Thursday, September 30, 2010

ad laudem Hieronymi

Is it merely coincidental that Google added Latin to its automated translation service precisely on the feast of the great biblical translator, St. Jerome?  I've actually been hoping for something like this to help me navigate blocks of text that are just too much for my two years of high school Latin to cope with.
Would that Jerome had it so easy!  Not that he started out to translate the whole bible; he was just supposed to rework the extant Latin versions into something accessible (and reliable). As he got deeper and deeper into the project, though, Jerome couldn't bring himself to stop. He betook himself to the Holy Land. There a rabbi taught the scholar of Ciceronian Latin biblical Hebrew, and Jerome tackled the whole of the Hebrew scriptures. In the process, he became the first scripture scholar in the modern sense--applying critical tools to his work, and insisting on working from the original languages (Aramaic, too).
With all that Jerome did to make the Bible available to the ordinary reader (and following on the Pew Forum's findings about American religious knowledge), I wonder how much we actually read the Bible. I know that for myself, I tend to focus especially on the liturgical readings. Many times my daily portion of Scripture is what the Church hand-feeds me in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. But that's really not adequate. What about you?
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