This is St Jerome’s prologue to the Twelve Prophets, or Twelve Minor Prophets as they’re often called, because these books are shorter relative to the books of the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It’s a very short prologue, but there are two items of interest in it. One is that St Jerome mentions that “the Hebrews” of his day considered Malachi to be Ezra. I don’t think I’d ever read that before, so it was a pleasant surprise. The other interesting thing is that St Jerome considered the Twelve Prophets to be chronologically arranged (which I do too, great, somewhat curmudgeonly minds thinking alike), and that the books which don’t include dating indications can be dated after those who do. And now, I think my introduction to the prologue has now come to more words than are actually in it, so with no further ado, here it is. Enjoy!
[See also the final draft version of this translation, on this page]
BEGINNING OF THE PROLOGUE OF THE TWELVE PROPHETS
The order of the Twelve Prophets is not the same among the Hebrews as it is among us. For which reason, according to how it is read there, they are also arranged here. Hosea is composed of short clauses and speaking as though by aphorisms. Joel is clear in the beginning, more obscure at the end. And they each have their individual properties up to Malachi, who the Hebrews name Ezra the scribe and teacher of the Law. And because it is too long to speak of all these things now, I would only you were warned this, O Paula and Eustochium: the book of the Twelve Prophets to be one; and Hosea a contemporary (συνχρονος) of Isaiah; (and) Malachi in fact to have been of the times of Haggai and Zechariah. And those (books) in which the time is not set down in the title, under those kings which they were to have prophesied under, they also prophesied after those which have titles.
END OF THE PROLOGUE