Document: Translation of the Book of Judith
Incipit: Apud Hebraeos
Addressee: Chromatius and Heliodorus
Date: 407
Latin Text: R. Weber and B. Gryson, eds., Biblia sacra: iuxta Vulgatam versionem (Stuttgart 1994). [text provided by Douay-Rheims Bible Online]
English Translation (Preface Only): Translated by Kevin P. Edgecomb (see below.)
Notes: This was eventually incorporated into the Vulgate.

Jerome’s Preface to his Translation of the Book of Judith*

Among the Hebrews the Book of Judith is found1 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 Council2 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 work3 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 has the Rewarder of her chastity given as imitable not only for women but also for men, Who granted her such strength, that she conquered the one unconquered by all men, she surpassed the insurpassable.


1 Or “read” legitur
2 That is, the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325. Unfortunately the Acts for this Council are lost, and we have only the list of canons promulgated by the Council, none of which actually mention the Biblical canon. Obviously, the implication here is that Jerome’s interlocutors were aware of a positive evaluation of Judith in this respect which is since lost to us.
3 Literally, “little lamp” lucubratiunculum, an idiom connoting the amount of work possible to be done in a night by the light of a single very small oil lamp which is not refilled. That is to say Jerome did not spend very much time on this at all.

*We thank Kevin Edgecomb for permission to publish his translation on our page.

Jerome Abbreviations

Back to Scripture Translations of Jerome

Back to Writings of Jerome

Created by JRZ

Updated 2/25/2014, MS

No Responses yet