The Latin Vulgate is considered to be the official version of the bible of the Roman Catholic church. I'm wondering if this means it is only the official version of the Roman Catholic Church, or does it include the Eastern Catholic Churches as well.

If it is only the official version of the Latin church, do the individual Eastern Catholic Churches have their own official versions as well? (Eg. Perhaps the official Melkite version is the Septuagint, while the official Chaldean version is the Peshitta etc)

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    The Roman Catholic Church is the Latin Rite Catholic Church. The "Catholic Church" encompasses all the Rites of the Catholic Church.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 4:18
  • @KenGraham cheers for the clarification. Updated the title to reflect this Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 4:21
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    @KenGraham That is a distinction used by some people, but it is not in any way technical terminology. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 12:41
  • @TheIronKnuckle Reading the current answers I think it is not really clear what official version means. Depending on your definition of official version the answers could be: The Vulgate (or Nova Vulgata) is the official version of the whole Catholic Church/the Latin Church/nobody.
    – K-HB
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 21:38

3 Answers 3


The 4th Session of the Council of Trent on the Canonical Scriptures authorized "the old Latin vulgate" as the official edition of the whole Church:

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been preserved to be read in the Catholic Church (prout in ecclesia catholica legi consueverunt), and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.
The phrase I emboldened shows that no new books can be introduced int the canon of Holy Scripture.

"the said books" are:

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggæus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second. Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle.

It is not just the canon (books) but the translation itself of "the old Latin vulgate" that is free from error, as Pope Pius XII writes in his 1943 encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu §21:

this special authority or as they say, authenticity of the Vulgate was not affirmed by the Council [of Trent] particularly for critical reasons, but rather because of its legitimate use in the Churches throughout so many centuries; by which use indeed the same is shown, in the sense in which the Church has understood and understands it, to be free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals; so that, as the Church herself testifies and affirms, it may be quoted safely and without fear of error in disputations, in lectures and in preaching; and so its authenticity is not specified primarily as critical, but rather as juridical.

Thus, Eastern Catholic rites, too, must recognize "the old Latin vulgate edition" as free from error. This does not mean, though, that all rites cannot use other editions.

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    So, it seems that the statement is dealing with what books are canonical and not with translation. The canonical books being all of the books and the whole of each book in the Latin vulgate. The translation appearing in the Latin vulagate is not official ?
    – Matthew
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 19:52
  • @Matthew It's speaking of both ("as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition"). See the quote from Pope Pius XII's encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu §21 that I added to my answer.
    – Geremia
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 21:11

The Latin Vulgate is the version of the Bible preferred in the Latin Rite.

The History of the Vulgate Text from the Council of Trent to the Present Day

On April 8, 1546, two Biblical Decrees were solemnly promulgated by the Tridentine Fathers. The first, called "Sacrosancta," declares the Catholic rule of faith in regard to the Sacred Scriptures by repeating the value of divine tradition, defining the inspiration of the Bible, and listing officially the books of the Canon. Then for the first time these books were formally canonized. This first Decree is a formal dogmatic definition of the Church.

The second Decree, called "Insuper," refers to the editing and use of Sacred Scripture. The words of this Decree making the Vulgate authentic and official for the Latin Rite are as follows: "The Holy Council, considering that it would be of no small advantage to the Church of God if it were clearly made known which of all the Latin editions of the Sacred Books in circulation is to be held as authentic, hereby declares and enacts that the same well-known Old Latin Vulgate edition, which has been approved by the long use of so many centuries in the Church, is to be held as authentic in public readings, disputations, preachings and expositions and that no one shall dare or presume to reject it under any pretense whatsoever."19 This same Decree also specifies that "Sacred Scripture, especially this well-known Old Latin Vulgate edition, shall be published as correctly as possible." - The History of the Latin Vulgate

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    It's a good quote, but it's still not clear whether the vulgate is the official bible for the whole church or just the latin rite. My confusion stems from the fact that all this was declared in an ecumenical council, which pertains to the entire church, not just the latin rite. If it was a local council or bishops conference it would not be so ambiguous Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 23:39
  • Can you please provide an authoritative document that says the "Latin Vulgate is the official version of the Bible of the Latin Rite"?
    – Geremia
    Commented Feb 26, 2017 at 21:49
  • The second Decree in saying that the Old Latin Vulgate is to held as authentic seems to be speaking about the situation in which the Decree was written in, the late 1500's, but can you go from there to the idea that the Vulgate is 'authentic' for all times ?
    – Matthew
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 19:39

I believe that the Pope Pius XII' Encyclical, Divino Afflante Spiritu dispenses with the notion that the Vulgate is in some sense the official version of the Bible for any jurisdiction subject to the Pope. The Encyclical states (para 22):

Wherefore this authority of the Vulgate in matters of doctrine by no means prevents - nay rather today it almost demands - either the corroboration and confirmation of this same doctrine by the original texts or the having recourse on any and every occasion to the aid of these same texts, by which the correct meaning of the Sacred Letters is everywhere daily made more clear and evident. Nor is it forbidden by the decree of the Council of Trent to make translations into the vulgar tongue, even directly from the original texts themselves, for the use and benefit of the faithful and for the better understanding of the divine word, as We know to have been already done in a laudable manner in many countries with the approval of the Ecclesiastical authority


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