Jerome

eusebius hieronymus) (c.345-c.419. Biblical scholar and translator, he was born of Christian parents in Stridon in NE Italy. Around the age of twelve he went to Rome and studied Greek, Latin, rhetoric, and philosophy under Aelius Donatus. While in Rome he met Rufinus of Aquileia. He allegedly spent his Sundays in the catacombs translating the inscriptions. At the age of nineteen he was baptized. He journeyed to Gaul, became acquainted with monasticism at Treves, and on his return joined a small group of ascetics including Rufinus. About 373 he left the group and went to the East and spent some time living as an ascetic in the desert near Chalcis.

During this time he began to master the Hebrew language, perfected his Greek, and had his famous dream in which he was accused of being a Ciceronian rather than a Christian. He left his ascetic existence and went to Antioch, where he heard the lectures of Apollinaris of Laodicea on Scripture and was ordained without pastoral responsibility by Bishop Paulinus, recognized by Rome as an orthodox bishop. Jerome then went to Constantinople and studied with Gregory Nazianzus* and perhaps Gregory of Nyssa. While there he translated some of the works of Eusebius, Origen, and others. In 382 he journeyed to Rome with Bishop Paulinus and became involved in the dispute surrounding the Melitian Schism.* He became the friend and secretary of Pope Damasus. While in Rome he praised the ascetic life of monasticism and decried the lax moral life of the Christians in the city. He was most successful in winning the female sex to his views of ascetic living, but due to rumors about his relationship with them and the accusation that his harsh asceticism caused the death of one of them, he left Rome after the death of Pope Damasus and in 386 made his home in Bethlehem for the rest of his life. There he oversaw a men's monastery and continued to serve as the spiritual adviser to some of the women who followed him from Rome to establish a convent.

He engaged in theological controversy with Vigilantius, Origen, Pelagius, Jovinian, his good friend Rufinus, and even Augustine of Hippo. In these controversies he used irony, personal attacks, sarcasm, and bitter invective. Yet his service to the church was invaluable and should not be obscured because of the flaws in his complex personality. His scholarship and grasp of languages was unsurpassed in the early church. He engaged in a voluminous correspondence, compiled a bibliography of ecclesiastical writers, wrote De Viris Illustribus, wrote commentaries on virtually all the books of the Bible, and perhaps most important of all, upon the urging of Pope Damasus used his great linguistic skills and erudition to translate the Bible into the common tongue of that day.

In the process of producing the Vulgate, Jerome apparently used Origen's Hexapla and consulted local rabbis in order to perfect the OT section. He questioned the inclusion of the Apocrypha section although he did use it for edification. His translation is important in that he set the example of working from the original languages. The Vulgate has left a tremendous imprint upon the development of the church, and thus Jerome's scholarship extends its influence into our own day.

Works in J.P. Migne (ed.), Patrologia Latina (1844-64), vols. XXII-XXX; L. Huizinga, Hieronymus (1946); P. Antin, Essai sur Saint Jérõme (1951); F.X. Murphy (ed.), A Monument to Saint Jerome (1952); E. Arns, La technique du livre d'après saint Jérõme (1953); J.G. Nolan, Jerome and Jovinian (1956); C.C. Mierow, Saint Jerome: The Sage of Bethlehem (1959); J.N.D. Kelly, St. Jerome (1975).