[ELH] Guide to Vulgate on-line

InterNet Bible Texts: Vulgate (compiled by R.A.Kraft 11 June 1998)

The question about the availability of electronic Vulgate texts reappears regularly on the network discussion groups. Various InterNet sites offer a Vulgate text of some sort, usually without identifying the printed source. I offer the following in an attempt to help clarify the situation.

Most of the available Vulgate texts are derived from the Beuron/Stuttgart Bible Societies text edited by Bonifatius Fischer in 1975 (2nd ed) as encoded under the direction of Wilhelm Ott at Tuebingen and generously made available for non-commercial distribution through the Center for Computer Analysis of Texts (CCAT) at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. This text found its way into private hands and onto various "biblical" CD-ROMs as well, before the revolution of InterNet access occurred -- and the problems it engendered.

The copyright to the printed Beuron/Stuttgart text is held by the German Bible Society (GBS) and the United Bible Societies (UBS), and with the advent of relatively uncontrolled InterNet access, permission to distribute this text without the individual "user agreement" system previously in place at CCAT was withdrawn at the insistence of the GBS. Unregistered InterNet search access to the text, without the ability to copy the text wholesale, remained a gray area, and was not explicitly prohibited. Uncontrolled distribution of the text on the InterNet was no longer permitted sometime in the early 1990s (there is a note to this effect on the CCAT gopher, but such notes are usually not found or ignored by InterNet users!).

Nevertheless, not every InterNet site that had acquired the text removed it from circulation -- ignorance of where the text came from and under what conditions was (and still is) doubtless a major factor -- and "search only" sites continued to exist (including CCAT, where the ability to search has now been disabled, unfortunately). Some CD-ROM developers and similar vendors attempted to incorporate the text into their products without permission from the GBS/UBS and were threatened with legal action when discovered, but only sporadic efforts have been made to clean up the "illegal" (even when unintentional) copies on the InterNet. Some distributors may even have obtained permission directly from GBS/UBS. It is my understanding that GBS is preparing its own CD-ROM to include this and other biblical texts, but exact details (date, costs, etc.) are unknown to me. The experimental UBS CD-ROM is out of print; the PHI Latin CD-ROM is still available and contains this text; similarly the LOGOS CD-ROM and several others.

The Beuron/Stuttgart text is relatively easy to spot. It has virtually no punctuation, for example, and the textual variation in Gen 3.20 to which Bill East has called attention (Eve = Hava, not Heva as in the older Clementine edition) is a good test. Some formatting problems also produced a few errors in early versions emanating from CCAT, and may still remain in some unauthorized copies that are "out there." Incidentally, if you have an unauthorized copy on your machine, you can make it legal simply by filling out a CCAT "user agreement" and sending it to me. The agreement is on the CCAT Gopher --


and need only be filled out and sent to my new address below.

Reports of the availability of a truly "public domain" electronic version of the Clementine Vulgate (with punctuation and all -- probably closer to the text in which most medievalists would be interested) occur now and then, and if anyone has further information on that alternative, please let me know and circulate it widely!

Now to the WWW addresses of which I am aware:

For many textual links see Paul Halsall's Internet Medieval Sourcebook--

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook2.html [no specific "Bibles" link yet]

Also Torrey Seland's Resource Pages for Biblical Studies--

http://www.hivolda.no/asf/kkf/rel-stud.html [no specific Vulgate link yet]

Sites with Beuron/Stuttgart Vulgate materials:

Richard Goerwitz' Bible Browsers home page (many texts, mostly English, but also the Beuron/Stuttgart Vulgate for searching)--

Browser at Brown

Chiacago [ARTFL Project]


[has Vulgate but without Apocrypha; Beuron/Stuttgart edition, apparently taken from the Online Book Initiative, with its somewhat sloppy introductory comments noted by Bill East]


[Online Book Initiative; Vulgate book by book in alphabetical order; presented as "public domain" in 1990, apparently using the Beuron/Stuttgart edition]

The WWW Bible Gateway: http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?

http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?language=Latin [Beuron/Stutt ed]



[New Testament only with English translation; Beuron edition?]

Related English Bibles, etc.--

http://www.cybercomm.net/~dcon/drbible.html [English Douay-Rheims]

http://www.hti.umich.edu/relig/rheims/ [English Rheims NT only]

http://etext.virginia.edu/rsv.browse.html [English RSV (CCAT)]

http://www.catholic.net/ [various texts]

http://www.hti.umich.edu/relig/luther/ [German Luther translation]

Unable to access, 11 June 1998--



Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania

new office address: 227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304)