Vetus Latina

Verses from the Vetus Latina Gospel of John (16:23–30) as they appear on a page of the Codex Vercellensis.

Vetus Latina ("Old Latin" in Latin), also known as Vetus Itala ("Old Italian"), Itala ("Italian") [n 1] and Old Italic, is the collective name given to the Latin translations of biblical texts (both Old Testament and New Testament) that existed before the Vulgate, the Latin translation produced by Jerome in the late 4th century. The Vetus Latina translations continued to be used alongside the Vulgate, but eventually the Vulgate became the standard Latin Bible used by the Catholic Church, especially after the Council of Trent (1545–1563) affirmed the Vulgate translation as authoritative for the text of Scripture. However, the Vetus Latina texts survive in some parts of the liturgy (eg., the Pater Noster).

As the English translation of Vetus Latina is "Old Latin", they are also sometimes referred to as the Old Latin Bible,[1] although they are written in the form of Latin known as Late Latin, not that known as Old Latin. The Vetus Latina manuscripts that are preserved today are dated from AD 350 to the 13th century.


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 Vulgate.[1]

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.[2] 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 Greek or 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.

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العربية: فيتس لاتينا
беларуская: Vetus Latina
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