Was it a lot of trouble for St. Jerome to translate the Bible?

An apologetics debating point I have heard, is there are some errors in translation from the Hebrew and so on, Greek?.. but I shrugged it off, he did this after all, cerca 400 AD and there appears to have been other Latin translations as well in the day, I even saw one date as early as 200 AD. Any comments?

My understanding is that St. Jerome’s work on what became the Latin Vulgate was based on corrections he made to previous Latin translations of the New Testament, as he was well-versed in Greek. Where Jerome was unique was being the first person to translate the Old Testament from Hebrew instead of from the Greek Septuagint. He did not have the fluency with Hebrew that he had with Greek or Latin, but he studied Hebrew and got a fairly good at it (although I think nobody is as good at a language they learn late in life as they are with languages they learn while growing up). Today we have much better translations done using tools Jerome had no way of imagining in his time, but his translation was groundbreaking for its time.

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People are debating about that? Really? What is that all about - I am curious.

Yes, in saying, it has errors. I don’t know if the number would add up to a lot or just a few.

Nobody is perfect, but the Vulgate is low on errors. There are “things translated from a non-Masoretic reading of the Hebrew,” as well as “things translated in a way that somebody does not like.” There are even “things which come from a text version that no longer exists.” But errors, as in “inadvertent mistakes”? Not so much.

You can disagree with the man’s conclusions, but you can rely on his scholarship.

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Thank you for all of the answers.

It’s interesting, when one says Vulgate, we have St. Jerome’s “Latin Vulgate Bible” but they call a few of those “Latin Vulgates”, I will look into this more this weekend. Also, back in those days, yes, Bibles seemed to have been needed to be hand-copied from Bible to Bible.

It was a lot of trouble to translate the Bible. There were issues of what to translate as well as how. While those who rejected the Hebrew scriptures had lost that fight, there were still antisemitic elements in the Church.

While St Jerome had some earlier works to rely on, in Old Latin, he also used Origen’s Hexapla which contained four Greek translations of the OT, along with the Hebrew and a transliteration into Greek letters. To further his research, St Jerome moved from Rome to Jerusalem where Hebrew to Greek translation was better understood. This helped with translating into Latin.

He accomplished a great deal, but he probably made some mistakes. But he made the Bible available to more people in a better translation, truer to the originals, than would have been available before his work.

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