Which Latin Vulgate Should You Purchase?

Which Latin Vulgate should you buy? Not every Latin Vulgate is really a Church approved Latin Vulgate. There are three different versions out there and you need to make an informed decision before you lay down the money. A reader asks:

Hello Dr. Marshall,

I am looking into getting a physical copy of the Clementine Vulgate, and was wondering if you had any recommendation, perhaps obtainable on Amazon or a similar place. A facsimile of a historical version would be great, but I haven’t found any of those, so a modern edition would suffice. Thanks!

Clementine Latin Vulgate

The ‘Three’ Vulgates

In previous posts, we have examined that not everything labeled “Latin Vulgate” is truly the traditional Vulgate. Buyer beware. Essentially there are three Vulgates: the classical Clementine Vulgate used in traditional Gregorian chant (by the way, just say no to the Pian Psalter).

Second, there is the common Stuttgart Vulgate which is an academic critical edition with variant readings.

Third, there is the “New Vulgate” or Nova Vulgata, which was produced in the 1970s. You don’t want that either. So you want to get the Clementine Vulgate which stands as the basis for traditional liturgy and traditional chant. There is an easy test to figure out which edition a Lating Vulgate is.

Turn to Genesis 3:20 and look at the name of Adam’s wife:

1) If it’s spelled Heva: Clementine Vulgate (1592) – the standard printed Latin Vulgate of the Catholic Church for Scripture and Liturgy until the Nova Vulgata (1979)

2) If it’s spelled Hava: Stuttgart Vulgate (1969) – a scholarly critical edition of the Latin Vulgate from the German Bible Society, not used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. This is an academic Vulgate with a critical apparatus – it often includes the Pslater iuxta Hebraeos.

3) If it’s spelled Eva: Nova Vulgata (1979) – the official Catholic edition of the Latin Vulgate currently used in the ordinary liturgies of the Catholic Church (i.e. Missale Romanum 1969 & Liturgia Horarum)

My Latin Vulgate Recommendation

Do you want a Latin Vulgate with Douay Rheims in English on the opposite page. Bingo! Get this leatherbound version of the Clementine Latin Vulgate from Baronius Press:

I’ll close by saying that it’s NEVER too late to learn Latin. Even if you are 70 years old, go for it. Take an online course or sign up for a local class. It’s fun, challenges the mind, and unlocks a wealth of Catholic and historical resources. It’s one of the best things that you can do.

We have intro classes at the New Saint Thomas Institute. Check us out.

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  • Joseph Girod

    As a matter of fact, most gregorian chant was written (at last for the wording, the music is another story) before saint Jerome’s Vulgate and rather reflects the Vetus Italica version (if ever the psalms were in it, given that the Vetus Italica mainly featured the new testament). The same can be told of psamm 94 at matins (you can compare your chant book with your Vulgate)

  • If the Nova Vulgata is “the official Catholic edition of the Latin Vulgate currently used in the ordinary liturgies of the Catholic Church”, why would I not want to use it? Especially if the newer Graduale Romanum employs its text?

    • Liturgically it makes sense. But if you’re reading Thomas Aquinas or any Catholic writer pre 1970s in Latin, then nothing is going to match up in the text.

  • summaminutiae

    Your reccomendation raises the question, “which Douay-Rheims?” There’s a facsimile of the original edition, atrocious typography and all, at Internet Archive, and there’s the revised Challoner edition. Do you have a preference among DR editions?