In celebration of completing drafts of the first three chapters of my translation of the Blessed Rabanus Maurus’ commentary on Judith, I am making it available publicly. This is by no means the final version. There will likely be multiple revisions, but this should give a reasonably good representation of what the bishop said about the Book of Judith. Additionally, I have just received a copy of a modern critical edition of the text that I will use to go back through these chapters and make some revisions. This new edition denotes quotations from other sources and so will save me a lot of work in hunting those down.
When I began translating this commentary I had no idea what I was getting into. Given the present pace of translation, I expect it will take 3–5 years to complete. In addition to improving my Latin, this work is improving my understanding of history as well. I feel the need to understand the context in which the translator lived and so have taken this opportunity to study the early middle ages. In addition to hagiographic literature about Rabanus, I have begun delving into some more scholarly papers addressing the life of the Blessed Rabanus Maurus and his work. In particular, Exegesis for an Empress, by Mayke de Jong has been enlightening. But perhaps most engaging and broadly useful has been an online course on The Early Middle Ages. (I’ve been very pleased with my subscription to The Great Courses Plus).
In addition, I have included an idea for a cover above. There are many great works of art that portray scenes from the story, but I chose an illustration by a relatively recent artist named W. Russell Flint, who produced an illustrated edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This image is from that book.
Note that I am using Google Documents to do my work. That means that online collaboration becomes very simple. In fact, if you follow the link to the document you will, even without being logged in to Google, be able to add comments and suggested edits to the work. If you wish to contribute feedback in either of these ways, you are invited to do so. It would be nice if you would log in so that I can see who has made the comments, but I’ll still accept anonymous feedback and corrections. Even if you don’t read Latin, grammar and spelling corrections are useful (though I’ll likely maintain Rabanus’ run-on sentences in the first revision and later work on breaking them up for modern readers).
The present version of the translation can be seen here:
For further information about this translation project, please see my series of posts on Judith.