St. Jerome Criticism - Essay

Erasmus (letter date 1516)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Excerpt from "Dedicatory Letter to Erasmus's Edition of St. Jerome" in Collected Works of Erasmus, Vol. 61, edited and translated by James F. Brady and John C. Olin, University of Toronto Press, 1992, pp. 4-14.

[In the following excerpt, written in 1516, Erasmus evaluates the historical importance of Jerome's writings and describes the difficulties he had in restoring Jerome's corrupt texts.]

[Now if] honour was paid even to works of superstition like the books of Numa and the Sibyl, or to volumes of human history as was customary in Egypt, or to those that enshrined some part of human wisdom such as the works of Plato and Aristotle, how much more...

(The entire section is 4530 words.)

Henry Hart Milman (essay date 1860)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An excerpt from History of Latin Christianity; Including That of the Popes to the Pontificate of Nicholas V, Vol. 1, Sheldon and Company, 1860, pp. 117-18.

[In this excerpt, Milman briefly discusses the importance of the Vulgate to incorporating Eastern religious thought into the development of Christianity in the West.]

… [Of both] the extension of monasticism, and the promulgation of the Vulgate Bible, Jerome was the author; of the former principally, of the latter exclusively. This was his great and indefeasible title to the appellation of a Father of the Latin Church. Whatever it may owe to the older and fragmentary versions of the sacred writings, Jerome's Bible is a wonderful work, still more as achieved by one man, and that a Western Christian, even with all the advantage of study and of residence in the East. It almost created a new language. The inflexible Latin became pliant and expansive, naturalizing foreign Eastern imagery, Eastern modes of expression and of thought, and Eastern religious notions, most uncongenial to its own genius and character; and yet retaining much of its own peculiar strength, solidity, and majesty. If the Northern, the Teutonic languages, coalesce with greater facility with the Orientalism of the Scriptures, it is the triumph of Jerome to have brought the more dissonant Latin into harmony with the Eastern tongues. The Vulgate was even more, perhaps, than the Papal power the foundation of Latin Christianity.…

William Henry Fremantle (essay date 1882)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: An excerpt from "Hieronymus (4) (Jerome), St." in A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and Doctrines; during the First Eight Centuries, Being a Continuation of "The Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. III, edited by William Smith and Henry Wace, John Murray, 1882, pp. 48-50.

[In the following excerpt, Fremantle critically appraises Jerome as translator, expositor, theologian, church and general historian, and letter writer.]

… 1. As a translator, Jerome deserves the highest place for his clear conviction of the importance of his task, and the perseverance against great obstacles which he displayed. This is shewn especially in his prefaces, which...

(The entire section is 1585 words.)

Arthur Stanley Pease (essay date 1919)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Attitude of Jerome towards Pagan Literature," Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 1919, pp. 150-67.

[In the essay that follows, Pease discusses the influence of pagan literature on Jerome's writings and concludes that Jerome realized that the "complete acceptance of the new faith did not necessarily involve total rejection of what was of value in the old literature. "]

The student of classical literature can hardly be indifferent to the question how his favorite authors have been in various ages regarded. While at present the attitude of individuals towards the classics may, in view of the wide distribution of printed...

(The entire section is 7045 words.)

Harrison Cadwallader Coffin (lecture date 1923)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Influence of Vergil on St. Jerome and on St. Augustine," The Classical Weekly, Vol. 17, No. 22, April 7, 1924, pp. 170-75.

[In the following essay, originally delivered as a lecture in 1923, Coffin explores the deep influence of Vergil on Jerome's writings and claims that, through his knowledge of Vergil, "Jerome really constitutes a link between the classical times and the Middle Ages. "]

It is impossible to read the works of the Christian Latin writers Without being impressed by the extent to which they were influenced, both in language and in ideas, by the works of Vergil. This influence is shown through all periods of the Christian Church; indeed, a...

(The entire section is 4426 words.)

L. Hughes (essay date 1923)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Conclusion" in The Christian Church in the Epistles of St. Jerome, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1923, pp. 107-09.

[In the essay that follows, Hughes contends that Jerome's writings express the unique character of medieval Christianity.]

Dean Fremantle in his "Prolegomena to Jerome" says (p. xxxiii.) truly enough:

His writings contain the whole spirit of the Church of the Middle Ages, its Monasticism, its contrast of sacred things with profane, its credulity and superstition, its value for relics, its subjection to hierarchical authority, its dread of heresy, its passion for pilgrimages.


(The entire section is 623 words.)

Mary Elizabeth Pence (essay date 1941)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Satire in St. Jerome," The Classical Journal, Vol. 36, No. 6, March, 1941, pp. 322-36.

[In the following essay, Pence explores Jerome's satirical style, focusing primarily on his letters.]


Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus Sanctus was born between A.D. 340 and 350 into a world of bloodshed and destruction—the last age of the old Graeco-Roman civilization. In the span of his life came the final destruction of paganism and the crumbling of Rome under not only the attacks of barbarians from without, but also the lowered standards of morality within her boundaries. The date of his birth1 fell in the troubled times after the...

(The entire section is 5857 words.)

Valery Larbaud (essay date 1946)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Excerpt from An Homage to Jerome, Patron Saint of Translators, translated by Jean-Paul de Chezet, The Marlboro Press, 1984, pp. 39-41.

[In this excerpt from a work originally published in French in 1946, Larbaud discusses the inventive effort that Jerome invested in his translation of the Vulgate.]

Hieronymopolis is encircled by two concentric lines of fortifications: one low, much damaged, almost collapsed: Jerome's revision of the Itala,1 one of the first Latin versions of the Bible; the other tall, thick, powerful, awe-inspiring: the Vulgate. Two high towers overlook these walls: the Gallican Psalter and the Roman Psalter. It...

(The entire section is 1044 words.)

George E. Duckworth (essay date 1948)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Classical Echoes in St. Jerome's Life of Malchus," The Classical Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 3, January, 1948, pp. 28-29.

[In the following essay, Duckworth cites Jerome's allusions to classical source materials in the Life of Malchus.]

Professor Mierow has … published a new text and a translation of St. Jerome's Vita Malchi monachi captivi,1 thus making this entertaining biography more available to the general reader. The biography contains two striking reminiscences from Roman poetry and seems rich in passages which may also be echoes from classical authors. It is well known that Jerome studied classical writers, including Plautus, Terence,...

(The entire section is 1359 words.)

Mary Dorothea Diederich (lecture date 1950)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae: An Index of St. Jerome's Classicism," The Classical Journal, Vol. 49, No. 8, May, 1954, pp. 369-72.

[In this essay, originally delivered as a lecture in 1950, Diederich explores Jerome's letter 108the Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae—in an effort to cite evidence of Jerome's classicism.]

Among the many interesting letters of Saint Jerome which I believe give striking evidence of his classicism is the Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae, Letter CVIII in the collection. This epistle is addressed to Eustochium, the daughter of the saintly Paula, to console her for the loss of her departed mother. Written in the form of a...

(The entire section is 2161 words.)

Louis N. Hartmann (essay date 1952)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "St. Jerome as an Exegete" in A Monument to Saint Jerome: Essays on Some Aspects of His Life, Works, and Influence, edited by Francis X. Murphy, Sheed & Ward, 1952, pp. 37-81.

[In the following essay, Hartmann discusses and critically evaluates Jerome's method as a scriptural interpreter, especially as evidenced in his commentaries.]

For many reasons the writings of St. Jerome have won just fame for their author. He is renowned as a master of Latin prose, a vigorous controversialist, an ardent advocate of Christian asceticism, and as a source of much useful historical information. But it is especially as a Scripture scholar that Jerome has won immortal...

(The entire section is 17133 words.)

Francis X. Murphy (essay date 1952)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "St. Jerome as an Historian" in A Monument to Saint Jerome: Essays on Some Aspects of His Life, Works and Influence, edited by Francis X. Murphy, Sheed & Ward, 1952, pp. 115-41.

[In the essay that follows, Murphy describes the development of Jerome's interest in history alongside a chronological investigation of his life and writings. Murphy notes how that interest expresses itself in Jerome's writings that are not overtly historical.]

The seventy-odd years that form the Age of St. Jerome—from 347 to 420—were hardly an era of great historical writing. As F. Lot and Professor Laistner have pointed out, but for the productions of the pagan Ammianus...

(The entire section is 9392 words.)

Harald Hagendahl (essay date 1958)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "Jerome's Attitude: Principles and Practice" in Latin Fathers and the Classics: A Study on the Apologists, Jerome, and Other Christian Writers, Elanders Boktryckeri Aktiebolag, 1958, pp. 309-28.

[In the following excerpt, Hagendahl discusses Jerome's ambivalent attitude toward his predecessors, concluding that he struggled with an apparent conflict between his Christian asceticism and the cultural legacy of pagan literature.]

… Jerome's attitude towards the cultural legacy left by the ancients cannot be defined in a plain and unequivocal formula. It is inconsequent, inconsistent, reflecting opposite tendencies, fluctuating like the currents of the tide....

(The entire section is 7554 words.)

David S. Wiesen (essay date 1964)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: "O Tempora! O Mores!" in St. Jerome as a Satirist: A Study in Christian Latin Thought and Letters, Cornell University Press, 1964, pp. 20-64.

[In the following excerpt, Wiesen discusses Jerome's writings as commentaries on the state of his contemporaries. According to Wiesen, "St. Jerome's sense of the decline of civilization and his disgust with the vices of 'the world' form an important theme in all categories of his writings, from the letters written in the desert of Chalcis when he was a young man to his late exegetical and homiletic works. "]

It is a commonplace for satirists to castigate the age in which they live, to compare contemporary society...

(The entire section is 13562 words.)