Questions, Insights, & Responses

shared from and with users

#116 - Luk 1:28 - errors in Latin Vulgate and in KJV

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.





I am still exploring the website, and so far I must say I'm very impressed. I got a question which is puzzling me.

Regarding Luke 1:28, the Catholic Church (Vulgate) translates this as "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." The Protestant Bibles have a totally different translation altogether.

Who is correct and why? If the Catholic church is wrong why have they translated it in this way? Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.



Both modern Catholic versions and modern Protestant Bible versions translate Luke 1:28 very similarly to what you wrote. It is the Latin Vulgate and the protestant King James Version that incorrectly represented that verse, as shown below.

The United Bible Society's definitive Greek New Testament, 4th Revised Edition, reads Luk 1:28 as follows:

Kai <and> eiselthon <having gone in> pros <to> auten <her> eipen <he said>, chaire <Greetings, or Be full of joy>, kecharitomene <one having been favored>, ho <the> kurios <Lord> meta <with> sou <you>.

The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the leading non-sectarian Bible, correctly reads:

And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.

The New American Bible (NAB), the standard Roman Catholic Bible used in America, reads:

And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.

The New Jersulem Bible (NJB), another modern English Roman Catholic Bible, reads:

He went in and said to her, "Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.

Whereas, the KJV, in this verse completely consistent with the Vulgate, reads (with the incorrect additions in brackets and crossed out):

And [the angel] came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: [blessed art thou among women].

The Latin Vulgate reads (with the incorrect additions in brackets and crossed out):

et ingressus [angelus] ad eam dixit have gratia plena Dominus tecum [benedicta tu in mulieribus]

Bruce M. Metzger, representing the unanimous conclusions of the UBS Greek New Testament Editorial Committee in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (NY: UBS, 1994, page 108) documents the correctness of the shorter reading (as illustrated by the NRSV, NAB, and NJB):

Although many witnesses (including A [Codex Alexandrinus], C [Codex Ephraemi], D [Codex Koridethi] and most minuscules, followed by the Textus Receptus) read after sou [you] the words eulogemene su en gunaizin [you are blessed among women], it is probable that copyists inserted them here from ver. 42, where they are firmly attested. If the clause had been original in the present verse, there is no adequate reason why it should have been omitted from a wide diversity of early witnesses (including [Codex Sinaiticus], B [Codex Vaticanus], L [Codex Regius], W [Codex W], [Codex Athous Laurae], [and many other important Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, and other manuscripts]...)

The King James Version errors in Luk 1:28 are based upon the so-called Textus Receptus. (For a history of the Textus Receptus, browse: Sometime during the transmission of Luk 1:28, copyists added two different phrases that appear translated in the KJV as "the angel" and "blessed art thou among women."

Erasmus, the original editor of what became known as the Textus Receptus, relied upon very few Greek manuscripts, all of which were quite late in date and not very reliable -- especially as compared with the thousands of manuscripts available today. He sometimes deferred to the Latin Vulgate, especially where he had no Greek manuscript from which to provide the Greek text for a particular verse. (He especially used the Vulgate in Revelation, where in some cases he translated entire verses from Latin to Greek.) Copyists sometimes added words to the text that originally were marginal notes handwritten by clergy and theologicans at various times.

By the way, I have found much of today's Roman Catholic biblical scholarship to be quite exemplary in its methodologies and translations -- much more reliable than Jerome's Latin Vulgate, which is no longer the Roman Catholic basis for translations. The NAB is my favorite word-for-word English Bible, and the New Jerome Biblical Commentary is one of the two best one-volume commentaries in the English language. Catholic scholars' Ray Brown's and Rudolf Schnackenburg's commentaries on the Gospel of John are also excellent. (For reviews of biblical research materials, browse: .)


Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer