Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: The accusation about a mistranslation of Ps. ii is easily explained.
19. I am told that he also carps at me for the translation I have given of a phrase in the Second Psalm. In the Latin it p. 493 stands: “Learn discipline,” in the Hebrew it is written Nescu Bar; and I have given it in my commentary, Adore the Son; and then, when I translated the whole Psalter into the Latin language, as if I had forgotten my previous explanation, I put “Worship purely.” No one can deny, of course, that these interpretations are contrary to each other; and we must pardon him for being ignorant of the Hebrew writing when he is so often at a loss even in Latin. Nescu, translated literally, is Kiss. I wished not to give a distasteful rendering, and preferring to follow the sense, gave the word Worship; for those who worship are apt to kiss their hands and to bare their heads, as is to be seen in the case of Job who declares that he has never done either of these things, 3040 and says 3041 “If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart rejoiced in secret and I kissed my hand with my mouth, which is a very great iniquity, and a lie to the most high God.” The Hebrews, according to the peculiarity of their language use this word Kiss for adoration; and therefore I translated according to the use of those whose language I was dealing with. The word Bar, however in Hebrew has several meanings. It means Son, as in the words Barjona (son of a dove) Bartholomew (son of Tholomæus), Bartimæus, Barjesus, Barabbas. It also means Wheat, and A sheaf of corn, and Elect and Pure. What sin have I committed, then, when a word is thus uncertain in its meaning, if I have rendered it differently in different places? and if, after taking the sense “Worship the Son” in my Commentary, where there is more freedom of discussion, I said “Worship purely” or “electively” in my version of the Bible itself, so that I should not be thought to translate capriciously or give grounds for cavil on the part of the Jews. This last rendering, moreover, is that of Aquila and Symmachus: and I cannot see that the faith of the church is injured by the reader being shewn in how many different ways a verse is translated by the Jews.
To the elements of nature, or the idols.493:3041
Job 31:26, 28
Next: In the difficulties of the translator and the commentator we must get help where we can.
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