Jerome And His Times -- By: Samuel Osgood

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 005:17 (Feb 1848)
Article: Jerome And His Times
Author: Samuel Osgood


Jerome And His Times

Rev. Samuel Osgood

Rich as was the church of the fourth century in illustrious men who adorned imposing office with brilliant abilities; in princes like

the imperial convert Constantine who begun, and the more consistent Theodosius, who completed the union of the church and State; in prelates indomitable as Athanasius, profound as Augustine, eloquent as Gregory and Chrysostom, and commanding as Ambrose and Basil; it is not to any of these titled dignitaries that Christendom in ages since has paid her most frequent honors. The Roman church, at least, has passed over this majestic array of princes and prelates with comparative indifference, and reserved her brightest aureola for an untitled scholar, who shrank alike from courts and councils, who refused the proffered mitre, and forbore to exercise even the office of priest. Whom can we mean but Jerome the monk of Bethlehem? As a devotee he has perhaps been more honored by Catholics than any saint upon the calendar who has lived since the apostolic times, whilst as a scholar he has been ranked by all parties as chief in the ancient church. His spirit has haunted the visions of monks and nuns, and the imaginations of painters and sculptors. His kneeling form meets us in the gorgeous windows of the middle age cathedrals, and in the rich miniatures of illuminated manuscripts. Who has not heard of the picture, in the Vatican, of the Last Communion of St. Jerome, and who would undertake to complete the catalogue of similar works or name the artists among whom Domenichino and the Caracci have taken the lead?

It is not merely from the prostrate devotee of the papal ages, that the monk of Bethlehem has received such honors. His letters and tracts were among the first to receive the stamp of the printing-press,1 and in their Gothic type are now among the most precious specimens in antiquarian collections. No fewer than eight editions of his entire works have been published, the first of which appeared at Basle (1516 —1520) under the charge of the celebrated Erasmus, and the last of which is from the Paris press with ink as yet scarcely dry. As an interpreter and translator of Scripture, his name stands chief of the fathers’ in the preface of the translators of our approved English Bible. As great proof of his literary importance may be found in the ponderous volume that Le Clerc wrote in question of his scholarship, as in the petulant and tiresome folios that Martianay and his fellows sent forth in his defence. The lighter literature of a later day has not forgotten the saint. He appears conspicuous in the meditations of Zimmermann and the fancies of Chateaubriand, whilst in the gayest city in th...

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