Jerome’s Prologue to Psalms (Hebrew)

This is the preface St Jerome wrote to accompany his translation of the Psalms from the Hebrew. He apparently wasn’t too entirely sure of his success in this, as seems to be implied at a couple of points in this letter, which shows St Jerome to have had both a humble and a humorous streak which hasn’t been entirely evident in the other prefaces. I think it helps to put those into a better light, as well. Most interesting is what he says about this translation’s origins, as specifically designed to reflect the Hebrew for the sake of apologetics, while other translations have their place in being read in the churches. Of course, it’s the other version of the Psalms, based on the LXX, which were so popular and so ubiquitous before the modern craze of translating from Hebrew came along. St Jerome is explicit in that he wouldn’t have had a problem with that. Enjoy!

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

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BEGINNING OF ANOTHER PREFACE OF THE SAME

Eusebius Hieronymus to his Sophronius, health!

I know some to think the Psalter to be divided into five books, as though wherever among the (version of the) Seventy interpreters is written γενοιτο γενοιτο, that is, “may it be, may it be,” for which in Hebrew is said “amen amen,” is the end of the books. And we, the authority of the Hebrews being followed, and especially of the Apostles, who always in the New Testament name the Book of Psalms, have asserted one volume. We also testify of all the authors who are set down in the titles of their psalms, namely of David, and of Asaph, and of Jeduthun, of the Sons of Korah, of Heman the Ezraite, of Moses, and of Solomon, and of the rest, which Ezra compiled into one volume. For if amen, for which Aquila translated “trustworthy” (πεπιστωμενος), is only placed at the end of books and not sometimes wither at the beginning or at the end of either words or sentences, then both the Savior never said in the Gospel, “Amen, amen, I say to you,” and the letters of Paul (never) contained it in the middle work, also Moses, and Jeremiah, and others in this way had many books, who in the middle of their books frequently interposed amen, as also the number of twenty-two Hebrew books and the mystery of the same number will be changed. For also its Hebrew title, Sephar Thallim, which is interpreted “Scroll of Hymns,” agreeing with the Apostolic authority, shows not many books, but one volume.

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