A Commentary on The Book of Judith

raban-maur_alcuin_otgarI’d like to tell you about a project that I am working on. This particular project arose from a forum-based assignment I submitted in my studies under The Saints Cyril and Athanasius of Alexandria Institute for Orthodox Studies. The project involved using the Orthodox hermeneutic of reading the Old Testament through the lens of Christ. I chose to do the assignment on the Book of Judith because the story intrigued me and because, having come from a protestant tradition, it was relatively new to me. Alas, the only ecclesial commentary I could find on the book was a work by the Archbishop Rabanus Maurus (leftmost person in the picture above), which had no English translation available. At that point I put the project in the back of my mind as something to begin after I completed my studies with the institute.

As an amateur Latinist I am interested in improving my Latin skills, but also I am interested in making this commentary available to the non-Latin-reading public.  I took up the study of Latin for the purpose of teaching my children in a homeschooling context, but enjoyed it so much I have continued applying it for my own purposes. In making this project public, I hope to find others who are interested in contributing. I welcome most types of assistance including (but not limited to) corrections to my English, corrections on my translation work, or even assistance translating.

The majority of the Holy Fathers who bear witness to Judith offer remarks that generally seem tangential to the substance of the primary works. Judith is sometimes held up as an example of chastity or courage, or even as an exemplar of fasting, but there is only one ecclesial author who might be considered Orthodox, who authored a thorough commentary on her story, and he is a relatively obscure (for the Orthodox) Frankish archbishop from the eighth century. It is disappointing that Judith seems to be a book almost universally neglected by the Christian East, even though we include it in our Bibles.

I’ll be writing more on this subject: sharing more details of my work and approach, talking about Rabanus Maurus, about Judith and her history, thoughts on allegory, and sharing the actual translation. I’ve presently completed drafts of two full chapters (out of sixteen) and will share them over time.

At present I am retaining copyright of my work, but will be providing a Creative Commons license that will allow for relatively liberal use of the book.

For further information about this translation project, please see my series of posts on Judith.

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