Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Prolegomena to Jerome.: Chapter III
p. xvi III.—Life of Jerome.
The figures in parentheses, when not otherwise indicated, refer to the pages in this volume.
For a full account of the Life, the translator must refer to an article (Hieronymus) written by him in Smith and Waces Dictionary of Christian Biography. A shorter statement may suffice here, since the chief sources of information are contained in this volume, and to these reference will be continually made.
Childhood and Youth. A.D. 345. Jerome was born at Stridon, near Aquileia, but in Pannonia, a place which was partially destroyed in the Gothic invasion of 377 (On Illustrious Men, 135, Vol. iii. p. 304). Jeromes own property, however, remained, though in a ruinous state, in 397 (140). His father Eusebius (Ill. Men, as above) and his mother were Catholic Christians (492), but he was not baptised in infancy. The family was moderately wealthy, possessing houses (140) and slaves (Apol. i. 30, Vol. iii. p. 498), and was intimate with the richer family from which sprang Bonosus, Jeromes foster brother and friend (6). The parents were living in 373 when Jerome first went to the East (35), but probably died at the destruction of Stridon. He had a brother, Paulinian, twenty years his junior (140, 173), and we read of a sister (8, 9), and an aunt named Castorina (13).
He received a good education, but declares that he was an idle boy (Vol. iii. 498). He was at a grammar school when the Emperor Julian died (Comm. on Habakkuk iii. 14) and soon after went to Rome with his friend Bonosus (6), where he studied rhetoric (at that time the all-embracing pursuit) under Ælius Donatus (Vol. iii. 491), and frequented 363 the law-courts (Comm. on Gal., ii. 13).
363–66. He fell into sin (9, 15, 78), but was drawn into the company of young Christians who on Sundays visited the tombs of the martyrs in the Catacombs (Com. on Ezek., ch. 40, v. 5), and is believed to have been baptised by the Pope Liberius in 366 (20). He was already a keen student, though as yet having little knowledge of Greek (Rufinus Apol. ii. 9, Vol. iii. p. 464), and had begun the acquisition of a library (35).
366–70. From Rome Jerome went with Bonosus to Gaul, passing, however, through Northern Italy, where they made acquaintance with Rufinus, probably at his native place, Concordia (Ep. v. 2, comp. with iii. 3, pp. 7, 11). He stayed at Treves (7), and travelled in its neighbourhood (394), and copied mss., and wrote a mystical Commentary on Obadiah (401).
Aquileia. Returning probably by Vercellæ (1) to Italy he was for three years at Aquileia, where he entered definitively upon the twin pursuits of his life, Scriptural study and the fostering of asceticism.
370–73. A society of congenial minds gathered round him, comprising Rufinus, Bonosus, Heliodorus (afterwards Bishop of Altinum), Chromatius (afterwards Bishop of Aquileia), and his brother Eusebius, and the Archdeacon Jovinus, the monk Chrysogonus, the sub-deacon Niceas, Innocentius, and Hylas, the freedman of the wealthy but ascetic Roman lady, Melania, together with Evagrius (afterwards Bishop of Antioch), who had come to Italy with Eusebius, Bishop of Vercellæ, on his return from exile. For the mention of these in various parts of Jeromes works, the Index must be consulted. These ascetics did not form a monastery. There were as yet no Orders or Rules. The vow was merely a “purpose” (propositum) which each privately took on himself and the terms of which each man freely prescribed. The Greek word Monachus (Monk) was used, but only implied living a single or separate life. Some were hermits (5, 9, 247), some lived in cities (121, 250). Jovinian was a monk, though antiascetic (378); Heliodorus (91) and John of Jerusalem (174) were monks, though Bishops. Some members of the ascetic society at Aquileia may have resided in the same house; but there was no cenobitic discipline. Jerome visited Stridon and the neighbouring town of Æmona (12), and perhaps resided at his native place for a time, but he complains of the worldliness of the people of his native town and of the opposition of their Bishop, Lupicinus (8 n. 10). The friends at Aquileia were united in the closest friendship.
373. Rufinus baptism (7, Ruf. Ap. i. 4, Vol. iii. 436) and the writing of Jerome's first letter on “the woman seven times struck with the axe” are the only incidents which have come down to us of this period. We only know that the society was broken up by some event which Jerome speaks of as “a sudden storm,” and “a monstrous rending asunder” (5).
Jerome determined on going to the East with Evagrius and Heliodorus; Innocentius, Niceas, and Hylas accompanied him (1, 5, 6, 10). Chromatius, Eusebius, and Jovinus remained in Italy. Bonosus retired to an island in the Adriatic, where he lived the life of a hermit (5, 9). Rufinus went to Egypt and subsequently to Palestine in the company of p. xvii Melania (6, 7). Jerome and his companions travelled through Thrace, Pontus, Bithynia, Galatia, at the capital of which (Ancyra) he appears to have stayed (497), Cappadocia, and Cilicia, to Antioch, their haven of rest (5). But they did not long remain together. Heliodorus made a journey to Jerusalem, where he was the guest of Florentius (6).
374. Jerome was in ill health, and at length, in the middle of Lent (36), fell into a fever of which he nearly died. To this illness belongs his anti-Ciceronian dream (36, Apol. ii. 6, Vol. iii. 462), which finally determined him to abandon secular learning and devote himself to sacred studies. The successive deaths of Innocentius and Hylas left Jerome alone with Evagrius, at whose country house he fell in with the ancient hermit Malchus (315), and was encouraged by him in the ascetic tendency. He hoped to see Rufinus, wrote to him through Florentius (4, 6), but he did not come; and he determined to embrace the life of solitude. Heliodorus had some thought of accompanying him, but, to Jeromes great chagrin) felt the call to pastoral work to be the stronger, and returned to Italy (8, 13, 123).
The Desert. 374–379. Jerome spent the next five years in the Desert of Chalcis, to the east of Antioch (7). It was peopled by hermits who, though living apart for most purposes, were under some kind of authority (4, 21). Jerome wrote to their head, Theodosius, begging to be admitted into their company (4). His life while in the desert was one of rigorous penance, of tears and groans alternating with spiritual ecstasy, and of temptations from the haunting memories of Roman life (24, 25); he lived in a cell or cavern; he earned his daily bread, and was clad in sackcloth (21, 24), but he was not wholly cut off from converse with men. He saw Evagrius frequently (7, 8); he wrote and received letters and books (7, 11); he learned Hebrew from a converted Jew (Ep. xviii. 10), and copied and translated the Gospel according to the Hebrews (Ill. Men, 2, 3, Vol. iii. 362), and his brother solitaries he found only too accessible (Ep. xvii. 3). Towards the close of his sojourn he became involved in the controversies then agitating the Church at Antioch, where Arian Vitalis, the orthodox but Arian-ordained Meletius, and the Western Paulinus disputed the possession of the bishopric (20). Jerome found himself beset with demands for a confession of faith in terms strange to his Western education (19, 20). He appealed to Pope Damasus for advice (19, 20); but he and his friends found his position intolerable. They would rather, he says, live among wild beasts than among Christians such as those about them. In the autumn of 378 he wrote to Marcus, then head of the eremite community, to say that he only begged for the “hospitality of the desert” for a few months: in the spring he would be gone (21).
379. Accordingly, in the spring of 379 he came to Antioch and attached himself to the party of Paulinus, the Western and orthodox Bishop, who ordained him presbyter, though he then and always afterwards declined the active ministry (446). He pursued his studies under the celebrated Apollinarius of Laodicæa, though not accepting his views (176), and wrote his “Dialogue against the Luciferians” (319–334).
Constantinople. 380. The next year Jerome went, with his Bishop, Paulinus, to Constantinople, and was there during the Second General Council, at which the views of his teacher, Apollinarius, were condemned, and sentence was passed in the cause of his Bishop. He placed himself under the teaching of Gregory Nazianzen (80, 93, 357; Ill. Men, 117), and became acquainted with Gregory of Nyssa (Ill. Men, 128); he translated the Chronicle of Eusebius and dedicated it to Vincentius and Gallienus, the former of whom became henceforward his companion (483, 444–446); he imbibed his admiration for Origen, translating his Homilies on Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and writing to Damasus on the meaning given by Origen to the Seraphim in Is. vi. (22).
381. These literary labours were carried on under the disadvantage of a weakness of the eyes, from which he henceforward constantly suffered. But there is in his writings not a single reference to the Council of Constantinople, and only cursory references to that held the next year at Rome, in which he was certainly called to take part (233; Ruf. Epil. to Pamph., Vol. iii. 426, 513).
Rome. 382–5. He went to Rome with his Bishop, Paulinus, and with Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus. At the Council which was there held he was present as a learned man whose help the Pope required. There is no ground for the notion that he became his official secretary. But for the two main objects of Jeromes life his sojourn in Rome presented great opportunities. Damasus thoroughly appreciated his eminence as a biblical scholar. He constantly sent him questions, the replies to which form short exegetical treatises, such as those reckoned among Jeromes letters on the word Hosanna and the Prodigal Son. It was also for Pope Damasus that he undertook a revised p. xviii version of the Psalms, a version which was used in the Roman Church for more than eleven centuries (492, 494), and also a revised version of the New Testament, the preface to which is of much critical value (487, 488; see also p. 357, where a whole clause in 1 Cor. vii. 35 is said to have been omitted in the old version because of the difficulty of translation). He further began the collation of the various texts of the LXX. and the other Greek versions of the Old Testament, and began to form the convictions which afterwards led to his translation direct from the Hebrew (484). These biblical studies made him acquainted with the works of Origen, and he conceived a great and almost passionate admiration for that “brazen-hearted” (Chalchenterus) worker and teacher of the Church (46), and he permitted himself to use expressions too indiscriminate in praise of him and too contemptuous towards his adversaries, which were afterwards thrown in his teeth (Ruf. Ap. ii. 14, Vol. iii. 467).
For the promotion of asceticism he found in Rome a congenial soil. Epiphanius, him- self the pupil of the hermits Hesychias and Hilarion (Sozom. vi. 32, Vol. ii. 369, 370), was the guest of the noble and wealthy lady Paula, the heiress of the Æmilian race (196), who was already disposed to the ascetic life. To the circle of her family and friends Jerome was soon admitted, and she became his devoted disciple and friend during the remainder of her life (Letter cviii.). Her son, Toxotius, and her daughters, Blesilla, the young widow (47–49), Paulina, the wife of Jeromes friend, the ascetic Senator Pammachius (135), and Julia Eustochium (196), each in special ways affected the life of Jerome. Her friends, Marcella and Principia (253), Asella (42, 58), Lea (42), Furia and Titiana, Marcellina and Felicitas (60) and Fabiola, all of them belonging to the highest Roman families, formed a circle of renuntiants who sought refuge in the ascetic life from the wastefulness and immorality of those of their own quality. Marcellas house on the Aventine was their meeting place (41, 58). There they prayed and sang psalms in the Hebrew, which they had learned for the purpose (210), and read the Scriptures under the guidance of their teacher (41, 255), who wrote for them many of his expository letters, whose ascetic writings they committed to memory, and whose private letters to them (Letters xxiii.–xlvi.) reveal the various phases of the new Roman and Christian life. These are concentrated in the Treatise on the Preservation of Virginity which he addressed to Eustochium (Letter xxii.). This period also produced the first of Jeromes controversial treatises, that against Helvidius on the perpetual virginity of Mary (334–346).
384–5. This congenial scene of activity and friendship was broken up by the death of Damasus. The new Pope, Siricius, to whom many had thought of Jerome as a rival (59), was without sympathy for him: he had offended almost every class of the community by his unrestrained satire (Letters xxii., xl., liv., etc.): he had awakened suspicion by his over praise of Origen (46); and at the funeral of Blesilla, whose end was believed to have been hastened by the hard life enjoined upon her, the fury of the people was excited against Jerome and the cry was raised “The monks to the Tiber!” (53). He felt that he was vainly trying to “sing the Lords song in a strange land” (60) and he resolved to leave Rome for ever and to seek a retreat in Palestine. His departure in August and the feelings excited by it are described in a passage in his Apology against Rufinus (Ap. iii. 22, Vol. iii. 530) and in his letter to Asella (Letter xlv.) written at the moment of his embarkation at Ostia.
385–6. Jerome sailed with Vincentius and with his brother Paulinian (Vol. iii. 530 as above) direct to Antioch. Paula and Eustochium, leaving the other members of their family, went to Cyprus to see Epiphanius; and the two parties united at Antioch (198). Thence they passed through Palestine and Jerusalem, on to Egypt, where they visited the abode of the monks of Nitria (202) and became acquainted with Didymus, “the blind seer” of Alexandria (176): and they returned to Palestine in the autumn of 386, and settled at Bethlehem for the remainder of their lives.
Bethlehem, First Period. Jeromes life at Bethlehem lasted thirty-four years. A monastery was built, of which he was the head, and a convent for women over which Paula and Eustochium successively presided (206), a church where all assembled (206, 292), and a hospice for pilgrims who came to visit the holy places from all parts of the world (140). These institutions were supported by the wealth of Paula until, through the profusion of her charities, she was so impoverished that she rather depended on Jerome and his brother, who sold the remains of their family property for their support (140). He lived in a cell, surrounded by his library, to which he constantly made additions (Ruf. Ap. ii. 8 (2), Vol. iii. 464). He lived on bread and vegetables (165), and speaks of his life as one of repentance and prayer (446), but no special austerities are mentioned in his writings, and he did not think piety increased by the absence of cleanliness (33, 34). He never officip. xix ated in the services (83), but was much absorbed in the cares (140) and discipline (Letter cxlvii.) of the monastery, and by the crowds of monks who came from all parts of the world (64, 65, 500). Sulpicius Severus (Dial. i. 8) tells us that when he was with him towards the close of his life, he had the charge of the parish of Bethlehem; and the presbyters associated with him certainly prepared candidates for baptism (446); but his call, as he often confesses, was not to the pastorate, but to the study (Letter cxii.). He had youths to whom he taught Latin classics (Ruf. Apol. ii. 8 (2), Vol. iii. 465); and he expounded the Scriptures daily to the brethren in the monastery (Apol. ii. 124, Vol. iii. 515). Sulpicius speaks of him as always reading or writing, never resting day or night. Translations, commentaries, controversial works, letters dealing with important subjects, flowed constantly from his pen, while the notes passing between him and Paula and Eustochium were without number (Ill. Men, 135, Vol. iii. 384), and every thing that he wrote was caught up by friends or by enemies and published (79). He worked amidst great distractions, not merely from the cares of the monasteries and the hospice, but from the need of entertaining persons of distinction, like Fabiola (161), from all parts of the world (153, 287, 161); from the need of replying to the letters brought by messengers from the most distant countries for those who sought advice of the renowned teacher (Letters cxvi.–cxxx.); from prolonged illnesses (188, 215); at times from poverty; from the panic of barbarian invasions (161, 252), and from the attacks of his enemies, who in the year 417 burned his monasteries (281, 282).
He spared no pains nor expense in the production of his works. He perfected his knowledge of Hebrew by the aid of a Jew who came to him like Nicodemus by night (176); he also learned Chaldee (493); and for special parts of his Bible work he obtained special aid from a distance (491, 494), obtaining funds, when his own had failed, from his old friends Chromatius and Heliodorus (492).
386–92. The list of his works during the first six years of his residence at Bethlehem comprises the completion of the Commentary on Ecclesiastes, and the translation of Didymus on the Holy Spirit; the Commentaries on Ephesians and Galatians, Titus and Philemon (498); a revision of the version of the New Testament begun in Rome; a Treatise on Psalms x.–xvi., and Translation of Origen on St. Luke and the Psalms; the Book on the Names of Hebrew Places, mainly translated from Eusebius; the Book of Hebrew Proper Names and that of Hebrew Questions on Genesis; the revision of his translation of the LXX., involving a comparison of Origens Hexapla; a considerable part of the Vulgate; the Lives of the hermits Malchus and Hilarion; and the Catalogue of Illustrious Church Writers. The only letter preserved to us of this period is that written in the name of Paula and Eustochium to invite Marcella to come to Palestine (60).
Bethlehem, Second Period. 392–405. The second period of Jeromes stay at Bethlehem is the period of his most conspicuous activity, which was partly employed in the salutary work of finishing the Vulgate and in writing letters which rank among the finest of his compositions, but largely also in controversies, in which the worst parts of his character and influence are brought into prominence.
395, 398 and 404–5, 394–97. There were also great external hindrances to his work: the panic arising from the invasion of the Huns, on account of which the inmates of the monasteries had to leave their homes and prepare to embark at Joppa (161); there were long periods of ill health; and there was the quarrel with the Bishop of Jerusalem which led to a kind of excommunication of the monks of Bethlehem (446, 447).
The letters of this second period are those numbered 47 to 116. They comprise those to Nepotianus, nephew of Heliodorus, on the duties of the pastorate (89–96); that to Heliodorus, on the death of his nephew (123–131); that to Paulinus, the Roman Senator, afterwards Bishop of Nola, on his poem in praise of Theodosius, and on the study of Scripture (96–102); that to Furia, on the maintenance of widowhood (102–109); that to the Spanish noble Lucinius, who had sent scribes to copy Jeromes works (151–154), and to his widow Theodora (154, 155); those to Abigaus, a blind Spanish presbyter (156, 157), and to Salvina, widow of Nebridius, and closely connected with the Emperor Theodosius (163–168); that to Amandus, the Roman presbyter, on a difficult case of conscience (149–151); the letter to Oceanus, defending the second marriage of a Spanish Bishop (141–146); the letter to Læta, wife of Toxotius, son of Paula, on the education of her infant daughter (189–195); and those gems of his writings, the sketches of the lives (Epitaphia) of Fabiola (157–163) and of Paula (195–212).
The Vulgate. 391–403. The work of Jeromes life, the Vulgate version of the Scriptures, was completed in this period. The version which bore the name of Vulgate, the popular or vernacular version, in his day (44, 487–488) was a loose translation of p. xx the LXX., of which almost every copy varied from every other. His first effort, therefore, was to translate, or to revise the existing translations, from a correct version of the LXX. And this revised version he used in his familiar expositions, in the monastery (Apol. ii. 24, Vol. iii. 515), though a great part of it was lost even in his lifetime (280), and all that now remains of it is Job, the Psalms, and the Preface to the Books of Solomon (494). But even the most correct text of the LXX., as he saw at once, was insufficient. In Origens Hexapla the versions of Theodotion, Aquila, and Symmachus were given, together with two others called Quinta and Sexta, in parallel columns with the LXX. These constantly differed; and the only mode of deciding between them was by going back to the Hebrew—“Hebraica Veritas,” as he constantly terms it (80, 486, 494).
392. Accordingly, he set himself at once, in his settlement at Bethlehem, to the preliminary labours required for this task; and in the sketch of his works in the Catalogue (Vol. iii. 384; On Ill. Men, 135) he says: The New Testament I have restored according to the Greek original; the Old I have translated in accordance with the Hebrew.”
393. But no portion was as yet published. In the following year he published the prophets (80) and sent other portions of his Old Testament version to Marcella at Rome, keeping the rest shut up in his closet (80), and awaiting the judgment of his friends on the portions submitted to them. He purposed from the first to publish the whole, as we see from what he calls his “helmeted preface” to the Books of Samuel and of Kings (489). But it was published in fragments, according as he had leisure to give it a final revision, or according as other circumstances were favourable. The series of Prefaces (487–494) shows that some parts were written or revised in great haste (492, 494), some parts extorted from him by the importunity of his friends (488; see Apol. ii. 25, in Vol. iii. 515); that he was subjected to severe censures and misunderstanding, as to which he was extremely sensitive; that at times he so shrank from publicity that he wished his friends only to read it privately; that he was often, especially in the later portions, dependent on his friends for the provision of the copyists (492, 494). The order of publication can be traced. The Books of Samuel and of the Kings came first, then Job and the Prophets, Ezra and Nehemiah, and the Book of Genesis. Thus far he had proceeded in the year 393 when a break of three years occurred through external hindrances, of which the panic of the invasion of the Huns was the chief.
395. He then, at the entreaty of Chromatius and Heliodorus (492), completed the Books of Solomon, intending to proceed systematically to the end.
398. But illness intervened, after which he states that the first eight books were still wanting in the copies made for the Spaniard Lucinius (153);
403. nor was the publication resumed till five years later, when the remaining books from Exodus to Ruth and the Book of Esther were brought out (489, 491).
404. The whole was then collected, by others rather than by himself, and gradually superseded all other Latin versions, and, coupled with the version of the New Testament previously made, became the received, or Vulgate, edition of the Bible.
393–404. The second period of Jeromes stay at Bethlehem is the period of his great controversies. These are no less than six in number. (1) That with Jovinian on ascetic practices. (2) That with the Origenists, in which he worked with Theophilus of Alexandria and the Western Bishops. (3) That with John, Bishop of Jerusalem. (4) That with Rufinus. (5) That with Vigilantius. (6) That with Augustin. These may be described somewhat cursorily, the reader being referred for a more detailed statement of them to the Letters and Treatises themselves and to the notices prefixed to them.
(1) Jovinian. Jovinian was a Roman monk or, rather, solitary (for many took private monastic vows without entering any order or monastery) who had perceived the danger of degrading the ordinary Christian life which lurked in the profession of asceticism. He was not, to judge by Jeromes quotations from him (347), a man of superior ability; but there are no apparent grounds for the imputations which Jerome throws upon his character. He put off the monastic dress, and lived like other men; and, though he refused to marry, maintained his right as a Christian to do so. He argued that the conditions of virginity, marriage, and widowhood were equal in Gods sight, provided men lived in faith and piety; and that eating and fasting were indifferent if men gave God thanks. He seems to have had some influence, and it is stated that some who had made vows of virginity were led through his teaching marry. Certainly his views were condemned by the Pope Siricius, by Ambrose, and by Augustin.
393. He published a book in Rome, maintaining these opinions, and others of a more speculative character, which was sent to Jerome, and was at once answered by him in his treatise “Against Jovinian” (346–416). The more speculative matters he deals with calmly; but the anti-ascetic views he treats with violence and contempt. “These are the hissings of the old serpent; by these the dragon expelled man p. xxi from Paradise.” His intemperateness, which threw contempt upon marriage, was severely blamed by his friends at Rome, who tried to stop the publication (79; see also Ruf. Apol. ii. 44, Vol. iii. 480); but he only replied by renewed expressions of derision, and, several years later, when he has occasion to refer to Jovinian, he says, “This man, after being condemned by the authority of the Roman Church, amidst his feasts of pheasants and swines flesh, I will not say gave up, but belched out, his life” (417).
(2) Origenism. 393–403. The second great controversy in which Jerome was engaged at this period relates to Origenism, about which a great controversy had arisen at Alexandria, leading to its condemnation by the Bishops of Palestine and Cyprus in the East, and by the Pope and the Bishop of Milan and others in the West.
The great church teacher of Alexandria in the third century was but little known in the West. Anastasius the Pope, in the year 399, declared that he neither knew who he was nor what he had written (Vol. iii. 433). Jerome, who had made acquaintance with his writings during his first sojourn in the East, conceived a strong admiration for him; he did not, indeed, accept all his views, as may be seen from the first letter in which he alludes to him (22); but on his coming to Rome he did all in his power to make him known. He was invited by Damasus to translate some of his works (485); and when he found ignorant condemnations passed upon him he praised him with his usual vehemence and without discrimination, even eulogizing the Πεπὶ ᾽Αρχῶν on which the subsequent controversy mainly turned (46; Ruf. Ap. ii. 13, Vol. iii. 467). He had also quoted without blame in his Commentary on the Ephesians statements such as those relating to the pre-existence of human souls and possible restoration of Satan (Ruf. Apol. i. 448, 454). But it was rather a literary enthusiasm and an admiration of original genius than an express consent to Origens system. His calm judgment in later years was, that his literary services to the Church were inestimable, but that his doctrinal views were to be read with the greatest caution, and that those specially impugned were heretical (176, 177, 238, 244). It must be allowed, however, that he appears in his earlier stage as the vehement panegyrist of Origen (46, 48), and in his later stage as his equally vehement condemner; and also that this change seems less the effect of conviction than of a fear of the imputation of heresy (Apol. iii. 33, Vol. iii. 535).
The monks in the deserts near Alexandria were divided, some holding Origenistic views, and some those of an opposite tendency and verging upon Anthropomorphism. Theophilus, the Bishop of Alexandria, at first sided with the Origenists, but afterwards turned against them, and became their relentless persecutor. During his former phase he was appealed to by John, Bishop of Jerusalem, in his controversy with Epiphanius and Jerome (427), and took his part so vehemently that he sent his confidant Isidore to Jerusalem, nominally to inquire, but really to crush out all opposition, as he stated in a letter to John (444). This letter fell into the hands of Jerome and his friends, and the intentions of Theophilus were frustrated. A period of suspicious silence followed (134); but when Theophilus had undergone his change he found a ready instrument in Jerome, who threw himself eagerly into the conflict (182–184), translated the encyclicals of Theophilus (185, 186, 189) which led to the condemnation of Origen in the East, and even his diatribe against St. John Chrysostom for receiving Isidore and his brethren, whom Theophilus now treated as his enemies (214). Jerome also, through his friends Pammachius, Marcella, and Eusebius (186, 256), procured the condemnation of Origen in the West.
(3) John of Jerusalem. The controversy with John of Jerusalem forms an episode in the more general controversy. John had been trained among the Origenistic ascetics, Epiphanius among the anti-Origenists. Jerome appears to have undergone no change in his sentiments as to Origen during the first period of his stay at Bethlehem [see his Preface to the Book of Hebrew Questions (486, 487) written in 388], and was on good terms with the Bishop of Jerusalem and with Rufinus, who was then living on the Mount of Olives.
393. But at the beginning of the second period a certain Aterbius came to Jerusalem and spread suspicion and alarm of heresy. Jerome, perhaps weakly, “gave him satisfaction” as to his faith (Apol. iii. 33, Vol. iii. 535), while by John and Rufinus he was treated as a busybody (id.). This produced the first estrangement, which was greatly increased by the visit of Epiphanius in the following year. The scenes which followed may be read in Jeromes treatise, “Against John of Jerusalem” (430) and in Epiphanius letter translated by Jerome (83–85). Epiphanius was popular at Jerusalem, and after a scene in the church, in which he preached against Origenism and John against Anthropomorphism, a breach was made between the two prelates. Epiphanius came to stay at Bethlehem, and spoke of John as well nigh a heretic. John spoke of Epiphanius as “that old tard” (430). The monks of Bethlehem took part with Epiphanius; and he, to prevent their p. xxii being deprived of clerical ministration by Bishop John, ordained Jeromes brother Paulinian at his monastery of Ad in the diocese of Eleutheropolis. He was then only thirty years old, and was ordained against his will, and with the employment of force and even gagging (83). Epiphanius, returning to Cyprus, wrote to John a letter explaining his conduct (83–89) which was translated by Jerome, but which did little to allay the strife. John placed the monasteries, at least partially, under an interdict (446–447), and appealed to Rome and to Alexandria, and afterwards to Rufinus, the Pretorian Prefect at Constantinople (174, 447). Theophilus at first took Johns side vehemently; but the mission of his confidant Isidore miscarried (444, 445), and after some time his views of the situation changed and he made peace with Jerome and his friends.
397 or 398. John also was appeased; and Jerome, who had written a long and bitter account of the controversy in his treatise to Pammachius “Against John of Jerusalem” (424–447), seems suddenly to have let the whole matter drop; the treatise was not finished and was not published, and we read of the strife no more.
(4) Rufinus. 398–404. The quarrel with Jeromes early friend Rufinus did not, like that with John pass away. Jerome had deeply loved Rufinus (4) and highly respected Melania in early days (5, 7, 53). He had spoken of Rufinus in his Chronicle for the year 378 as “insignis monachus” (Ruf. Rev. 2:25, 26, Vol. iii. 471); we do not read of any estrangement till some years after his return to Palestine.
392. We do not, indeed, find the warm affection which we should expect in two intimate friends who meet after a long separation; and it is possible that Jeromes omission of Rufinus name from his Catalogue of Church Writers may indicate a coolness on one side which was resented on the other. But they admit that their friendship remained (Ruf. Ap. ii. 8 (2), vol. iii. 465), and that there was frequent intercourse between the monks of Bethlehem and those of the Mount of Olives (id.).
393–394. The visit of Aterbius (Ap. iii. 33, Vol. iii. 535) and that of Epiphanius mark the time of estrangement. Rufinus was with Bishop John in the scenes in the Church of the Resurrection, and is mentioned in Epiphanius letter as a presbyter as to whose views he is paternally anxious (84-87). In the quarrel between John and Jerome Rufinus took decidedly the Bishops side (84, 430, compared with 250). Jeromes mind grew full of suspicion, so that he even imputed to him that he had bribed some one in the monastery at Bethlehem to steal from the lodgings of Fabiola his translation of the letter of Epiphanius to John (Ap. iii. 4, Vol. iii. 521).
397. But when Rufinus was leaving Palestine, friendship was restored. They partook together of the Eucharist, and joined hands (Ap. iii. 33, Vol. iii. 535), and Jerome accompanied his friend some way upon his journey; but the reconciliation was short-lived. When in Rome, Rufinus prefixed to a translation of Origens Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν a preface (168–170) which referred in laudatory terms to Jerome as his forerunner in this work, thus seeming to expose Jerome to the suspicions and condemnation which might be expected to fall on one who undertook such a work. This work was sent to Jerome by his friends Pammachius and Oceanus (175), together with a Preface written by Rufinus to a translation of the Apology for Origen by Pamphilus the Martyr. They spoke of the alarm excited at Rome by the translation of the Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν, and their suspicions that the translation was so made as to veil the heresies contained in the original work; they begged that Jerome would translate the work as it stood in the original, and pointed out that his own reputation for orthodoxy was at stake (175). Jerome at once complied. He sent to them a literal translation of Origens work together with a letter describing the relation in which he had stood and still stood to Origen: he admired him as a biblical scholar, but had never accepted him as a dogmatic teacher (176, 177). He at the same time wrote a letter to Rufinus, couched in friendly terms, but remonstrating with him for the use he had made of his name (170). This letter, having been sent to Jeromes friends at Rome, was kept back by them (Ap. i. 12, Vol. iii. 489) and not delivered to Rufinus, and thus the quarrel, which might have been allayed, became irreparable.
401–404. The further progress of the dispute is described in the notice prefixed to the Apologies of Jerome and Rufinus (Vol. iii. 434–5, 482, 518). It may suffice here to say that this disgraceful and unseemly wrangle between two well-known Christian teachers, conducted publicly before the whole Church, and breeding a hatred which Jerome continued to express even after Rufinus death (498, 500) has only one redeeming feature to the historian, namely, that it brings to our knowledge many instructive facts which would otherwise have lain hid.
396. (5) Vigilantius. The controversy with Vigilantius consists only of Jeromes letter to him (131–133) and the treatise “against Vigilantius” (417–423). He had been originally introduced to Jerome by Paulinus, Bishop of Nola, who spoke of him p. xxiii in high terms (123). No questions arose between them during his stay at Bethlehem. He even spoke of Jerome at times with extravagant praise (132). But he appears to have had some connection with Rufinus (Ap. iii. 19, Vol. iii. 529), and Jerome accused him afterwards of having conveyed some mss. into the monastery at Bethlehem, probably from that on the Mount of Olives (Apol. iii. 5, 19, Vol. iii. 521, 529). Jerome afterwards heard a report that Vigilantius had written and spoken against him in various places (131), and had accused him of Origenism. To this his letter is a reply. The anti-ascetic writings of Vigilantius to which Jeromes treatise is a reply have not come down to us. Gennadius (de Script. Eccl. 35) says that he was an ignorant man, but polished in words. But, whatever his ability or literary power, he was one of the few who were able to judge rightly of the ascetic and superstitious practices by which Christianity was being overlaid; and it is on this point that Jerome is most violent and contemptuous in his treatment of him. The notices prefixed to the Letter (131) and Treatise (417) will complete this statement.
394–404. (6) Augustin. The remaining controversy of this period is that with St. Augustin. The two men had at an earlier time had some friendly relations, and Alypius, Augustins friend, had stayed with Jerome at Bethlehem. But Augustin, then coadjutor Bishop of Hippo, in a letter to Jerome (112), found fault with some of his statements in his Commentary on the Galatians, to which, no doubt, his attention had been called by Alypius. Jerome had maintained that the scene in Gal. ii. in which St. Paul rebukes St. Peter for inconsistent compliances with Judaism, was a merely feigned dispute, arranged between the two Apostles in order to make the truth clear to the members of the Church. Augustin objects that this is practically imputing falsehood to the Apostles. He touched upon other points, such as the translation of Scripture and the doctrine of marriage, in a manner savouring of assumption, considering the high position of Jerome, who was also eight years his senior. Through a strange series of misadventures, which illustrate the difficulty of communications at that epoch, this letter was never delivered to Jerome till nine years after it was written. It fell into the hands of persons who copied it, and became known in the West. Jerome heard casually that it had been seen among his works in an island in the Adriatic. It appeared as if Augustin had wished to gain credit by attacking a well-known man behind his back. And this suspicion was hardly allayed by a second letter from Augustin, which partially explained what had occurred (140), or by a third, in which, in answer to a letter from Jerome sending some of his works and warning his correspondent that, if it came to blows, the result might be like that described in Virgil, where the old Entellus strikes down young Dares, Augustin criticises both severely and ignorantly Jeromes great work of translating the Hebrew Scriptures. Jeromes patience begins to fail (189). “Send me your original letter,” he says, “signed by your own hand, or else cease to attack me.” And he comments in his turn somewhat sharply on some of Augustins interpretations of the Psalms. It was only on the receipt of Augustins reply to this letter (214), couched in terms of deep respect, and deprecating any ill feeling between Christian friends, such as had arisen in the case of Rufinus, that Jerome finally answered the original letter, written ten years before, and received a letter which completely restored friendship. Henceforward they are at one. Letters pass freely between them; Augustin consults Jerome on the difficult question of the origin of souls (272, 283), and foregoes the expression of Traducianism, to which he is inclined, in deference to Jeromes objections; and he consults him on the Pelagian question, and sends Orosius to sit at his feet. Jerome recognises that each has his proper gift, and gives a plenary adherence to all that Augustin teaches. Alypius, their original link, is joined with Augustin in the address of Jeromes last letter to him (282); Paula, the grand-daughter of Jeromes chief friend, is called by him the granddaughter of Augustin; and through this unity the families of Paula and Melania, which had been severed by the adherence of the one to Jerome and the other to Rufinus, are reunited by the coming of Pinianus and his wife, the younger Melania, from the church of Hippo to the convent at Bethlehem. The letters from which this episode is drawn are incorporated into the volume containing works of Augustin, and are not reprinted here. But no life of Jerome, however limited or unpretending, would be satisfactory without some account of the relations of the two great doctors of Latin Christianity.
Bethlehem, Third Period. 405–420. The last period of Jeromes life was passed in the midst of privations, the loss of friends, and frequent illnesses. Paula had died. Jerome was poor (500, 214, 215) and often weak (498, 500). His eyesight failed (id.). He had enemies around him (261, 262) and in the high places of the Empire (237, 499). The barbarians were sweeping across the Empire (237, 500), some, like the Isaurians, threatening the North of Palestine (214) and even penetrating at one time to Southern Syria p. xxiv and Egypt (id.), while the main stream, after devastating Jeromes native Dalmatia, passed on under Alaric to the sack of Rome.
410. Fugitives from Rome and Italy crowded to Bethlehem, adding greatly to Jeromes labours (499, 500). It seemed as the end of the world were at hand (260). In the sack of Rome Pammachius and Marcella died (257, 500). Eustochium followed them eight years later. The controversy with the Pelagians led to the burning of the monasteries at Bethlehem, probably also to renewed estrangement of his Bishop, John of Jerusalem, and his successor Praylus.
417. But he continued his work with no abatement of ardour or vigour, as may be seen from the Prefaces to his later Commentaries (500, 501). He had still friends about him, Pinianus, Albina, Melania, and the younger Paula (Ep. cxliii.); a few survivors even in Rome, Oceanus and the younger Fabiola (252, 253); and men in many lands who honoured and consulted him, as is seen by his letters; and, above all, the friendship of Augustin. The letters of this period take a wider range than those going before, Jeromes fame being now world-wide; their addresses embrace Dalmatia (220), Gaul (215), Rome (252, 253), and Africa (260, 261). Their contents will be best estimated from the notices prefixed to them; but we may mark as specially important the ascetic letter to Rusticus, on the solitary life (244), to Ageruchia, and those on perseverance in widowhood (230), and to Demetrias on the preservation of virginity (260–272), which contain vivid pictures of the life (233) and events (236, 237) of the time, and of the sack of Rome (237, 257); the Memoir, addressed to Principia, of Marcella, who died from her ill treatment in that great day of doom (253); the letter to Evangelus (288) containing Jeromes view of the origin and mutual relations of the three orders of the Ministry; and that to Sabinianus, the lapsed Deacon, who had introduced disorder into the monasteries at Bethlehem (289–295).
Pelagianism. The only great controversy of this period is the Pelagian, in which Jerome seems to have engaged rather at the instance of others than on his own initiative. He shows some mildness in dealing with the Pelagians, and wishes more to win than to condemn them (449, 499); his temperament was not such as to incline him, like Augustin, to take an attitude of vehement hostility to the Pelagian tenets.
414–418. But Orosius came from North Africa, where the Council of Carthage had lately been held; and when, the next year, Pelagius and Cælestius came to Palestine, and Councils were held, first at Jerusalem under Bishop John, who was favourable to the reception of Pelagius, and subsequently at Diospolis, Palestine became the centre of the controversy.
416. Augustin from Africa and Ctesiphon from Rome appealed to him (272, 280); both Orosius and Pelagius quoted his words as making for them; and at length Jerome himself felt compelled to take the pen. He resorted in this his last controversial work, as in his first against the Luciferians, to the form of dialogue. The argument must be praised for its moderation, though it must be confessed that this is gained at the expense of liveliness; it was impossible for Jerome, as a “Synergist,” or believer in the co-operation of the human will with the divine, to throw himself into the fray with the eagerness of a convinced Predestinarian. But he does not scruple to brand Pelagius as a heretic; and to a heretic he would show no mercy (449). His treatise, notwithstanding its fine drawn argument, made him at once the leader of the orthodox party in the East, and the target for the enmity of their adversaries.
416–7. A crowd of Pelagian monks attacked the monasteries, slew some of their inmates, and burned or threw down the buildings, the tower in which Jerome had taken refuge alone escaping (Aug. de Gestis Pelag. 66). This violence, however, was checked by a strong letter from Pope Innocentius (280, 281) to Bishop John, who died soon after; and Jerome, to whom the Pope wrote at the same time (280), speaks of Augustins cause as triumphant (282), and of Pelagius, like another Catiline, having left the country, though Jerusalem remains in the hands of some hostile power which he speaks of under the name of Nebuchadnezzar (282). It cannot be said, however, that Jeromes arguments produced much effect in the East. He was withstood by Theodore of Mopsuestia (see Mignes Jerome, ii. 807–14) as “saying that men sin by nature, not by will”; and from the West also a treatise opposing his views was sent to him (282) by Annianus, a deacon of Celeda, to which he was never able to reply.
His Bible work during these last fifteen years consisted entirely of Commentaries on the Prophets. Those on the Minor Prophets were finished in 406; that on Daniel in 407; that on Isaiah in 408–10; that on Ezekiel in 410–14. That on Jeremiah up to ch. xxxii. occupied the remaining years. The Prefaces to these Commentaries (499–501) are full of interest, recording the sack of Rome (499, 500), the death of Rufinus (498, 500), and the rise of Pelagianism, while the Commentary on Ezekiel itself (Book ix.) speaks of the occupation of Rome p. xxv by Heraclian. His failing health and eyesight (498, 500), the Pelagian Controversy, the other trials above mentioned (499) and the care of the monasteries and pilgrims (500, 501), increased by the death of Eustochium in 418, shortened his time for work, and his Commentary on Jeremiah was cut short at ch. xxxii. by his last illness. Yet his last work is full of energy and of his old controversial vigour.
The last year of his life is believed to have been occupied by a long illness, in which he was tended by the younger Paula and Melania. The Chronicle of Prosper of Aquitaine gives September 20, 420, as the day of his death. Many legends sprung up around his memory. His remains are said to have been transferred from the place where they were buried beside those of Paula and Eustochium, near the grotto of the Nativity, to the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore at Rome, and miracles to have been wrought at his tomb. His descriptions of hermit life in the desert no doubt gave rise to the tradition that he was always attended by a lion, as represented in painting and sculpture, especially in the well-known painting of Albert Dürer. With such traditions a historical work must not be burdened.
Next: Chapter IV
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