Book Reviews Subscribe Faith-filled Family Links for Learners Ask a Franciscan Editorial Entertainment Watch Saints for Our Lives Contents

    The following classroom resource is offered to teachers who would like to use St. Anthony Messenger in the classroom. This resource is prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other age groups. We will feature one article for classroom use each month. Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain a Teachers’ Guide. Teachers with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the article for classroom use. We encourage you and your students to subscribe to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service by sending feedback to

    St. Jerome: The Perils of a Bible Translator

    The following are two ideas for discussion. The Internet is a virtual treasure trove of information on Bible study and Scripture topics. Taking some time to research these topics on the Internet may be a good way to introduce your students to the wide variety of approaches to God’s revealed word.


    Achieve an appreciation for St. Jerome, his efforts and accomplishments, and the place he filled in the Church’s development.

    Create a time line with your students to show the Bible’s process of development and change over the centuries, and the Church’s response to the needs of its people. You can assign the time line as a research project before class discussion, or you may be able to brainstorm most parts of the time line in a Scriptures or Church History class. See “Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?”, Time, December 18, 1995, pages 66-67 for a biblical time line from 2000 B.C. to 300 A.D.


    In the early centuries following the death and resurrection of Jesus, the original Bible languages were Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

    By the fourth century, the pastoral need of the Church was for a Bible accessible to people who did not speak or read the original languages.

    Pope St. Damasus I commissioned Jerome to translate the Gospels into Latin, the spoken language of the western Church. (For a brief biography of Pope Damasus, see, the site of Catholic Online, and use the Catholic Search Engine on that site with the words “Saint Jerome Vulgate Bible” to locate the information. The same source will give you more information on Jerome as well.)

    By the ninth century, the Latin Vulgate was extensively in use. The Vulgate is a compilation of Jerome’s and others’ work, all in Latin.

    By the 16th and 17th centuries, the Church faced another pastoral need for the Bible in English. The result was the Douay-Rheims version.

    Today, there are several literal translations of the original language Scriptures, including the New American Bible and the New Revised Standard Version. The Church awaits approval of The Liturgical Psalter (see article) , a “dynamic equivalence” English translation. Approval for the translation has already faced a five-year delay. Change often comes slowly, and with resistance, as Jerome experienced. Another example of “dynamic equivalence” is the Today’s English Version, which is used in the Good News Bible.

    Research or discussion points:

    What are the emotional reactions to changes in beloved books or stories?

    How many translations of the Bible exist today? How many churches/religions use the Bible, or parts of it? Does Judaism use an English translation of the Hebrew Scriptures? (Search the Internet on keywords such as Judaism or Jewish Scriptures.) Internet research can also be done on the Gospel Communications Network,

    More historical and biographical information can be found on St. Jerome: For example, St. Jerome is the patron of librarians. You will find other links to Catholic and Christian sites on this Web site (, linked from the "About American Catholic Online" section (the St. Francis image on our homepage).

    Other Scripture articles:

    Mary, the First Disciple” by Raymond Brown. This article, with its own teacher’s guide, can be found in the May 1997 issue of St.Anthony Messenger Online.


    Objective: Appreciation for the difficulties and challenges of translating the Scriptures.

    Some translations favor a literal approach, translating word for word wherever possible. Others favor the “dynamic equivalence” approach, used by Jerome. This renders a meaning for meaning translation: the words differ but the meaning does not.

    Your class may have several bilingual students. Certainly, most high school groups will have spent time studying a foreign language. They can appreciate the differences in languages.

    Take the Lord’s Prayer from the Gospels, as the author suggests in his article. Lay out different versions.

    Research an older English biblical translation, then a translation from the Revised Standard Version and the New American Bible. Look at how it is phrased in the Liturgy as well. What are the differences? Do they change the meaning? Locate a Spanish or French translation. Or try to translate it into Spanish or Tagalog. Have the students compare the words used, the meanings, the phraseology. Again, do meanings change? Do some languages have difficulty rendering certain concepts or words?

    Further Net research will yield a side-by-side comparison of the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version. (See

    Or take another brief passage from the Gospels. Compare it in different translations and languages, as you did with the Lord’s Prayer. Again, many of the translations can be found on the Net.

    You can find references to, and maybe access to, the Latin Vulgate text and the Douay-Rheims text on the Web site: Look there for The Bible Gateway, maintained by Calvin College. You’ll learn, for example, that the Douay-Rheims version was the British Isles’ first knowledge of the Bible.

    A discussion of dynamic equivalence might include the Psalms as poetry. Translating poetry can be a challenge. What would your students think of translating e.e. cummings into another language? Or what would it be like to try to reword Shakespeare into contemporary English? Does a free-form retelling of a story change its meaning? For example, compare Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story to Romeo and Juliet.

    Research on original documents:

    Try the Library of Congress’ exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls for further archaeological and historical reference. See

    Also, see “Is the Bible Fact or Fiction?”, Time, December 18, 1995, for archeological data supporting biblical events.

    Further Resources

    Try accessing some of these Internet sources for reference. Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles contained within the site’s archives. New York Times Los Angeles Times magazine —CNN —MSNBC —This site will take you to a number of online publications —The Associated Press Chicago Tribune magazine Washington Post

    For further information on Bible study, check out these products, available through reprints, from St. Anthony Messenger Press. To order call 1-800-488-0488, or visit our online catalog at by selecting “products” in the frame on the left and searching for “Scripture.”

    Youth Update

    Y1296 Have You Met Jesus in the Gospels? (Virginia Smith)

    Y0784 The Bible: Why Read It? (Carol Luebering)

    Y1290 If I Can Find My Bible, What Do I Do Next? (Virginia Smith)

    Catholic Update

    C0382 How to Understand the Bible: Examining the Tools of Today’s Scripture Scholars (Norman Langenbrunner)

    C1284 A Popular Introduction to Reading the Bible (Macrina Scott, O.S.F.)

    C0489 The Whole Bible at a Glance—Its ‘Golden Thread’ of Meaning (Virginia Smith)

    Scripture From Scratch

    N0194 The Bible From Square One (Elizabeth McNamer)

    N0695 Seeking the Language of God (Virginia Smith)

    N0796 Where Did We Get Our Bible? (Elizabeth McNamer)


    V1000 Scripture from Scratch—A Basic Bible Study Program

    V400A-H Scripture from Scratch II: The World of the Bible (Elizabeth McNamer and Virginia Smith)

    7275A-H, 7275X, 7275M De Sales Catholic Video Library Series, Series 1: Basic Tools for Bible Study

    Links Disclaimer:

    The links contained within this resource guide are functional at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links may become ineffective.

    These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do so at your own risk.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ask The Wise Man  | The Bible: Light to My Path  | Book Reviews  | Entertainment Watch
Editorial  | Editor’s Message  | Faith-filled Family  | Links for Learners
Saints for Our Lives  | Web Catholic  | Back Issues

Return to

Paid Advertisement
Ads contrary to Catholic teachings should be reported to our webmaster. Include ad link.

An Web Site from the Franciscans and
Franciscan Media     ©1996-2016 Copyright