The book of Tobit is one of the Old Testament books left out of the Jewish canon; yet although St. Jerome tended to agree with the Jews, he believed it was more important to submit to the decision of the bishops, as he says here in a letter accompanying his translation of the book. One man can’t set Church doctrine aside, no matter how smart he is.
Jerome, to Cromatius and Heliodorus, bishops in the Lord: Salutations.
I never cease to wonder at how constantly you ask me for things. Now you demand that I translate a book written in Chaldean into Latin: the book of Tobit, which the Hebrews leave out of the catalog of divine Scriptures, placing it instead in the books they call the Hagiographa, or Writings.
I have done what you asked, but not by my own efforts. The Hebrew studies rebuke and fault us for translating this into Latin contrary to their canon. But I imagine it is better to offend the opinion of the Pharisees and be subject to the commands of bishops.
So I have gone on as well as I could. Because the Chaldean language is close to Hebrew, I found someone who spoke both languages very well. I set aside a day for the work, and whatever he spoke in Hebrew, I translated that into Latin and had a scribe I brought along write it down.
Your prayers will be payment enough for this work when, by your grace, I have heard that I have succeeded in fulfilling your request worthily.
–St. Jerome, Prologue to Tobit
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
When I personally disagree with the Church’s teaching on some matter, do I have the humility to submit to the wisdom of the whole Church?
Father, give me ears to hear your truth, so that I may glorify you without ceasing in your holy Church.
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