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St. Jerome and the Vulgate (completing the FIRST Bible in the year 404) [Catholic Caucus] ^ | not given | Marianne Dorman

Posted on 10/17/2011 4:57:32 PM PDT by Salvation

      ST. JEROME 

            AND THE

Jerome is one of the four Latin doctors. Whenever one thinks of Jerome one immediately thinks of the Vulgate, his Latin translation of the Bible, which was the standard version until Vatican II in the Roman Catholic Church. His translation of the Old Testament came from the Hebrew, and the New from Greek Texts. It was a task that took him some fifteen years. Indeed it is not so much his piety that has endeared him to others over the centuries but his dedication to scholarship. His library became one of the most famous in the world, in which most of the books had been self copied.
Born to wealthy parents c. 347 in Strido, Dalmatia he was well educated at Rome, firstly by his father, secondly by the grammarian, Aelius Donatus, and thirdly by undertaking a study of rhetoric, a skill all so evident in his writings. He was baptized by Pope Liberius when he was about twenty and already showing an interest in ecclesiology. He also travelled extensively, and it was whilst he was in Trier that he decided to be a monk. He returned home and joined an ascetic group near his home-town under the direction of Bishop Valerian. After a quarrel, the first of many in his life, he left for Palestine. He set out with two other monks, both of whom died en route, and Jerome himself was seriously ill by the time he reached Antioch. Here he stayed and in this state  dreamt that he was before the Judgment seat where he was accused of being more Ciceronian than Christian.
This gave a new direction for his life and he became a hermit in the desert of Chalcis, south of Antioch where he learnt several languages in order to translate writings. Jerome thirsted for knowledge. So he engaged a convert Jew to teach him Hebrew and Chaldaic, and attended regularly the lectures of Apollinaris of Laodicea, from whom he learnt much about the Bible but never accepted his teaching about its interpretation. As he said, "I was not so foolish as to try and teach myself," "What a toil it was! How difficult I found it! How often I was on the point of giving it up in despair, and yet in my eagerness to learn took it up again! Myself can bear witness of this, and so, too, can those who had lived with me at the time. Yet I thank God for the fruit I won from that bitter seed."
In 378 he was ordained a priest by Paulinus in Antioch, after which he left for Constantinople, where for nearly three years he studied Holy Scripture under Gregory the Theologian, the Patriarch of this See and at the height of his fame as a teacher and preacher. While there he translated into Latin Origen's Homilies on the Prophets and Eusebius' Chronicle; he also wrote on Isaiah's vision of the Seraphim. He then returned to Rome on ecclesiastical business, and Pope Damasus admitted him into his court. However, he let nothing distract him from his continual occupation of studying the Bible and copying various manuscripts. When Damasus appointed Jerome to be his secretary in 382, he also entrusted to him the task of having a complete version of the Bible in Latin. What a task this was as evident in Jerome's reply.
"You urge me to revise the old Latin version, and, as it were, to sit in judgment on the copies of the Scriptures which are now scattered throughout the whole world; and, inasmuch as they differ from one another, you would have me decide which of them agree with the Greek original. The labour is one of love, but at the same time both perilous and presumptuous; for in judging others I must be content to be judged by all; and how can I dare to change the language of the world in its hoary old age, and carry it back to the early days of its infancy? Is there a man, learned or unlearned, who will not, when he takes the volume into his hands, and perceives that what he reads does not suit his settled tastes, break out immediately into violent language, and call me a forger and a profane person for having the audacity to add anything to the ancient books, or to make any changes or corrections therein? Now there are two consoling reflections which enable me to bear the odium-in the first place, the command is given by you who are the supreme bishop; and secondly, even on the showing of those who revile us, readings at variance with the early copies cannot be right."
During this stay in Rome Jerome also became a mentor for a group of holy women: Paula, Marcella, Eustochium and others who lived semi-monastic lives in their homes. He helped them in their study of Scripture and in pursuing a better Christian life. He even taught them to sing the psalms in Hebrew. After Damasus' death in 385 Jerome left Rome and eventually settled in Bethlehem, where he lived in a double monastery established by one of these remarkable woman, Paula and later joined by her daughter, Eustochium. With Paula's monetary help, Jerome could now pursue his literary interests and his learning more intently. He wrote:
"Though my hair was now growing gray and though I looked more like professor than student, yet I went to Alexandria to attend Didymus' lectures. I owe him much. What I did not know I learned. What I knew already I did not lose through his different presentation of it. Men thought I had done with tutors; but when I got back to Jerusalem and Bethlehem how hard I worked and what a price I paid for my night-time teacher Baraninus! Like another Nicodemus he was afraid of the Jews!"
Nor was Jerome content merely to gather up this or that teacher's words; he gathered from all quarters whatever might prove of use to him in this task. From the outset he had accumulated the best possible copies of the Bible and the best commentators on it, but now in Bethlehem he worked on copies from the Jewish synagogues and from the library formed at Caesarea by Origen and Eusebius. He hoped that by assiduously comparing texts he would ascertain at greater accuracy of text and its meaning. With this same intent he also scoured Palestine. He thoroughly believed as he once wrote to Domnio and Rogatian:
"A man will understand the Bible better if he has seen Judaea with his own eyes and discovered its ancient cities and sites either under the old names or newer ones. In company with some learned Hebrews I went through the entire land the names of whose sites are on every Christian's lips."
I am sure Paula assisted Jerome immensely in his work as the latter corrected some of the earlier Latin versions of Scripture; translated New Testament Greek into Latin and nearly all the books of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin. Although immersed in this work he gave time to those who visited him about the Bible and also corresponded with those wanting answers about the Bible. Meditating on Holy Scripture was indeed the love of Jerome's life and he poured over it day and night even in his old age. Indeed for Jerome and many after him, knowledge of Scripture was like the "pearl beyond price".
Like all scholars of his time Jerome believed that Scripture was inspired by God, yet he never questioned that the individual authors/editors of the various Books worked in full freedom under the divine inspiration, according to his own individual nature and character. Jerome was able to convey something of this individuality in the Vulgate.
Apart from trying to provide a more accurate account of Scripture, there was another purpose in Jerome's mind for his work. This was to enhance the preaching of priests. To him it was imperative that they could quote from the Bible. "Let a priest's speech be seasoned with the Bible," for "the Scriptures are a trumpet that stirs us with a mighty voice and penetrates to the soul of them that believe," and "nothing so strikes home as an example taken from the Bible," insisted Jerome. This Latin doctor had eight-eight formulation of sound principles regarding reading and studying the bible, which he believed provided a safe path for all to follow in getting from the Sacred Books their full meaning.

Another cause dear to Jerome's heart was asceticism, and was reflected in the biographies he wrote on some of the early ascetics or hermits: Paulus of Thebes, whom Jerome regarded as the first hermit, Hilarion and old Malchus. He maintained that the monastic life should be based on a systematic lectio divino, that is, a prayerful and serious study of Scripture and the Fathers.
He also directed some of his energy addressing the heresies of his age. Against Helvidius who taught that Jesus had other siblings he wrote The Perpetual Virginity of Mary. Against Pelagius whose teaching implied that a Christian did not need God's grace in life, he wrote Dialogue Between Atticus, a Catholic and Critobulus, a Heretic. This was his last major work, written three years before his death in 417, and it had disastrous results for the old Jerome. Pelagius' supporters burned the monasteries at Bethlehem, and it led also to his falling out of favour with John, the Bishop of Jerusalem.

Overall Jerome's writings were immense. Apart from the Vulgate, he wrote commentaries on many books of the Bible. He also worked on Origin's commentaries, and it is by his labour that so much of Origen's works survive (although he contributed to Origen being declared a heretic). He updated the Chronicle of Eusebius, continuing its sequence from 325 to the year 378 and in his De viris illustribus he produced a survey of distinguished writers up to 393, the first extant example of a patrology, beginning with Peter.

Alas Jerome's temperament did not endear him to many. As he suffered from a sense of insecurity he was often quarrelsome and offensive, which of course broke relationships and made enemies. One was with his boyhood friend, Rufinus after the latter published a new and rather free translation of Origen's "De principiis", to demonstrate that their former mentor was indeed orthodox in his teaching. The ensuing years witnessed a bitter feud between the two, during which Jerome wrote his own translation of "De principiis " to reveal the heresy of Origen (this work is now lost). Jerome also made personal attacks on Rufinus in "Apologia adversus libros Rufini". Indeed John the Bishop of Jerusalem excommunicated Jerome for a time over his anti-Origen writings. Often his verbal attacks on others proved to be more negative than positive. For example, even in his final years when attacking Pelagianism, he spent more energy vilifying Pelagius' supporters rather than against their teachings.
Nevertheless in an age when Greek forms still dominated much of the intellectual thoughts of Christianity, Jerome demonstrated that Christian learning could also be expressed in Latin. He also helped to restore the importance of the Church's Jewish inheritance, evincing an enthusiasm for Hebrew texts that would not be matched again in the West until the Reformation. So we thank God for Jerome unstinting devotion to the Scriptures and pray, like him we may always ponder them as the avenue to know God and His teaching better. Undoubtedly this contribution to the life of Christians helps us to pardon him for his often aggressive, argumentative, distorted and demeaned behaviour.
O heavenly Father we thank you for the life and work of Jerome, Your servant who had a deep love for Holy Scripture and was a careful translator of it. Help us to be as single-minded as Jerome in seeking knowledge of You through Scripture, and to share that knowledge with others. This we ask through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: bible; brokencaucus; catholic; saints
Eusebius Hieronymus, called Jerome (c 342 -420) was commissioned by Pope Damasus to begin translating the New Testament from Greek into Latin. He continued the task after Damasus' death and began the translation of the Old Testament from both Greek and Hebrew, completing this by the year 404. This was the Vulgate or "common" Latin Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.

1 posted on 10/17/2011 4:57:35 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Salvation

Title needs to say

St. Jerome and the Vulgate (completing the FIRST Bible in the year 404) [Catholic Caucus]

2 posted on 10/17/2011 5:02:50 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Catholic Lane

St. Jerome and the Text of Scripture

September 30, 420 saw the death of the Latin Church Father St. Jerome and hence September 30th is his feast day. Jerome spent the last half of his life rendering the Scriptures into the contemporary Latin of his day.  Since Latin was at that time, the common or “vulgar” tongue, his translation was called the “Latin Vulgate.”

Latin texts of the Scriptures were known from the infancy of the Church.  But by Jerome’s time, many variations had crept into the various available Latin versions of the New Testament.  Pope Damasus I committed to Jerome the task of organizing and revising the Latin versions and consolidating them so as to create an authenticated text that corresponded with the best attested Greek manuscripts available.

It would be useful at this point to consider a common misconception about the accuracy of the biblical text.  One sometimes hears people say, “The Bible was copied and recopied so much that no one could know what it really said.”  Let’s engage in a thought experiment for a minute — and anytime anyone says this, you might ask him to do the same.

What if you had a roomful of 20 people and you gave them all a copy of some text like the Gettysburg Address and asked them to copy it by hand?  Would they all copy it correctly?  Probably not.  Might everyone of them make errors?  That is very likely.  But would any two of them make the same errors?  Highly unlikely.  Now once you had collected all the copies together, would you be able to reproduce the original text from them?  Of course, you would.  All you would have to do is look for the majority readings wherever there was a discrepancy.  The more texts you have to work with, the easier the job (we call this work “textual criticism”) would be.  So the number of copies of parts of Sacred Scripture does not in anyway tell against its accuracy, rather it gives scholars amazing testimony to the inspired Word of God especially compared to other ancient writings.

The following are some examples of the number of manuscripts of ancient writers that have survived. The plays of Aeschylus are preserved in perhaps 50 manuscripts, of which none is complete. Sophocles is represented by about 100 manuscripts, of which only 7 have any appreciable independent value. The Greek Anthology has survived in one solitary copy. The same is the case with a considerable part of Tacitus’ Annals. Of the poems of Catullus there are only 3 independent manuscripts. Some of the classical authors, such as Euripides, Cicero, Ovid, and especially Virgil, are better served with the numbers rising into the hundreds.

The numbers of manuscripts of other writers are: for Caesar’s Gallic War 10, Aristotle 49, Plato 7, Herodotus 8, Aristophanes 10. Apart from a few papyrus scraps only 8 manuscripts of Thucydides, considered by many to be one of the most accurate of ancient historians, have survived. Of the 142 books of the Roman History of Livy only 35 survive, represented in about 20 manuscripts. Homer’s Iliad is the best represented of all ancient writings, apart from the New Testament, with something like 700 manuscripts. However, there are many more significant variations in the Iliad manuscripts than there are in those of the New Testament.

When we come to the New Testament, however, we find a very different picture. Altogether we possess about 5,300 partial or complete Greek manuscripts. Early on, the New Testament books were translated into other languages, which seldom happened with other Greek and Latin writers. This means that in addition to Greek, we have something like 8,000 manuscripts in Latin, and an additional 8,000 or so manuscripts in other languages such as Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, Coptic, Gothic, Slavic, Sahidic and Georgian. As these translations began to be made before the close of the second century, they provide an excellent source for assessing the text of the New Testament writings from a very early date — Dick Tripp (Anglican Clergyman) Exploring Christianity  – The Bible.  

Because Jerome was able to work from Greek texts that were already considered ancient in his own day — and that have since been lost — his Latin translation remains of inestimable value to biblical scholars.  He also translated the Old Testament from the Greek Septuagint into Latin, as well as making another translation of the Old Testament directly from Hebrew and Aramaic.

September 30, 1452, exactly 1022 years after St. Jerome’s death, the first printed book was published by Johann Guttenberg in Germany.  And what text of the Bible did Guttenberg publish?  Why the Latin text of Jerome, of course.

The Guttenberg Bible fixed, or stabilized, the text of Scripture much better than hand written copying could do, but even back in the 16th century, it was recognized that critical attention to Jerome’s text was sorely needed.  During the intervening millennium, Jerome’s text had been copied and recopied by hand to the point where someone needed to do for it what Jerome himself had done for the Latin texts of his day.  But it would not be until the 20th century that an attempt could be made to reconstitute Jerome’s translation according to a critical assessment of the surviving manuscripts.

Once again it was a pope, this time Pius X, who made it his determination to prepare for a critical revision of the Latin Bible.  In May 1907, he assemble the abbots of the various Benedictine congregations in Rome and ordered the beginning of the long and arduous task of determining as accurately as possible the text of St. Jerome’s Latin translation, made in the fourth century.

This included decades of patient research through two world wars, locating, examining and photographing all the ancient manuscripts and portions of manuscripts held in libraries, museums and monasteries all over Europe.  The work was finally published, beginning with the Latin Psalter in 1969, with other sections released throughout the 1970s, and the entire “Nova Vulgata” or “New Vulgate” in 1979.

St. Jerome, patron of scholars and librarians, must have surely been pleased.

(© 2011 Mary Kochan)

3 posted on 10/17/2011 5:06:23 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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4 posted on 10/17/2011 5:10:12 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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5 posted on 10/17/2011 5:12:37 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

First Bible ever Ping!

6 posted on 10/17/2011 5:16:30 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Nice post but not exactly true. The Vulgate was the very first complete translation of the Bible from the original languages into a new edition. There were full Bibles in Greek in codex format before Jerome as well as the Vetus Itala.

7 posted on 10/17/2011 5:26:09 PM PDT by wideawake
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To: wideawake

You are so right.

I’ve been saving this since some people have asked about the additional books in the Catholic Bible. Wellllllll, they were there to begin with!

8 posted on 10/17/2011 5:34:46 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: wideawake

Guess I should have said the first LATIN Bible.

Could we also say the first standardized edition of the Bible in any language?

9 posted on 10/17/2011 5:38:25 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

It’s odd that Latin was considered the ‘vulgar’ or common language, yet today, those who study it are considered quite scholarly!

10 posted on 10/18/2011 12:50:03 AM PDT by antceecee (Bless us Father.. have mercy on us and protect us from evil.)
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To: Salvation

1607 years!

11 posted on 10/18/2011 4:43:56 AM PDT by Cronos (
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To: antceecee

Languages change — I remember a funny Asterix cartoon (Asterix in Rome? or Asterix and the Shield of Vercingetorix) where they go to Rome and folks are studying classical languages — Sumerian and Phoenician :-0

12 posted on 10/18/2011 4:45:29 AM PDT by Cronos (
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To: Salvation
Guess I should have said the first LATIN Bible.

The first Latin Bible was the Vetus Itala, which was used at Rome for about two hundred years before Jerome - it was a cobbled-together edition of the Bible, translated by many hands from the Greek.

Most editions of the Vulgate have two Latin translations of the Psalms - the old Vetus Itala translation from the Greek (which was provided because Christians in Rome had been chanting and praying that particular translation of the Psalms for generations and did not want to change) and Jerome's new translation from the Hebrew.

Could we also say the first standardized edition of the Bible in any language?

In 331 Emperor Constantine ordered Eusebius to supervise an edition of 50 Bibles (at that time an enormous undertaking) to be distributed to the bishops of the East.

No authenticated copy of this edition survives (most were presumably destroyed in the Muslim invasions), but it was theoretically the first standardized edition of the entire Bible.

Jerome's is therefore the second oldest standardized edition of the Bible and the oldest surviving standardized edition of the Bible in any language.

13 posted on 10/18/2011 6:21:46 AM PDT by wideawake
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To: Cronos
Yes, a Vulgate Latin Bible that was the same for all for

1607 years!

14 posted on 10/18/2011 7:03:25 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: wideawake

You must be a Latin scholar or a Bible scholar. I thought about changing the title last night and then decided I would let my lack of knowledge fall for itself.


15 posted on 10/18/2011 7:06:32 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: wideawake
Thanks, wideawake, for setting us aright.

Jerome's is therefore the second oldest standardized edition of the Bible and the oldest surviving standardized edition of the Bible in any language.

16 posted on 10/18/2011 7:08:22 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Thank you friend in Christ. I don’t know how you go about posting an article but I sure could use some prayer. I’m trying to get away from a horrible job with an even more horrible boss. I’ve got a line on a possible new job. Any prayer would help. Thank you.

17 posted on 10/18/2011 4:14:23 PM PDT by jmacusa (Political correctness is cultural Marxism. I'm not a Marxist.)
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To: Salvation; HoosierDammit; TYVets; red irish; fastrock; NorthernCrunchyCon;; ...

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

18 posted on 07/20/2013 7:58:40 PM PDT by narses
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