Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Incipit prologus Iudith

St. Jerome translated the deuterocanonical Book of Judith, like Tobit, from Aramaic into Latin during the first decade of the fifth century. The following is my translation of Jerome’s preface to his version of Judith. It is based on the Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate (ed. R. Weber, 4th edition, 1994, p. 691).
Among the Hebrews the book of Judith is read among the Agiografa; whose authority is considered less suitable for the confirmation of those things that come into contention. Nevertheless, having been written in Chaldean speech, it is reckoned among the histories. But because the Nicene Synod is read to have reckoned this book in the number of holy Scriptures, I have assented to your request, nay, demand, and having set aside occupations by which I was being violently squeezed, I have given to this one a single night, translating sense for sense rather than word for word. I have eradicated the terrible variety of the many codices; only that which I could find in Chaldean words with complete comprehension did I express in Latin words.
Take up the widow Judith, an example of chastity, and with perpetual proclamations acclaim her in triumphal praise. For he has given her as a model not only to women, but also to men, and he, the rewarder of her chastity, has provided such power that she overcame the one not overcome by anyone, and conquered the unconquerable.
Explicit prologus

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