4 Stars Out Of 5
An important undertaking
April 30, 2013
The complete set of the Vulgate Bible published along with the Douay-Rheims translation (on facing pages, Vulgate on the left, D-R on the right) was originally proposed to be a five volume set. As it turns out it was completed in six numbered volumes with volume II being separated into IIa and IIb--so a total of 7 volumes numbered as 6. This means it is a rather large financial investment for the complete set. However at CBDs prices, the whole set can easily be acquired one volume at a time without any noticeable strain on the wallet. I have acquired mine one volume at a time as birthday and Christmas presents.
The scholars at Dumbarton Oaks did something strange with this set however. Because here is no single version of the Vulgate that is known to be the original, true, or authoritative version, it is not known what Jerome's original translation looked like, nor is it known which version of the Vulgate tradition the translators at Rheims and Douay used to render the English copy. The Dumbarton Oaks scholars attempted to use the Douay-Rheims to reconstruct the possible Vulgate that the D-R translators may have used. That is, where discrepancies arose between the Latin and the D-R English, they sort of retrofit the the Latin to the English. So the Vulgate in this set does not represent any one known version of the Vulgate which has been preserved in history. It is a very interesting approach to the subject and for most readers I think this set is still a very useful and enjoyable version of both texts. However, the scholarly value has been altered considerably for those medievalists and Latin scholars who are looking for an established historic version of the Latin text. But, there is still scholarly merit here because this now provides others with the option to read the Dumbarton-Oaks scholars' treatment of the text and compare it with their own research and understanding of the Vulgate/D-R tradition.
To complete the scholastic merits of this set it might also be advisable to own a copy of the Biblia Sacra Vulgata (also available here on CBD) to have as a standard reference if you find yourself using the Dumbarton Oaks set for research or even simple word studies.
The books themselves--both the cloth covers and the gold dust jackets--are very attractive also. The bindings appear to be sturdy and these sets seem to be of a higher caliber than most modern hardcover books. It should be noted though that no other book currently on the market offers such an easy access to the Latin and English texts contained in such a nice binding. The only other option--a single volume--is of much cheaper construction with miniscule text.
Overall I think this set is well worth the investment, surpasses other Latin/English copies in it's construction, is of scholarly merit, and makes a great "statement" as a complete set shelved in any personal library, however it is best to be supplemented by a copy of the Biblia Sacra Vulgata to hold your studies to slightly more rigid standards.