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The Vulgate Bible is an early 5th century translation of the Bible into Latin by St. Jerome, at the instigation of Pope Damasus I[?]. The version takes its name from the phrase vulgata editio, "the edition for the people" (cf. Vulgar Latin), and was written in an everyday Latin used in conscious distinction to the elegant Ciceronian Latin of which Jerome was a master. The Vulgate was designed to be both easier to understand and more accurate than its predecessors.

Jerome was responsible for at least three slightly different versions of the Vulgate. The Romana Vulgate was the first. It was soon replaced by later versions except in Britain, where it continued to be used until the Norman Conquest in 1066. Next was the Gallicana Vulgate, which Jerome produced a few years later. It had some minor improvements, especially in the Old Testament. This became the standard Bible of the Roman Catholic Church a few decades after it was produced. The Hispana Vulgate is largely identical to the Romana except for the Book of Psalms, which Jerome retranslated from the Hebrew for this version. (The other Vulgates were mostly translated from Greek, but were checked against Hebrew and Aramaic sources.)

The Latin Bible used before the Vulgate and usually known as the Vetus Latina, or "Old Latin", was not translated by a single person or institution, nor even uniformly edited. The individual books varied in quality of translation and style -- modern scholars often refer to the Old Latin as being in "translationese" rather than standard Latin.

Jerome did not completely re-translate the original Greek and Hebrew and exactly how much revision he did is unclear. He certainly translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew and the Gospels from the Greek. Whether he translated other parts of the New Testament or just revised them from Old Latin translations is not known with certainty.

At first, Jerome did not want to include the Deuterocanon. However, Augustine of Hippo argued for their inclusion, and Pope Damasus[?] insisted on it, so these books were included, thus keeping its Old Testament canon the same as the Septuagint, which was at that time the translation most widely used by Greek-speaking Christians.

There is another version of the Vulgate, called the Nova Vulgata. This is the current official Latin version published by the Roman Catholic Church. The main difference in the Nova Vulgata is that it takes account of the textual criticism of recent years and in places reflects the changes in such texts as the United Bible Society's critical text.

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