Jerome’s Prologue to Psalms (LXX)

St Jerome did two separate translations of the Psalms. One was simply a revision of the popular Old Latin psalms (which are still used in some older rites, most notably the Ambrosian, I recall), with reference to the Greek Psalms version in the Hexapla. This is the prologue to that edition of the Psalms. The other version, based directly on the Hebrew Psalms, will follow separately.

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

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BEGINNING OF THE PREFACE OF EUSEBIUS HIERONYMUS TO THE BOOK OF PSALMS

Not long ago while located in Rome, I emended the Psalter, and had corrected it, though cursorily, for the most part according to the (version of the) Seventy interpreters. Because you see it again, O Paula and Eustochium, corrupted by the error of the scribes, and the more ancient error to prevail rather than the new emendation, you urge that I work the land like some kind of field already ploughed, and uproot with sideways furrows the thorns being reborn, saying it is proper that what so frequently sprouts badly is just as frequently cut down. For this reason I remind by my usual preface, both you for whom this mighty work exerts itself, and those who would have copies of such, that those things to have been diligently emended might be transcribed with care and diligence. Each may himself note either a horizontal line or a radiant sign, that is, either an obelus or an asterisk, and wherever he sees a preceding virgule, from there to the two points which we have marked in, he knows more is to be found in the (version of the) Seventy interpreters; and where he has looked at the image of a star, he will have recognized an addition from the Hebrew scrolls, likewise up to the two points, only according to the edition of Theodotion who did not differ from the Seventy interpreters in simplicity of speech. I, knowing me to have done this for you and for each studious person, do not doubt there will be many who, either envious or arrogant, “prefer to be seen to condemn the brilliant rather than to learn,” and to drink from a turbulent river much rather than from an entirely pure spring.

END OF THE PREFACE

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4 Responses to Jerome’s Prologue to Psalms (LXX)

  1. Thank you Kevin. These two Pslams prologues show me again that the web can be used to build God’s Kingdom. Thanks for continuing Jerome’s translating task. Grace & Peace.

  2. You’re very welcome, Cyril. I do try!

  3. Rob Flammang says:

    Thanks Kevin,

    You mentioned the old Latin Version, a variant of which is used in the Ambrosian rite. In addition to the Ambrosian, the Old Latin psalms are to this day still used in the Roman Missal, although Jerome’s Gallican psalter mostly replaced them in the Roman Breviary. (As of recently, the Breviary psalms come from the Nova Vulgata, unless one uses an older, but still allowed, Breviary.)

    • Thank you, Rob, for that! Now it makes sense of when I’ve seen people discussing the “Grail Psalms” in the Roman Breviary translations. I’m a fan of St Jerome’s “Gallican” Psalms. They’re a delight. You should see the mess in that Ambrosian Missal, though. Some few of the texts are of some obscure version that doesn’t even exist anymore.

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