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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VI:
Prefaces.: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of...

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.

Dedicated to Chromatius and Heliodorus, a.d. 393. The Preface is important as showing the help given to Jerome by his friends, the rapidity of his work, and his view of the Apocrypha. We give the two chief passages.

It is well that my letter should couple those who are coupled in the episcopate; and that I should not separate on paper those who are bound in one by the law of Christ. I would have written the commentaries on Hosea, Amos, Zechariah, and the Kings, which you ask of me, if I had not been prevented by illness. You give me comfort by the supplies you send me; you support my secretaries and copyists, so that the efforts of all my powers may be given to you. And then all at once comes a thick crowd of people with all sorts of demands, as if it was just that I should neglect your hunger and work for others, or as if, in the matter of giving and receiving, I had a debt to any one but you. And so, though I am broken by a long illness, yet, not to be altogether silent and dumb amongst you this year, I have dedicated to you three days’ work, that is to say, the translation of the three books of Solomon.

After speaking of the books of the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus, which were sent at the same time, the Preface continues:

As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church. If any one is better pleased with the edition of the Seventy, there it is, long since corrected by me. For it is not our aim in producing the new to destroy the old. And yet if our friend reads carefully, he will find that our version is the more intelligible, for it has not turned sour by being poured three times over into different vessels, but has been drawn straight from the press, and stored in a clean jar, and has thus preserved its own flavour.


Next: Isaiah.

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