Jerome’s Prologue to Ezekiel

There’s not much to say about this prologue, as it’s pretty straightforward. Near the end, St Jerome sarcastically calls his detractors “friends.” And there’s Greek in this one, too! Enjoy!

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

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BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE TO THE PROPHET EZEKIEL

The Prophet Ezekiel was led captive with Joachin king of Judah to Babylon, and he prophesied there to those who were captives with him, to those repenting that they had willingly handed over the prophecy of Jeremiah to enemies, and yet saw the city Jerusalem to stand, which he had predicted would fall. And in his thirtieth year of age, and in the fifth year of the captivity, he began to speak to his fellow captives. And at the same time, though later, this one in Chaldea and Jeremiah in Judea prophesied. His style is neither greatly eloquent nor excessively rustic, but properly proportioned between both. And he was a priest, as also was Jeremiah, the beginning and ending of the book being wrapped in great obscurities. But also the common edition of him does not differ much from the Hebrew one. Because of that I greatly wonder what was the cause, that when we have the same translators in all the books, in some they translated the same things, in others, different things. Therefore, read this also according to our translation because, by being written in words with spaces, it gives a clearer meaning to readers. And if my friends also mock this, say to them that no one restrains them from writing. But I do not respect him who follows them, which is more clearly said in Greek, as they are called insult-swallowers (φαγολοιδοροι).

END OF THE PROLOGUE

Jerome’s Prologue to Jeremiah

A couple of notes on this prologue by St Jerome to Jeremiah are in order. He mentions that Jeremiah “lamented the ruins of his city in fourfold alphabet,” civitatis suae ruinas quadruplici plaxit alfabeto. This is a reference to the acrostic first four chapters of Lamentations, in which each verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, thus “in a fourfold alphabet.” Another perhaps puzzling reference just after that is to his presenting the book “in the measure of the meter and in verses.” This refers to his breaking the verses into separate lines based upon metrical measurements, probably according to the Hebrew, and written with separation of verses and words. Basically think of the way that poetry is printed today, in short lines that take no notice of the width of the page, and that’s what he’s describing. If I find a picture of one of the early Vulgate manuscripts reflecting this, I’ll post it. St Jerome also mentions a confusion of the order of the visions in Jeremiah as known among the Greeks and Latins. This refers to the very different (and probably original) arrangment of the prophecies as found in the Septuagint and is supported by a Dead Sea Scroll fragment, so we know that there were Hebrew manuscripts with this order, which Jerome did not. Anyhow, in the meantime, enjoy yet another prologue. There aren’t many left now! Once I’ve done all of them, I’ll go back through to edit them and then post them all on a single page, with notes and such.

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

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BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE OF JEROME TO THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET JEREMIAH

The Prophet Jeremiah, for whom this prologue is written, was seen among the Hebrews to be certainly more rustic in style than Isaiah and Hosea and certain other prophets, but equal in meanings, which the same Spirit obviously prophesied. Furthermore, his simplicity of speech happened from the place in which he was born. For he was from Anathoth, which is up to today a village three miles distant from Jerusalem, a priest from priests and sanctified in his mother’s womb, dedicating with her virginity a man of the Gospel to the Church of Christ. This boy began to prophesy the captivity of the city and Judea both not only by the Spirit, but also with eyes of flesh. The Assyrians had already transferred the ten tribes of Israel, and now colonies of gentiles had taken possession of their lands. For this reason he prophesied only in Judah and Benjamin, and he lamented the ruins of his city in a fourfold alphabet, which we have presented in the measure of the meter and in verses. Besides this, the order of visions, which is entirely confused among the Greeks and Latins, we have corrected to the original truth. And the Book of Baruch, his scribe, which is neither read nor found among the Hebrews, we have omitted, standing ready, because of these things, for all the curses from the jealous, to whom it is necessary for me to respond through a separate short work. And I suffer because you think this. Otherwise, for the benefit of the wicked, it was more proper to set a limit for their rage by my silence, rather than any new things written to provoke daily the insanity of the envious.

END OF THE PROLOGUE

Jerome’s Prologue to Isaiah

St Jerome’s preface here to Isaiah is very interesting for its mention of the way in which he wrote ir out: with spaces between the words. While this is natural for us, it was not the way writing was done in those days. The addition of the spaces was also mentioned in his prologue to Chronicles, where it was especially necessary to keep separate all the many Hebrew names in transliteration, which Latins and Greeks were always mixing up, not knowing Hebrew. His mention of the prophecies of Isaiah covering “all the mysteries of Christ and the Church” is entirely intriguing, and it would be nice to have had more on that subject, but here we are. Enjoy!

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

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BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE OF JEROME TO THE PROPHET ISAIAH

No one, when he will have seen the Prophets to be written in verses, would think them to be bound in meter among the Hebrews, and to have anything in common with the Psalms or the works of Solomon. But what is customary to be used in Demosthenes and Cicero, as they are written in words with divisions, who certainly wrote prose and not in verses, we also, providing ease of reading, have divided a new translation with a new kind of writing. And first, knowing of Isaiah what is presented in his speech, certainly as a man noble and of urbane elegance he does not have anything of rusticity mixed into (his) speech. For this reason it happens that in comparison with others the translation was not able to preserve the flower of his speech. And then adding this, that it is being spoken not only by a prophet, but by an evangelist. For thus all the mysteries of Christ and the Church are pursued to clarity, so that you would not think them to be prophesied of the future, but they covered the history of things past. For this reason I suppose the Seventy interpreters to have been unwilling at that that time to set forth clearly for the gentiles the sacraments of their faith, not throwing holy things to dogs or pearls to swine, which things, when you will have read this edition, you will note were hidden by them.

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