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Saint Jerome
Saint Jerome visited by angels by Bartolomeo Cavarozzi
Priest, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church
Born c. 347, Stridon, on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia
Died 420, Bethlehem, Judea
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodoxy
Anglican Communion
Lutheranism
Oriental Orthodoxy
Major shrine Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome, Italy
Feast 30 September (Western Christianity)
15 June (Eastern Christianity)
Attributes lion, cardinal attire, cross, skull, trumpet, owl, books and writing material
Patronage archeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; school children; students; translators

Saint Jerome (c. 347 – 30 September 420) (Formerly Saint Hierom) (Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος) was an Illyrian Christian priest [1] and apologist. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia (and was overthrown by the Goths). He is best known for his new translation of the Bible into Latin, which has since come to be called the Vulgate and his list of writings are extensive.[2] (See Jerome and Early Church Fathers, Chapter 135)

He is recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church, and his version of the Bible is still an important text in Catholicism. He is also recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church, where he is known as St. Jerome of Stridonium or Blessed Jerome.[3]

Contents

Life

Saint Jerome in his Study, by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus , known as St. Jerome, born at Stridon around 347,[4] was not baptized until about 360 or 366, when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus (who may or may not have been the same Bonosus whom Jerome identifies as his friend who went to live as a hermit on an island in the Adriatic) to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. He studied under the grammarian Aelius Donatus. There Jerome learned the Greek and Latin languages.[5]

As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial activities of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but suffered terrible bouts of repentance afterwards. To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the sepulchers of the martyrs and the apostles in the catacombs. This experience would remind him of the terrors of hell.

Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist’s words were fulfilled, Let them go down quick into Hell. Here and there the light, not entering in through windows, but filtering down from above through shafts, relieved the horror of the darkness. But again, as soon as you found yourself cautiously moving forward, the black night closed around and there came to my mind the line of Vergil, “Horror unique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent. (Jerome, Commentarius in Ezzechielem, c. 40, v. 5)

Jerome used a quote from Vergil — “The horror and the silences terrified their souls” — to describe the horror of hell. Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted. [6]

After several years in Rome, he travelled with Bonosus to Gaul and settled in Trier where he seems to have first taken up theological studies, and where he copied, for his friend Tyrannius Rufinus, Hilary of Poitiers' commentary on the Psalms and the treatise De synodis. Next came a stay of at least several months, or possibly years, with Rufinus at Aquileia, where he made many Christian friends.

Some of these accompanied him when he set out about 373 on a journey through Thrace and Asia Minor into northern Syria. At Antioch, where he stayed the longest, two of his companions died and he himself was seriously ill more than once. During one of these illnesses (about the winter of 373-374), he had a vision that led him to lay aside his secular studies and devote himself to God. He seems to have abstained for a considerable time from the study of the classics and to have plunged deeply into that of the Bible, under the impulse of Apollinaris of Laodicea, then teaching in Antioch and not yet suspected of heresy.

St. Jerome reading in the countryside, by Giovanni Bellini

Seized with a desire for a life of ascetic penance, he went for a time to the desert of Chalcis, to the southwest of Antioch, known as the Syrian Thebaid, from the number of hermits inhabiting it. During this period, he seems to have found time for study and writing. He made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and he seems to have been in correspondence with Jewish Christians in Antioch. Around this time he became interested in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which he would later write was the true Gospel of Matthew.

Returning to Antioch in 378 or 379, he was ordained by Bishop Paulinus, apparently unwillingly and on condition that he continue his ascetic life. Soon afterward, he went to Constantinople to pursue a study of Scripture under Gregory Nazianzen. He seems to have spent two years there; the next three (382-385) he was in Rome again, attached to Pope Damasus I and the leading Roman Christians. Invited originally for the synod of 382, held to end the schism of Antioch, he made himself indispensable to the pope, and took a prominent place in his councils.

Among his other duties, he undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, to be based on the Greek New Testament. He also updated the Psalter then at use in Rome based on the Septuagint. Though he did not realize it yet, translating much of what became the Latin Vulgate Bible would take many years, and be his most important achievement (see Writings- Translations section below).

In Rome he was surrounded by a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patrician families, such as the widows Lea, Marcella and Paula, with their daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium. The resulting inclination of these women to the monastic life, and his unsparing criticism of the secular clergy, brought a growing hostility against him among the clergy and their supporters. Soon after the death of his patron Damasus (10 December 384), Jerome was forced to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had an improper relationship with the widow Paula.

Additionally, his condemnation of Blaesilla's zest for life had led Blaesilla to adopt aescetic practices, but worsened her physical weakness to the point that she died just four months after starting to follow his instructions; much of the Roman populace were outraged at Jerome for causing the premature death of such a lively young woman, and his insistence to Paula that Blaesilla should not be mourned, and complaints that her grief was excessive, were seen as heartless, polarising Roman opinion against him.[7]

In August 385, he returned to Antioch, accompanied by his brother Paulinianus and several friends, and followed a little later by Paula and Eustochium, who had resolved to end their days in the Holy Land. In the winter of 385, Jerome acted as their spiritual adviser. The pilgrims, joined by Bishop Paulinus of Antioch, visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the holy places of Galilee, and then went to Egypt, the home of the great heroes of the ascetic life.

At the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Jerome listened to the catechist Didymus the Blind expounding the prophet Hosea and telling his reminiscences of Anthony the Great, who had died 30 years before; he spent some time in Nitria, admiring the disciplined community life of the numerous inhabitants of that "city of the Lord", but detecting even there "concealed serpents", i.e., the influence of Origen of Alexandria. Late in the summer of 388 he was back in Palestine, and spent the remainder of his life in a hermit's cell near Bethlehem, surrounded by a few friends, both men and women (including Paula and Eustochium), to whom he acted as priestly guide and teacher.

Painting by Niccolò Antonio Colantonio, showing St. Jerome's removal of a thorn from a lion's paw.

Amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, he led a life of incessant activity in literary production. To these last 34 years of his career belong the most important of his works; his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, the best of his scriptural commentaries, his catalogue of Christian authors, and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized. To this period also belong most of his polemics, which distinguished him among the orthodox Fathers, including the treatises against the Origenism of Bishop John II of Jerusalem and his early friend Rufinus. As a result of his writings against Pelagianism, a body of excited partisans broke into the monastic buildings, set them on fire, attacked the inmates and killed a deacon, forcing Jerome to seek safety in a neighboring fortress (416).

Jerome died near Bethlehem on 30 September 420. The date of his death is given by the Chronicon of Prosper of Aquitaine. His remains, originally buried at Bethlehem, are said to have been later transferred to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, though other places in the West claim some relics — the cathedral at Nepi boasting possession of his head, which, according to another tradition, is in the Escorial.

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Translations and commentaries

St Jerome, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1607, at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

Jerome was a scholar at a time when that statement implied a fluency in Greek. He knew some Hebrew when he started his translation project, but moved to Jerusalem to strengthen his grip on Jewish scripture commentary. A wealthy Roman aristocrat, Paula, funded his stay in a monastery in Bethlehem and he completed his translation there. He began in 382 by correcting the existing Latin language version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina. By 390 he turned to the Hebrew Bible, having previously translated portions from the Septuagint. He completed this work by 405. Prior to Jerome's Vulgate, all Latin translations of the Old Testament were based on the Septuagint. Jerome's decision to use a Hebrew text instead of the Septuagint went against the advice of most other Christians, including Augustine, who considered the Septuagint inspired. Modern scholarship, however, has cast doubts on the actual quality of Jerome's Hebrew knowledge; the Greek Hexapla is now considered as still the main source also for Jerome's "iuxta Hebraeos" translation of the Old Testament.[8]

For the next 15 years, until he died, Jerome produced a number of commentaries on Scripture, often explaining his translation choices. His patristic commentaries align closely with Jewish tradition, and he indulges in allegorical and mystical subtleties after the manner of Philo and the Alexandrian school. Unlike his contemporaries, he emphasizes the difference between the Hebrew Bible "apocrypha" and the Hebraica veritas of the protocanonical books. Evidence of this can be found in his introductions to the Solomonic writings, the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith. Most notable, however, is the statement from his introduction to the Books of Samuel:

This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a helmeted [i.e. defensive] introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is outside of them must be placed aside among the Apocryphal writings.[9]

Jerome's commentaries fall into three groups:

  • His translations or recastings of Greek predecessors, including fourteen homilies on the Book of Jeremiah and the same number on the Book of Ezekiel by Origen (translated ca. 380 in Constantinople); two homilies of Origen of Alexandria on the Song of Solomon (in Rome, ca. 383); and thirty-nine on the Gospel of Luke (ca. 389, in Bethlehem). The nine homilies of Origen on the Book of Isaiah included among his works were not done by him. Here should be mentioned, as an important contribution to the topography of Palestine, his book De situ et nominibus locorum Hebraeorum, a translation with additions and some regrettable omissions of the Onomasticon of Eusebius. To the same period (ca. 390) belongs the Liber interpretationis nominum Hebraicorum, based on a work supposed to go back to Philo and expanded by Origen.
  • Original commentaries on the Old Testament. To the period before his settlement at Bethlehem and the following five years belong a series of short Old Testament studies: De seraphim, De voce Osanna, De tribus quaestionibus veteris legis (usually included among the letters as 18, 20, and 36); Quaestiones hebraicae in Genesim; Commentarius in Ecclesiasten; Tractatus septem in Psalmos 10-16 (lost); Explanationes in Michaeam, Sophoniam, Nahum, Habacuc, Aggaeum. About 395 he composed a series of longer commentaries, though in rather a desultory fashion: first on the remaining seven minor prophets, then on Isaiah (ca. 395-ca. 400), on the Book of Daniel (ca. 407), on Ezekiel (between 410 and 415), and on Jeremiah (after 415, left unfinished).
  • New Testament commentaries. These include only Philemon, Galatians, Ephesians, and Titus (hastily composed 387-388); Matthew (dictated in a fortnight, 398); Mark, selected passages in Luke, Revelation, and the prologue to the Gospel of John. Treating Revelation in his cursory fashion, he made use of an excerpt from the commentary of the North African Tichonius, which is preserved as a sort of argument at the beginning of the more extended work of the Spanish presbyter Beatus of Liébana. But before this he had already devoted to the Revelation another treatment, a rather arbitrary recasting of the commentary of Saint Victorinus, with whose chiliastic views he was not in accord, substituting for the chiliastic conclusion a spiritualizing exposition of his own, supplying an introduction, and making certain changes in the text.

The works of Hippolytus of Rome and Irenaeus greatly influenced Jerome's interpretation of prophecy.[10] He noted the distinction between the original Septuagint and Theodotion's later substitution.[11]

Jerome warned that those substituting false interpretations for the actual meaning of Scripture belonged to the “synagogue of the Antichrist”.[12] “He that is not of Christ is of Antichrist,” he wrote to Pope Damasus I.[13] He believed that “the mystery of iniquity” written about by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 was already in action when “every one chatters about his views.”[14] To Jerome, the power restraining this mystery of iniquity was the Roman Empire, but as it fell this restraining force was removed. He warned a noble woman of Gaul:

“He that letteth is taken out of the way, and yet we do not realize that Antichrist is near. Yes, Antichrist is near whom the Lord Jesus Christ “shall consume with the spirit of his mouth.” “Woe unto them,” he cries, “that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days.”... Savage tribes in countless numbers have overrun run all parts of Gaul. The whole country between the Alps and the Pyrenees, between the Rhine and the Ocean, has been laid waste by hordes of Quadi, Vandals, Sarmatians, Alans, Gepids, Herules, Saxons, Burgundians, Allemanni, and—alas! for the commonweal!-- even Pannonians.[15]

His Commentary on Daniel was expressly written to offset the criticisms of Porphyry,[16] who taught that Daniel related entirely to the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and was written by an unknown individual living in the second century BC. Against Porphyry, Jerome identified Rome as the fourth kingdom of chapters two and seven, but his view of chapters eight and 11 was more complex. Jerome held that chapter eight describes the activity of Antiochus Epiphanes, who is understood as a "type" of a future antichrist; 11:24 onwards applies primarily to a future antichrist but was partially fulfilled by Antiochus. Instead, he advocated that the “little horn” was the Antichrist:

We should therefore concur with the traditional interpretation of all the commentators of the Christian Church, that at the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall be ten kings who will partition the Roman world amongst themselves. Then an insignificant eleventh king will arise, who will overcome three of the ten kings... after they have been slain, the seven other kings also will bow their necks to the victor.[17]

In his Commentary on Daniel, he noted, “Let us not follow the opinion of some commentators and suppose him to be either the Devil or some demon, but rather, one of the human race, in whom Satan will wholly take up his residence in bodily form.” [17] Instead of rebuilding the Jewish Temple to reign from, Jerome thought the Antichrist sat in God’s Temple inasmuch as he made “himself out to be like God.” [17]

Jerome identified the four prophetic kingdoms symbolized in Daniel 2 as the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Medes and Persians, Macedon, and Rome.[18] Jerome identified the stone cut out without hands as "namely, the Lord and Savior".[19]

Jerome refuted Porphyry's application of the little horn of chapter seven to Antiochus. He expected that at the end of the world, Rome would be destroyed, and partitioned among ten kingdoms before the little horn appeared.[20]

Jerome believed that Cyrus of Persia is the higher of the two horns of the Medo-Persian ram of Daniel 8:3.[21] The he-goat is Greece smiting Persia.[22] Alexander is the great horn, which is then succeeded by Alexander's half brother Philip and three of his generals.

Historical writings

  • One of Jerome's earliest attempts in the department of history was his Chronicle (or Chronicon or Temporum liber), composed ca. 380 in Constantinople; this is a translation into Latin of the chronological tables which compose the second part of the Chronicon of Eusebius, with a supplement covering the period from 325 to 379. Despite numerous errors taken over from Eusebius, and some of his own, Jerome produced a valuable work, if only for the impulse which it gave to such later chroniclers as Prosper, Cassiodorus, and Victor of Tunnuna to continue his annals.
  • Three other works of a hagiological nature are:
    • the Vita Pauli monachi, written during his first sojourn at Antioch (ca. 376), the legendary material of which is derived from Egyptian monastic tradition;
    • the Vitae Patrum (Vita Pauli primi eremitae), a biography of Saint Paul of Thebes;
    • the Vita Malchi monachi captivi (ca. 391), probably based on an earlier work, although it purports to be derived from the oral communications of the aged ascetic Malchus originally made to him in the desert of Chalcis;
    • the Vita Hilarionis, of the same date, containing more trustworthy historical matter than the other two, and based partly on the biography of Epiphanius and partly on oral tradition.
  • The so-called Martyrologium Hieronymianum is spurious; it was apparently composed by a western monk toward the end of the sixth or beginning of the seventh century, with reference to an expression of Jerome's in the opening chapter of the Vita Malchi, where he speaks of intending to write a history of the saints and martyrs from the apostolic times.
  • But the most important of Jerome's historical works is the book De viris illustribus, written at Bethlehem in 392, the title and arrangement of which are borrowed from Suetonius. It contains short biographical and literary notes on 135 Christian authors, from Saint Peter down to Jerome himself. For the first seventy-eight authors Eusebius (Historia ecclesiastica) is the main source; in the second section, beginning with Arnobius and Lactantius, he includes a good deal of independent information, especially as to western writers.

Letters

Jerome's letters or epistles, both by the great variety of their subjects and by their qualities of style, form the most interesting portion of his literary remains. Whether he is discussing problems of scholarship, or reasoning on cases of conscience, comforting the afflicted, or saying pleasant things to his friends, scourging the vices and corruptions of the time, exhorting to the ascetic life and renunciation of the world, or breaking a lance with his theological opponents, he gives a vivid picture not only of his own mind, but of the age and its peculiar characteristics.

The letters most frequently reprinted or referred to are of a hortatory nature, such as Ep. 14, Ad Heliodorum de laude vitae solitariae; Ep. 22, Ad Eustochium de custodia virginitatis; Ep. 52, Ad Nepotianum de vita clericorum et monachorum, a sort of epitome of pastoral theology from the ascetic standpoint; Ep. 53, Ad Paulinum de studio scripturarum; Ep. 57, to the same, De institutione monachi; Ep. 70, Ad Magnum de scriptoribus ecclesiasticis; and Ep. 107, Ad Laetam de institutione filiae.

Theological writings

St. Jerome, by Palma Vecchio

Practically all of Jerome's productions in the field of dogma have a more or less vehemently polemical character, and are directed against assailants of the orthodox doctrines. Even the translation of the treatise of Didymus the Blind on the Holy Spirit into Latin (begun in Rome 384, completed at Bethlehem) shows an apologetic tendency against the Arians and Pneumatomachoi. The same is true of his version of Origen's De principiis (ca. 399), intended to supersede the inaccurate translation by Rufinus. The more strictly polemical writings cover every period of his life. During the sojourns at Antioch and Constantinople he was mainly occupied with the Arian controversy, and especially with the schisms centering around Meletius of Antioch and Lucifer Calaritanus. Two letters to Pope Damasus (15 and 16) complain of the conduct of both parties at Antioch, the Meletians and Paulinians, who had tried to draw him into their controversy over the application of the terms ousia and hypostasis to the Trinity. At the same time or a little later (379) he composed his Liber Contra Luciferianos, in which he cleverly uses the dialogue form to combat the tenets of that faction, particularly their rejection of baptism by heretics.

In Rome (ca. 383) he wrote a passionate counterblast against the teaching of Helvidius, in defense of the doctrine of The perpetual virginity of Mary and of the superiority of the single over the married state. An opponent of a somewhat similar nature was Jovinianus, with whom he came into conflict in 392 (Adversus Jovinianum, Against Jovinianus) and the defense of this work addressed to his friend Pammachius, numbered 48 in the letters). Once more he defended the ordinary Catholic practices of piety and his own ascetic ethics in 406 against the Spanish presbyter Vigilantius, who opposed the cultus of martyrs and relics, the vow of poverty, and clerical celibacy. Meanwhile the controversy with John II of Jerusalem and Rufinus concerning the orthodoxy of Origen occurred. To this period belong some of his most passionate and most comprehensive polemical works: the Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum (398 or 399); the two closely-connected Apologiae contra Rufinum (402); and the "last word" written a few months later, the Liber tertius seu ultima responsio adversus scripta Rufini. The last of his polemical works is the skilfully-composed Dialogus contra Pelagianos (415).

Jerome's reception by later Christianity

Jerome is the second most voluminous writer (after St. Augustine) in ancient Latin Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church, he is recognized as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.

He acquired a knowledge of Hebrew by studying with a Jew who converted to Christianity, and took the unusual position (for that time) that the Hebrew, and not the Septuagint, was the inspired text of the Old Testament. The traditional view is that he used this knowledge to translate what became known as the Vulgate, and his translation was slowly but eventually accepted in the Catholic Church.[23] The later resurgence of Hebrew studies within Christianity owes much to him.

He showed more zeal and interest in the ascetic ideal than in abstract speculation. It was this strict asceticism that made Martin Luther judge him so severely. In fact, Protestant readers are not generally inclined to accept his writings as authoritative. The tendency to recognize a superior comes out in his correspondence with Augustine (cf. Jerome's letters numbered 56, 67, 102-105, 110-112, 115-116; and 28, 39, 40, 67-68, 71-75, 81-82 in Augustine's).

Despite the criticisms already mentioned, Jerome has retained a rank among the western Fathers. This would be his due, if for nothing else, on account of the great influence exercised by his Latin version of the Bible upon the subsequent ecclesiastical and theological development.

Jerome in Art

In art, he is often represented as one of the four Latin doctors of the Church along with Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose, and Pope Gregory I. As a prominent member of the Roman clergy, he has often been portrayed anachronistically[24] in the garb of a cardinal. Even when he is depicted as a half-clad anchorite, with cross, skull and Bible for the only furniture of his cell, the red hat or some other indication of his rank as cardinal is as a rule introduced somewhere in the picture. He is also often depicted with a lion, due to a medieval story in which he removed a thorn from a lion's paw,[25] and less often with an owl, the symbol of wisdom and scholarship.[26] Writing materials and the trumpet of final judgment are also part of his iconography.[26] He is commemorated on 30 September with a memorial.

Quotes

I praise wedlock, I praise marriage, but it is because they give me virgins. I gather the rose from the thorns, the gold from the earth, the pearl from the shell. "Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?" Shall he not also enjoy the fruit of his labor? Wedlock is the more honored, the more what is born of it is loved. Why, mother, do you grudge your daughter her virginity? She has been reared on your milk, she has come from your womb, she has grown up in your bosom. Your watchful affection has kept her a virgin. Are you angry with her because she chooses to be a king's wife and not a soldier's? She has conferred on you a high privilege; you are now the mother-in-law of God. "Concerning virgins," says the apostle, "I have no commandment of the Lord." Why was this? Because his own virginity was due, not to a command, but to his free choice. For they are not to be heard who feign him to have had a wife; for, when he is discussing continence and commending perpetual chastity, he uses the words, "I would that all men were even as I myself." And farther on, "I say, therefore, to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I." And in another place, "have we not power to lead about wives even as the rest of the apostles?" Why then has he no commandment from the Lord concerning virginity? Because what is freely offered is worth more than what is extorted by force, and to command virginity would have been to abrogate wedlock. It would have been a hard enactment to compel opposition to nature and to extort from men the angelic life; and not only so, it would have been to condemn what is a divine ordinance. (Jerome's Letter 22, to Eustochium, section 20 on-line)
Be ever engaged, so that whenever the devil calls he may find you occupied. (Letter 125, to the priest Innocent)
Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. (Jerome's Prologue to the “Commentary on Isaiah”: PL 24,17)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Saint Jerome, Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Philip Schaff (ed.), Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church , Volume 3, Second Series, T. & T. Clark, 1991 P. 384.
  3. ^ Though "Blessed" in this context does not have the sense of being less than a saint, as in the West.
  4. ^ Megan Hale Williams, The Monk and the Book:Jerome and the making of Christian Scholarship, Chicago, 2006
  5. ^ Michael Walsh, ed. Butler's Lives of the Saints. (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991) pp 307.
  6. ^ Robert Payne, The Fathers of the Western Church, (New York: Viking Press, 1951) pp 91.
  7. ^ Joyce Salisbury, Encyclopedia of women in the ancient world, Blaesilla
  8. ^ Pierre Nautin, article Hieronymus, in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 15, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin - New York 1986, p. 304-315, here p. 309-310.
  9. ^ http://www.bible-researcher.com/jerome.html
  10. ^ Farrar, Lives, vol. 2, p. 229.
  11. ^ Jerome, Preface to Daniel, in APNF, 2d series, vol. 6, p. 492.
  12. ^ See Jerome’s The Dialogue against the Luciferians, p.334 in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church : St. Jerome: Letters and select works, 1893. Second Series By Philip Schaff, Henry Wace.
  13. ^ See Jerome’s Letter to Pope Damasus, p.19 in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church : St. Jerome: Letters and select works, 1893. Second Series By Philip Schaff, Henry Wace.
  14. ^ See Jerome’s Against the Pelagians, Book I, p.449 in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church : St. Jerome: Letters and select works, 1893. Second Series By Philip Schaff, Henry Wace.
  15. ^ See Jerome’s Letter to Ageruchia, p.236-7 in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church : St. Jerome: Letters and select works, 1893. Second Series By Philip Schaff, Henry Wace.
  16. ^ Eremantle, note on Jerome's commentary on Daniel, in NPAF, 2d series, Vol. 6, p. 500.
  17. ^ a b c See Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel
  18. ^ Jerome, Commentaria in Danelem, chap. 2, verses 31-40
  19. ^ Jerome, Commentaria in Danieluem, chap. 2, verse 40
  20. ^ Jerome, Commentario in Danielem, chap. 7, verse 8
  21. ^ Jerome, Commentario in Danielem
  22. ^ Jerome, Commentaria in Danielem, chap. 8, verse 5
  23. ^ Stefan Rebenich, Jerome (New York: Routlage, 2002), pp. 52-59
  24. ^ Saint Jerome and some library lions
  25. ^ The lion episode, in Vita Divi Hieronymi (Migne Pat. Lat. XXII, c. 209ff.) was translated by Helen Waddell Beasts and Saints (NY: Henry Holt) 1934) (on-line retelling).
  26. ^ a b The Collection: St. Jerome, gallery of the religious art collection of New Mexico State University, with explanations. Accessed August 10, 2007.

External links

Latin Texts

Google Books' Facsimiles

English Translations

Bibliography

  • J.N.D. Kelly, "Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies" (Peabody, MA 1998)
  • S. Rebenich, "Jerome" (London and New York, 2002)

References

  • "Biblia Sacra Vulgata," Stuttgart, 1994. ISBN 3-438-05303-9
  • This article uses material from Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From Wikiquote

Saint Jerome (ca. 34730 September 420), (full name Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. Jerome's edition, the Vulgate, is still the official biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church. He is canonized in all christianity and recognized by the Vatican as a Doctor of the Church.

Sourced

  • A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept.
    • Letter 1
  • Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price.
    • Letter 3
  • The friendship that can cease has never been real.
    • Letter 3
  • It is easier to mend neglect than to quicken love.
    • Letter 7
  • No athlete is crowned but in the sweat of his brow.
    • Letter 14
  • If there is but little water in the stream, it is the fault, not of the channel, but of the source.
    • Letter 17
  • It is idle to play the lyre for an ass.
    • Letter 27
  • Everything must have in it a sharp seasoning of truth.
    • Letter 31
  • While truth is always bitter, pleasantness waits upon evildoing.
    • Letter 40
  • The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.
    • Letter 48
  • Do not let your deeds belie your words, lest when you speak in church someone may say to himself, "Why do you not practice what you preach?"
    • Letter 48
  • No one cares to speak to an unwilling listener. An arrow never lodges in a stone: often it recoils upon the sender of it.
    • Letter 52
  • That clergyman soon becomes an object of contempt who being often asked out to dinner never refuses to go.
    • Letter 52
  • It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance.
    • Letter 53
  • Even brute beasts and wandering birds do not fall into the same traps or nets twice.
    • Letter 54
  • Sometimes the character of the mistress is inferred from the dress of her maids.
    • Letter 54
  • The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.
    • Letter 54
  • The scars of others should teach us caution.
    • Letter 54
  • When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.
    • Letter 58
  • Small minds can never handle great themes.
    • Letter 60
  • Every day we are changing, every day we are dying, and yet we fancy ourselves eternal.
    • Letter 60
  • Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once woll has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness?
    • Letter 107
  • The tired ox treads with a firmer step.
    • Letter 112
  • Athletes as a rule are stronger than their backers; yet the weaker presses the stronger to put forth all his efforts.
    • Letter 118
  • For they wished to fill the winepress of eloquence not with the tendrils of mere words but with the rich grape juice of good sense.
    • Letter 125
  • It is no fault of Christianity that a hypocrite falls into sin.
    • Letter 125
  • The charges we bring against others often come home to ourselves; we inveigh against faults which are as much ours as theirs; and so our eloquence ends by telling against ourselves.
    • Letter 125
  • Neither Britain, a land fertile in tyrants, nor the people of Ireland, knew Moses and the prophets.
    • Letter 133
  • Privilegia paucorum non faciunt legem.
    • Translation: The privileges of a few do not make common law.
    • Exposition on Jona
  • Noli equi dentes inspicere donati.
    • Translation: Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
    • On the Epistle to the Ephesians

Attributed

  • Let your daughter have first of all the book of Psalms for holiness of heart, and be instructed in the Proverbs of Solomon for her godly life.
    • Jerome, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 33.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ST JEROME (HIERONYMUS, in full Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) (c. 340-420), was born at Strido (modern Strigau ?), a town on the border of Dalmatia fronting Pannonia, destroyed by the Goths in A.D. 377. What is known of Jerome has mostly been recovered from his own writings. He appears to have been born about 340; his parents were Christians, orthodox though living among people mostly Arians and wealthy. He was at first educated at home, Bonosus, a life-long friend, sharing his youthful studies, and was afterwards sent to Rome. Donatus taught him grammar and explained the Latin poets. Victorinus taught him rhetoric. He attended the law-courts, and listened to the Roman advocates pleading in the Forum. He went to the schools of philosophy, and heard lectures on Plato, Diogenes, Clitomachus and Carneades; the conjunction of names show how philosophy had become a dead tradition.

' On the variant traditions in the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, see the commentaries on Kings.

See also Jonah. In 2 Kings xiv. 28, "Hamath, which had belonged to Judah" (R.V.) is incorrect; Winckler (Keilinschrift. u. Alte Test., 2nd ed., 262) suspects a reference to Israel's overlordship in Judah; Burney (Heb. Text of Kings) reads: "how he fought with Damascus and how he turned away the wrath of Yahweh from Israel"; see also Ency. Bib. col. 2406 n. 4, and the commentaries.

His Sundays were spent in the catacombs in discovering graves of the martyrs and deciphering inscriptions. Pope Liberius baptized him in 360; three years later the news of the death of the emperor Julian came to Rome, and Christians felt relieved from a great dread.

When his student days were over Jerome returned to Strido, but did not stay there long. His character was formed. He was a scholar, with a scholar's tastes and cravings for knowledge, easily excited, bent on scholarly discoveries. From Strido he went to Aquileia, where he formed some friendships among the monks of the large monastery, notably with Rufinus, with whom he was destined to quarrel bitterly over the question of Origen's orthodoxy and worth as a commentator; for Jerome was a man who always sacrificed a friend to an opinion, and when he changed sides in a controversy expected his acquaintances to follow him. From Aquileia he went to Gaul (366-370), visiting in turn the principal places in that country, from Narbonne and Toulouse in the south to Treves on the north-east frontier. He stayed some time at Treves studying and observing, and it was there that he first began to think seriously upon sacred things. From Treves he returned to Strido, and from Strido to Aquileia. He settled down to literary work in Aquileia (370-373) and composed there his first original tract, De muliere septies percussa, in the form of a letter to his friend Innocentius. Some dispute caused him to leave Aquileia suddenly; and with a few companions, Innocentius, Evagrius, and Heliodorus being among them, he started for a long tour in the East. The epistle to Rufinus (3rd in Vallarsi's enumeration) tells us the route. They went through Thrace, visiting Athens, Bithynia, Galatia, Pontus, Cappadocia and Cilicia, to Antioch, Jerome observing and making notes as they went. He was interested in the theological disputes and schisms in Galatia, in the two languages spoken in Cilicia, &c. At Antioch the party remained some time. Innocentius died of a fever, and Jerome was dangerously ill. This illness induced a spiritual change, and he resolved to renounce whatever kept him back from God. His greatest temptation was the study of the literature of pagan Rome. In a dream Christ reproached him with caring more to be a Ciceronian than a Christian. He disliked the uncouth style of the Scriptures. "0 Lord," he prayed, "thou knowest that whenever I have and study secular MSS. I deny thee," and he made a resolve henceforth to devote his scholarship to the Holy Scripture. "David was to be henceforth his Simonides, Pindar and Alcaeus, his Flaccus, Catullus and Severus." Fortified by these resolves he betook himself to a hermit life in the wastes of Chalcis, S.E. from Antioch (373-379) Chalcis was the Thebaid of Syria. Great numbers of monks, each in solitary cell, spent lonely lives, scorched by the sun, ill-clad and scantily fed, pondering on portions of Scripture or copying MSS. to serve as objects of meditation. Jerome at once set himself to such scholarly work as the place afforded. He discovered and copied MSS., and began to study Hebrew. There also he wrote the life of St Paul of Thebes, probably an imaginary tale embodying the facts of the monkish life around him. Just then the Meletian schism, which arose over the relation of the orthodox to Arian bishops and to those baptized by Arians, distressed the church at Antioch (see Meletius Of ANTioex), and Jerome as usual eagerly joined the fray. Here as elsewhere he had but one rule to guide him in matters of doctrine and discipline - the practice of Rome and the West; for it is singular to see how Jerome, who is daringly original in points of scholarly criticism, was a ruthless partisan in all other matters; and, having discovered what was the Western practice, he set tongue and pen to work with his usual bitterness (Altercatio luciferiani et orthodoxi). At Antioch in 379 he was ordained presbyter. From there he went to Constantinople, where he met with the great Eastern scholar and theologian Gregory of Nazianzus, and with his aid tried to perfect himself in Greek. The result of his studies there was the translation of the Chronicon of Eusebius, with a continuation 1 of twenty-eight homilies of Origen on Jeremiah and 1 Cf. Schoene's critical edition (Berlin, 1866, 1875).

Ezekiel, and of nine homilies of Origen on the visions of Isaiah.

In 381 Meletius died, and Pope Damasus interfered in the dispute at Antioch, hoping to end it. Jerome was called to Rome in 382 to give help in the matter, and was made secretary during the investigation. His work brought him into intercourse with this great pontiff, who soon saw what he could best do, and how his vast scholarship might be made of use to the church. Damasus suggested to him to revise the "Old Latin" translation of the Bible; and to this task he henceforth devoted his great abilities. At Rome were published the Gospels (with a dedication to Pope Damasus, an explanatory introduction, and the canons of Eusebius), the rest of the New Testament and the version of the Psalms from the Septuagint known as the Psalterium romanum, which was followed (c. 388) by the Psalterium gallicanum, based on the Hexaplar Greek text. These scholarly labours, however, did not take up his whole time, and it was almost impossible for Jerome to be long anywhere without getting into a dispute. He was a zealous defender of that monastic life which was beginning to take such a large place in the church of the 4th century, and he found enthusiastic disciples among the Roman ladies. A number of widows and maidens met together in the house of Marcella to study the Scriptures with him; he taught them Hebrew, and preached the virtues of the celibate life. His arguments and exhortations may be gathered from many of his epistles and from his tract Adversus Helvidium, in which he defends the perpetual virginity of Mary against Helvidius, who maintained that she bore children to Joseph. His influence over these ladies alarmed their relatives and excited the suspicions of the regular priesthood and of the populace, but while Pope Damasus lived Jerome remained secure. Damasus died, however, in 384, and was succeeded by Siricius, who did not show much friendship for Jerome. He found it expedient to leave Rome, and set out for the East in 385. His letters (especially Ep. 45) are full of outcries against his enemies and of indignant protestations that he had done nothing unbecoming a Christian, that he had taken no money, nor gifts great nor small, that he had no delight in silken attire, sparkling gems or gold ornaments, that no matron moved him unless by penitence and fasting, &c. His route is given in the third book In Rufinum; he went by Rhegium and Cyprus, where he was entertained by Bishop Epiphanius, to Antioch. There he was joined by two wealthy Roman ladies, Paula, a widow, and Eustochium, her daughter, one of Jerome's Hebrew students. They came accompanied by a band of Roman maidens vowed to live a celibate life in a nunnery in Palestine. Accompanied by these ladies Jerome made the tour of Palestine, carefully noting with a scholar's keenness the various places mentioned in Holy Scripture. The results of this journey may be traced in his translation with emendations of the book of Eusebius on the situation and names of Hebrew places, written probably three years afterwards, when he had settled down at Bethlehem. From Palestine Jerome and his companions went to Egypt, remaining some time in Alexandria, and they visited the convents of the Nitrian desert. Jerome's mind was evidently full of anxiety about his translation of the Old Testament, for we find him in his letters recording the conversations he had with learned men about disputed readings and doubtful renderings; the blind Didymus of Alexandria, whom he heard interpreting Hosea, appears to have been most useful. When they returned to Palestine they all settled at Bethlehem, where Paula built four monasteries, three for nuns and one for monks. She was at the head of the nunneries until her death in 404, when Eustochium succeeded her; Jerome presided over the fourth monastery. Here he did most of his literary work and, throwing aside his unfinished plan of a translation from Origen's Hexaplar text, translated the Old Testament directly from the Hebrew, with the aid of Jewish scholars. He mentions a rabbi from Lydda, a rabbi from Tiberias, and above all rabbi Ben Anina, who came to him by night secretly for fear of the Jews. Jerome was not familiar enough with Hebrew to be able to dispense with such assistance, and he makes the synagogue responsible for the accuracy of his version: "Let him who would challenge aught in this translation," he says, "ask the Jews." The result of all this labour was the Latin translation of the Scriptures which, in spite of much opposition from the more conservative party in the church, afterwards became the Vulgate or authorized version; but the Vulgate as we have it now is not exactly Jerome's Vulgate, for it suffered a good deal from changes made under the influence of the older translations; the text became very corrupt during the middle ages, and in particular all the Apocrypha, except Tobit and Judith, which Jerome translated from the Chaldee, were added from the older versions. (See [[Bible: 0.T]]. Versions.) Notwithstanding the labour involved in translating the Scriptures, Jerome found time to do a great deal of literary work, and also to indulge in violent controversy. Earlier in life he had a great admiration for Origen, and translated many of his works, and this lasted after he had settled at Bethlehem, for in 389 he translated Origen's homilies on Luke; but he came to change his opinion and wrote violently against two admirers of the great Alexandrian scholar, John, bishop of Jerusalem, and his own former friend Rufinus.

At Bethlehem also he found time to finish Didymi de spiritu sancto liber, a translation begun at Rome at the request of Pope Damasus, to denounce the revival of Gnostic heresies by Jovinianus and Vigilantius (Adv. Jovinianum lib. II. and Contra Vigilantium liber), and to repeat his admiration of the hermit life in his Vita S. Hilarionis eremitae, in his Vita Malchi monachi captivi, in his translations of the Rule of St Pachomius (the Benedict of Egypt), and in his S. Pachomii et S. Theodorici epistolae et verba mystica. He also wrote at Bethlehem De viris illustribus sive de scriptoribus ecclesiasticas, a church history in biographies, ending with the life of the author; De nominibus Hebraicis, compiled from Philo and Origen; and De situ et nominibus locorum Hebraicorum.' At the same place, too, he wrote Quaestiones Hebraicae on Genesis, 2 and a series of commentaries on Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Matthew and the Epistles of St Paul. About 394 Jerome came to know Augustine, for whom he held a high regard. He engaged in the Pelagian controversy with more than even his usual bitterness (Dialogi contra pelagianos); and it is said that the violence of his invective so provoked his opponents that an armed mob attacked the monastery, and that Jerome was forced to flee and to remain in concealment for nearly two years. He returned to Bethlehem in 418, and after a lingering illness died on the 30th of September 420.

Jerome "is one of the few Fathers to whom the title of Saint appears to have been given in recognition of services rendered to the Church rather than for eminent sanctity. He is the great Christian scholar of his age, rather than the profound theologian or the wise guide of souls." His great work was the Vulgate, but his achievements in other fields would have sufficed to distinguish him. His commentaries are valuable because of his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, his varied interests, and his comparative freedom from allegory. To him we owe the distinction between canonical and apocryphal writings; in the Prologus Galeatus prefixed to his version of Samuel and Kings, he says that the church reads the Apocrypha "for the edification of the people, not for confirming the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines." He was a pioneer in the fields of patrology and of biblical archaeology. In controversy he was too fond of mingling personal abuse with legitimate argument, and this weakness mars his letters, which were held in high admiration in the early middle ages, and are valuable for their history of the man and his times. Luther in his Table Talk condemns them as dealing only with fasting, meats, virginity, &c. "If he only had insisted upon the works of faith and performed them! But he teaches nothing either about faith, or love, or hope, or the works of faith." 1 Compare the critical edition of these two works in Lagarde's Onomastica sacra (Gotting. 1870).

See Lagarde's edition appended to his Genesis Graece (Leipzig, 1868).

Editions of the complete works: Erasmus (9 vols., Basel, 1516. - 1520); Mar. Victorius, bishop of Rieti (9 vols., Rome, 1565-1572); F. Calixtus and A. Tribbechovius (12 vols., Frankfort and Leipzig, 1684-1690); J. Martianay (5 vols., incomplete Benedictine ed., Paris, 1693-1706); D. Vallarsi (1 i vols., Verona, 1734-1742), the best; Migne, Patrol. Ser. Lat. (xxii. - xxix.). The De viris illust. was edited by Herding in 1879. A selection is given in translation by W. H. Fremantle, "Select Library of Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers," 2nd series, vol. vi. (New York, 1893). Biographies are prefixed to most of the above editions. See also lives by F. Z. Collombet (Paris and Lyons, 2844); 0. Zdckler (Gotha, 1865); E. L. Cutts (London, 1878); C. Martin (London, 1888); P. Largent (Paris, 1898); F. W. Farrar, Lives of the Fathers, ii. 150-297 (Edinburgh, 1889). Additional literature is cited in Hauck-Herzog's Realencyk. fir prot. Theol. viii. 42.


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Born at Stridon, a town on the confines of Dalmatia and Pannonia, about the year 340-2; died at Bethlehem, 30 September, 420.

He went to Rome, probably about 360, where he was baptized, and became interested in ecclesiastical matters. From Rome he went to Trier, famous for its schools, and there began his theological studies. Later he went to Aquileia, and towards 373 he set out on a journey to the East. He settled first in Antioch, where he heard Apollinaris of Laodicea, one of the first exegetes of that time and not yet separated from the Church. From 374-9 Jerome led an ascetical life in the desert of Chalcis, south-west of Antioch. Ordained priest at Antioch, he went to Constantinople (380-81), where a friendship sprang up between him and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. From 382 to August 385 he made another sojourn in Rome, not far from Pope Damasus. When the latter died (11 December, 384) his position became a very difficult one. His harsh criticisms had made him bitter enemies, who tried to ruin him. After a few months he was compelled to leave Rome. By way of Antioch and Alexandria he reached Bethlehem, in 386. He settled there in a monastery near a convent founded by two Roman ladies, Paula and Eustochium, who followed him to Palestine. Henceforth he led a life of asceticism and study; but even then he was troubled by controversies which will be mentioned later, one with Rufinus and the other with the Pelagians.

CHRONOLOGY

The literary activity of St. Jerome, although very prolific, may be summed up under a few principal heads: works on the Bible; theological controversies; historical works; various letters; translations. But perhaps the chronology of his more important writings will enable us to follow more easily the development of his studies.

A first period extends to his sojourn in Rome (382), a period of preparation. From this period we have the translation of the homilies of Origen on Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Isaias (379-81), and about the same time the translation of the Chronicle of Eusebius; then the "Vita S. Pauli, prima eremitae" (374-379).

A second period extends from his sojourn in Rome to the beginning of the translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew (382-390). During this period the exegetical vocation of St. Jerome asserted itself under the influence of Pope Damasus, and took definite shape when the opposition of the ecclesiastics of Rome compelled the caustic Dalmatian to renounce ecclesiastical advancement and retire to Bethlehem. In 384 we have the correction of the Latin version of the Four Gospels; in 385, the Epistles of St. Paul; in 384, a first revision of the Latin Psalms according to the accepted text of the Septuagint (Roman Psalter); in 384, the revision of the Latin version of the Book of Job, after the accepted version of the Septuagint; between 386 and 391 a second revision of the Latin Psalter, this time according to the text of the "Hexapla" of Origen (Gallican Psalter, embodied in the Vulgate). It is doubtful whether he revised the entire version of the Old Testament according to the Greek of the Septuagint. In 382-383 "Altercatio Luciferiani et Orthodoxi" and "De perpetua Virginitate B. Mariae; adversus Helvidium". In 387-388, commentaries on the Epistles to Philemon, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to Titus; and in 389-390, on Ecclesiastes.

Between 390 and 405, St. Jerome gave all his attention to the translation of the Old Testament according to the Hebrew, but this work alternated with many others. Between 390-394 he translated the Books of Samuel and of Kings, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Esdras, and Paralipomena. In 390 he translated the treatise "De Spiritu Sancto" of Didymus of Alexandria; in 389-90, he drew up his "Quaestiones hebraicae in Genesim" and "De interpretatione nominum hebraicorum." In 391-92 he wrote the "Vita S. Hilarionis", the "Vita Malchi, monachi captivi", and commentaries on Nahum, Micheas, Sophonias, Aggeus, Habacuc. In 392-93, "De viris illustribus", and "Adversus Jovinianum"; in 395, commentaries on Jonas and Abdias; in 398, revision of the remainder of the Latin version of the New Testament, and about that time commentaries on chapters xiii-xxiii of Isaias; in 398, an unfinished work "Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum"; in 401, "Apologeticum adversus Rufinum"; between 403-406, "Contra Vigilantium"; finally from 398 to 405, completion of the version of the Old Testament according to the Hebrew.

In the last period of his life, from 405 to 420, St. Jerome took up the series of his commentaries interrupted for seven years. In 406, he commented on Osee, Joel, Amos, Zacharias, Malachias; in 408, on Daniel; from 408 to 410, on the remainder of Isaias; from 410 to 415, on Ezechiel; from 415-420, on Jeremias. From 401 to 410 date what is left of his sermons; treatises on St. Mark, homilies on the Psalms, on various subjects, and on the Gospels; in 415, "Dialogi contra Pelagianos".

CHARACTERISTICS OF ST. JEROME'S WORK

St. Jerome owes his place in the history of exegetical studies chiefly to his revisions and translations of the Bible. Until about 391-2, he considered the Septuagint translation as inspired. But the progress of his Hebraistic studies and his intercourse with the rabbis made him give up that idea, and he recognized as inspired the original text only. It was about this period that he undertook the translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. But he went too far in his reaction against the ideas of his time, and is open to reproach for not having sufficiently appreciated the Septuagint. This latter version was made from a much older, and at times much purer, Hebrew text than the one in use at the end of the fourth century. Hence the necessity of taking the Septuagint into consideration in any attempt to restore the text of the Old Testament. With this exception we must admit the excellence of the translation made by St. Jerome. His commentaries represent a vast amount of work but of very unequal value. Very often he worked exceedingly rapidly; besides, he considered a commentary a work of compilation, and his chief care was to accumulate the interpretations of his predecessors, rather than to pass judgment on them. The "Quaestiones hebraicae in Genesim" is one of his best works. It is a philological inquiry concerning the original text. It is to be regretted that he was unable to continue, as had been his intention, a style of work entirely new at the time. Although he often asserted his desire to avoid excessive allegory, his efforts in that respect were far from successful, and in later years he was ashamed of some of his earlier allegorical explanations. He himself says that he had recourse to the allegorical meaning only when unable to discover the literal meaning. His treatise, "De Interpretatione nominum hebraicorum", is but a collection of mystical and symbolical meanings. Excepting the "Commentarius in ep. ad Galatas", which is one of his best, his explanations of the New Testament have no great value. Among his commentaries on the Old Testament must be mentioned those on Amos, Isaias, and Jeremias. There are some that are frankly bad, for instance those on Zacharias, Osee, and Joel. To sum up, the Biblical knowledge of St. Jerome makes him rank first among ancient exegetes. In the first place, he was very careful as to the sources of his information. He required of the exegete a very extensive knowledge of sacred and profane history, and also of the linguistics and geography of Palestine. He never either categorically acknowledged or rejected the deuterocanonical books as part of the Canon of Scripture, and he repeatedly made use of them. On the inspiration, the existence of a spiritual meaning, and the freedom of the Bible from error, he holds the traditional doctrine. Possibly he has insisted more than others on the share which belongs to the sacred writer in his collaboration in the inspired work. His criticism is not without originality. The controversy with the Jews and with the Pagans had long since called the attention of the Christians to certain difficulties in the Bible. St. Jerome answers in various ways. Not to mention his answers to this or that difficulty, he appeals above all to the principle, that the original text of the Scriptures is the only one inspired and free from error. Therefore one must determine if the text, in which the difficulties arise, has not been altered by the copyist. Moreover, when the writers of the New Testament quoted the Old Testament, they did so not according to the letter but according to the spirit. There are many subtleties and even contradictions in the explanations Jerome offers, but we must bear in mind his evident sincerity. He does not try to cloak over his ignorance; he admits that there are many difficulties in the Bible; at times he seems quite embarrassed. Finally, he proclaims a principle, which, if recognized as legitimate, might serve to adjust the insufficiencies of his criticism. He asserts that in the Bible there is no material error due to the ignorance or the heedlessness of the sacred writer, but he adds: "It is usual for the sacred historian to conform himself to the generally accepted opinion of the masses in his time" (P.L., XXVI, 98; XXIV, 855). Among the historical works of St. Jerome must be noted the translation and the continuation of the "Chronicon Eusebii Caesariensis", as the continuation written by him, which extends from 325 to 378, served as a model for the annals of the chroniclers of the Middle Ages; hence the defects in such works: dryness, superabundance of data of every description, lack of proportion and of historical sense. The "Vita S. Pauli Eremitae" is not a very reliable document. The "Vita Malchi, monachi" is a eulogy of chastity woven through a number of legendary episodes. As to the "Vita S. Hilarionis", it has suffered from contact with the preceding ones. It has been asserted that the journeys of St. Hilarion are a plagiarism of some old tales of travel. But these objections are altogether misplaced, as it is really a reliable work. The treatise "De Viris illustribus" is a very excellent literary history. It was written as an apologetic work to prove that the Church had produced learned men. For the first three centuries Jerome depends to a great extent on Eusebius, whose statements he borrows, often distorting them, owing to the rapidity with which he worked. His accounts of the authors of the fourth century however are of great value. The oratorical consist of about one hundred homilies or short treatises, and in these the Solitary of Bethlehem appears in a new light. He is a monk addressing monks, not without making very obvious allusions to contemporary events. The orator is lengthy and apologizes for it. He displays a wonderful knowledge of the versions and contents of the Bible. His allegory is excessive at times, and his teaching on grace is Semipelagian. A censorious spirit against authority, sympathy for the poor which reaches the point of hostility against the rich, lack of good taste, inferiority of style, and misquotation, such are the most glaring defects of these sermons. Evidently they are notes taken down by his hearers, and it is a question whether they were reviewed by the preacher. The correspondence of St. Jerome is one of the best known parts of his literary output. It comprises about one hundred and twenty letters from him, and several from his correspondents. Many of these letters were written with a view to publication, and some of them the author even edited himself; hence they show evidence of great care and skill in their composition, and in them St. Jerome reveals himself a master of style. These letters, which had already met with great success with his contemporaries, have been, with the "Confessions" of St. Augustine, one of the works most appreciated by the humanists of the Renaissance. Aside from their literary interest they have great historical value. Relating to a period covering half a century they touch upon most varied subjects; hence their division into letters dealing with theology, polemics, criticism, conduct, and biography. In spite of their turgid diction they are full of the man's personality. It is in this correspondence that the temperament of St. Jerome is most clearly seen: his waywardness, his love of extremes, his exceeding sensitiveness; how he was in turn exquisitely dainty and bitterly satirical, unsparingly outspoken concerning others and equally frank about himself. The theological writings of St. Jerome are mainly controversial works, one might almost say composed for the occasion. He missed being a theologian, by not applying himself in a consecutive and personal manner to doctrinal questions. In his controversies he was simply the interpreter of the accepted ecclesiastical doctrine. Compared with St. Augustine his inferiority in breadth and originality of view is most evident. His "Dialogue" against the Luciferians deals with a schismatic sect whose founder was Lucifer, Bishop of Cagliari in Sardinia. The Luciferians refused to approve of the measure of clemency by which the Church, since the Council of Alexandria, in 362, had allowed bishops, who had adhered to Arianism, to continue to discharge their duties on condition of professing the Nicene Creed. This rigorist sect had adherents almost everywhere, and even in Rome it was very troublesome. Against it Jerome wrote his "Dialogue", scathing in sarcasm, but not always accurate in doctrine, particularly as to the Sacrament of Confirmation. The book "Adversus Helvidium" belongs to about the same period. Helvidius held the two following tenets:

  • Mary bore children to Joseph after the virginal birth of Jesus Christ;
  • from a religious viewpoint, the married state is not inferior to celibacy. Earnest entreaty decided Jerome to answer. In doing so he discusses the various texts of the Gospel which, it was claimed, contained the objections to the perpetual virginity of Mary. If he did not find positive answers on all points, his work, nevertheless, holds a very creditable place in the history of Catholic exegesis upon these questions. The relative dignity of virginity and marriage, discussed in the book against Helvidius, was taken up again in the book "Adversus Jovinianum" written about ten years later. Jerome recognizes the legitimacy of marriage, but he uses concerning it certain disparaging expressions which were criticized by contemporaries and for which he has given no satisfactory explanation. Jovinian was more dangerous than Helvidius. Although he did not exactly teach salvation by faith alone, and the uselessness of good works, he made far too easy the road to salvation and slighted a life of asceticism. Every one of these points St. Jerome took up. The "Apologeticum adversus Rufinum" dealt with the Origenistic controversies. St. Jerome was involved in one of the most violent episodes of that struggle, which agitated the Church from Origen's lifetime until the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553). The question at issue was to determine if certain doctrines professed by Origen and others taught by certain pagan followers of Origen could be accepted. In the present case the doctrinal difficulties were embittered by personalities between St. Jerome and his former friend, Rufinus. To understand St. Jerome's position we must remember that the works of Origen were by far the most complete exegetical collection then in existence, and the one most accessible to students. Hence a very natural tendency to make use of them, and it is evident that St. Jerome did so, as well as many others. But we must carefully distinguish between writers who made use of Origen and those who adhered to his doctrines. This distinction is particularly necessary with St. Jerome, whose method of work was very rapid, and consisted in transcribing the interpretations of former exegetes without passing criticism on them. Nevertheless, it is certain that St. Jerome greatly praised and made use of Origen, that he even transcribed some erroneous passages without due reservation. But it is also evident that he never adhered thinkingly and systematically to the Origenistic doctrines. Under these circumstances it came about that when Rufinus, who was a genuine Origenist, called on him to justify his use of Origen, the explanations he gave were not free from embarrassment. At this distance of time it would require a very subtle and detailed study of the question to decide the real basis of the quarrel. However that may be, Jerome may be accused of imprudence of language and blamed for a too hasty method of work. With a temperament such as his, and confident of his undoubted orthodoxy in the matter of Origenism, he must naturally have been tempted to justify anything. This brought about a most bitter controversy with his wily adversary, Rufinus. But on the whole Jerome's position is by far the stronger of the two, even in the eyes of his contemporaries. It is generally conceded that in this controversy Rufinus was to blame. It was he who brought about the conflict in which he proved himself to be narrow-minded, perplexed, ambitious, even timorous. St. Jerome, whose attitude is not always above reproach, is far superior to him. Vigilantius, the Gascon priest against whom Jerome wrote a treatise, quarrelled with ecclesiastical usages rather than matters of doctrine. What he principally rejected was the monastic life and the veneration of saints and of relics. In short, Helvidius, Jovinian, and Vigilantius were the mouthpieces of a reaction against asceticism which had developed so largely in the fourth century. Perhaps the influence of that same reaction is to be seen in the doctrine of the monk Pelagius, who gave his name to the principal heresy on grace: Pelagianism. On this subject Jerome wrote his "Dialogi contra Pelagianos". Accurate as to the doctrine of original sin, the author is much less so when he determines the part of God and of man in the act of justification. In the main his ideas are Semipelagian: man merits first grace: a formula which endangers the absolute freedom of the gift of grace. The book "De situ et nominibus locorum hebraicorum" is a translation of the "Onomasticon" of Eusebius, to which the translator has joined additions and corrections. The translations of the "Homilies" of Origen vary in character according to the time in which they were written. As time went on, Jerome became more expert in the art of translating, and he outgrew the tendency to palliate, as he came across them, certain errors of Origen. We must make special mention of the translation of the homilies "In Canticum Canticorum", the Greek original of which has been lost.

St. Jerome's complete works can be found in P.L., XXII-XXX.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
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