Nova Vulgata

The Nova Vulgata (complete title: Nova Vulgata Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio; abr. NV), also called the Neo-Vulgate, 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, completed and promulgated in 1979 by John Paul II. A second revised edition was promulgated in 1986, again by John Paul II.

Nova Vulgata
CountryVatican City
LanguageClassical Latin
GenreOfficial Bible of the Catholic Church
Published1979 (2nd revised edition in 1986)
Preceded bySixto-Clementine Vulgate 

Before the Nova Vulgata, the Clementine Vulgate of 1598 became the standard Bible text of the Catholic Church.[1]

The Nova Vulgata is not a critical edition of the historical Vulgate, but a revision of the text intended to accord with modern critical Hebrew and Greek texts and produce a style closer to Classical Latin.[2]


Elaboration of the text

In 1933, Pope Pius XI established the Pontifical Abbey of St Jerome-in-the-City to complete the work. By the 1970s, as a result of liturgical changes that had spurred the Vatican to produce a new translation of the Latin Bible, the Nova Vulgata, the Benedictine edition was no longer required for official purposes,[3] and the abbey was suppressed in 1984.[4] 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.[5] The Oxford editors having already published a full critical text of the Vulgate New Testament, no attempt was made to duplicate their work.

The Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium mandated a revision of the Latin Psalter in accord 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, inviting 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.[6]

The foundational text of most of the Old Testament is the critical edition done by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Jerome under Pope Pius X.[6] The foundational text of the books of Tobit and Judith are 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.[7] There are also a number of changes where the modern scholars felt that Jerome had failed to grasp the meaning of the original languages, or had rendered it obscurely.[8]

The Nova Vulgata does not contain some books found in the earlier editions but omitted by the canon promulgated by the Council of Trent, namely 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.


In 1979, after decades of preparation, the Nova Vulgata was published and promulgated as the Catholic Church's current official Latin version in the Apostolic constitution Scripturarum Thesaurus promulgated by Pope John Paul II.[3]

A second edition was published in 1986; this second edition added a Preface to the reader,[8] an Introduction to the principles used in producing the Nova Vulgata[9] as well as an appendix containing 3 historical documents from the Council of Trent and the Clementine Vulgate.[10] In addition, the second edition included the footnotes to the Latin text found in the 8 annotated sections published before 1979; it also replaced the few occurrences of the form Iahveh, when translating the Tetragrammaton, with Dominus, in keeping with an ancient tradition.[11]

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 Vulgata Editio, 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"[12] However, the instruction precises (n. 24) that translations should not be made from the Nova Vulgata, but "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[.]" Therefore, the instruction does not recommend a translation of the Bible or of the liturgy based upon the Latin Nova Vulgata; the NV must simply being used as an "auxiliary tool" (n. 24).[13]


The Nova Vulgata has been criticized because it frequently deviates from the Latin manuscript tradition.[14] Protestant university professor Benno Zuiddan[15] criticized the NV, because, according to him, many of the NV's New Testament readings are not found on any Latin manuscripts, meaning that the NV diverges from Jerome's translation. Zuiddan 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."[16]

Traditional Catholics object against the Nova Vulgata because in their view it lacks Latin manuscript support and breaks with the historic worship tradition of the Church.[17][18]

See also


  1. 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 9780198744733.
  2. Stramare, Tarcisio (1981). "Die Neo-Vulgata. Zur Gestaltung des Textes". Biblische Zeitschrift. 25 (1): 67–81.
  3. "Scripturarum Thesarurus, Apostolic Constitution, 25 April 1979, John Paul II". Vatican: The Holy See. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  4. 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.
  5. "Bibliorum Sacrorum Vetus Vulgata". Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  6. Clifford, Richard J. (April 2001). "The Authority of the Nova Vulgata: A Note on a Recent Roman Document". Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 63: 197–202.
  7. "Praenotanda (Bibliorum Sacrorum nova vulgata editio)". (in Latin). Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  8. "Praefatio ad Lectorem (Bibliorum Sacrorum nova vulgata editio)". (in Latin). Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  9. "Nova Vulgata : Praenotanda" (in Latin). Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  10. "Appendix". (in Latin). Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  11. "Modern Catholic Views on the Use of the Tetragrammaton". Retrieved 2019-08-25.
  12. "Liturgiam authenticam". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  13. Estévez, Jorge A. Medina (Nov–Dec 2001). "Translations and the Consultation of the Nova Vulgata of the Latin Church". Notitiae, vol. 37. Retrieved 2019-09-24 via maint: date format (link)
  14. "Problems with the Nova Vulgata in the Gospel of Matthew". Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  15. "About – Benno Zuiddam". Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  16. "Silent Bible Revolution in the Vatican". Zuiddam. 2017-05-26. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
  17. "So now the Modernists in Rome are rewriting Scripture - Crisis in the Church - Catholic Info". Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  18. "New liturgical translations… revival of old heresies… Nothing new for the Novus Ordo…". AKA Catholic. Retrieved 2019-08-24.
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