In this preface, too, St Jerome makes mention of the authority of the Church, in this case literally the famous First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, as declaring Judith among the books of Holy Scripture. In fact, he also mentions that “among the Hebrews” the book was considered as among the “Hagiographa,” some would say a somewhat flexible term, which in the previous prologue (to Tobias), he certainly seems to have equated with the Scriptures. If this is the case, then at one point in history, in the late 4th century, Judith was considered by at least some Jews in Palestine to have been Scripture. He does, however, in that very first sentence note that even though it is considered an “accepted” book, this is considered to have no bearing on the status of other books. Interesting. Enjoy!
[See also the final draft version of this translation, on this page]
BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE TO JUDITH
Among the Hebrews the Book of Judith is found among the Hagiographa, the authority of which toward confirming those which have come into contention is judged less appropriate. Yet having been written in Chaldean words, it is counted among the histories. But because this book is found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures, I have acquiesced to your request, indeed a demand, and works having been set aside from which I was forcibly curtailed, I have given to this (book) one short night’s work translating more sense from sense than word from word. I have removed the extremely faulty variety of the many books; only those which I was able to find in the Chaldean words with understanding intact did I express in Latin ones.
Receive the widow Judith, an example of chastity, and declare triumphal honor with perpetual praises for her. For this one, imitable not only for women, but also for men, has the Rewarder of her chastity given, Who has granted such strength, that she conquered the one unconquered by all men, she surpassed the insurpassable.
END OF THE PROLOGUE