Heva… Hava… Eva

A reader alerted me to this interesting post at Canterbury Tales:

How do you know which "Vulgate" you have? Open up your Latin Vulgate to Genesis 3:20. How is Eve’s name spelled? This will immediately tell which "Vulgate" you have in your hands:

  • If it’s spelled Heva: Clementine Vulgate (1592) – the standard printed Vulgate of the Catholic Church for Scripture and Liturgy until the Nova Vulgata (1979)
  • If it’s spelled Hava: Stuttgart Vulgate (1969) – a scholarly critical edition of the Vulgate from the German Bible Society, not used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. This is an academic Vulgate with a critical apparatus – it often includes the Pslater iuxta Hebraeos.
  • If it’s spelled Eva: Nova Vulgata (1979)the official Catholic edition of the Vulgate currently used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church (i.e. Missale Romanum 1969 & Liturgia Horarum)

This is the only fool-proof way for knowing which edition of the Vulgate that you have in your hands. So grab your Vulgate and check it out. I checked out the New Advent Vulgate at Gen 3:20 and happily discovered that it’s the Clementine Vulgate.

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  1. TNCath says:

    I have a Clementine as well as a Nova Vulgata. Question: Is the Douay-Reims a translation of the Clementine Vulgate?

  2. Jordanes says:

    That depends on what you mean by “Douay-Rheims.” The original Douay-Rheims, which relied on the Clementine Vulgate, was revised by Bishop Challoner in the 1700s, and then the Confraternity editions of the 1900s revised it yet further, proceeding along a course that leads relatively smoothly into the New American Bible’s version (and I think that overall it should be led smoothly back from the NAB to an earlier English version).

  3. So, barring typo, the Vulgate over at drbo.org is Stuttgart. Hmm. Explains some wording things.

  4. nhaggin says:

    Even before reading this, I knew I had a Stuttgart and a New Vulgate. :) Is there an easily-accessible sturdy printed Clementine available?

  5. Titus says:

    Not sure I understand all the ramifications here. Are the differences here anything besides typesetters’ preferences on spelling? Were the different editions actually compiled from different texts? Is there ambiguity about which text St. Jerome actually wrote, or are substantive differences the result of later revisions of Jerome’s work?

  6. Roland de Chanson says:

    Both the Perseus and Blue Letter Bible Vulgates use “Hava”.

    Interestingly, the “H” I had thought to find in the LXX but that has only the interpreted name “Zoe” without the transliterated Hebrew.

    The BLB Hebrew has “Chavah” — the closest the Latin gets is “Hava”. The first letter is heth, the last he. The nikkud are different though pronounced the same in Ashkenazic and slightly different in Sephardic; perhaps that is what Jerome attempted to convey with the e/a vowels in Latin.

    So it would seem that the initial “h” is essential, but the interpretation of the vowels allows some leeway.

    As a side point, I learned the “Salve Regina” with “exsules filii Hevae”.

    (Full disclosure: I am open to any corrrection on the above points — I am in the process (long and arduous) of teaching myself Hebrew.)

  7. FrCharles says:

    I checked mine. Stuttgart!

  8. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Roland de Chanson – I have the Stuttgart Vulgate with “Hava.” I also learned the “Salve Regina” with “Hevae,” and that’s the way we sing it in our parish. I wasn’t able to obtain a Clementine Vulgate at the time, which I would prefer.

  9. Ogard says:

    “Nova Vulgata (1979) – the official Catholic edition of the Vulgate currently used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church “

    Not “of the Catholic Church”, but of the Latin part of the Catholic Church. Other Catholic Churches do not use Latin text, nor are their bibles translated from it.

  10. kat says:

    gloriainexcelsis: “Hevae” and that’s the way we sing it in our parish.”

    The “h” is not pronounced in Latin, even if it’s written.

  11. jrotond2 says:


    “H” is not always silent; “H” is pronounced as a soft “k” in words “mihi” and “nihil” per the “official” Ecclesiastical rules of pronunciation. This is evidently the case because those words used to be spelled “michi” and “nichil” once upon a time.


  12. MikeM says:

    What are the substantial differences between the three? (I know their history, but I’m thinking more about content.) My knowledge of biblical translations comes mostly from secular sources, so I haven’t gotten a good handle on this.

    TNCath, the original Douay was based on the Clementine Vulgate (there’s a really expensive copy of this available on Amazon.) The version you more likely see now is a later “revision,” which, while a revision of the original Douay, seems to borrow heavily from the King James Bible, (correcting, of course, for faithfulness to the Clementine Vulgate on places with conceptual differences.)

    nhaggin, Baronius Press has a nice side by side of the Clementine Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims (Challoner Revision). I’m hoping to get myself one sometime…

    Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Douay-Rheims-Clementina-Vulgata-English-Latin-Bible/dp/1905574444/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267557819&sr=8-7

  13. Jordanes says:

    MikeM said: “a revision of the original Douay, seems to borrow heavily from the King James Bible”

    I’ve read that some of the work on the D-R went on while the KJV was being prepared, and each set of translators actually consulted the others’ work — and that probably accounts for some of the similarity between the D-R and the KJV. Of course both were prepared within the translation “tradition” established by Tyndale and Coverdale: those earlier English Bibles tended to exert an influence on how particular passages should be rendered in later English Bible translations.

  14. Roland de Chanson says:

    Just a quick note on Latin pronunciation – the “h” classically was as in English, which is how Jerome would have heard it. It transliterated the Greek rough breathing, as well as the guttural heth of Hebrew. The late medieval Italianate pronunciation (not to mention the various national pronunciations of medieval and church Latin) is not a good guide to ancient Latin, including that of the Vulgate.

    Jerome was transcribiing a Hebrew sound into the closest Latin equivalent he could find. That equivalent was a breathed, not a silent, “h”.

    For example, the Regina Caeli, reh-gee-nah kigh-lee in classical Latin, ray-jee-nuh chay-lee in American Standard Churchese, is reh-gee-nah zöli (coeli) in German Latin.

    When the Good Lord heard Pilate address Him, it is true that it was with the classical, not the medieval Italian pronunciation. But quid est weritas?

  15. jrotond2 says:

    Roland, I tend to view (and have experienced) Latin as more of a living language of the Church rather than a dead language of Roman antiquity. Hence, the Church, especially regarding the singing of Latin, has laid down definitive rules of how Latin is to be pronounced (see the Introduction to the Liber Usualis for example). The Greeks do the same thing; no Greek deacon chants the Greek Gospel in Attic or Koine Greek pronunciation. Our sacred languages may be ancient and may have been pronounced differently in their “original” forms, but these are also living languages in a sense. Latin and Greek are not in the same boat as Sanskrit and Cunneiform.

  16. Joshua08 says:

    Several nitpicks

    1. The original Douai Rheims is not from the Clementine. The translators did not have that available at first. Rather, they selected manuscripts critically…so it would be more often closest to the Clementine, but now always

    2. According to every Latin grammar and syntax book I have, the change of the “v” to a “v” sound happened predominantly before Cicero. So “classical pronuciation” is an iffy thing- some grammars split it into two time periods. It is not like things changed overnight. Indeed, according to some grammars I have the “vulgate Latin” which likely would be the use of soldiers was already closer to the current Roman pronunciation. H’s were another matter. It is clear they were not always pronounced (they often were used as hiatuses) and we see very often H’s, especially at the beginning of words left out or included where “standard” Latin now includes them or excludes them. Horatius, for instance, was often spelled Oratius in contemporary instances.

    3. The Church has an official Latin pronunciation. So while there is such a thing as German and Spanish/French ecclesiatical usages (not to mention atrocious British, “Sank-toos…sank-toos”), the usage of Rome is urged. In that usage the H is silent, except for Nihil, mihi and their compounds, where they are said as a “k”. Indeed Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI urged strongly unity around the “more Romano”

    So there is a correct way. Regina Cæli should be “re-gee-na” with the “e” as in “met” “ee” as in “meet” and “a” as in “father”. “che-lee” “ch as in church”

  17. VivaLaMezzo says:

    Clementine… WOOT!

  18. Will D. says:

    Interesting. Mine’s from Stuttgart, I bought it when I was taking Latin in high school — a public school, no less.

  19. Roland de Chanson says:

    irotond2 and Joshua08, I only meant to explain why Jerome used the “h”. Allen is a good source for the chronology of Latin pronunciation. BTW, the Russians use their own pronunciation of “Church Slavonic” as well.

    Now, I’m climbing out of this cavum leporis which I admittedly dug. ;-)

  20. mpm says:

    Roland de Chanson,

    Ah, shucks, I was enjoying the whole spiel. Very interesting!

    BTW, sounds like (“Quid est weritas”) Pilate may have had English offspring in Preserved Killick: “Oy, Captain, wittles is up!”

    [Which I love these references to O’Brian!]

  21. luiz says:

    “et vocavit Adam nomen uxoris suae Hava eo quod mater esset cunctorum viventium” (Gen. III, XX).

    Stuttgart, 1969.

  22. luiz says:

    Ah, in the footnotes of the Stuttgart critical edition, we find the following variants: Hava, Heva, Haeva, Eva.

  23. nemo says:

    I bought it before 1969, so it must be the Clementine…

  24. Roland de Chanson says:


    It’s a good topic but I figured that if Fr. Z casts me out into the weeping and teeth-gnashing, I’d rather it be over something more momentous than whether Caesar pronounced his wees as wubbleyous. :-)

  25. Jordanes says:

    The first date in English History is 55 B.C. in which year Julius Caesar (the memorable Roman Emperor) landed, like all other successful invaders of these islands, at Thanet. This was in the Olden Days, when the Romans were top nation on account of their classical education, etc.

    Julius Caesar advanced very energetically, throwing his cavalry several thousands of paces over the River Flumen; but the Ancient Britons, though all well over military age, painted themselves true blue, or woad, and fought as heroically under their dashing queen, Woadicea, as they did later in thin red lines under their good queen, Victoria.

    Julius Caesar was therefore compelled to invade Britain again the following year (54 B.C., not 56, owing to the peculiar Roman method of counting), and having defeated the Ancient Britons by unfair means, such as battering-rams, tortoises, hippocausts, centipedes, axes and bundles, set the memorable Latin sentence, “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” which the Romans, who were all very well educated, construed correctly.

    The Britons, however, who of course still used the old pronunciation, understanding him to have called them “Weeny, Weedy and Weaky,” lost heart and gave up the struggle, thinking that he had already divided them All into Three Parts.

  26. David says:

    And finally, “Eva” because it is the opposite of “Ave”?

  27. VEXILLA REGIS says:

    Ah! Jordanes treats us to some “1066 AND ALL THAT”.Dear old Sellars and Yeatman.In my early teens, back in the ’50s (19 that is) I bought my Penguin Paperback copy and commenced reading it on a crowded suburban train one Saturday morning. I began to be convulsed with laughter to the extent that I had to stop reading(teenagers in those days didn’t like drawing attention to themselves.When Lent is finished I shall have to re-read it for the umpteenth time.
    Father Z – perfect O’Brian usage in your interjection – love it. One of my projects for 2010 is to re-read the O’Brian Series for the fourth time with a pen and notebook at hand to record the delightful speech patterns. Maturin delivers some beauties so true to his Irish /Catalan origins.If only I could afford a bottle of Madeira!

  28. gloriainexcelsis says:

    I do remember my high school Latin – classical – so Caesar (hard C, long i) said weni, widi, wiki, and my feminine classmate graduates are alumnae sounded as alumn-i (long i), and the gents from the boys’ high school are alum-nee. Oh, yeah, “Tota Gallia diwisa est in tres partes.” And then came Kikero!

  29. kat says:

    John, thanks for the correction. Yes, I pronounce the “h” in mihi as “miki” too. Wasn’t thinking about it when I posted…just was thinking about “h” at the beginning of words!

    God bless

  30. Roland de Chanson says:


    Was that Miki the Ridiculous Moose?

  31. mpm says:

    A recent favorite passage from Post Captain, p. 182 ff. I was laughing out loud in bed while I re-read this episode!

    [Stephen Maturin interviews “Mr. Scriven”, a would-be footpad, whom Jack Aubrey poleaxed on his way home last night.]

    ‘Would it be proper to give an account of myself, sir?’
    ‘A brief account of your undoing would be quite proper.’

    ‘I used to live in Holywell Street, sir; I was a literary man […]. For my part, I took to translating for the book sellers.’
    ‘From what language?’
    ‘Oh, all languages, sir. If it was oriental or classical, there was sure to be a Frenchman there before us; and as for Italian or Spanish, I could generally puzzle it out in the end. High Dutch, too: I was quite proficient in the High Dutch by the time I had run through Fleischbacker’s Elegant Diversions and Strumpff’s Nearest Way to Heaven […].

    ‘Did you require a dictionary for French, sir?’
    ‘No, sir: I had one. These were Blanckley’s Naval Expositor and Du Hamel, Aubin, and Savarien, to understand the hard words in the shipwrecks and manoeuvres, and to know what the travellers were about. I find it quite a help in translation to understand the text, sir; I always prefer it.


    ‘Do you have a contract?’
    ‘No, sir. It was what the booksellers call a gentleman’s agreement.’
    ‘No hope, then?’
    ‘None whatsoever, sir.’

    [somewhat later, Jack returns from de-lousing himself, and a nap]

    ‘What are you going to do with your prize?’ asked Stephen.
    ‘Eh? Oh, him. We ought to turn him over to the constable, I suppose.’
    ‘They will hang him.’
    ‘Yes, of course. It is the devil — you cannot have a fellow walking about taking purses; and yet you do not like to see him hang. Perhaps he may be transported.’
    ‘I will give you twelve and sixpence for him.’
    ‘Do you mean to dissect him already?’

  32. Andrew says:

    In the late fifties or the sixties a group of “experts” got together in Switzerland to define the so called “restituted” classical pronunciation, based on archeological “evidence”. It was a culmination of a momentum among secular scholars and it quickly became the universal creed in schools teaching “classics” worldwide. By their own admission, this is an estimate: an educated guess. Imagine a group of Chinese scholars 2000 years from now making excavations in America and trying to define “true” American pronunciation based on some graffity unearthed in LA and teaching that “brother” was pronounced as “bro”. Cicero attests to a variety of pronunciation already in his own day, and it is no surprise: no language, not even Latin is static: it varies from time to time, from place to place, from person to person. Classicists assume that “pure” latin existed only for a moment, only in one place, only with a handful of individuals, and suddenly, abruptly ceased to exist somewhere in the 1st century. Lots of foolish assumptions. Do Americans mispronounce English just because they don’t speak as Shakespeare did in his day? Some classicists go as far as objecting to the letter J. Others will use either a “v” or a “u” but never both. Others will not capitalize anything. Others will not use punctuation: all in the name of “purity”. These guys are like people who re-enact an old battle: it’s all a big put on. The Church cultivats Latin as a living language: not any kind of a re-enactment, not any kind of a restitution. Sure, excavations and the like have their place and usefulness, in scholarly work, but only if it is kept within its proper limits. But these days any Jo Shmo is an expert and will discuss Latin at great length: in English, off course and tell you that unless you say “Kekilia et Kikero” you are wrong. Come off it!

  33. Rob F. says:

    The Douay-Rheims New Testament was published 10 years before the Clementine Vulgate, and 8 years before the Sistine, so it certainly is not based on either of these. I’m not sure which version the translators used, but I would guess it was the Complutensian or the Hentenian, or perhaps an eclectic mix of editions. I doubt seriously it was based directly on any manuscripts.

    That said, Bp Challoner’s 18th century revision, which is the version almost everyone means when they say “Douay-Rheims”, was made from the Clementine. As far as I know, there are English translations of neither the Stuttgart nor the New Vulgate.

    With all due respect to the mighty Stuttgart edition, it tells us absolutely nothing about either the spelling or the pronunciation used by St Jerome. The spelling “system” it uses is thoroughly mediaeval and proudly inconsistent. I suspect that the Clementine, with its consciously renaissance spelling, may well be closer to St Jerome’s than the Stuttgart. St Jerome did not try to invent a new transliteration scheme for Hebrew proper names, but stuck closely to the Septuagint in this matter.

  34. An American Mother says:

    If you’ve ever run across A.P. Herbert’s Uncommon Law, there’s a great piece in there about “The New Pronunciation.” Lord Chief Justice Codd has a lead-pipe fit at a young lawyer who insists on giving the Classical “New” pronunciation to legal Latin:

    “Meanwhile, through your unhappy person, I issue, in the name of His Majesty’s judges, this edict to the educationists (‘What’, as Mr. Haddock has so ably said, ‘a word!’): The New Pronunciation is dead and must be buried.”

    Rex v. Venables & others

    I learned classical pronunciation (it wasn’t “new” by the time I came along) in high school and college, then legal pronunciation of Latin (and pie powder French) in law school, while I was trying to keep the English Church pronunciation (which is essentially the Italianate with a few variations). Seem to have settled on Italianate now.

    There is nothing funnier than hearing a South Georgia country lawyer mangle legal French – the accepted local pronunciation of “voir dire” sounds something like “VORE-dyer”. If you say “Vwah DEER” they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about – same as the Lord Chief Justice.

  35. An American Mother says:

    Jordanes, three cheers for 1066 and all that!

    Andrew, the “new pronunciation” was already being inflicted on the English by 1935, when Uncommon Law was published. And supposedly Shakespeare would feel right at home in the Upper South, the theory being that the West of England accent was preserved in the mountainy regions of VA, NC, GA, & TN.

  36. Re: reconstruction of pronunciation

    There’s actually a surprising amount of contemporary evidence for classical Latin pronunciations: poetry, jokes and puns, transliterations of other languages, etc…. It’s all fragmentary; but so is a jigsaw puzzle. And yes, linguists do bear in mind local dialect and slang. Heck, that’s bread and butter and papers.

    Practically speaking, the pronunciation you should use is the one that’s most useful for your purpose, and best understood by others in your speech community. Alternately, use whatever your choir director wants you to use. If you’re a priest saying Mass or a choir director, you get to pick. :) But whatever you do, be consistent.

  37. An American Mother says:

    If it weren’t for fragmentary evidence, what in the world would all those Master’s and Doctoral candidates write their theses and dissertations on?

    I had to learn to read crossed (but not double-crossed) letters in 19th century handwriting for my thesis. At least the writers were fairly well educated (although one was absolutely the worst speller I have ever run across. As Andy Jackson said, it’s a d*&*!d simple mind that can’t think of more than one way to spell a word.)

  38. aquinas138 says:

    Roland de Chanson,

    Your idea about Jerome trying to represent the nikkud with different vowels seems reasonable. If trying to mimic the vowel quality of the Hebrew, though, I would think the Stuttgart’s “Hava” is probably closer. The Syriac Peshitta (Old Testament done in the 2nd century) spells it exactly as does Hebrew. I don’t have a critical edition of the Peshitta at hand, so I can’t swear that the Syriac vowels match the nikkud in all manuscripts that bother to vocalize the text, though my Bible (of Syrian Orthodox provenance) does indicate a short ‘a’ on the heth.

  39. Rob F. says:

    No, St Jerome was not trying to represent any Hebrew linguistic feature in his transliteration of proper names. What he was trying to do, and succeeded in doing, was to transliterate the proper names as spelled in the Greek Septuagint, just like his predecessors did when translating the sacred text into Latin.

    For what it is worth, my edition of the Septuagint (Brenton’s) has epsilon – upsilon – alpha, which would be “Eua” according to the usual rules of Greco-latin transliteration, or “Heua” if the epsilon had a rough breathing. The distinction in breathing would have been entirely academic in the 5th century when St Jerome wrote this name down, as it was no longer pronounced in Greek, and H was already silent in Latin.

  40. aquinas138 says:

    That’s interesting, Rob F. Neither my Brenton nor my Rahlfs have “Eua” – though the huge critical edition here at school does list a handful of variants that add “eua” in addition to “Zoe.”

  41. medievalist says:


    I suspected so because of the date. My Vulgate has a wonderful bookplate in the front reading: “St Edmund’s College. Prize for Holy Scripture awarded to Alban Graffy, class of Rhetoric. 14 July 1908. [Signed] Alfred Herbert M.A. Prefect of Studies.”

    It must have been published earlier because the Imprimatur is from Archbishop of Lyons Joseph-Alfred Foulon, 1887.

    Needless to say, this Vulgate was rescued from a church basement “cleaning”.

  42. Rob F. says:

    Patience, aquinas138, and keep reading. I can promise you Eva, declined in the accusative no less, before you get very far into chapter 4. (For Brenton’s at least.)

  43. aquinas138 says:

    Oh, I know it’s there in Ch. 4, but I was referring specifically to Gen 3:20!

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