The Vulgate, Genesis Chapter One – A Translation from Latin to English by Bishop Roberts (OP, SJ)

Commentary

This translation was done during an LSD trip, so you can be assured that it’s extra inspired and even more accurate and divine than it would be otherwise.

Curiousities that I encountered during translation include the consistant use of the plural form for “darkness” – tenebrae. I am not expert enough in Latin to say with confidence why this plural form features so prominently, but I figured there must be some sort of theological significance and so chose to translate it as “darknesses”. This is definitely an area for further speculative theology to explore: the multiplicity of the primordial darkness from which all things sprung. What could it mean?

During translation, I tried my hardest to preserve the original Latin tenses. I was interested in a “wooden” and “literal” translation, and had no interest in smoothing over the grammatical quirks and clunkiness for the sake of an elegant English reading. I prefer to have direct access to the original constructions when reading a translation, regardless of how odd it sounds in English. I value strict accuracy of translation above literary excellence. Rather than having the paraphrase in the text and the original in the footnotes, I prefer to do things the other way around. This is why my prefered New Testament translation is the David Bentley Hart edition.

Please give feedback! I am still learning Latin, and would appreciate any comments.

English Translation

In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
the earth was also formless and empty
and darknesses were above the face of the abyss
and the spirit of God was being carried above the waters

and God said
“let light be made”, and light is made
and God saw the light, that it is good.
and he divided the light and the darknesses
and he called the light “day” and the darknesses “night”
and the first day was done, evening and morning.

God also said
“let a firmament be made in the middle of the waters
and let it divide the waters from the waters”
and God made the firmament
and he divided the waters that were below the firmament from these that were above the firmament
and so it was done
and God called the firmament “heaven”
and the second day was done, evening and morning

God truly said
“let the waters which are beneath heaven be gathered in one place and let dry land appear”
and so it was done
and God called the dry land “Earth”
and the association of waters he named “Sea”
and God saw that it is good and he says
“let the earth grow the green herb and make seed
and the fruit-bearing tree making fruit according to its genus
which seed in itself is above the earth”
and so it was done.
and the earth brought out green herb and delivered seed according to its genus
and the tree made fruit
and having a unique sowing according to its species
and God saw that it is good
and the third day was done, evening and morning.

God also said
let lights be made in the firmament of heaven
that they may divide day and night
and let them be [made] into signs and times and days and years
that they may shine in the firmament of heaven and may illuminate the earth
and so it was done.
and God made two great lights: the greater to shine that it may rule over the days and the minor to shine that it may rule over the nights and stars
and he placed them in the firmament of heaven
that they may shine above the earth and they may rule over the days and nights
and they may divide the light from the darknesses
and God say that it is good
and the fourth day was done, evening and morning.

God also said
let the waters bring forth creeping living souls
and flying creatures above the earth and beneath the firmament of heaven
and God created large sea monsters
and even all the living moving soul
that the waters had brought forth according to their species
and all the flying things according to their genus
and God saw that it is good
and he blessed saying to them
“increase and be multiplied and fill up the waters of the sea
and birds, let them multiply above the earth”
and the fifth day was done, evening and morning.

God also said
“Let the earth produce living soul in it’s genus
beasts of burden and crawling things and beasts of the earth according to their species”
and so it is done.
and God made the beasts of the earth according to their species
and beasts of burden and all creeping things of earth in their genus
and God saw that it is good and he said
“let us make man in according to our image and likeness
and let him rule by the fish of the sea and by the birds of heaven
and by all the beasts of the earth
and all the creeping things that are moved in the earth”
and God created man according to his image
according to the image of God he created them
Male and female he created them
and God blessed them and said
“increase and be multiplied and fill up the earth and subdue it
and rule to the fish of the sea and to the flying things of heaven
and to all the living things that move above the earth”
and God said
“Behold, I have given to you all herb conducting seed above the earth
and all trees that in themselves bear seed according to their genus
that to you may be into food and all living things of the earth
and all winged things of heaven and all that move on the earth
and in which there is a living soul that they may have eating
and so it was done
and God saw all things that he had made and they were very good
and the sixth day was done, evening and morning.

Original Latin Text

In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram. Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebrae erant super faciem abyssi : et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas. Dixitque Deus : Fiat lux. Et facta est lux. Et vidit Deus lucem quod esset bona : et divisit lucem a tenebris. Appellavitque lucem Diem, et tenebras Noctem : factumque est vespere et mane, dies unus.

Dixit quoque Deus : Fiat firmamentum in medio aquarum : et dividat aquas ab aquis. Et fecit Deus firmamentum, divisitque aquas, quae erant sub firmamento, ab his, quae erant super firmamentum. Et factum est ita. Vocavitque Deus firmamentum, Caelum : et factum est vespere et mane, dies secundus. Dixit vero Deus : Congregentur aquae, quae sub caelo sunt, in locum unum : et appareat arida. Et factum est ita. Et vocavit Deus aridam Terram, congregationesque aquarum appellavit Maria. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum.

Et ait : Germinet terra herbam virentem, et facientem semen, et lignum pomiferum faciens fructum juxta genus suum, cujus semen in semetipso sit super terram. Et factum est ita. Et protulit terra herbam virentem, et facientem semen juxta genus suum, lignumque faciens fructum, et habens unumquodque sementem secundum speciem suam. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies tertius. Dixit autem Deus : Fiant luminaria in firmamento caeli, et dividant diem ac noctem, et sint in signa et tempora, et dies et annos : ut luceant in firmamento caeli, et illuminent terram. Et factum est ita.

Fecitque Deus duo luminaria magna : luminare majus, ut praeesset diei : et luminare minus, ut praeesset nocti : et stellas. Et posuit eas in firmamento caeli, ut lucerent super terram, et praeessent diei ac nocti, et dividerent lucem ac tenebras. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies quartus. Dixit etiam Deus : Producant aquae reptile animae viventis, et volatile super terram sub firmamento caeli.

Creavitque Deus cete grandia, et omnem animam viventem atque motabilem, quam produxerant aquae in species suas, et omne volatile secundum genus suum. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum. Benedixitque eis, dicens : Crescite, et multiplicamini, et replete aquas maris : avesque multiplicentur super terram. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies quintus. Dixit quoque Deus : Producat terra animam viventem in genere suo, jumenta, et reptilia, et bestias terrae secundum species suas. Factumque est ita. Et fecit Deus bestias terrae juxta species suas, et jumenta, et omne reptile terrae in genere suo. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum,

et ait : Faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram : et praesit piscibus maris, et volatilibus caeli, et bestiis, universaeque terrae, omnique reptili, quod movetur in terra. Et creavit Deus hominem ad imaginem suam : ad imaginem Dei creavit illum, masculum et feminam creavit eos. Benedixitque illis Deus, et ait : Crescite et multiplicamini, et replete terram, et subjicite eam, et dominamini piscibus maris, et volatilibus caeli, et universis animantibus, quae moventur super terram. Dixitque Deus : Ecce dedi vobis omnem herbam afferentem semen super terram, et universa ligna quae habent in semetipsis sementem generis sui, ut sint vobis in escam : et cunctis animantibus terrae, omnique volucri caeli, et universis quae moventur in terra, et in quibus est anima vivens, ut habeant ad vescendum. Et factum est ita.

Viditque Deus cuncta quae fecerat, et erant valde bona. Et factum est vespere et mane, dies sextus.

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