30 September 2009

Commemoration of St. Jerome

Today our Synod commemorates and gives thanks to God for the life and work of St. Jerome. Counted as one of the four great doctors of the Western Church (with Augustine, Ambrose and Gregory), he was the only one of them who was not a bishop. From the Synod's website and the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around the year A.D. 345. At a young age he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament . After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the western Church world for over 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the early church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem but his remains were eventually taken to Rome.

Today we pray:

O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. Make those who continue to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord...

The Lutheran Symbols cite Jerome in a number of places, but my favorite is this from his Dialog Against the Pelagians, I, 5:

"We are righteous, therefore, when we confess that we are sinners, and our righteousness does not consist in our own merit, but in God's mercy."


christl242 said...

St. Jerome is indeed noteworthy for his gifts to the Church.

Unfortunately he did make one major boo boo in retaining paenitentia as the translation of metanoia. Penance and repentance have different nuances and penance came to be seen as a work of satisfaction.

I like Jerome, though, because he is proof of the fact that the saints are very human. It is said he could be very crabby!


Past Elder said...

Crabby to say the least.

He had the ear of Pope Damasus, but after he died, the Roman clergy investigated him re the group of wealthy women around him, particularly a certain Paula, whom he got into asceticism -- but not so ascetic as to divest Paula's money, which supported them, not to mention the ascetic practices he encouraged upon her daughter Blaesilla brought about her death within four months, yet he told her mother Paula not to mourn her.

This outraged the Roman citizenry, coupled with Jerome's freguent lashings out at the parish clergy for not being all monky, and he was sent packing from Rome.

His Bible translation, and the livlihood to do it, came from Paula's money.

Martin Luther had a rather low opinion of him, and we would do well to follow that rather the piously cleaned up accounts of his life.

William Weedon said...

The second Martin wrote of him:

"The genius of Jerome was most outstanding. His unique work entitles him to eternal praise, because he translated the Bible from its original languages... And because he was also a man of much reading, many difficult questions had been learnedly explained by him. Thus in this area and especially in his commentaries he is valuable and worth reading." Chemnitz does go on to note he is a bit unreliable when it comes to ascetic fanaticism and that he was terribly sharp and excessively vehement when he was refuting error. "Thus what pertains to grammatical and historical matters in Jerome's writings can help us much, but what pertains to doctrinal points is different." Loci I:32

Scott Larkins said...

Went by CPH today to get my first copy of The Lutheran Study Bible.

What a gift to the Church!

Thanks CPH! Keep it coming.

christl242 said...

There's a story about a famous painting that was seen by Pope Sixtus, I believe it was. The painting showed Jerome with a stone with which he used to strike himself in order to try to control his famous temper. The Pope is said to have remarked that were it not for that stone Jerome would never have been canonized.

I wonder if his penchant for monasticism influenced his Biblical translation.


Past Elder said...

Well, far be it from me to come down on a guy for getting a little sharp when refuting error, although I suppose my generally irenic tone in such matters would suggest otherwise.

And I'll buy the second Matin's take, right along with the first's. Hell, I got a Clementine Vulgate at arm's reach just in case.

But it does bring up another question nobody's answered. Which is, in Judaism you're supposed to learn Hebrew so you can read Scripture, in Islam you're supposed to learn Arabic so you can read the Koran, the idea being, it's only the real thing in the original language.

So when did we get all hot on translating, leave learning Greek let alone Hebrew to the blackbirds, who then argue about the quality of the translations?

Maybe I'll go the basement and blow some dust off my Jerome Biblical Commentary to celebrate. Got that as a gift from someone I steered to the post-conciliar RCC. There were two such people, and I suppose if there were a Purgatory the entire Enchiridion indulgentiarum performed by every last bleeding member of die Abtei would not appreciably shorten my time for that.

Wouldn't go there myself dragged by a team of mules, but didn't know where else to send them. Now I do.