The Prophet Jeremiah, for whom this prologue is written, was seen among the Hebrews to be certainly more rustic in language than Isaiah and Hosea and certain other prophets, but equal in meanings, which the same Spirit obviously prophesied. Furthermore, his simplicity of speech happened from the place in which he was born. For he was from Anathoth, which is up to today a village three miles distant from Jerusalem, a priest from priests and sanctified in his mother’s womb, dedicating with her virginity a man of the Gospel to the Church of Christ.1 This boy began to prophesy the captivity of the city and Judea both not only by the Spirit, but also saw it with eyes of flesh. The Assyrians had already transferred the ten tribes of Israel among the Medes, and now colonies of the nations had taken possession of their lands. For this reason he prophesied only in Judah and Benjamin, and he lamented the ruins of his city in a fourfold alphabet,2 which we have presented in the measure of the meter and in verses. Besides this, the order of visions, which is entirely confused among the Greeks and Latins,3 we have corrected to the original truth. And the Book of Baruch, his scribe, which is neither read nor found among the Hebrews, we have omitted, standing ready, because of these things, for all the curses from the envious, to whom it is necessary for me to respond through a separate short work. And I suffer this because you request it. Otherwise, for the benefit of the wicked, it was more proper to set a limit for their rage by my silence, rather than any new things written to provoke daily the insanity of the jealous.


1 While this sounds unusual, it was common in the Patristic period to refer to the Old Testament Israel as the Church, with the Lord of the Old Testament identified with the Lord in the New, Jesus Christ. The reference to the Gospel is related to the number of prophecies in Jeremiah which were considered pointing toward Christ.
2 This refers to the alphabetic acrostics found in the first four chapters of Lamentations, traditionally ascribed, as here, to Jeremiah.
3 The Greek and Old Latin translations of Jeremiah differ in being somewhat shorter than the Masoretic Text, but being much differently arranged. While Jerome seems to have considered this an effect of textual corruption, perfectly understandably, it is in fact due to a difference in the underlying Hebrew text used for the LXX translation, from which in turn the Old Latin was translated. The confirmation for the existence of this alternate edition of Jeremiah in Hebrew is from the Dead Sea Scrolls, 4QJerb, d. It likely represents an earlier arrangement of the chapters than the Masoretic Text.

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

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