Jerome’s Prologue to Ezra

[See also the final draft version of this translation, on this page]


Whether it may be more difficult to do or not to do what you have requested, I have not yet established. For it is also not my desire to refuse your commands, and the greatness of weight imposed thus press upon the neck, so that before a falling under the bundle, there might rather be a lightening (of the load). The efforts of the envious agree with this, who consider all that I write reproof, with conscience occasionally fighting against them, publicly tearing apart what they read secretly, to such a degree that I am compelled to cry out and to say: “O Lord, free my soul from crooked lips and a false tongue” (Ps 119.2). It is the third year that you always write and write again, that I might translate the book of Ezra for you from Hebrew, as though you do not have the Greek and Latin scrolls, or whatever it is which is translated by us might not be something immediately spat upon by all. As a certain person says, “For to strive without effort, and not to seek anything by wearying except hatred, is extreme insanity” (Sallust, Jugurtha 3). Therefore, I implore you, my dearest Domnius and Rogatian, that, keeping the reading private, you will not bring the book forth into the public, nor throw food to the fastidious, and you will avoid the pride of them who know only (how) to judge others, and themselves (know how) to do nothing. And if there are any of the brothers whom we do not displease, give the text to them, admonishing that they transcribe the Hebrew names, of which there is a great abundance in this book, separately and with intermediate spaces. For it will profit nothing to correct the book, without diligence being preserved in the correction of the copiers.

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