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These versions become corrupted and others are added, until by the 4th century - in the words of St Jerome, the leading biblical scholar of the time - there are 'almost as many texts as manuscripts'.In 382 the pope, Damasus, commissions Jerome to provide a definitive Latin version.

For the Jews of Alexandria, in the 3rd century BC, Greek is the first language.When it comes to the Psalms, Origen adds a further two versions.One of them is the text of a scroll which he has himself discovered in a jar in the valley of the Jordan - exactly as with the Dead Sea Scrolls in our own time.He even devises a new alphabet to capture accurately the sounds of spoken Gothic, using a total of twenty-seven letters adapted from examples in the Greek and Roman alphabets. He needs the alphabet for his translation of the Bible from Greek into the language of the Goths.It is not known how much he completes, but large sections of the Gospels and the Epistles survive in his version - dating from several years before Jerome begins work on his Latin text.

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