Collection of Letters: Detail
Jeremiah the prophet, about whom this prologue is written, seems to be more rustic than Isaiah and Hosea and certain other prophets among the Hebrews, but he is equal to them in sense, indeed he prophesied with the same spirit. The simplicity of his speech occurs from the place he was born. For he was from Anathoth, to this day a small village, three miles from Jerusalem, a priest from priests and sanctified in the womb of his mother, dedicating the evangelical man by his virginity to the church of Christ. Here the boy began to prophesy and he saw the captivity of the city and of Judaea not only in spirit but with the fleshly eye. The Assyians had already transferred ten tribes of Israel to the Medes, the colonies of pagans already possessed their lands. Whence he prophesied only on Judah and Benjamin, and he lamented the ruins of his city in a fourfold alphabet which we have rendered in verses of measure and metre. Moreover we have corrected the order of Visions which is altogether confused among the Greeks and the Latins to its pristine faith. The book of Baruch, his scribe, however, which the Hebrews neither have nor read, we have omitted. I expect curses from the envious for all these things, to which I have to respond in separate works. And I suffer this because you compel it. Otherwise to spare evil, it would be better to cut off their rage with my silence than daily to provoke the madness of the envious by writing something new.
Jeremias propheta, cui hic prologus scribitur, sermone quidem apud Hebraeos Isaia et Osee et quibusdam aliis prophetis videtur esse rusticior, sed sensibus par est: quippe qui eodem spiritu prophetaverit. Porro simplicitas eloquii, de loco ei in quo natus est accidit. Fuit enim Anathothites, qui est usque hodie viculus, tribus ab Jerosolymis distans millibus; sacerdos ex sacerdotibus, et in matris utero sanctificatus: virginitate sua evangelicum virum Christi Ecclesiae dedicans. Hic vaticinari exorsus est puer: et captivitatem urbis atque Judaeae, non solum spiritu, sed et oculis carnis intuitus est. Jam decem tribus Israel Assyrii in Medos transtulerant: jam terras earum, coloniae gentium possidebant. Unde in Juda tantum, et in Benjamin prophetavit: et civitatis suae ruinas quadruplici planxit alphabeto, quod nos mensurae metri versibusque reddidimus. Praeterea ordinem Visionum, qui apud Graecos et Latinos omnino confusus est, ad pristinam fidem correximus. Librum autem Baruch, notarii ejus, qui apud Hebraeos nec legitur, nec habetur, praetermisimus: pro his omnibus maledicta ab aemulis praestolantes, quibus me necesse est per singula opuscula respondere. Et hoc patior, quia vos cogitis. Caeterum ad compendium mali, rectius fuerat modum furori eorum silentio meo ponere, quam quotidie novi aliquid scriptitantem invidorum insaniam provocare.
Jerome continues to do the translations Paula and Eustochium have requested, although he seems to be disgusted by the continuous attacks on him for what he presents as careful scholarship.
Praefatio Hieronymi in Librum Jeremiam, PL28 c.847-850.