Expositio super Isaiam ad litteramLiteral Exposition on the Prophet IsaiahPrologusPrologueScribe visum et explana eum super tabulas ut percurrat qui legerit eum, quia adhuc visus procul et apparebit in finem.Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets: that he who reads it may run through it. For as yet the vision is far off, but it shall appear at the end.Habacuc 2:2–3Habakkuk 2:2–31. Ex verbis istis tria possunt accipi circa librum Isaiae prophetae quem prae manibus habemus, scilicet auctor, modus et materia.1. From these words, we can understand three things about the book of the prophet Isaiah, which we have at hand: the author, the manner, and the subject matter.Circa primum tria ponuntur, scilicet auctor, auctoris minister et ministri officium sive donum.Regarding the first, three things are set out, namely: the author, the author’s minister, and the minister’s office or gift.Auctor ostenditur in dicentis imperio, unde praemittitur Respondit mihi Dominus et dixit: Scribe visum etc. Auctor enim Scripturae sacrae Spiritus Sanctus est, infra XLVIII 16 Nunc misit me Dominus etc., II Petri I 21 Non enim voluntate humana etc.; Spiritus enim loquitur mysteria, sicut dicitur I Cor. XIV 2.The author is shown in the authority of the speaker; hence it says, and the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision. For the author of Holy Scripture is the Holy Spirit, as it says below: now the Lord God has sent me, and his spirit (48:16); for prophecy never came by the will of man, but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21); for it is the Spirit who speaks mysteries (1 Cor 14:2).Minister ostenditur in scribentis actu; dicit enim Scribe: fuit autem lingua prophetae organum Spiritus Sancti, sicut in Ps. dicitur Lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis, et I Cor. III 4-5 Quid igitur est Apollo? quid vero Paulus? ministri ejus cui credidistis.The minister is shown in the act of writing, for he says, write. The tongue of the prophet was an organ of the Holy Spirit, as is said in Psalm 44:2[45:1]: my tongue is the pen of a scribe who writes swiftly; and: what then is Apollo and what is Paul? The ministers of him whom you have believed (1 Cor 3:4).Officium vero ministri ostenditur in visionis privilegio, dicit enim visum; Qui enim hodie dicitur propheta olim vocabatur videns, sicut I Regum IX 9 dicitur, et Num. XII 6 Si quis fuerit inter vos propheta Domini in visione apparebo ei vel per somnium loquar ad illum. Sic igitur patet auctor.The office of the minister is shown in the privilege of the vision, for it says, the vision, as it says in 1 Samuel 9:9: for he who is now called a prophet, in time past was called a seer; and in Numbers 12:6: if there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream. Thus, therefore, the author is clear.2. Sed modus ostenditur in hoc quod sequitur et explana. Modus enim istius prophetiae planus est et apertus; unde, ut dicitur in Prologo, non videtur vaticinari de futuris sed magis de praeteritis historiam texere.2. The manner is shown in what follows, and make it plain. For this prophet’s manner of writing is plain and open. Hence, as is said in the Prologue [of Jerome], he seems to be not prophesying about the future, but rather composing an account of past events.Et circa hoc tria ponuntur: visionis explanatio, explanationis ratio et utilitas consequens.In regard to the manner of writing, three things are set out: namely, the explanation of the vision, the reason for the explanation and the benefit that follows.Primum ostenditur in hoc quod dicit explana eum. Explanatur autem ab eo visus sive visio tribus modis: primo per similitudinis adaptationem, secundo per sententiae expressionem, tertio per verborum venustatem; et in his tribus iste propheta alios excellit prophetas.The first is shown where it is said, make it plain. He makes plain what he has seen, or the vision, in three ways: first, through the use of similitudes; second, through the expression of thought; third, through the beauty of his words. And in these three ways this prophet surpasses the other prophets.Ponit enim pulchras et curiales similitudines, quae quidem sunt necessariae nobis propter connaturalitatem sensus ad rationem: est enim naturale rationi nostrae accipere a sensibilibus, unde perspicacius capit ea quorum similia ad sensum videt; unde Dionysius in Epistola ad Titum secunda demonstrat hoc, scilicet quod necessariae sunt sensibiles figurae in Scripturis Quicumque plana cum audierint in se ipsis componunt figuram quamdam ad intellectum theologiae ipsos manuducentem, et Osee XII 10 In manibus prophetarum assimilatus sum.For he sets out beautiful and courtly similitudes, which indeed are necessary for us, because of the connaturality of sense to reason: for it is natural for our reason to receive from sensible objects; hence, it more clearly grasps things whose likenesses it sees by the senses. Hence Dionysius in his second Letter to Titus shows this, namely, that sensible figures are necessary in the Scriptures: all those who hear plain things, weave in themselves a certain figure, which conducts them to an understanding of theology, and: I have used similitudes by the hands of the prophets (Hos 12:10).Excellit etiam in expressione sententiae, ut videatur non prophetiam sed evangelium texere, ut dicitur in Prologo galeato; unde dictum est sibi, infra XL 9 Exalta vocem tuam, noli timere, dic civitatibus Judae etc.Isaiah also excels in the expression of thought, so that he seems to compose not a prophecy, but a Gospel, as is said in the Helmeted Prologue. Thus it is said to him below: lift up thy voice, fear not. Say to the cities of Judah (40:9).Excellit etiam in verborum venustate sicut vir nobilis et urbanae eloquentiae, ut dicitur in Prologo 2, Prov. XV 2 Lingua sapientium ornat scientiam.He also excels in beauty of words as a man of noble and urbane eloquence, as Jerome says in the Prologue; the tongue of the wise adorns knowledge (Prov 15:2).3. Sed hujus explanationis tangitur consequenter ratio cum dicit super tabulas. Sunt enim tabulae legis, sunt tabulae lapidei cordis et sunt tabulae mollis et carnei cordis, II Cor. III 2-3 Epistola nostra vos estis, scripta non in tabulis lapideis sed in tabulis cordis carnalibus.3. After this the reason for this explanation is touched on, when it says, upon tablets. For there are the tables of the law, there are tables of a stony heart, and there are tables of a soft and fleshly heart: you are our epistle . . . written not in tables of stone but in the fleshly tables of the heart (2 Cor 3:2–3).Primae tabulae legis scriptae fuerunt digito Dei, sicut dicitur Exo. XXXI, et ideo scriptura profunda et obscura et plena multis mysteriis, unde oportuit superscribi illis tabulis digito hominis planam prophetiam ad explanandum, infra VIII 1 Sume tibi librum grandem et scribe in eo stylo hominis.The first tables of the law were written by the finger of God, as is said in Exodus 31:18, and therefore Scripture is profound and obscure and filled with many mysteries. Thus it was necessary for plain prophecy to be written upon these tables by the finger of man to explain them, as it says below: take a large book, and write in it with a man’s pen (8:1).Sed secundis tabulis, scilicet cordibus lapideis, superscribi oportuit plane ad confutandum, Matth. XV 7-8 Bene prophetavit de vobis Isaias dicens: Populus hic labiis me honorat, cor autem eorum longe est a me.But it was necessary to write plainly on the second tables, the stony hearts, in order to confound them: well has Isaiah prophesied of you, saying: this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me (Matt 15:7–8).Sed tertiis tabulis, scilicet cordibus carnalibus, oportuit plane superscribi ad instruendum, Esdrae VIII Signate in libro Dei distincte et aperte ad intelligendum, et sequitur et intellexerunt cum legeretur.But it was necessary to write on the third tables, the fleshly hearts, in order to instruct them: mark in the book of God distinctly and plainly to be understood, and it continues: and they understood when it was read (Neh 8:8).4. Utilitas autem explanationis ostenditur in hoc quod sequitur ut percurrat. Percurrere enim est expedite in finem currendo devenire. Est autem finis triplex, scilicet finis legis, finis praecepti et finis vitae:4. The benefit of the explanation, however, is shown in that which follows: that he may run through it. For to run through is to come to the end quickly by running. The end, however, is threefold: the end of the law, the end of the commandment, and the end of life.Finis legis Christus est ad justitiam omni credenti, sicut dicitur ad Ro. X 4; Finis praecepti caritas est, I ad Tim. I 5; finis vitae mors est, Matth. XXI Qui perseveraverit usque in finem hic salvus erit. Dicit ergo ut percurrat qui legerit, ac si dicat: ut qui legerit sine impedimento dubitationis percurrat credendo in Christum, credens amet et in amore perseveret.The end of the law is Christ, unto justice for everyone who believes (Rom 10:4); the end of the commandment is charity (1 Tim 1:5); the end of life is death: he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved (Matt 24:13). Therefore it says, that he who reads it may run through it, as if to say: that he who reads it without the impediment of doubt may run through, believing in Christ, and believing may love, and in love may persevere.5. Materia tangitur in hoc quod sequitur quia adhuc visus procul; et est principaliter materia hujus libri apparitio Filii Dei, unde in Ecclesia tempore adventus legitur.5. The subject matter is touched upon in what follows: for as yet the vision is far off; and the subject matter of this book is principally the appearance of the Son of God: hence in the Church it is read during the season of Advent.Est autem triplex apparitio Filii Dei. Prima qua apparuit in carne homo factus, ad Titum III 4 Apparuit benignitas et humanitas salvatoris nostri Dei; secunda qua apparuit per fidem a mundo creditus, ad Titum II 11-12 Apparuit gratia salvatoris nostri Dei erudiens nos; tertia qua apparebit per speciem in glorificatione, I canon. Io. III 2 Scimus quoniam cum apparuerit similes ei erimus. Et istae apparitiones sunt materia istius libri; unde in Prologo dicitur quod omnis cura ejus est de adventu Christi et vocatione gentium.Now there are three appearances of the Son of God. The first is that in which, made man, he appeared in the flesh: the goodness and humanity of God our Savior appeared (Titus 3:4). The second is that in which he appeared by faith, believed by the world: the grace of God our Savior has appeared (Titus 2:11–12). The third is that in which he will appear by sight in glorification: we know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him (1 John 3:2). And these appearances are the subject matter of this book. Thus in the Prologue it is said that all his concern is for the coming of Christ and the calling of the gentiles.6. Sed certe iste qui postea sic visus est, adhuc suis temporibus procul erat. Siquidem procul quia excelsum in maiestatis aequalitate, Iob XXXVI 25-26 Unusquisque intuetur procul: ecce Deus magnus vincens scientiam nostram; erat etiam procul quia absconsum in praefinitione Patris, Eph. III 9 Quae sit dispensatio sacramenti absconditi a saeculis in Deo; erat etiam procul quia dilatum in expectatione patrum, Hebr. XI 13 Iuxta fidem defuncti sunt omnes isti, non acceptis repromissionibus sed a longe eas aspicientes.6. But certainly the one who afterwards was thus seen was still far off in Isaiah’s own time. Indeed he was far off because he was exalted in equality of majesty: every one beholds from afar: behold, God is great, exceeding our knowledge (Job 36:25–26). He was also far off because he was hidden in the Father’s preordination: what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God (Eph 3:9). He was also far off because he was delayed in the expectation of the fathers: all these died according to faith, not having received the promises but beholding them from afar (Heb 11:13).7. Sed certe modo quod erat longe factum est prope, quia excelsum factum est infimum: Verbum enim caro factum est, Io. I 14; quod erat absconsum factum est publicum, quia unigenitus qui est in sinu Patris ipse enarravit; quod erat dilatum incepit esse iam a sanctis possessum in gloria, Matth. XXV 34 Venite benedicti Patris mei, percipite regnum quod vobis paratum est ab origine mundi.7. But certainly what was then far off has come near, because the exalted has been made the lowest. For the Word was made flesh (John 1:14). What was hidden has been made public, because the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him (John 1:18). What was delayed has begun even now to be possessed by the saints in glory: come, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt 25:34).8. Sic igitur poterat dicere adhuc visus procul apparebit in finem.8. Thus, therefore, he was able to say, the vision that is at yet far off shall appear at the end.Fuit enim prima apparitio in finem legis, quia ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum natum ex muliere, factum sub lege, ad Gal. IV 4.For the first appearance was at the end of the law, for when the fullness of the time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law (Gal 4:4).Secunda autem fuit in finem idolatriae, infra XIX 1 Ecce Dominus ascendet super nubem levem et ingredietur Aegyptum et movebuntur simulacra Aegypti a facie ejus.The second appearance, however, was at the end of idolatry, as it says below: behold, the Lord will ascend upon a swift cloud, and will enter into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence (19:1).Sed tertia erit in finem omnis miseriae, quam absterget Deus ab oculis sanctorum, et non erit amplius neque luctus neque labor, sed nec ullus dolor, quoniam priora transierunt, Apoc. XX. Et haec sunt ultima de quibus Eccli. XLVIII 27-28 dicitur de Isaia Spiritu magno vidit ultima, et consolatus est lugentes Sion usque in sempiternum, et ostendit futura et abscondita antequam evenirent.The third will be at the end of all misery, for God shall wipe away [all tears] from the eyes of the saints, and there will no longer be mourning nor suffering, and neither shall there be any sorrow, for the former things have passed away (Rev 21:4). And these are the last things about which it is said of Isaiah: with a great spirit he saw the last things, and comforted the mourners in Zion unto eternity, and he showed the future and hidden things before they came to pass (Sir 48:24–25).Prologus Sancti HieronymiPreface of St. JeromeNemo, cum prophetas versibus viderit esse descriptos, metro eos estimet apud Hebreos ligari, et aliquid simile habere de Psalmis vel operibus Salomonis. Sed quod in Demostene et Tullio solet fieri, ut per cola scribantur et comata, qui utique prosa et non versibus scripserunt, nos quoque utilitati legentium providentes interpretationem novam novo scribendi genere distinximus. [n. 9]No one, seeing the prophets written out in verses, should think that they are bound by meter in the Hebrew and have something similar to the Psalms or the works of Solomon. Rather, just as Demosthenes and Cicero (who certainly composed in prose and not in verses), are usually written out by colons and commas, we also, for the benefit of readers, have marked off our new translation with a new kind of writing. [n. 9]Ac primum de Isaia sciendum quod in sermone suo disertus sit, quippe ut vir nobilis et urbane elegantie, nec habens quicquam in eloquio rusticitatis admixtum; unde accidit ut prae ceteris florem sermonis ejus translatio non potuerit conservare. [n. 13]But first it should be known about Isaiah that, as he is well-spoken in his discourse, surely he was a man of noble and urbane elegance, having nothing of rusticity mixed in his eloquence. Thus it happens that, more than others, translation cannot not preserve the flower of his discourse. [n. 13]Deinde etiam hoc adiciendum quod non tam propheta dicendus sit quam evangelista: ita enim universa Christi Ecclesiaeque mysteria ad liquidum prosecutus est, ut non eum putes de futuro vaticinari sed de praeteritis historiam texere. Unde conicio noluisse tunc temporis Septuaginta interpretes fidei suae sacramenta perspicue ethnicis prodere, ne sanctum canibus et margaritas porcis darent; quae, cum hanc editionem legeritis, ab illis animadvertetis abscondita. [n. 14]And next it should be added that Isaiah should not so much be called a prophet as an evangelist, for he describes all the mysteries of Christ and the Church so clearly, that you think that he is not prophesying about the future, but composing an account of past events. Thus I conclude that the Seventy translators did not wish at that time to clearly publish the mysteries [sacramenta] of their faith to the heathen, lest they give what is holy to dogs and pearls to swine; when you have read this edition, you will observe these things that were hidden by them. [n. 14]Nec ignoro quanti laboris sit prophetas intelligere, nec facile quempiam posse judicare de interpretatione nisi intellexerit antequam legerit, nosque patere morsibus plurimorum qui stimulante invidia quod consequi non valent despiciunt. Sciens ergo et prudens in flammam mitto manum, et nichilominus hoc a fastidiosis lectoribus precor: ut quomodo Graeci, post Septuaginta translatores Aquilam et Simmachum et Theodotionem legunt, vel ob studium doctrinae suae vel ut Septuaginta magis ex collatione eorum intelligant, sic et isti saltem unum post priores habere dignentur interpretem. Legant prius, et posteades piciant, ne videantur non ex judicio sed et ex odii presumptione ignorata damnare. [n. 15]I am not ignorant of how much effort it may take to understand the prophets, and that no one can easily judge concerning their translation unless he first understands what he reads, and that we are exposed to the attacks of many, who, with their envy roused, despise what they are unable to understand. Therefore, knowingly and cautiously, I stick my hand into the flame, and nonetheless I ask this of fastidious readers: that, in the same way that the Greeks read Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion after the Seventy translators, for the study of their doctrine or so that they may understand the Seventy better from comparison with them, just so these too may deign to have at least one translation after the previous ones. Let them first read it, and afterwards despise it, lest they appear to condemn what they do not know, not out of judgment, but out of the presumption of hatred.Prophetavit autem Isaias in Jerusalem et in Judea necdum decem tribibus in captivitatem ductis; ac de utroque regno, nunc commixtim nunc separatim, texit oraculum; et cum interdum ad presentem respiciat historiam, et post Babilonie captivitatem reditum populi significet in Judeam, tamen omnis ejus cura de vocatione gentium et de adventu Christi est. [n. 16]Isaiah prophesied in Jerusalem and in Judea, when the ten tribes had not yet been led into captivity, and he composes his oracle about both kingdoms, sometimes together, sometimes separately. And, although he occasionally turns his attention to present history and signifies the return of the people to Judea after the Babylonian captivity, nevertheless all his concern is for the calling of the gentiles and the coming of Christ. [n. 16]Quem quanto plus amatis, o Paula et Eustochium, tanto magis ab eo petite ut pro obtrectatione presenti qua me indesinenter emuli laniant, ipse michi mercedem restituat in futuro, qui scit me ob hoc in peregrine lingue eruditione sudasse, ne Judei de falsitate scripturarum ecclesiis ejus diutius insultarent.The more you love him, Paula and Eustochium, ask from him so much more, that in return for the present attack, in which jealous men tear at me incessantly, he may reward me in the future, he who knows that I have sweated in learning a foreign tongue for this purpose, lest the Jews still further mock his churches because of the falsehood of their scriptures.