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Jerome's text of the gospels, the 'Vetus Latina', and the 'Vulgate': With comparative tables of Jerome's text of Matthew and Mark

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

The Vulgate is a collection of Latin translations from Genesis to Revelation, and its name defines its central function: a common translation into a single language for wider dissemination among the faithful. However, its status as a Latin Scriptural translation is far from unique; it is joined by a great number of extra-Vulgate works called Vetus Latina, Old Latin. The Vulgate collection’s rise to prominence is primarily owed to its tradition. This tradition states that the Dalmatian exegete and monk Jerome of Stridon completed the Vulgate initially by order of his patron Pope Damasus. This original commission included the four Gospels at first and was completed in the early 380’s. The complete Vulgate collection would at first be attributed to Jerome who himself had claimed such completion. Throughout Ecclesiastical History, the attribution of the majority of the Vulgate New Testament has diminished to a scholarly consensus that Jerome completed only the Vulgate Gospels. It is this final certitude that this dissertation explores. Through a close examination of verifiable Hieronymian witness of the Gospels, especially Matthew and Mark, an evaluation of Jerome as a witness to the Vulgate Gospels is presented.
To evaluate Jerome as witness for the Vulgate may at first appear to be a counterintuitive approach; Jerome’s involvement with the formation of the Vulgate is has been traditionally considered inextricably linked to the story of the Vulgate. This dissertation provides reevaluation of the historical division between Vetus Latina and Vulgate. This overview of the two Latin traditions is presented in the introduction. The next chapter examines sources and events surrounding the Latinization of the church in the Fourth Century. In this context, this dissertation examines the pontificate of Damasus and his relation to the exegete Jerome. Next, Jerome’s literary creations from his Roman period in contact with Damasus are evaluated. This is followed by an evaluation of the citations in Epistle 22 and an original interlinear translation of Jerome’s preface to his Gospel translations. The following two chapters present analysis of the Commentary on Matthew and the Homilies on Mark, respectively. An exhaustive comparative table of Jerome’s text, the Vulgate, and Vetus Latina examples follows each chapter. Following this presentation of Jerome’s Matthew and Mark, a discussion of the possibilities of Vulgate Paul’s editor is presented. This leads to some suggestions that serve as a call to reconsider the traditional history and rebuild the understanding of the Vulgate based on deductive considerations of extra-Vulgate translations and Patristic citations.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2018


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