- J. H. D. Scourfield
Latin version of the Bible. The first Latin translations of Scripture (Vetus Latina, Old Latin) began to appear in the 2nd cent. ce. By the late 4th cent., the situation was chaotic: some books existed in more than one version, while some versions were subject to considerable local variation. An attempt to impose order was made in the early 380s by Pope Damasus, who commissioned Jerome to revise the Latin text of the Gospels, and perhaps of the whole of the Bible, in the light of the Greek. The gospel revision was completed in 384, and during his early years in the Holy Land (386–c.390) Jerome went on to produce Latin versions of the Psalter (the ‘Gallican Psalter’) and of other books of the OT (Old Testament) on the basis of the LXX (see septuagint). But around 390 Jerome became convinced of the need for a translation of the OT based on the Hebrew text used in Jewish communities, from which the LXX sometimes differed significantly. This immense undertaking, which occupied him for some fifteen years, resulted in a completely new translation of the Hebrew books of the OT, carried out on the basis of the original and with the aid of the Greek versions of Aquila and Symmachus. At the request of friends, and with the assistance of an interpreter, he also translated from the Aramaic the books of Tobit and Judith, which he did not recognize as part of the canon.