described as "an urgent need" in order to represent Jerome's text, as well as its Greek base for the New Testament, accurately. This alignment had not been achieved earlier, either in the edition of 1590, or in the 1592 edition which contained some 5,000 alterations to the 1590 text. [18]

Use of the Nova Vulgata

William Griffin used the Nova Vulgata for his Latin-to-English translation of the Books of Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Baruch, Wisdom, Sirach, and the additions to Esther and Daniel for the Catholic/Ecumenical Edition of The Message Bible. [1]

The Nova Vulgata provides the Latin text of Kurt and Barbara Aland's bilingual Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine. [19] [17] Since the Alands' 1984 revision of the Novum Testamentum Latine, that version has also used the Nova Vulgata as its reference text. [17]


The Nova Vulgata has been criticized as deviating frequently from the Latin manuscript tradition. [20] According to Protestant university professor Benno Zuiddan, [21] many of the NV's New Testament readings are not found in any Latin manuscripts, meaning that the NV diverges from Jerome's translation. Zuiddan has called the NV "an imaginary text of Scripture on the authority of scholarship, based on a handful of manuscripts that run contrary to the textual traditions of both the Eastern and the Western Church". [22]

Traditional Catholics object to the Nova Vulgata because, in their view, it lacks Latin manuscript support and breaks with the historical tradition of worship in the Church. [23] [24]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Catholics get 'The Message' in new edition of Bible". National Catholic Reporter. 26 July 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2020. Griffin said he used the Catholic-approved New Latin Vulgate as the basis for his translations. The Latin was no problem for him, he said, but finding English expressions that were both faithful to the Latin meaning and suitable for a contemporary audience was a challenge.
  2. Houghton, H. A. G. (2016). The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts. Oxford University Press. p. 132. ISBN   9780198744733.
  3. Stramare, Tarcisio (1981). "Die Neo-Vulgata. Zur Gestaltung des Textes". Biblische Zeitschrift. 25 (1): 67–81.
  4. Metzger, Bruce M. (1977). "VII The Latin Versions". The Early Versions of the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 351.
  5. 1 2 "Scripturarum Thesarurus, Apostolic Constitution, 25 April 1979, John Paul II". Vatican: The Holy See. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  6. Pope John Paul II. "Epistula Vincentio Truijen OSB Abbati Claravallensi, 'De Pontificia Commissione Vulgatae editioni recognoscendae atque emendandae'". Vatican: The Holy See. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  7. "Bibliorum Sacrorum Vetus Vulgata". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  8. 1 2 Clifford, Richard J. (April 2001). "The Authority of the Nova Vulgata: A Note on a Recent Roman Document". Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 63: 197–202.
  9. "Praenotanda (Bibliorum Sacrorum nova vulgata editio)". (in Latin). Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  10. 1 2 "Praefatio ad Lectorem (Bibliorum Sacrorum nova vulgata editio)". (in Latin). Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  11. Houghton, H. A. G. (2016). The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts. Oxford University Press. pp. 132–133. ISBN   978-0-19-874473-3.
  12. "Nova Vulgata : Praenotanda" (in Latin). Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  13. "Appendix". (in Latin). Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  14. "Modern Catholic Views on the Use of the Tetragrammaton". Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  15. "Liturgiam authenticam". Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  16. Estévez, Jorge A. Medina (November–December 2001). "Translations and the Consultation of the Nova Vulgata of the Latin Church". Notitiae, vol. 37. Retrieved 24 September 2019 via
  17. 1 2 3 Houghton, H. A. G. (2016). "Editions and Resources". The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts. Oxford University Press. p. 133. ISBN   9780198744733. There are approximately 2,000 differences between the Nova Vulgata and the critical text of Jerome's revision of the Gospels in the Stuttgart Vulgate, most of which are very minor. Following the appearance of the Nova Vulgata, Nestle's Novum Testamentum Latine was revised by Kurt and Barbara Aland: the Clementine text was replaced with the Nova Vulgata and an apparatus added showing differences from eleven other editions, including the Stuttgart, Oxford, Sixtine, and Clementine Vulgates; the first edition of 1984 was followed by a second edition in 1992. The Nova Vulgata is also the Latin text in the Alands' bilingual edition, Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine.
  18. 1 2 Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). "The Latin versions". The Text of the New Testament. Translated by F. Rhodes, Erroll (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 190. ISBN   978-0-8028-4098-1.
  19. Schlosser, Jacques (1985). "Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine (Nestle-Aland), 1984". Revue des Sciences Religieuses. 59 (1): 65–65.
  20. "Problems with the Nova Vulgata in the Gospel of Matthew". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  21. "About – Benno Zuiddam" . Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  22. "Silent Bible Revolution in the Vatican". Zuiddam. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  23. "So now the Modernists in Rome are rewriting Scripture - Crisis in the Church - Catholic Info". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  24. "New liturgical translations… revival of old heresies… Nothing new for the Novus Ordo…". AKA Catholic. Retrieved 24 August 2019.

Further reading