Is it okay if I only want to read the Bible in Latin?

Hello, I have recently got a Latin Vulgate Bible, and I was thinking, would it be okay if I only considered something to be the real Bible if it is in Latin? The Muslims believe that you can only truly read the Koran in Arabic, can I have the same mentality toward the Bible? Where I can only read the Bible only if it is in Latin? I am just curious? Lege bibliam veram.

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Don’t attach superstitious significance to it, like that it HAS to be in Latin. But I don’t see a problem with it. I have a French Bible on the table in front of me.


I don’t believe that would be okay, because, for example, the lector reads from the Bible and it is generally in the common language of the area. Golden Rule and such.



Salve Joviane,

The Latin Vulgate has been approved by the Council of Trent as a translation authentic to the meaning of the Scripture, that is all. The Council of Trent did not state that it was the only language in which to read the Scriptures. Considering Latin to be the only faithful language would discredit the history of the Bible in the Church. Unlike the Quran, the Bible was originally composed of several languages, namely Greek and Hebrew, along with Aramaicisms. If you are interested in the most faithful reading of the Holy Scripture, these would be the languages to learn and utilize.

Nevertheless, the Latin Vulgate is held up as a faithful translation of the Word of God and holds pride of place in the Roman Church (this would be a different case for the Eastern Catholic Churches)


I understand I just thought reading it in Latin would keep me from getting the wrong interpretation. Pax tecum.

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The Koran was written in Arabic. It’s the original language.

You can, but that would mean reading the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. Those are the original languages, not Latin.


I would love to get a Peshitta, myself

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People standing around listening to Jesus speak to them in their native language got the wrong interpretation of what he himself was saying. There’s nothing magical about Latin that’s going to prevent you from getting the wrong interpretation. Lots of heretics read the Vulgate.

Probably better to read it in a language you understand well, and with a heart obedient to the teaching of the Church, than to give Latin some kind of significance or power it doesn’t have.



The correct interpretation has to come from a living person, the living magisterium who speaks using your pastor, bishops, and Pope.
You can only ask, “What do you mean?”, to a living person, and if that person has authority you can keep pressing until you finally understand the answer as God understands because He sent the living person for you to ask.

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If I were fluent enough to understand the Clementine Vulgate as well as the 1899 DR, I would personally stick to that as the most trustworthy and time-honored translation. Not necessarily because of the latin itself, but because of how far removed it is from modernistic and non-catholic contemporary translations/influences.


Just to be contrary, while the main Scriptures were mostly in Greek or Hebrew, the Bible was not made canon until approximately AD 380. So St. Jerome’s Vulgate —made, as many may not realize, to make the Scripture more accessible to the people, whose ‘lingua franca’, i.e. acceptable common language, was Latin—would have been among the earliest true Bibles around.

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While it’s certainly OK if you want to read the Bible only in Latin, it would not be OK to say that only Bibles in Latin are real Bibles.


The original 5 books of the Old Testament were written in ancient Hebrew. which is not even similar to modern Hebrew since all living languages do evolve over time.
The Israeli people eventually translated the Old Testament with more than the original 5 Books to Greek because lots of Israeli people did not speak Hebrew.
So it seems that for early on the argument of needing to have just 1 language is moot. Further the original Gospels were written either in Aramaic (The tongue Jesus and the Disciples spoke) or Greek.
Latin is a translation from the original Greek OT and NT with inclusions of some Aramaic books.
So that mentality the muslim people have certainly has no correlation within Christianity.
Read the Bible in as many languages as you wish, more power to you. Be aware though that there is no “primacy” only the CHURCH can tell you what is OK and what is not.

The relationship between the Quran and Arabic is very different from that of the Bible and Greek and Latin. To a large extent, the Arabic language was defined by its use as the composition language for the Quran, which is considered the stylistic and literary zenith of the language. As it were, Arabic scholarship is somewhat disinterested in pre-Islamic Arabic, and some Quranic commentators suggest that the Quran and Arabic are so inextricably linked on an essential basis that it is impossible to separate the two.

That is very different from the situation of Latin and Greek in Christian antiquity. The Greek and Latin scriptures (whether in original compositions or translations) were composed when their respective languages were already quite mature and possessed a sophisticated literary corpus. The Greek and Latin Fathers rarely, if ever, looked to the Greek or Latin scriptures as literary models that defined the language. In the case of the Greek Fathers, they often ‘Atticised’ their language (in imitation of Classical Athenian literature) and modelled much of their writing on the Alexandrian Canon (ten orators of antiquity).

Likewise, the Vulgate was often a tug-o’-war between its ‘vulgar’ origins and attempts refine its style in a more classical mode. This tendency towards ‘Classicisation’ can be seen quite ready when contrasting and comparing the gradual evolution of the Vulgate from the (pre-Jerome) Vetus Latina, to Jerome’s Vulgate, to the Sixto Vulgate, to the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate and then to the current Nova Vulgata.

In addition to what others have said, I will note that it’s very important to avoid fetishising the Vulgate and drawing tendentious connections to pre-Christian Rome: it is not the Latin that Cicero or Virgil spoke, nor is it characteristic of Republican Latin. It’s important to appreciate the Vulgate and other Latin Christian texts on their merits.


I don’t understand why various commentators here, have been so negative about choosing to read the Bible in Latin. There is absolutely no problem with you doing this. In fact, if my Latin were good enough, that’d be my choice too. (I own a Latin Vulgate cloth-bound Bible, published in Spain.) Sometimes I enjoy attempting to read the Latin Vulgate “cold”, and figuring out the Latin from what I already know of what the text says in English.

One caveat I would note, and someone else noted this upthread, is that Latin is not the original language of the Bible — Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek are. St Jerome’s Vulgate was merely the closest translation possible from these languages (probably oversimplifying here).

This is similar to the edition I have. It’s pretty sweet.


Given that Latin is, I presume, not your native language and that the Vulgate is itself a translation of older texts in other languages, this seems like a strange position to stake out.

Read the Bible in whatever translation you prefer, obviously – and I do think it’s awesome that you know Latin well enough to read comfortably in it – but insisting that only that translation is genuine and will protect you from errors of interpretation seems as weird as the Protestants who do the same with the English KJV.


That’s kind of the Catholic equivalent of the atheistic claim that Jesus’ divinity (or sometimes the Catholic Church itself) was invented at Nicaea, though.

True, the earliest documentation we have of the complete canon is from around 380, but clearly the Church had been preserving/copying the New Testament works and using them in the liturgy for centuries already.

(I’m certainly not denying that the New Testament came from the Church and not the other way around, and it’s important to avoid the impression that “the Bible” fell from the sky as a finished thing without any element of human decision-making, but it’s also misleading to suggest that at least the majority of the NT canon wasn’t settled long before the fourth century.)

One of the first responses to that affirmation was from a Cardinal who asked “Which Vulgate?” St Jerome did not mass produce identical bibles that were on everyone’s desks. He produced a translation that was copied by hand in many places, with decisions on what books it contained were asked repeatedly, and what a particular text might mean affected how it got copied.

After Trent, Pope Sixtus issued a standard version of the Vulgate. Two years later, Pope Clement published a corrected version. Neither of these standards existed when Trent approved the Vulgate, so they should not be counted as the version Trent approved. They were attempts to publish the true Vulgate, but they probably do not entirely line up with what the Council Fathers were endorsing.

The Nova Vulgata, which is not even based on St Jerome’s work, probably is closer to what many of the Fathers thought they were endorsing.


Yes you can have the same mentality as the Muslims if you want to. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Of course, in that case, assuming you want the original language, you would read the Old Testament in Classical Hebrew, except for certain parts which were in Aramaic. and for the New Testament, you would read the New Testament in Koine Greek.

Are you fluent in Latin? That’s is impressive.

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