Copyright the Frick Collection, NY

A visionary Saint Jerome, studying or preparing one of his numerous translations, is portrayed in this painting by El Greco (1541–1614). Jerome, who lived from about 347 to 419, was a seminal scholar in the early Church: He is best known for his Latin translations from Hebrew and Greek, among them the Vulgate, which remains even today the basis of the Roman Catholic Bible.

Jerome was one of a number of intermediaries—various scribes and redactors—through whom ancient texts passed before being incorporated into modern Bibles. Author Daniel Schowalter warns, however, that in the process of translation something is always lost. But he also points out that the original text can sometimes be recovered—especially by consulting the footnotes, where editors often provide information not found in the body of the text.