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Could we in the future read a Roman Catholic bible in Latin ?

The title says it all. Could we in the future read a Roman Catholic bible in Latin ?

Or would we not stand a chance ? We would need a large vocabulary and many years of studying Latin.

August 30, 2019



Do you realize that Latin ain't the original language the Bible was written in? Latin is as good as any other translation.


Sure, any translation should be good enough, but no other translation has been so influential and enduring as the Latin Vulgate. It is still being read and used by catholics today, 1600 years after it was translated. It also had a tremendous impact on the development of Ecclesiastical Latin. If one is interested in Latin and catholicism, there are plenty of reasons to read and study the Vulgate.


That much I agree. If I remember correctly we read the Vulgate really early. Must have been the second or third year of high school Latin. The Vulgate is really accessible Latin. Short phrases, easy vocab, easy grammar. Hence, the name Vulgata I guess... As I always say: Latin for common people, Greek for poets. The Latin of the Vulgate ain't fundamentally different from Classical Latin.


The New testament was originally written in Greek. The first old testament was written in Hebrew. Then in then after Constantine the bible was written in Latin, till around the 1700, Then it was written in all different languages. Since most bibles between the 5th and the 18th century, most all bibles were written in Latin and Latin was the pretty much the universal language. Now english is. But I agree with the post, it would take a lot of years to be able to read a whole book in latin.



This is the one that I read from (you can find many other languages here as well)

Just with Duolingo, I would say probably no, however I wasn't studying Latin very long before I jumped into trying to read it. Just give it a try, you may surprise yourself. Try something relatively easy and familiar, like Matthew or Genesis to start with. :)


What karasu4 said.

Here is the current version, called Nova Vulgata, as it has been revised. There were a few "official" versions over the centuries; here is an earlier one (downloadable), and the original version translated or revised by Jerone is also available online. As far as language learning goes, there is not a huge difference between them, I don't think.

As karasu4 said, the language of the Vulgate is not "Classical." For those who would prefer something deliberately more classical, here is a translation (Protestant) made about 500 years ago (Genesis starts on p. xlviii, according to Google books); or see this version of it, which is reproduced much more clearly, to be read online. The language of this text is more difficult than the Vulgate, but it is also more like the Latin taught in schools.

This Duo course ought to give you a good start, and there are books or online sites that you can use to continue learning Latin, so that you can read the Latin Bible. It is a really good idea to start reading with something that is familiar in English (or whatever your native language is), so IMHO you've got the right idea. Good luck!

[Added] FWIW, there is a photo of a page from the New Testament in my comment here; it is the sixth photo down (or 3rd from the bottom), which begins with "Dicebant ergo quidam ex Hierosolymitis . . . " (John, 7:25).


You can find the entire Latin Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Bible) here: https://www.thelatinlibrary.com/bible.html

And here you can read it verse for verse with an English translation on the side: http://www.latinvulgate.com/lv/verse.aspx?t=0&b=1

It is not a very difficult text, as far as Latin literature goes. It does not contain many long and complex sentences, such as one often finds in Classical Literature. The grammar is post-classical (not a very big diff.), and there are a good deal of Hebrew and Greek loanwords however.

I read the Book of Daniel in Latin after a few months of studying Classical Latin on my own, without much problem.

One problem with the Vulgate, however, is that it is often printed without any punctuation at all, only verse numbers.

The Duo course does not fit you for the task - yet. Per now I'd say it teaches about 10% of the grammar you'll need to know to read any real Latin literature. For instance, it doesn't even teach other tenses than the present tense. That will hopefully change before long.

So if you only use the Duo course as it is now, no, you don't stand a chance against the Vulgate. But if you get to study Latin grammar more fully, it will probably be one of the first texts you can tackle.


Bible itself is a very hard text - in every own languages too

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The Bible is actually a fairly simple text. it is interpreting the text, both in the reading and the translating, that causes the problems, the conflicts, etc.


Listen and read to the text while you are working through the Duolingo course. Read one chapter in English, then the same chapter while listening and reading the Latin text, then try to read the chapter a third time aloud in Latin. You may be surprised how much vocabulary and grammatical structures you pick up.


Won't it depend on your other language knowledge, too? A good knowledge of Romance languages- Italian, Romanian, Spanish, etc, is going to mean that you will be able to do a fair bit of guesswork about the vocabulary that you don't know- because even with time, there are going to be things that are familiar, if not at first glance, then after a bit of thought.

If you have sections of the bible that you are familiar with, it's worth a try. Have you tried reading it in the languages you are best in? If you can do that and have experience of doing that, it will be a help.

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