The Vulgate is a very reliable early translation of the NT and Jerome renders the phrase "de verbo vitae" in the Latin
I'm not familiar with the grammatical changes that happened in NT times, but I don't think it'd be grammatically correct
to take it as apposition. If it were, the preposition would be most likely repeated.
The Old Latin texts are somewhat sparse, most of what we have are the gospels. The problem with the Old Latin versions is that they were 'unauthorized' versions. Basically, anyone with some knowledge of both Latin and Greek could make a translation, and there were various Latin versions floating around (pieces, not complete Bibles). The translations were not done with any scholarly rigor and many of them have bad grammar and slang terms. Augustine himself complained about the poor quality of the Latin versions in his time (Jerome was working on the Vulgate during Augustine's lifetime). Jerome was commissioned to produce the Vulgate for this very reason, to have a reliable Latin version. I think that maybe you're misinterpreting Metzger's analysis. It is not just that there are variants compared with the Vulgate, but that there are countless variants among the Old Latin versions themselves. I think Metzger mentions the numerous variants in the Old Latin to establish the fact that they are unreliable and should not be used, not to suggest that we should analyze them for insights into the text. So, the Vulgate is our best resource amongst the Latin versions for determining the original Greek readings, and also matters of interpretation such as this.
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