Sunday, September 28, 2008

St Jerome

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) 1541 - 1614
Saint Jerome, c. 1610/1614
Oil on canvas
Overall: 168 x 110.5 cm (66 1/8 x 43 1/2 in.) framed: 194.3 x 137.2 x 6.4 cm (76 1/2 x 54 x 2 1/2 in.)
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

St Jerome (ca. 347 – September 30, 420) whose real name in Latin was Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, also known as Hieronymus Stridonensis) amongst other things is known for translating the Vulgate, a widely popular Latin edition of the Bible

He is a Doctor of the Church, and his version of the Bible is still an important text in Catholicism. He is also recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church, where he is known as St. Jerome of Stridonium or Blessed Jerome

Jerome died near Bethlehem on September 30, 420.

On 21st May 1907, The Times wrote a major article on the decision of Pope Pius X to revise the whole of the Vulgate. The task was to be entrusted to a group of Benedictine monks. The decsion in those days at least was regarded as being of major importance and significance and not only in the Catholic world. One wonders if a similar decision today would attract such press coverage in the secular press. The Times explained the significance of the decision.

Of the Vulgate, The Times said:

"There is no book which has exercised so wide and so powerful an influence in moulding the faith, the morals, the thonght, traditions, and literature of the European world as the Latin version of the Scriptures which we know as the Vulgate.

It was to the whole world down to the Reformation in many respects what the Authorized Version has since been to the English-speaking races, and it still remains for all Latin peoples the accepted rendering of the Scriptures.

For 1,500 years it has been setting its impress upon the lives and upon the whole mental heritage of countless millions of men.

It has formed the larger part of the daily offices of the Roman Catholic Church wherever her rites have been celebrated, and it has inspired all that is noblest and most elevated in the rest.

It has been the basis of the writings of her theologians from the days of Augustine.It has been quoted by her Pontiffs sinee Gregory the Great sat upon the Throne of Peter and sent out his missionaries to the heathen Saxon of England.

It has informed the whole of medieval art and literature, which are very imperfectly intelligible without some knowledge of its text.

It cast its spell over many of the greatest minds of the Renaissance ; and long after it has ceased to hold its old supreme position, it remains interwoven, consciously and unconsciously, in innumerable subtle ways, with the thoughts and the sentiments of all sorts and conditions of men....

The work of St Jerome is a marvel of erudition and of industry and well deserves the tribute paid to it by the translators of our own Authorized Version when they affirm that he performed it ` with that evidence of great learning, judgment, industry and faithfulness, that he hath for ever bound the Church unto him in a debt of special remembrance and thankfulness`.

With regard to the decision by the Pope, The Times went on to say:

"The Pope has taken a bold step in ordering a revision of the consecrated text of the Scriptures as received for so many hundreds of years by the Roman Church. It will be hailed with satisfaction by many without as well as within his own communion, and will be regarded by some as an indication that in this great department of Biblical studies he may be disposed to carry out the progressive policy ascribed to his predecessor."