See his letters (ed. by J. Duff, 1942); P. Monceaux, St. Jerome: the Early Years (tr. 1933); D. S. Wiesen, St. Jerome as a Satirist (1964); J. N. D. Kelly (1973); E. F. Rice, Jr., St. Jerome in the Renaissance (1988).
See study by R. M. Favrot (1973).
See biography by R. O'Connor (1963).
See biographies by G. Lawrence (2001), D. Jowitt (2004), and A. Vaill (2006); C. Conrad, Jerome Robbins: That Broadway Man, That Ballet Man (2001); R. E. Long, Broadway, The Golden Years (2001).
See biographies by G. Bordman (1980) and M. Freedman (1986).
Jerome (c. 347 – September 30, 420) (Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; also known as Hieronymus Stridonensis) was a Catholic priest and Christian apologist best known for translating the Vulgate. He is recognized by the Catholic Church as a canonized 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. He is presumed by some to have been an Illyrian, but this may just be conjecture.
In the Catholic Church, it has been usual to represent him (the patron of theological learning) anachronistically, as a cardinal, by the side of Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose, and Pope Gregory I. 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, and less often with an owl, the symbol of wisdom and scholarship. Writing materials and the trumpet of final judgment are also part of his iconography. He is commemorated on 30 September with a memorial.
Jerome was possibly an Illyrian, born to Christian parents, but 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. Jerome learned Greek, but yet had no thought of studying the Greek Fathers, or any Christian writings.
Payne offers a different account of his conversion. As a student in Rome, he engaged in the gay activities of students there which he indulged in quite casually yet 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 ubique animo, simul ipsa silentia terrent." (Jerome, Commentarius in Ezechielem, c. 40, v. 5)
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 male homosexuality. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he finally converted.
After several years in Rome, he travelled with Bonosus to Gaul and settled in Trier "on the semi-barbarous banks of the Rhine" where he seems to have first taken up theological studies, and where he copied, for his friend 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 the things of 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.
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, and perhaps as early as this to have interested himself in the Gospel of the Hebrews, said by them to be the source of the canonical 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 at this point, 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 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 amongst the clergy and their supporters. Soon after the death of his patron Damasus (December 10, 384), Jerome was forced to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had improper relations with the widow Paula.
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 blind catechist Didymus the Blind expounding the prophet Hosea and telling his reminiscences of Anthony the Great, who had died thirty 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.
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 thirty-four 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 September 30, 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.
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 perfect his grasp of the language and 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 the Masoretic Text instead of the Septuagint went against the advice of most other Christians, including Augustine, who considered the Septuagint inspired.
For the next fifteen years, until he died, he produced a number of commentaries on Scripture, often explaining his translation choices. His knowledge of Hebrew, primarily required for this branch of his work, gives also to his exegetical treatises (especially to those written after 386) a value greater than that of most patristic commentaries. The 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.
Jerome's commentaries fall into three groups:
His Commentary on Daniel was expressly written to offset the criticisms of Porphyry, 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 hapter 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.
Jerome identified the four prophetic kingdoms symbolized in Daniel 2 as the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Medes and Persians, Macedon, and Rome. Jerome identified the stone cut out without hands as "namely, the Lord and Savior".
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.
Jerome believed that Cyrus of Persia is the higher of the two horns of the Medo-Persian ram of Daniel 8:3. The he-goat is Greece smiting Persia. Alexander is the great horn, which is then succeeded by Alexander's half brother Philip and three of his generals.
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.
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, the 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 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. He used this knowledge to translate what became known as the Vulgate, and his translation was slowly but eventually accepted in the Catholic church. Obviously, the later resurgence of Hebrew studies within Christianity owes much to him.
Jerome sometimes seemed arrogant, and occasionally despised or belittled his literary rivals, especially Ambrose. It is not so much by absolute knowledge that he shines, as by a certain poetical elegance, an incisive wit, a singular skill in adapting recognized or proverbial phrases to his purpose, and a successful aiming at rhetorical effect.
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.