Another comparison of editions of the Vulgate

I posted at another time on an entry from Canterbury Tales about versions of the Vulgate.  It was interesting, indeed.  Go spike his stats and give him kudos!

He is at it again.

About the Nova Vulgata or "Neo-Vulgate" and How it Relates to the Clementine Vulgate and Pian Vulgate

The current edition employed by the Catholic Church (since 1979) is the Nova Vulgata. It is the official Scriptural Latin text for the Church and was promulgated by John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Scripturarum Thesaurus.

If you follow the Novus Ordo Lectionary or the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin, this is the textual edition that you are reading. Here’s a an example of minor differences between the old Jerome/Gallican/Clementine Psalter and the Nova Vulgata Psalter. I marked the differences.

Gallican Vulgate
i.e. Clementine

Psalmus 94

Nova Vulgata
i.e. the current one

Psalmus 95

Venite, exsultemus Domino; jubilemus Deo salutari nostro; præoccupemus faciem ejus in confessione, et in psalmis jubilemus ei: quoniam Deus magnus Dominus, et rex magnus super omnes deos. Venite, exsultemus Domino; iubilemus Deo salutari nostro. Praeoccupemus faciem eius in confessione et in psalmis iubilemus ei. Quoniam Deus magnus Dominus, et rex magnus super omnes deos.
Quia in manu ejus sunt omnes fines terræ, et altitudines montium ipsius sunt; quoniam ipsius est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et siccam manus ejus formaverunt. Quia in manu eius sunt profunda terrae, et altitudines montium ipsius sunt. Quoniam ipsius est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et siccam manus eius formaverunt.
Venite, adoremus, et procidamus, et ploremus ante Dominum qui fecit nos: quia ipse est Dominus Deus noster, et nos populus pascuæ ejus, et oves manus ejus. Venite, adoremus et procidamus et genua flectamus ante Dominum, qui fecit nos, quia ipse est Deus noster, et nos populus pascuae eius et oves manus eius.
Hodie si vocem ejus audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra sicut in irritatione, secundum diem tentationis in deserto, ubi tentaverunt me patres vestri: probaverunt me, et viderunt opera mea. Utinam hodie vocem eius audiatis: “Nolite obdurare corda vestra, sicut in Meriba, secundum diem Massa in deserto, ubi tentaverunt me patres vestri: probaverunt me, etsi viderunt opera mea.

Quadraginta annis offensus fui generationi illi, et dixi: Semper hi errant corde. Et isti non cognoverunt vias meas: ut juravi in ira mea: Si introibunt in requiem meam. Quadraginta annis taeduit me generationis illius et dixi: Populus errantium corde sunt isti. Et ipsi non cognoverunt vias meas; ideo iuravi in ira mea: Non introibunt in requiem meam.”

By the way, the Breviaries printed between 1945 and 1971 have the so-called "Pian Psalter" issued by Venerable Pius XII – which has more Hebraisms – just like the Nova Vulgata. For example, "sicut in Meriba, secundum diem Massa," instead of the Latinized older version: "sicut in irritatione, secundum diem tentationis."

I recently discovered this when I noticed a friend’s Breviary (the one used by the FSSP). I was surprised to see that the Venite there did not correspond to the Gallican/Clementine Venite. The reason why, I learned, is that it seems to conform to the Pian Psalter (post 1945) – which makes perfect sense.


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  1. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Also note the change of the demonstrative isti to the intensive ipsi in the last paragraph.

    I kind of like the old Hebrew use of the protasis of oath (I forget the proper grammatical term) exemplified by, “Si introibunt in requiem meam.” Since these usually don’t get translated literally, I remember being very amused that they were so prevalent in Hebrew. It’s a good reminder how literal Jerome’s Vulgate was. No question but it was a translation of a very foreign language to Romans.

  2. jasoncpetty says:

    One might put parts of each edition into WordPerfect and do a redline document comparison. Any takers?

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    Si introibunt in requiem meam. (old)
    Non introibunt in requiem meam. (new)

    The older Vulgate conforms to the Hebrew (I understand), si being a negative (“surely not”) as in an oath, whereas the new Vulgate changes it to the “not” which is understood.

    Another difference — which you didn’t mark — that I noticed when I switched to the New Vulgate for the LOH, is

    … et viderunt opera mea. (old)
    … etsi viderunt opera mea. (new)

    with etsi (“although” they had seen my works).

  4. revs96 says:

    Also the NV has the Hebrew numbering (Ps 95) whereas the CV has the Greek (Ps 94).

  5. Tom in NY says:

    Exscribendo, quod novam vulgatam tenet, et, sub pagina biblica, editiones technologia informatica contendere potest.

    Salutationes omnibus.

  6. Oneros says:

    “I recently discovered this when I noticed a friend’s Breviary (the one used by the FSSP). I was surprised to see that the Venite there did not correspond to the Gallican/Clementine Venite. The reason why, I learned, is that it seems to conform to the Pian Psalter (post 1945) – which makes perfect sense.”

    Untrue. I don’t know what Breviary you’ve seen, but I’ve used the one that the FSSP used (published, in fact) and it definitely used the Vulgate. No trads like the Pian, the Vulgate has universally returned except in antique books.

  7. twherge says:

    Are you certain that is why the Venite in the Breviary is not of the Clementine form? I was under the impression that that version was rather Vetus Latina (one recalls people were VERY reluctant to adopt the Vulgate)

  8. awruff says:

    I have a Latin post-Vatican II Lectionarium, vol. 1, and I was disappointed to see that the readings are from the old Vulgate, note the Neo-Vulgata. But I’m sure it’s because it was issued long before Pope John Paul II approved the new Vulgate in 1979. As far as I know, there is no post-Vatican II lectionary with the revised Vulgate readings.

  9. Geoffrey says:

    “No trads like the Pian…”

    I am always surprised to hear this, since “trads” are greatly devoted to Venerable Pope Pius XII.

  10. Sid says:

    WDTHRS? (What does the Hebrew really say?)

    I trust Robert Alter to answer that question best in the English-speaking world,and Hans-Joachim Kraus in the German. I don’t have Kraus handy. Here’s Alter for the last verse:

    “Against them I swore in My wrath/ They shall not come to My resting-place”

    For “resting-place” Alter has the footnote “The ‘resting-place’ is the Promised Land.”

    Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, p. 337

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    No doubt, Alter’s The Book of Psalms — which resides on the shelf at my right elbow for handy reference as I recite the New Vulgate psalms — translates the meaning of the Hebrew correctly into English. But in the case of 95:11, he does not comment on the particular oath-form idiom that the original Hebrew employs (as, not knowing Hebrew myself, I understand it from other sources). So here the question is perhaps not What Does The Hebrew (literally) Really Say (as in old Vulgate), but What Does The Hebrew Really Mean (as in new Vulgate and Alter).

  12. dcs says:

    I am always surprised to hear this, since “trads” are greatly devoted to Venerable Pope Pius XII.

    They are not devoted to “his” (actually Card. Bea’s) Psalter, though. If I remember correctly, only priests who prayed the Office in private ever adopted the “Pian” Psalter – it was not at all appropriate for chanting.

  13. Gregory DiPippo says:

    As wonderful a Pope as Pius XII was, his psalter is an absurdity, quite possibly one of the most dismally uninspired pieces of Latin ever written. The use of it was NEVER obligatory, fortunately, and it lost much of its prestige in the reign of Bl. John XXIII, who hated it, and forbade its use in any service he was to be present for.

  14. awruff says:

    Geoffrey – thanks! And only $900… counts me out. If only…
    Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB

  15. Andrew says:

    Here is my thinking on this: at first glance, usually, I find the oldest Latin text the hardest to understand. The Pius XII text is a bit easier, fancier and more “ciceronian” in flavor. The Nova Vulgata is the easiest to understand: but then I ask myself: do I understand it better, because it is clearer, or is it that the translators removed the mystery? Am I just reading something that’s been passed through a “rationalizing” process, perhaps? I don’t speak Hebrew, and this is poetic language, so I suspect that if it is nice and smooth and easy to understand, I am reading the translator’s interpretation perhaps. Just saying. So what I do in practice is this: if something is really subobscure, I check the Pius XII text, but even after I “get it” – I like to return to the older text. And the Nova Vulgata is more like lemonade, compared to wine. It’s just all clear and sweet so I try not to use it at all. All of this is just a personal observation of an uneducated donkey.

  16. dkluge says:

    Well, then, what version have we here in the L. Hymnarius? it’s neither Veta nor Nova, nor Clementine… it looks at first like the Clementine, but then we find “sicut in exacerbatione secundum diem.”

    Quod dat?

  17. dcs says:


    It appears that it is from the Roman Psalter rather than the Gallican Psalter found in the Clementine Vulgate:

    The Roman Psalter, called also the Versio Romana or Psalterium Romanum, traditionally has been considered to be the same as Jerome’s first revision of the psalms completed in 384, which was made from the Versio Vetus Latina, and corrected to bring it more in line with the Greek psalms. It is similar to the version used in the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rites. The Roman version was used in the Roman Missal well into the 20th century. In the Divine Office, however, it was soon replaced throughout most of the west by Jerome’s second version, the so-called “Gallican” version. It lived on in Britain where it continued to be used until the Norman Conquest in 1066 and at Vatican basilica and in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. It survives to this day in the Divine Office as the solemn chanted text of the Invitatory psalm, Psalm 94, where it is the sole survivor in a liturgy where the Gallican, Pian, or New Vulgate translation is otherwise used. [my emphasis]

    Hope this helps.

  18. Tom in NY says:

    It’s time for “Basics of Biblical Hebrew,” its workbook and cheat sheet. If you slow down and get discouraged, remember that Jerome himself needed a teacher. In translation, the Hebrew side is about three times as long as the Greek. And remember how many young fellows make bar-mitzvah. Aleph, beth, gimel…
    Ad astra per aspera!

  19. As a boy, my dad taught me a toast based upon Psalm 133, possibly a remnant of his seminary days in the 1940s:

    “O quam bonum et jucundum, est habitare cum fratribus in unum.”

    When I looked it up years later in a Latin psalter, it read differently:

    “Ecce quam bonum, et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum.”

    My guess is that the former is from the Pian Psalter, assuming it was already in use by that time, and that the latter is from the Clementine Psalter, which I believe to be the one popularly known among “Trads” as simply “The Vulgata.” It is the one used in the Monastic Diurnal published by St Michael’s Abbey Press of Farnborough Abbey in the UK.

    Did I miss anything?

  20. Fr Jackson says:

    My breviary has several differences from both of the above texts. Here is just one example:

    “Hodie si vocem ejus audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra sicut in exacerbatione…”

    Where does this version fit into the picture?

  21. ppojawa says:

    Sid, Henry,

    Psalter aside, another thing we Catholics should consider is What Does The Septuagint Really Say.


    “Biblical Hebrew. A Text and Workbook” (by Kittel, Hoffer and Wright) is the best! :-)

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