CE54 - Arts, langues, littératures, philosophies

Jerome’s Interpretations of Hebrew Names – JERIHNA

JERIHNA - JERome's Interpretations of Hebrew Names

The project aims to produce a natively digital critical edition of Jerome's treatise on the interpretation of Hebrew names, along with a translation and a rich annotation. This edition will be coupled with a database of etymologies, Hieronymian or not, to be found in the patristic literature. This whole will be linked to the database and the website of the BiblIndex project, an online index of biblical quotations in the literature of Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

A new critical edition, natively digital, with a French translation, and the setting up of a database containing Hebrew names, backed up by BIBLINDEX

A new critical edition, natively digital, with a French translation<br /><br />The current reference edition of Jerome's Liber interpretationis nominum Hebraicorum (P. de LAGARDE) is deficient: it uses only 5 manuscripts and mentions no more than 11; however, more than 200 are known, some of which are very old: three pre-Carolingian and a dozen Carolingian, mainly from the 9th century. It contains numerous errors, mostly due to the shifting of names from one column to another in the manuscripts, which has had a significant impact on the work's reception. Particular attention to the layout of the old copies is therefore required. In addition, using the edition as reproduced in the Corpus Christianorum Series Latina is very inconvenient, since the index is incomplete and based solely on Latin. Let us add that the biblical references of the scriptural apparatus, raw, sometimes erroneous, do not always help to retrieve the Hebrew name. A new edition is therefore needed.<br /><br />Given these difficulties, and the very form of the work, which is similar to a manual or a dictionary, a natively digital edition ought to be conceived, allowing for multiple entries (Hebrew name and its translations, biblical verse, manuscript, etc.) in the corpus, and swift adjustments in the course of time. Without taking into account the whole of the manuscripts, this edition will nevertheless be based on a methodical use of the available material, namely the full text of the fifteen or so oldest manuscripts (8th-10th century) and the surveys carried out in the others. It will also be published in a printed version in the Sources Chrétiennes series, along with a trilingual index. A modern French translation and an extensive annotation (sources, parallels, explanation of etymologies, etc.) will also be provided.<br /><br />A database of Hebrew names, linked to BIBLINDEX<br /><br />JERIHNA also aims to create a database resituating the treatise on Hebrew Names in a context of history, studying its sources and etymologies, its echoes and Hieronymian follow-ups, its reception. The project will be based on the biblical and patristic repositories already set up in BIBLINDEX - an online index of biblical quotations in the texts of Antiquity and the Middle Ages (ANR-10-BLAN-2001), part of the EquipEx Biblissima+ -, as well as on its web infrastructure already constituted and hosted by the TGIR Huma-Num: Biblical texts in Hebrew, Greek and Latin have been included, cross-referenced with each other, and the metadata on most of the authors and patristic works covered have already been structured and validated. The project will also explore new data visualisations and a collaborative platform will be implemented.

The editing of the treatise will use both traditional ecdotic and philological methods and tools developed at the Pôle Document Numérique at Caen to build and visualise parallel annotated digital corpora.

Sources and etymologies
We will systematically search for Jerome's sources both in the Targums and by his Greek predecessors.Each word will be given an (attempted) explanation in relation to the etymologies given by Jerome. This approach will shed light on Jerome's knowledge of Hebrew and his relationship to Judaism. By studying, upstream of the Hieronymian work, all the occurrences of biblical verses linked to etymologies in the BIBLINDEX corpus, we will gain a much more precise insight into the specificity of Jerome's work with respect to his sources.

Hieronymian research
We will also look for the other interpretations of Hebrew names in Jerome's work in order to propose both an exhaustive inventory and a synthetic study. Many of his interpretationes find echoes in his biblical commentaries or translations, and his other works also give interpretationes. We will focus on the following points: How does Jerome take into account not only the Hebrew text, but also Greek versions? Why did he not treat all the biblical books, nor list all the names that appear in the lemmas of his commentaries? Why does he not always give the same etymologies, and how do they fit together?

Reception of the Hebrew Names
Finally, we shall carry out the same kind of research in the patristic literature subsequent to Jerome. Without claiming to be exhaustive, the aim will be to document the punctual uses of Hebrew names, the massive repetitions having already been the subject of numerous studies. By considering these occurrences in a diachronic perspective and crossing cultural areas, including in the Eastern corpus, we will be able to make the departure, downstream this time, between etymologies of Hieronymian origin and those from other sources. In particular, the issue of how Jerome's works circulated in the East, where he stayed, remains largely to be explored.

Innovative methodologies to index and visualise intertextual phenomena
The originality and ambition of the project are based on the synergy between the two projects JERIHNA and BIBLINDEX. The Hebrew Names will constitute a test corpus for the implementation of a processing chain to be extended to many other corpora: e.g. the link between the TEI XML files and the BIBLINDEX metadata, once implemented for the Hebrew Names, will be used for all other patristic texts. The sameapplies to the innovative visualisations designed to account for the occurrences of etymologies in space and time.

The expected results are as follows:
- a digital edition made available through the TGIR HumaNum
- a volume in the Sources Chrétiennes series
- a database of Hebrew names etymologies in patristic literature and especially in Jerome's work
- innovative visualisation interfaces of data
- a collaborative platform to improve the data
- synthesis publications on Hebrew names, in particular in Jerome' s work

This project goes beyond the borders of the patristic era, opening up to Hellenistic Judaism and the Middle Ages and approaching various linguistic corpora and cultural areas: Latin and Hebrew in the first place, but also Greek and Syriac in so far as Jerome's sources are concerned. Given the importance of the etymologies of Hebrew names in ancient and medieval literature, a systematic study of them will enable us to renew our understanding of the Church Fathers' legacy, in terms of intertextuality, reinterpretation, rewriting and/or translation(s) of the scriptural text. In addition, the study of the manuscripts, besides establishing a reliable text, will make it possible to know better the way in which the text of the Hebrew Names was produced and transmitted, and thus to initiate a reflection on its functions. The project is not only philological and linguistic in interest: it focuses on successive translation phenomena and highlights cultural transfers at the heart of translation studies.
The working tools produced will give researchers easy access to Hieronymian interpretations as well as to a set of metadata, since almost all the data will be available in open access. They will be useful to biblical scholars interested in the history of the Vulgate and the Greek Bible, exegetes interested in patristic readings of the Bible, up to the 17th century at least, historians for onomastics, to linguists for matters concerning the transmission of Hebrew through the Latin language, theologians interested in the symbolic (allegorical, spiritual) readings of Jerome's treatise, and more generally the educated public wishing to discover these sources, notably thanks to a freely accessible French translation. The project will also help to promote the patrimony of libraries possessing manuscripts of the Hebrew Names. The more traditional means used to disseminate the project's results - publication in the Sources Chrétiennes series, proceedings, papers, etc. - will ensure that they are widely received.
The project also has a strong digital dimension: the planned developments will be designed to be reusable, through the collaborative platform of the BIBLINDEX project, but also in other projects developed by partner teams of the Biblissima+ EquipEx, and then more widely in the entire DH community, thanks to the APIs systematically proposed, the storage of data in the Zenodo community and the deposit of the entire code on GitHub.
The presentation and dissemination of JERIHNA's methodology will be done first of all at the annual workshops and the conclusive conference, but also in specialised journals, in other conferences, panels; articles. Videos aimed at the general public are also planned.

This section will be completed later as the project progresses. We also refer to the project website for an updated version of its outputs and results.

The Liber interpretationis nominum Hebraicorum was written by Jerome around 389. This work, which belongs to the genre of the onomastica sacra, is a kind of systematic glossary, alphabetically sorted, which presents the meaning and etymology of the Hebrew names mentioned in almost every biblical book of the Old and New Testaments; Jerome was especially inspired by illustrious Greek predecessors such as the Jew Philo of Alexandria, Origen, or Eusebius of Caesarea. This book, given the immense interest of the Ancients in etymology, was of particular importance, not only in Antiquity, but especially in the Middle Ages, because it influenced all exegesis after Jerome.
Its current reference edition (P. de Lagarde, 1870) is now out of date and not very convenient to use. The aim of the project is therefore to produce, by taking into account all the available manuscripts (systematic collations or surveys), a natively digital critical edition, allowing the reader to enter the work by selecting a key word, a manuscript, with a parallel display of a translation and a rich set of notes concerning the sources, the Hieronymian parallels and the work reception; a printed version of this edition will be published in the Sources Chrétiennes series, enriched by an extensive introduction, especially concerning the Greek and Hebrew sources.
In parallel, a database of Hebrew names occurrences found in the patristic corpora explored, as well as specific visualisation interfaces, will be developed. They will be grafted onto the database and website of the BiblIndex project (ANR-10-BLAN-2001), an online index of biblical quotations in the Christian literature of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Jerihna will benefit from the metadata and repositories already present in BiblIndex, as well as from its hosting on the TGIR Huma-Num and its data archiving and sharing processes.
Jerihna will be integrated into the Equipex Biblissima+ consortium in several ways: by using the tools developed by the Caen PDN for critical editing; by feeding the Biblissima manuscript repository; and above all by being structurally linked to BiblIndex. Progressively, all the Hebrew etymologies in Jerome's work, their identified sources and their medieval uses will be linked to the biblical verses and patristic works of BiblIndex, which will make possible cross-references and reciprocal enrichment from one project to the other.

Project coordination

Aline CANELLIS (Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


HiSoMa Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne

Help of the ANR 399,398 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2022 - 60 Months

Useful links

Explorez notre base de projets financés



ANR makes available its datasets on funded projects, click here to find more.

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter