The Bible in Latin

Richard

New Member
Hello. I have studied classical Latin to A-level and I was hoping to read the Bible in Latin. However, I am aware that the Bible is written in Vulgar Latin and I was wondering how much this will be a hindrance to someone who has only read classical Latin texts. Sorry if this question has been asked countless times before!
 

Nikolaos

schmikolaos
Staff member
There are a few constructions in there that can't be found in classical authors, such as the infinitive of purpose, but in all it is fairly easy to understand. It is simpler than classical writing, using more conjunctions and prepositions to make meanings clear, where Cicero might have used relative clauses and bare ablatives.

I can't give any examples - I haven't really read much of the Vulgate. However, what I did read was easy to comprehend.
 

Iynx

Consularis
My own opinion is that the Vulgate should be much more used as a text for beginning Latin students than it generally is.

I think that Jerome deliberately set out to produce a clear, simple translation accessible to the barely literate (like me).

And it's easier, of course, if the text is already familiar to you in another tongue.

That much of the text is goose-bump beautiful is a bonus.

I say: "Go for it!"
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
Some of the classical rules are relaxed or modified. I think that you will find it easier than most classical texts.
 

Richard

New Member
Thanks very much all of you. I shall proceed! Are there any easily accessible websites I could use that might make me aware of the differences I might encounter in reading Vulgar Latin? I've tried looking myself but I haven't had much luck. Or do you think that the differences are so negligible that I shouldn't bother at all?
 

quadibloc

New Member
Incidentally, there was a version of the Bible produced in Classical Latin, and there are copies of it on Google Books. The title is "Biblia Sacra ex Sebastiani Castellionis".
 

Manus Correctrix

QVAE CORRIGIT
Richard dixit:
Hello. I have studied classical Latin to A-level and I was hoping to read the Bible in Latin. However, I am aware that the Bible is written in Vulgar Latin and I was wondering how much this will be a hindrance to someone who has only read classical Latin texts. Sorry if this question has been asked countless times before!
‘Vulgar Latin’ is a bit of a vague term, but still, don’t let the name ‘Vulgate’ throw you off. The Vulgate has some mediæval deviations in it, and some over-literal translations from the Hebrew and Greek, but it’s still fundamentally in a language essentially recognisable as classical Latin.

I’m reading through it at the moment (still only halfway through Genesis!), and it’s an interesting exercise. I wouldn’t advise it for beginning students though.
 

Quasus

Civis Illustris
Richard dixit:
However, I am aware that the Bible is written in Vulgar Latin
This weird statement comes up over and over again. :( No one ever conciously wrote in Vulgar Latin. Classical Latin was the only literary standard, and later writers (and whoever wrote anything) tried to stick to it. Our knowledge of Vulgar Latin is deduced from common errors and deviations from the standard (that were due to the lack of proficiency) as well as from Romance evidence.

The title Vulgata is an abbreviation of Biblia sacra vulgatae editionis:
[url:3urln49p]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate[/url] dixit:
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations. By the 13th century this revision had come to be called the versio vulgata, that is, the "commonly used translation",[1] and ultimately it became the definitive and officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible in the Roman Catholic Church.
 

Bitmap

Civis Illustris
Quasus dixit:
This weird statement comes up over and over again. :( No one ever conciously wrote in Vulgar Latin.
That's not really true. Petronius has passages in the satyricon which are deliberately written in Vulgar Latin (containing constructions that would be grave errors by classical standards.)
you could also mention Terence and Plautus to some extent ... but they were pre-classical, so they obviously had no idea what classical Latin looked like :p

This is not to challenge the point that the Vulgate was not written in Vulgar Latin. It is true that the Vulgate (and even a lot of Medieval texts) complies with classical standards, at least in major points. The reason why it is easier to read is simply because the sentences are short and clearly structured.

I dare say that if it was written in actual Vulgar Latin, we may even find it more confusing.
 
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