This article offers a historical examination and ideological critique of Jerome's famous Letter to Pammachius (395 CE), exploring its complex relations to the Roman translation tradition, on the one hand, and to an emerging Christian tradition, on the other hand, with examples taken from the New Testament and Jerome's own translating. Jerome's letter is the most influential statement of what can be called the instrumental model of translation, the notion that translation is the reproduction or imitation of an invariant contained in or caused by the source text. Attention is given to modern theoretical developments like Eugene Nida's concept of dynamic equivalence. The aim is to formulate and argue for the comprehensiveness and ethical value of a hermeneutic model, the notion that translation is a variable interpretation that is culturally and historically contingent. The ethics of translation proposed here draws on the work of the French philosopher Alain Badiou.