Clementine or Stuttgart Vulgate?

Which would you say is more accurate/orthodox?

Also, do you know of any place to purchase a Nova Vulgata? All I’ve found are online versions.

I have the Stuttgart Vulgate, or Biblia Sacra Vulgata. It has an advantage because it is a critical edition, meaning it is based upon older manuscripts of the Vulgate and it has a variant reading apparatus. Both are trustworthy and accurate, and you can’t go wrong either way. But for me, I enjoy a good critical text that allows me to read alternative readings from variety of ancient manuscripts.

By the way you can buy it on amazon.

The Stuttgart Vulgate is an edition prepared by the German Bible Society, part of the united bible societies. This is a Protestant organization. The Stuttgart Vulgate is not a Catholic edition of the Bible. This version attempts to reconstruct an earlier type of the Latin Bible, closer to the time of Jerome.

The Clementine Vulgate was prepared first under Pope Sixtus V and then revised under Pope Clement VIII. Four editions were published: 1590, 1592, 1593, 1598. The latter is generally what is called the Clementine Vulgate. This was the official version of the Bible in Latin in the Catholic Church until the approval of the Nova Vulgata (1979/1986).

The Nova Vulgata, in my opinion, represents a clear break in the Latin Scriptural Tradition, since it frequently rephrases the text, in the manner of a dynamic equivalency translation, and it relies on Hebrew and Greek texts in preference to the Latin text, in most cases where there is any disagreement between the texts.

Paradoxically, Vatican Bible translation norms require that the Latin text take precedence over other languages whenever there is a conflict or uncertainty. But the Neo-Vulgate relies on the Hebrew and Greek in cases of conflict or uncertainty.

My recommendation: don’t buy the Nova Vulgata. Get a copy of the Clementine Vulgate. The Hetzenauer edition is one of the better edits (circa 1914).

As to accuracy, I would choose the Stuttgart Vulgate every time.

It has not only an extensive - though far from complete - apparatus criticus; it has the advantage over the 1593 & 1598 Vulgates of including not just the three books in the Protestant Apocrypha which are not canonical for us either, but also the Epistle to the Laodiceans (which was sometimes included in pre-Reformation Bibles).

It includes the complete text of the Apocalypse of Esdras (= 4 Esdras in the Apocrypha), whereas the Clementine Vulgate does not; a fragment of chapter seven which was not known in the 16th century was recovered in the 19th, which is why the Apoc. of E. has 70 verses in the chapter to the 140 in the Stuttgart Vulgate.

The spellings of proper names are not always those of the Clementine Vulgate - another detail worth noting is the arrangement of the text: it is set out per cola et commata; that is, not in uniform blocks of text but in “sense-lines”, such as would have helped in the public reading of the text.

That it is published by the Stuttgart Bible Society is not a weakness, because Vatican II specifically encouraged co-operation in Biblical scholarship & translation between Catholics & Protestants, & still does. It would be strange indeed to find fault with Catholics for obeying an Ecumenical Council. Mgr. Martini (as he was) co-operated with non-Catholics in the editing of a Greek text of the NT, so the co-operation between Dom Bonifatius Fischer (of Beuron Abbey) & the SBS is not unique. (I have a reprint of handy little Vulgate NT edited by two Anglican scholars a hundred years ago - study of the Vulgate is not peculiar to “RCs” by any means.)

The quality of an edition is far more important than its confessional origin. It is in any case impossible to avoid non-Catholic scholarship, however keenly some may want to, because theological scholarship of all kinds has long been interconfessional in one way or another. Not knowing of Anglican Patristic scholarship doesn’t make it vanish. The same applies to the study of the Bible - it did not begin in the 1960s.

If you want a Nova Vulgata, don’t get the 1979 edition, but that of 1982. The 1979 has a misprint in the book of Zechariah, which one hopes was corrected by 1982.

If one wants to read the Bible of the Latin Rite - the Neo-Vulgata is (AFAIK) the one to read. The Stuttgart Vulgate is much more attractively presented; the Neo-Vulgata is a clumsy size (one has to lift it with both hands); & the proportions between the amount of text on the page & the page itself are not exactly pleasing to the eye - the margins are far too wide.


Didn’t St Jerome base the Vulgate on the then extant Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts? Why, then, does the Nova Vulgata represent “a clear break in the Latin Scriptural Tradition” by its turning to available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts? Would you have rather it corrected based on other Vg or Vetus Latina manuscripts?

As far as reliance on the Latin text where the original languages are obscure or in conflict with each other: I thought this referred only to vernacular translations for use in the Liturgy, which, per Liturgiam Authenticam, are clearly to be derived from the original language texts.

The Latin Scriptural tradition has passed through centuries of use and review by the Living Tradition, by the Saints and Doctors of the Church, in study and in liturgical use and in private devotion. The same cannot be said for the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts. Are we scholars working in isolation from the living Faith? Or are we disciples of Christ following in the footsteps of so many other disciples?

The Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts are useful, but the Latin Scriptural tradition should remain preeminent.

As for the Neo-Vulgate, in many places, it loosely rephrases the text, as if it were a dynamic equivalency translation into Latin from Hebrew and Greek. In many places, the uniqueness of the Latin tradition is lost, even though the text of the Neo-Vulgate is in Latin!

Example: John 8:25

Clementine (1590/1592/1593/1598/1623): Dicebant ergo ei: Tu quis es? Dixit eis Iesus: Principium, qui et loquor vobis.
CPDV: And so they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them: “The Beginning, who is also speaking to you.
Neo-Vulgate: Dicebant ergo ei: “ Tu quis es? ”. Dixit eis Iesus: “ In principio: id quod et loquor vobis!

The Neo-Vulgate rephrases the statement of Jesus that He is The Beginning so that it no longer has a meaning referring to His Divinity. Now it merely says something like: ‘what I have been saying to you from the beginning.’

St. Cyril, St. Augustine, and St. Ambrose all comment on the text, noting that Jesus is calling Himself ‘the Beginning’. But the Neo-Vulgate rejects this reading; it is rephrased; it is lost. This kind of approach looks at the text without any historical perspective, without taking account of the useage of the text in the Church for the past so many centuries.

The liberties that the Neo-Vulgate takes with the text are appalling.


Your well-reasoned answer, once again, gives me pause for thought.

One question, though, if I may?

Would you happen to know if the Clementine’s rendering of John 8:25 can be supported by “the Greek”? Assuming it can be, then not only the NV but also most modern English translations can be found wanting. But if it’s not supportable by the Greek, then Divino Afflante Spiritu is giving me a bigger headache than Liturgiam Authenticam (and these are two of my “favorite” Vatican documents!).

How can the preference be given to a language which is not that of the cultures of the Bible ? That makes no sense. The writings of the NT were left in Greek - not in Latin. So why follow a translation as *a matter of course *? That’s like something from the Chick site: we are told the AV-KJV is better than the originals. To exalt the Latin translation over the Hebrew & Greek as a matter of course, is no different.

So unless, in a particular passage, the Latin reflects the
best Greek or Hebrew texts on the whole available, better than the Greek or Hebrew of that particular passage (as may happen; that is not in doubt), the Greek or Hebrew should be followed, & not the Latin.

It’s interesting you ask about John 8.25 - it is notoriously difficult to translate, because the Greek may be a statement - or a question: even when the reading of the Greek is agreed. And the connection of thought is uncertain, as the differences among the versions shows. All this can be verified by ten minutes with the United Bible Societies edition of the Greek.

The Vulgate tradition of the Latin of the verse - including the Clementine - gives a choice of three possibilities for the last line of the verse; all can be supported by the Greek text: principium quia, quod, quoniam can all find support in the Greek.

Which is not much help I fear

Yes, it is supported by the Greek. I have looked at the Greek (interlinear), and it is supported, but there is some ambiguity in how to interpret the Greek phrasing. So the modern scholar merely looks at the text and gives the more ordinary phrasing, as if the person speaking were not the Son of God. But the Latin Scriptural tradition takes into account the meaning of the words in the context of the entire Faith, so the wording in Latin has Jesus saying that He is The Beginning. And this phrasing also fits the context of the passage in John, in which Jesus makes repeated references to the Three Persons of the Trinity; (one could even say that the whole Gospel of John is a discourse on the Trinity).

Quite right. Although I might phrase things a bit differently.
The Neo-Vulgate, although not teaching error – isn’t protected from inserting a less clear rendition of the Teaching.
The Greek clearly has one statement of the truth, and was used by the church at one time or another – so these two – the Vulgate and the Greek – must not teach a contradiction, although they may vary in the clarity with which they teach truth.

Do you have the variant readings of the Greek for John 8:24 handy you are speaking of?

In the text I am looking at, the ambiguity is quite limited – a definite article appears before τι ( why / or something ). So, even as a question – the Greek is making a ‘noun’ statement out of a question.

But in English one can make a statement which is ambiguous in exactly the same way as the Greek – I could say: Jesus, the first “why?” or again, Jesus the first reason.

In either case, the sense of “what I have told you from the first” takes on the notion of “told = word = creation”, and recalls the creative act of Genesis which is also the opening statement of St. John concerning the “word was God.”

But let’s look at the Greek briefly:

John 8:25

ελεγον ουν αυτω : συ τις ει
[They]-said, therefore, to-him: “you – why are-you?”

ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους την αρχην ο τι και λαλω υμιν
[He]-said to-them, “the Jesus, the first, the ‘why’ and I-am-giving to all-of-you”

alternately, translating “τι” taken as the question type of pronoun eg:“something”

Therefore they said to-him, “you – something are-you?”
[He]-said to-them, “Jesus is the first something and I-am-giving to -all-of-you”

So, I interpret it like this (crudely):

Therefore they said to him: why! you are something?
He said to them, “Jesus [is] the first something and I-am-giving to-all-of-you”

So, I agree – Jesus calls himself the “first” and the “why” in Greek as the Clementine Vulgate translates properly.

But, comparing the English translations – Jesus does not do so in the first person “I” but in the third person by referencing his own name “Jesus”.

Unfortunately, the meaning of Jesus (God Saves) isn’t clear in the Greek (it’s a Hebrew/Aramaic word) – but the odd phrasing of the sentence would surely have made the Greek audience wonder what “Jesus” meant by not saying “I”, but speaking of himself as “Jesus” – a royal statement at least! But more likely calling attention to the fact that his name means something.

I don’t know if even the Greek is much clearer, though, than:
"'what I have been saying to you from the beginning."

For Jesus’ mixed audience clearly does not believe him in any event.
His answer is evasive, in that he is avoiding giving them grounds for accusing him of blasphemy – but at the same time “judging” them (see V. 26) based on scripture.

Clementine (1590/1592/1593/1598/1623): Dicebant ergo ei: Tu quis es? Dixit eis Iesus: Principium, qui et loquor vobis.
CPDV: And so they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them: “The Beginning, who is also speaking to you.
Neo-Vulgate: Dicebant ergo ei: “ Tu quis es? ”. Dixit eis Iesus: “ In principio: id quod et loquor vobis!

The Neo-Vulgate rephrases the statement of Jesus that He is The Beginning so that it no longer has a meaning referring to His Divinity. Now it merely says something like: ‘what I have been saying to you from the beginning.’

Question: does this rendering still exist in the Stuttgart, or is it unique to the Clementine?

for the original poster, baronius press has recently announced on their site that they are planning printing of the clemantine vulgate alongside the douay rheims, maybe they’ll publish the vulgate on its own also?


By the way you can buy it on amazon.

All I’ve been able to find is the Stuttgart Vulgate on Amazon. I can’t find the Clementine or New Vulgate anywhere.

I have, however, found the Latin Bibles online in various places. Clementine here and here parallel with the Douay-Rheims. And I found the Stuttgart here parallel with the King James and Douay-Rheims. And the New Vulgate at the Vatican. I just can’t find a physical copy of the NV anywhere.

Try these links:

Clementine Vulgate

Nova Vulgata

Thank you.

I think the main problem, and this is a common translation problem, is that translations to the effect of: 'what i have told you from the beginning’
take a verse that has multiple levels of meaning, and a certain obscurity to the wording which encourages the reader to look into the meaning, and rephrases it as if it were ordinary dialogue in a novel.

This is a common problem in many translations. The source text in any language has a certain kind of ‘good awkwardness’ such as one might find in poetry; the wording is a little unusual because, when filled with meaning, language bends under the stress. For meaning is greater than the language that expresses that meaning (or at least it should be).

As for the Clementine Vulgate online:
my site has the 1861 Vercellone edition (scans of every page), the 1914 Hetzenauer edition (scans and searchable text in progress), and the Leander van Ess 1822 NT that compares the Sixti V et Clementis VIII, 1590, 1592, 1593, 1598 and 1623 editions (scans, in progress), and the 2006 Tweedale edition (London), plus my own light edit in progress.

The Clementine Vulgate can be bought from a Spanish firm called Biblioteca dos Autores Cristianos. :slight_smile:

Site =
Clementine Vulgate =

This edition (the 12th since 1946) has cross-references, is attractively presented, & is compact - far less bother to carry than the Neo-Vulgata. It doesn’t have any textual apparatus - just the text & the prefaces to the books; &, at the very beginning, the Latin text of the Tridentine decree on Sacred Scripture & the relevant sections of Divino Afflante Spiritu.

The print is rather on the small size, but it’s not tiny. Cost - 37.50 Euros new. Failing that - there are plenty of second-hand bookshops on the Net :slight_smile:

I hope that is some use.

[quote=the OP] Clementine (1590/1592/1593/1598/1623): Dicebant ergo ei: Tu quis es? Dixit eis Iesus: Principium, qui et loquor vobis.
CPDV: And so they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them: “The Beginning, who is also speaking to you.
Neo-Vulgate: Dicebant ergo ei: “ Tu quis es? ”. Dixit eis Iesus: “ In principio: id quod et loquor vobis!


The Stuttgart text of John 8.25 as printed:

dicebant ergo ei 1, 19, 22
tu quis es
dixit eis Iesus
principium quia et loquor vobis

variants in text:

25 quia] quod; qui

**quod **is supported by:
*]M: a Milanese MS. of the Gospels of the 6th cent.
*]P: an Italian Gospel MS. of the 6th-7th cent.
*]G: Codex Sangermanensis; 9th cent.[/LIST]**qui **is supported by:
*]Clem. & copies following the 9th century revision of the text by Alcuin (AKA the Palatine Vulgate)[/LIST]As for the question:

  • No, the Clementine text is not peculiar to it
  • No, the Clementine text is not found in the Stuttgart edition. So: No, to both parts of the question :smiley:

If you want the Greek - just ask :slight_smile:

Which texts support the Neo-Vulgate reading?
In principio: id quod
As far as I know, none! The editors acted as if they were making a loose translation from the Hebrew/Greek, and at times they also freely reworded the Latin without any support in any Latin manuscripts.

the Tweedale edition is available for $20.00 in an 8.5 x 11 paperback:

There are still Hetzenauer editions available from used book dealers for around a hundred or so USD.

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