Book of Judith

detail of the painting 'Judith' by Carlo Maratta, c.1625; Capitoline Museums, Rome, Italy; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

An Old Testament chronicle which takes its name from the valiant woman who by her courage, resourcefulness, and confidence in God saved the city of Bethulia from destruction at the hand of Holofernes, general of Nabuchodonosor, king of Ninive. The present state of the text is very confused. It is highly probable that the Greek version is derived from a Hebrew or Chaldaic original. The two Hebrew versions now extant are different, one of them agreeing with the Greek. Saint Jerome wrote his Vulgate translation with the help of a Chaldaic version, but the admitted carelessness of this work makes it difficult to determine which of the two texts, the Greek or the Chaldaic, is closer to the original. The geographical and historical references in the Book are also a source of much confusion and debate. For instance, Scripture scholars find it difficult to identify the city of Bethulia with any ancient town in the Plain of Esdraelon where the writer of the Book locates it. And again, how could Nabuchodonosor, who became a king 605 BC, have ruled in Ninive, which was destroyed the year before? The blame or many of these inaccuracies has been laid at the feet of careless translators and inaccurate copyists. The confusion has been such as to lead most non-Catholic commentators to reject the Book of Judith as a narrative of facts; for them it is an allegory. On the other hand, Catholic tradition from the earliest times has always considered the Book as historical, and the Council of Trent has defined its character as an inspired writing by placing it among the canonical books of the Old Testament. The chronicle ends with a beautiful hymn of thanksgiving which has found its place in the Wednesday Lauds of the Roman Breviary.

Additional Inforation

MLA Citation

  • “Book of Judith”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 April 2019. Web. 2 December 2021. <>