Which Vulgate should you buy? A reader asks:
Hello Dr. Marshall,
I am looking into getting a physical copy of the Clementine Vulgate, and was wondering if you had any recommendation, perhaps obtainable on Amazon or a similar place. A facsimile of a historical version would be great, but I haven't found any of those, so a modern edition would suffice.
In previous posts, we have examined that not everything labeled "Vulgate" is truly the traditional Vulgate. Buyer beware. Essentially there are three Vulgates: the classical Clementine Vulgate used in traditional Gregorian chant (by the way, just say no to the Pian Psalter). Second, there is the common Stuttgart Vulgate which is an academic critical edition with variant readings. Third, there is the "New Vulgate" or Nova Vulgata, which was produced in the 1970s. You don't want that either. So you want to get the Clementine Vulgate which stands as the basis for traditional liturgy and traditional chant. There is an easy test to figure out which edition a Vulgate is. Turn to Genesis 3:20 and look at the name of Adam's wife:
1) 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)
2) 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.
3) If it's spelled Eva: Nova Vulgata (1979) - the official Catholic edition of the Vulgate currently used in the ordinary liturgies of the Catholic Church (i.e. Missale Romanum 1969 & Liturgia Horarum)
I recommend the following two Clementine Vulgates because they have the Douay-Rheims English parallel for reference. It's easier than carrying a dictionary with you. By the way, NewAdvent.org has the Clementine Vulgate and Douay Rheims in parallel with the Greek!
I'll close by saying that it's NEVER too late to learn Latin. Even if you are 70 years old, go for it. Take an online course or sign up for a local class. It's fun, challenges the mind, and unlocks a wealth of Catholic and historical resources. It's one of the best things that you can do.