There is no single "Vetus Latina" Bible. Instead, Vetus Latina is a collection of biblical
manuscript texts that are Latin translations of
Septuagint and New Testament passages that preceded Jerome's
After comparing readings for
Luke 24:4–5 in Vetus Latina manuscripts,
Bruce Metzger counted "at least 27 variant readings in Vetus Latina manuscripts that have survived" for this passage alone.
 To these witnesses of previous translations, many scholars frequently add quotations of biblical passages that appear in the works of the Latin Fathers, some of which share readings with certain groups of manuscripts. As such, many of the Vetus Latina "versions" were generally not promulgated in their own right as translations of the Bible to be used in the whole Church; rather, many of the texts that form part of the Vetus Latina were prepared on an ad hoc basis for the local use of Christian communities, to illuminate another Christian discourse or
sermon, or as the Latin half of a
diglot manuscript (e.g.
Codex Bezae). There are some Vetus Latina texts that seem to have aspired to greater stature or currency; several Vetus Latina manuscripts
Gospels exist, containing the four canonical Gospels; the several manuscripts that contain them differ substantially from one another. Other biblical passages, however, are extant only in excerpts or fragments.
The language of Vetus Latina translations is uneven in quality, as
Augustine of Hippo lamented in
De Doctrina Christiana (2, 16). Grammatical
solecisms abound; some reproduce literally
Hebrew idioms as they appear in the
Septuagint. Likewise, the various Vetus Latina translations reflect the various versions of the Septuagint circulating, with the African manuscripts (such as the
Codex Bobiensis) preserving readings of the
Western text-type, while readings in the European manuscripts are closer to the
Byzantine text-type. Many grammatical idiosyncrasies come from the use of
Vulgar Latin grammatical forms in the text.