Augustine and Jerome wrote several epistles to one another. In these epistles, how did Augustine feel about Jerome producing the Latin Vulgate? What were his concerns?
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In a letter from Augustine to Jerome:
Some of the other translations Jerome provided where acceptable to Augustine. He even said this to Jerome in that same letter, which largely criticized the translation of the Septuagint:
Despite Augustine's passionate objection, Jerome's translation of the Septuagint from the Hebrew texts is today heralded as his best work and among many protestants (and somewhat Catholics) one of the best translations of the Old Testament.
But concerning news that Jerome was using the Hebrew versions of the text instead of the Greek for the translation, Augustine once stated in a letter to Jerome in AD 394:
Augustine thought it a waste of Jerome's efforts and ability to translate the Septuagint using the Hebrew texts available, believing that the Greek version was Divinely inspired. Using strong language, Augustine urges Jerome to use the same method for translating Job, which he approved of, which was to use the Greek and not the Hebrew text because the Greek was Divinely inspired in his opinion.
Jerome did not heed Augustine's advice, believing that the Hebrew was actually more accurate to the original text. He voiced his objection again to Jerome using the Hebrew in another letter in AD 403, although, he did praise the exhaustiveness of the work, but challenged the motive for the asterisks and obelisks in the translation. See the quote below:
Augustine goes on in the letter, reveling his biggest concern with the source material chosen was a matter of Church unity. He feared that the Latin churches would have scripture that was too different than the Greek churches, which might lead to arguments and schism. He favored the Greek texts, on a logical basis, because it was already wide spread.
Augustine even discusses a certain bishop who 'narrowly escaped' a 'calamity' where he might have lost his congregation forcing the bishop to 'correct [Jerome's] version in that passage as if it had been falsely translated.' Augustine's concern for Church unity and reduced confusion is summed up thusly:
Jerome, however, did not respond favorably and was even somewhat hostile to Augustine's reasoning, which required that Church unity be more important than the exactness of the translation to the original writings. His letter to Augustine in AD 404 states:
In AD 405 Augustine replied with the same argument and begged Jerome to deliver the translation to him so that it may not be used in any authoritative church gathering. As far as historians know, Jerome did not respond and continued with the translation.
SOURCES (In order of use)
Augustine: "Hey Jerome, please don't translate from a source if people can't verify your translation! The internet hasn't been invented yet."
St Augustine wasn't too happy about it. In fact, he was seriously concerned it might damage the credibility of the Latin church and Jerome, who he liked (that appears not to have been mutual).
Augustine seems to desire Jerome not to do his translation in the manner he is doing it because it will be infeasible for the Church to make informed decisions as to its veracity since only a handful of respected Church Fathers spoke Hebrew and even fewer could read Aramaic, leaving the interpretation of key works in the hands of a tiny group of translators. Augustine approved of rendering a new translation from the Hebrew with extensive documentation of its differences from the Septinguint and reasons for those differences, or in doing so once more of the population spoke Hebrew (which he advocated the learning of but would ultimately be unsuccessful in popularizing). Augustine had great faith in "The Seventy", the translators of the Septuagint, where Jerome had somewhat less faith. Augustine was always very polite in his discussion with Jerome, even when Jerome's letters might be described as hostile. This may be just because Augustine was more of a polite person in discourse, even when he endeavored to insult people, rather than an indication of genuine friendliness.
In those times, it was much more difficult to obtain original-language manuscripts, and much more difficult to find people who were competent enough to analyze them (as St Jerome was).
Translation necessarily involves at least some change in meaning, and both men recognized that this was just a consequence of translation. We acknowledge this ourselves today when we say "well, let's just look at what the word meant in the original language".
St Augustine seems to have been worried that, in cases where such discrepancies between translations would be subjected to close examination, a schism might result over something minor because "just looking at the original language" simply wasn't an option in those times, since (to both men's chagrin) practically no one educated spoke Hebrew. This was a very legitimate practical concern. St Augustine would surely have been livid at the idea of changing the meaning of any biblical text for the sake of unity.
Augustine wanted a Latin translation, he wanted the Bible to be made accessible, but being true to scripture was much more important. Jerome's use of a Hebrew source when most of the Church Fathers couldn't read Hebrew seemed suspect to him because if someone claimed to have found an error in Jerome's translation it would be hard to prove either side correct, which would result in schism. Furthermore, Augustine was disgusted with most Latin translations of the Greek texts, and wanted Jerome to do more work in that area because he thought Jerome's translation work was superb.
Augustine also had a lot more respect for the original translators of the Bible. Jerome thought that since so few people had translated the original Hebrew there were probably a fair number of errors. Augustine agreed that this might be the case, but thought that such errors would not be on any material of importance and, furthermore, the previous Hebrew->Greek translators ('The Seventy") met with his standards of accuracy while the bulk of the current Greek->Latin translators did not. Indeed, Augustine seems to assume that Latin translations from the Greek would be rapidly pointed out as wrong as a matter of course, because the Greek manuscripts were readily available.
Jerome seems to have become somewhat upset with Augustine upon learning that Augustine regarded the Septuagint positively. Jerome thought it was the work of dirty Jews made worse by the work of a particular contemporary Jew named Theodotion. Jerome didn't like Jews much.
I have omitted some of the other arguments between the two, which you can read about here or elsewhere, but they tend to all express the same kinds of dynamic on the part of Augustine.
Credit to Alypius's answer here for the basis for much of this post.