Wednesday, September 30, 2009

St. Jerome

St. Jerome was a Biblical scholar and translator who aimed to introduce the best of Greek learning to Western Christianity. He sensed the inferiority of the West, and he labored to add scholarship to the public glory of the church.

In 373 Jerome decided to travel to the East. He settled for a time in the Syrian desert southeast of Antioch. There he mastered Hebrew and perfected his Greek. After ordination at Antioch he went to Constantinople and studied with Gregory of Nazianzus. In 382 he returned to Rome, where he became the friend and secretary of Pope Damasus. We have Damasus to thank for the first impulse toward Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate.

Jerome's greatest accomplishment was the Vulgate. The chaos of the older Latin translation was notorious. Working from the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT, Jerome, after twenty-three years of labor, gave Latin Christianity its Bible anew. Although the text became corrupted during the Middle Ages, its supremacy was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent in 1546, and it remains to this day the classical Latin Bible.

A second and related part of Jerome's heritage lies in his expositions of Scripture. Like all biblical interpreters of the early church, Jerome affirmed a threefold (historical, symbolic, and spiritual) meaning of Scripture and repudiated an exclusively historical interpretation as "Jewish." The mere letter kills. What he demanded was only that the historical interpretation should not be considered inferior to the allegorical (or spiritual).
He is a Doctor of the Church and 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.

No comments: