Smith’s Bible Dictionary
Vulgate, The: the Latin version of the Bible. The influence which it exercised upon western Christianity is scarcely less than that of the LXX. upon the Greek churches. Both the Greek and the latin Vulgate have been long neglected; yet the Vulgate should have a very deep interest for all the western churches, many centuries it was the only Bible generally used; and, directly or indirectly is the real parent of all the vernacular versions of western Europe. The Gothic version of Ulphilas alone is independent of it. The name is equivalent to Vulgata editio (the current text of Holy Scripture. This translation was made by Jerome-Eusebius Hieronymus --who way born in 329 A.D. at Stridon in Dalmatia, and died at Bethlehem in 420 A.D. This great scholar probably alone for 1500 years possessed the qualifications necessary for producing an original version of the Scriptures for the use of the Latin churches. Going to Rome, he was requested by Pope Damascus, A.D. 383, to make a revision of the old Latin version of the New Testament, whose history is lost in obscurity. In middle life Jerome began the study of the Hebrew, and made a new version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew which was completed A.D. 404. The critical labors of Jerome were received with a loud outcry of reproach. He was accused of disturbing the repose of the Church and shaking the foundations of faith. But clamor based upon ignorance soon dies away; and the New translation gradually came into use equally with the Old, and at length supplanted it. The vast power which the Vulgate has had in determining the theological terms of western Christendom can hardly be overrated. By far the greater part of the current doctrinal terminology is based on the Vulgate. Predestination, justification, supererogation (supererogo), sanctification, salvation, mediation, regeneration, revelation, visitation (met.) propitiation , first appear in the Old Vulgate. Grace, redemption, election, reconciliation, satisfaction, inspiration, scripture , were devoted there to a new and holy use. Sacrament and communion are from the same source; and though baptism is Greek, it comes to us from the Latin. It would be easy to extend the list by the addition of orders, penance, congregation, priest ; but it can be seen from the forms already brought forward that the Vulgate has brought forward that the Vulgate has left its mark both upon our language and upon our thoughts. It was the version which alone they knew who handed down to the reformers the rich stores of medieval wisdom; the version with which the greatest of the reformers were most familiar, and from which they had drawn their earliest knowledge of divine truth.