Translations of the biblical commentaries of St Jerome

St Jerome produced a significant quantity of commentaries on the bible, and translated still others.  These last were mostly by Origen.  Yet his commentaries have remained untranslated until recent times; and it is actually surprisingly difficult to discover what has, and has not, been translated.

I thought that I would give what information I have available, if only for my own use.  Contributions are welcome; I have little information about French translations, for instance.

There are modern critical editions of the text of most of these in CCSL vols. 72-76, and no doubt older, punctuated, and more readable ones in the Patrologia Latina.

Quaestiones Hebraicae in Genesim. Ed. PL23, col. 983-1062 (better than CCSL) Tr. C.T.R. Hayward, St Jerome’s Hebrew Questions on Genesis, Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies, Clarendon Press (1995)

Notes on the Psalms.  Isolated scholia, printed in CCSL 72.  [No translation.]  German: Siegfried Risse, Hieronymus: Commentarioli in Psalmos – Anmerkungen zum Psalter, Series: Fontes Christiani 79, Brepols, 2005.

Commentary on Ecclesiastes.  Tr. Richard J. Goodrich, ACW 66 (2012).  Tr. Robin MacGregor, ed. John Litteral (2014, but made earlier).  Amazon.  French: Commentaire de l’Ecclésiaste / Jérôme ; trad., introd., annot., guide thématique de Gérard Fry,…, Migne (Paris) 2001.  Spanish: Comentario al Eclesiastés / Jerónimo ; introducción, traducción y notas deJosé Boira Sales, Ciudad Nueva (Madrid) 2004.

Commentary on Isaiah.  Tr. Thomas P. Scheck, ACW68 (2015).  Italian translation by  R. Maisano for Citta Nuovo, 2014.

“Adbrevatio” on 1st five verses of Isaiah.  [No translation.]

Commentary on Jeremiah.  Tr. Michael Graves, 2012, for IVP Academic.

Commentary on Ezekiel.  Translation by Thomas P. Scheck, forthcoming (see comment below).

Commentary on Daniel.  Translated by Gleason L. Archer, 1958, and online.  Italian translation: S. Cola, S. Girolamo: Commento a Daniele, Rome 1966.

Commentary on Hosea.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 2, IVP 2017.

Commentary on Joel.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 2, IVP 2017.

Commentary on Amos.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 2, IVP 2017.

Commentary on Obadiah.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 1, IVP 2016.

Commentary on Jonah.  Tim Hegedus, thesis, 1991.  Online here.  Tr. Robin MacGregor, ed. John Litteral, 2014.  ISBN: 978-1500784935. (Amazon)  French: SC 43.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 1, IVP 2016.

Commentary on Micah.  Anthony Cazares, “A Translation of St. Jerome’s Commentary on Micah.” MA thesis, Ave Maria University, 2013. This translation is contracted to be published by Intervarsity Press (Ancient Christian Texts). [1]  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 1, IVP 2016.

Commentary on Nahum. Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, OP, “A Translation of St. Jerome’s Commentary on Nahum.” 2011. This translation is contracted to be published by Intervarsity Press (Ancient Christian Texts).  [2]  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 1, IVP 2016.

Commentary on Habakkuk.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 1, IVP 2016.

Commentary on Zephaniah.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 1, IVP 2016.

Commentary on Haggai.  Daniel M. Garland, St. Jerome’s Commentary on the Prophet Haggai” in St. Jerome’s Commentaries on the Twelve Prophets, vol. 1, Ancient Christian Texts, IVP Academic, 2016.

Commentary on Zechariah.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 2, IVP 2017.

Commentary on Malachi.  Translated by Thomas P. Scheck &c, Commentary on the minor prophets, vol. 2, IVP 2017.

Commentary on Matthew.  Tr. Thomas P. Scheck, in FOC 117, 2008.  Preview.  French: SC 242 & 259.  Italian: S. Aliquo, Rome, 1969.

Commentary on Galatians.  Ed. PL 26.  Tr. Andrew Cain, St Jerome: Commentary on Galatians, series: Fathers of the Church 121 (2010): Preview.  Also tr. Thomas P. Scheck, St Jerome’s Commentaries on Galatians, Titus and Philemon, Notre Dame (2010).  Italian: Commento alla Epistola ai Galati / Girolamo di Stridone ; introduzione, traduzione e note a cura di Giacomo Raspanti, Brepols, 2010.

Commentary on Ephesians.  Ed. PL 26.  Tr. Ronald E. Heine, The Commentaries of Origen and Jerome on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, OUP 2002.

Commentary on Titus.  Ed. PL 26.  Tr. Thomas P. Scheck, St Jerome’s Commentaries on Galatians, Titus and Philemon, Notre Dame (2010)

Commentary on Philemon.  Ed. PL 26.  Tr. Thomas P. Scheck, St Jerome’s Commentaries on Galatians, Titus and Philemon, Notre Dame (2010)

Commentary on Revelation.  A revision of the commentary of Victorinus of Pettau.  Ed. CSEL 49 (1916).

There’s quite a lot more extant in English than I had realised, in truth.  It looks very much as if Thomas P. Scheck has the remainder in hand, possibly in cooperation with IVP’s Ancient Christian Texts series of translations purely of ancient commentaries.  If so, then we should all be grateful.

* UPDATE: I learn from a correspondent (see the comments below) that Thomas P. Scheck has translated Jerome on Ezekiel, and has also collected translators for a two-volume translation of the commentaries on the minor prophets, to appear from IVP.  That will mean that for the first time, we will have all of Jerome’s commentaries available in English.  Well done, Dr Scheck!

UPDATE: The two-volume translation of Jerome’s Commentaries on the Twelve Prophets has now been published from IVP (vol. 1, 2016; vol. 2, 2017).  I have updated the lists.

  1. [1]Translation directed by Thomas P. Scheck: see CV here.
  2. [2]Translation directed by Thomas P. Scheck: see CV here.

New Latin-Italian edition of the collected works of St Jerome from Città Nuova

It is really remarkable that the works of St Jerome have never been translated in their entirety into any modern language.

But the Italians are good on this kind of thing, and while searching for whatever exists, I learned of a project to do just that.  It is being directed by the excellent Claudio Moreschini, and I see other familiar names like Angelo di Berardino and Sandra Isetti are involved.

Here is the home page, at the publisher, which lists all the works that will be included and how they will be divided up.  (Use Google Translate to read this)  Fifteen volumes are projected.

The volumes will be Latin and Italian on facing pages.

Some volumes have already appeared.  A search on Amazon.it reveals that volume 15 (Historical and Hagiographical Works) is out; and also the Commentary on Isaiah, in 4 volumes, translated by R. Maisano.  Each volume is about $70, so not cheap; but no doubt libraries can afford them.

This is a welcome initiative, and one can only wish that a similar project could be undertaken in English – and, ideally, without enriching some publisher along the way.

Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah, on Matthew 27:25

The next patristic work to refer to Matthew 27:25 is in Jerome’s Commentary on Jeremiah.  BiblIndex gives the following information:

Jerome, In Hieremiam prophetam libri VI. REITER S., CCL 74 (1960). § 2 (p.71, l.18) & § 3 (p.162, l.20 & § 3 (p.181, l.14)

Which is fine if you have the Corpus Christianorum Latina at your elbow.  As we all do, yes?  Ahem.  No, we don’t.  So we must seek for alternatives.

The text is in Migne, of course, in the Patrologia Latina 24, cols. 679-900 (here).  But it would be a bit weary looking through that for the three references.

Fortunately there is an English translation.  It’s another of those useful translations by IVP Academic, which are so rarely bought by libraries in the UK for some unknown reason.[1]  There’s even a Google Books preview, here.  That means we can search in it; and a search for “27:25” gives three locations, as of course it should.

The first is on page 46:

6:19b: “I am bringing evil on this people, the fruit of their thoughts,”—or “apostasy”— “because they have not given heed to thy words and as for thy law, they have rejected it.”

He calls “evil” the punishments and penalties that he is bringing, not on the nations who are called to the truth of the gospel but on this people who said, “We will not give heed.” The people will receive the “fruit” of their “thoughts” or “apostasies,” as blessed David says: “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands. And the reason for all of this is clear: they did not heed the words of the Lord, and they rejected his law.

6:20: “To what purpose does frankincense come to me from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.”

That frankincense comes from Sheba no one doubts; thus the Virgilian phrase “And its hundred altars steam with Sabacan incense.” Moreover, “sweet cane,” which in Hebrew is cane, and which the LXX and Theodotion translated as “cinnamon,” is shown by the prophetic word to come from a faraway land, which we understand to be India, from where many perfumes come through the Red Sea. This particular kind of spice physicians call quill-cassia. And this is the sense: “It is in vain that you offer to me your sweet-smelling spices and your burnt offerings, even though you have performed acts of anointing that were commanded in the law; for you have not done my will in the law.” This is what was said above: “They have not given heed to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it ” This may rightly be applied to those who offer sacrifices from what has been taken by violence and from the plundering of the destitute and then suppose that by this money taken from iniquity they are ransoming their sins. Scripture says, “The ransom of a mans soul is his wealth”—yet, not wealth derived from iniquity but wealth gathered by hard work and righteousness.

6:21: “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will lay before this people devastations, and they shall be devastated by them,’ — or ‘weakness, and they shall become weak by them’—’fathers and sons together, neighbor and friend shall perish.'”

We see that everything the Lord threatened against this people has been fulfilled. For daily they are devastated by their blasphemies; there is nothing of strength in them, but every one among them is weak. Sons follow the blasphemies of their fathers, and every day they receive this curse: “His blood be on us and on our children!” And not only they but also their “neighbors and friends”—all who follow the law and the prophets according to the letter that kills and not according to the Spirit that gives life—all of them perish equally, because all have sinned equally.

On page 105 there is a reference, but this is not in the preview, sadly.  It must be on Jeremiah 17:1-6, or something like that.  A look at the PL reveals that it is on 17:1, col.786 (p.54 in the PDF linked above).  Let me translate bits of this myself.  (The poor quality printing rather impedes my understanding of the last bit, since I can’t work out what the words are!)

17:1. The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron pen with an adamant point, written on the tablet of their hearts and on the horns of their altars.

Of the gentiles who were converted to God, it was written earlier, “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might” (Jer.16:21): now, concerning the Jews who were thrown down, it is said, “the sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron pen with an adamant point” etc.  I do not know why in the Septuagint … [text critical remarks omitted]  The sins of the gentles are erased, because converted to the Lord from the ends of the earth they hear this, “Praise the Lord, all you nations…”.  But the indelible sin of Judah, which, as I might say, has no reason to be abolished, is written with an iron pen with an adamant point, which in Hebrew is called … and it lasts because it is inscribed, for eternity.  For they themselves said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children”.  Which is why it is written or inscribed on the horns of the altars, or their altars, so that the sacrilegious work should be held in memory for ever.  But if this is so, …

On page 116, there is a final reference:

18:17: “Like a scorching wind I will scatter them before the enemy”—or “enemies—”I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.

Even today the judgment of God remains against the Jews. Throughout the entire world they are scattered before their enemy, the devil—or their enemies, the demons. Although they invoke the name of God day and night in their synagogues of Satan, God shows them his back and not his face, so that they may understand that he is always departing and never coming to them. Moreover, the day of the calamity of the Jews is the whole period from the passion of the Savior to the consummation of the age, so that, after the fullness of the Gentiles has entered in, then all Israel will be saved.

18:18: Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words.”

This is the plot, at that time of the Jews against Jeremiah or against the Lord Savior, and today of the heresies against the Lord’s servants. They make up false charges and preempt holy people with accusations, as they plan not what truth they will speak but what falsehoods they will invent. For they boast that God’s law, counsel and speech will remain with their priests, wise men and pseudoprophets, although Scripture says, “Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul.”

18:19-22a: Give heed to me, O Lord, and hear the voice of my adversaries! Shall evil be rendered for good, since they have dug a pit for my life? Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword; let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men be struck with death, their youths slain by the sword in battle. May a cry be heard from their houses!

It was as a type of the Savior that Jeremiah endured all of this at the hands of the Jewish people, who later were destroyed when the Babylonians came. But it was fulfilled more fully and more perfectly in Christ, when the city was overthrown and the people were massacred by the Roman sword, not because of idolatry (which was not a problem at that time), but because they killed the Son of God, when all the people cried out together: “Away, away with such a one! We have no king but Caesar!” And the curse of eternal damnation against them was fulfilled: “His blood be on us and on our children!” For they had dug a pit for Christ and said, “Let us remove him from the land of the living!” But Christ had such great compassion toward them that he stood before the Father to speak good for them and to tum away the Father’s wrath from them. so that even on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”’ We are only touching briefly on what is clear so that we can spend more time on obscure matters. We will not offer the absurd interpretations of some and talk about the captivity of the heavenly Jerusalem. Instead, we follow the clear historia and the most obvious prophecy with complete confidence in the words and the meaning.

 It’s unfortunate that I can’t access one of the three references in the IVP translation, but the general approach is clear.  Jerome is treating the Old Testament text as a prediction or foreshadowing of the events of the life of Christ; and all those cases where Jeremiah was threatened by the hate of others, he relates to the Jews’ hostility to Christ and, no doubt, the Christian message.  This seems to be an exegetical principle, probably deriving from Origen and his approach to the OT.

Which of course leads us to wonder whether Origen’s exegesis of Jeremiah is extant, and, if so, what he says on these passages.

  1. [1]Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah, ed. Michael Graves.  IVP Academic, 2012.

Jerome on Matthew 27:25

While looking for information on the textual tradition of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, I stumbled across a Google books preview of Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew, in the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 117 (2008), ably translated by Thomas Scheck.  This work in four books also references Matthew 27:25 (His blood be upon us and on our children).

Here’s what it says, from book 4, on 27:25.  FoC p.312-313:

27:24. So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the people, saying: “I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see to it yourselves.”Pilate took water in accordance with the following prophecy: “I will wash my hands among the innocent.” Thus, in the washing of his hands, the works of the Gentiles are cleansed, and in some manner he estranges us from the impiety of the Jews who shouted: “Crucify him.” For he contested this and said: I certainly wanted to set the innocent man free, but because a sedition is arising and the crime of treason against Caesar is being attached to me: “I am innocent of the blood of this man.” The judge who is compelled to bring a verdict against the Lord does not condemn the one offered, but exposes those who offered him; he pronounces that he who is to be crucified is just. “See to it yourselves,” he says; I am a minister of the laws; it is your voice that is shedding his blood.

27:25. And all the people answered and said: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”This imprecation upon the Jews continues until the present day. The Lord’s blood will not be removed from them. This is why it says through Isaiah: “If you wash your hands before me, I will not listen; for your hands are full of blood.” The Jews have left the best heritage to their children, saying: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

27:26. Then he released for them Barabbas; but he had Jesus scourged, and handed him over to them to be crucified. Barabbas the thief, who made seditions among the crowds, who was the author of murders, was released to the people of the Jews. He stands for the devil, who reigns in them until today. It is for this reason that they are unable to have peace. But Jesus, having been handed over by the Jews, is absolved by the wife of Pilate, and is called a just man by the governor himself. …

This is useful for our current project into the use of Matthew 27:25 in the Fathers.  But paging idly back a little, I came across another interesting passage on p.310:

27:9-10. Then was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by the sons of Israel, and they gave them for a potter’s field, just as the Lord appointed for me.”This testimony is not found in Jeremiah. Something similar is recorded in Zechariah, who is nearly the last of the twelve prophets. Yet both the order and the wording are different, although the sense is not that discordant. Recently I read something in a certain little Hebrew book that a Hebrew from the Nazarene sect brought to me. It was an apocryphon of Jeremiah in which I found this text written word for word. Yet it still seems more likely to me that the testimony was taken from Zechariah by a common practice of the evangelists and apostles. In citation they bring out only the sense from the Old Testament. They tend to neglect the order of the words.

Interesting indeed, although I learn from the footnote that apparently G. Bardy supposed in a paper in 1934 that Jerome invented the story of finding an apocryphon. But we need not worry about such a speculation.

Latin scribes getting Greek numerals wrong – authorial corrections in the text of Jerome’s Chronicle

Sometime before 325 AD, Eusebius of Caesarea compiled his Chronicle, in two books.  The second volume exploited the new, large-size, parchment codex, and consisted of page after page of tables of dates and events, synchronising events in different kingdoms, and laying the basis for all subsequent history.[1]  Around 380, Jerome came across a copy in Constantinople, and translated it into Latin.  A copy of his translation dated to 450 AD is held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where I have seen it; and 10 copies exist dated before 1000 AD.  Eusebius’ original Greek, unfortunately, did not survive.

The manuscripts split into two families, each based on a 5th century exemplar.  These are the group of 4 mss, SANP; and the group of 2, OM.  (A list, explaining each letter, can be found here).

In a fascinating paper which deserves to be better known,[2] Alden Mosshammer noticed that OM preserve errors of translation, which were corrected in SANP.   One of these requires access to the Greek.

Here’s the first example, (References are to Schoene’s 1956 edition, but you can find these in the online translation fairly easily).

P.217, line 24.

  • [Original] ἆθλα μ’ …  (nnn ran in the contest for the birthday of Rome …)
  • OM = athalamos natali romanae urbis cucurrit (currit M)  = “Athalamos ran in the contest…”
  • A = XL missus natali romanae urbis cucurrerunt = “40 ran in the contest…”
  • PN = quadraginta missus natali romanae urbis cucurrerunt = “40 ran in the contest…”

(I don’t know Greek numerals – what is the original number in Arabic numerals?)

It seems that Jerome dictated the numeral as a proper name, and the scribe wrote it down as one.  Somebody corrected it later, but OM preserve the dictation error.  Access to the Greek is required to spot this one.

The following example does not require consulting the Greek, and is in fact just a scribal correction:

P.83b, lines 21-23, is a heading.  It gives the name of Alcamenes, who was the 9th king of Sparta, and then the years of his reign follow below the heading.

  • [Original] = θἈλκαμένης  (i.e. “9. Alcamenes”).
  • O = thalcamenes
  • M = thalcamenis
  • A = VIIII menes
  • P = VIIII tarcamenes
  • N = VIIII tharcamenes

OM think the text reads “Thalcamenes”.  But the copyist SANP realised that the first letter was actually the number 9, although they still didn’t get the name right.  Possibly they realised this, because all the kings have numbers, so they inserted “VIIII” (i.e. “IX”) in front.

Here I have a little personal experience to contribute.

Scribes copied the names the first, and worked down the columns, rather than across.  When I transcribed the chronicle, I found that this was much the quickest and safest way.  The only problem was that you might write too many numerals, and suddenly realise that after year 9 there is a new king!  In the Bodleian ms (O), indeed, you see erasures of just this kind.  In HTML, luckily, I could just go back.

So the scribe will have quickly realised that a numeral was missing, and added it; although he could not determine the correct spelling of the name.  This correction could have occurred at any time, tho.

Mosshammer gives only these examples, and a couple of others which do not bear on this question.

Numerals in Greek are vulnerable things.  The first example proves that even St. Jerome could be foxed.  In this case, the lists of unfamiliar names, preceded by numerals, were a perfect occasion for error.

  1. [1]The online translation may be found here (part 1).
  2. [2]Alden Mosshammer, “Luca Bibl. Capit. 490 and the manuscript tradition of Hieronymus’ (Eusebius’) Chronicle”, California Studies in Classical Antiquity 8 (1975), pp. 203-240.  Online at JSTOR here.

Jerome: God hates the sacrifices of heretics

An interesting quote came my way on Twitter:

God hates the sacrifices of these [i.e., heretics] and pushes them away from Himself, and whenever they come together in the name of the Lord, He abhors their stench, and holds His nose…

Fortunately the tweeter had a reference:

Comment in Amos Proph, P.L. 25 1053-1054.

Those are dramatic words.  But the first question with any quotation is the same: is it accurate?

The PL 25 is online, and col. 1053 is here (or here).  As soon as we open it, and find ourselves in the Commentary on Amos (Commentariorum In Amos Prophetam Libri Tres), book 2, chapter 5, we find that the context is the well-known words of God through Amos, vv. 21-22, to the corrupt Israelites, “I hate your festivals…”.

The words are these (1053 D):

Horum Deus odit sacrificia, et a se projicit, et quotiescumque sub nomine Domini fuerint congregati, detestatur foetorum eorum, et claudit nares suas.

Jerome is, then, simply addressing the words of Amos to the heretics also, and with good reason.

The phrasing is shocking to our polite sensibilities.  We tend to think of “heretics” as us: people of sincerity and goodwill, who merely happen to hold some mistaken opinion, perhaps even unknowingly, and are sought out by malicious and narrow-minded people bent on condemnation.

But a better example in our own time is the Caiaphas kind of churchman, full of his own “piety”, full of “holy” phrases, yet ever eager to acquiesce in, or to advance vice of any and every kind, so long as it is to his liking.  The heretic has contempt for Christian teaching.  Our Lord condemned such people in the strongest terms, and they are not absent from our own day, as anyone who has followed the sad story of the American episcopalian church will know.  The problem is rather that we are far too reluctant to identify these infiltrators as such.

The ancient term still has value.  It is a characteristic of these people today that they demand the name of Christian for themselves.  In consequence they tend to scream at anyone who dares to suggest that some people might not, in fact, be Christians.  In fact it is a fingerprint of the heretic that they refuse to allow anyone to suggest that someone else is not a Christian.  More than one Christian has found himself censored, when responding to an attempt to point out that such and such a view – happily accepted by the heretics – is not Christian.

Worth remembering.  The words of scripture do have a contemporary application, and we mustn’t let ourselves be intimidated in applying it when it is earned.

A list of the works of Origen (Jerome, Letter 33)

A correspondent kindly sent me some extracts of a English translation of Henri Crouzel’s book on Origen.[1]  On p.37-38 I find an English translation of the list of Origen’s works, as given by Jerome in letter 33.  This is very useful information, and I reproduce it below.

On Genesis 13 books;[3] assorted homilies 2 books; on Exodus scholia; on Leviticus scholia; Stromateis 10 books; on Isaiah 36 books; also on Isaiah scholia; on Hosea about Ephraim 1 book; on Hosea a commentary; on Joel 2 books; on Amos 6 books; on Jonah 1 book; on Micah 3 books; on Nahum 2 books; on Habakkuk 3 books; on Zephaniah 2 books; on Haggai 1 book; on the beginning of Zechariah 2 books; on Malachi 2 books; on Ezekiel 29 books. Scholia on the Psalms from the first to the fifteenth;[4] also a book on each of the Psalms[5] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 24, 29, 38, 40. On Psalm 43, 2 books; on Psalm 44, 3 books; on Psalm 45 1 book; on Psalm 46, 1 book; on Psalm 50, 2 books; on Psalm 51, 1 book; on Psalm 51, 1 book; on Psalm 53, 1 book; on Psalm 57, 1 book; on Psalm 58, 1 book; on Psalm 59, 1 book; on Psalm 62, 1 book; on Psalm 63, 1 book; on Psalm 64, 1 book; on Psalm 65,1 book; on Psalm 68, 1 book; on Psalm 70, 1 book; on Psalm 71, 1 book; on the beginning of Psalm 72, 1 book; on Psalm 103, 2 books. On the Proverbs 3 books; on Ecclesiastes scholia; on the Song of Songs 10 books and two other volumes which he wrote in his youth; on the Lamentations of Jeremiah five volumes. Also the Monobibla;[6] four books On Principles;[7] two books On the Resurrection and two others on the Resurrection which are dialogues; a book on certain problems of the Proverbs; the dialogue against Candidus the Valentinian; a book on martyrdom.

Of the New Testament; on Matthew 25 books; on John 32 books;[8] scholia on certain parts of John, 1 book; on Luke 15 books; on the epistle of the apostle Paul to the Romans 15 books; on the epistle to the Galatians 15 books;[9] on the epistle to the Ephesians 3 books; on the epistle to the Philippians 1 book; on the epistle to the Colossians 2 books;[10] on the first epistle to the Thessalonians 3 books;[11] on the second epistle to the Thessalonians 1 book; on the epistle to Titus 1 book; on the epistle to Philemon 1 book.

Also homilies on the Old Testament: on Genesis 17;[12] on Exodus 8;[13] on Leviticus II;[14] on Numbers 28; on Deuteronomy 13; on Jesus, son of Nave (Joshua) 26; on the book of the Judges 9; on the Passover 8; on the first book of the Kings 4;[15] on Job 22; on the Proverbs 7; on Ecclesiastes 8; on the Song of Songs 2; on Isaiah 32; on Jeremiah 14;[16] on Ezekiel 12. A homily on Psalms 3, 4, 8, 12, 13; 3 on Psalm 15; on the Psalms 16, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27; 5 on Psalm 36; 2 on Psalms 37, 38, 39; 1 on Psalms 49, 51; 2 on Psalm 52; 1 on Psalm 54; 7 on Psalm 67; 2 on Psalm 71; 3 on Psalms 72 and 73; 1 on Psalms 74 and 75; 3 on Psalm 76; 9 on Psalm 77; 4 on Psalm 79; 2 on Psalm 80; 1 on Psalm 81; 3 on Psalm 82; 1 on Psalm 83; 2 on Psalm 84; 1 on Psalms 85, 87, 108, 110; 3 on Psalm 118; 1 on Psalm 120; 2 on Psalms 121, 122. 123,  124; 1 on Psalms 125, 127, 128, 129, 131; 2 on Psalms 132, 133, 134; 4 on Psalm 135; 2 on Psalm 137; 4 on Psalm 138; 2 on Psalm 139; 3 on Psalm 144; 1 on Psalms 145, 146, 147, 149, Scholia on the whole Psalter.

Homilies on the New Testament: on the Gospel of Matthew 25; on the Gospel of Luke 39; on the Acts of the Apostles 17; on the second epistle to the Corinthians 11[17] on the epistle to the Thessalonians 2;[18] on the epistle to the Galatians 7; on the epistle to Titus 1; on the epistle to the Hebrews 18. A homily on peace. A (homily) of exhortation to Pionia. On fasting. On cases of monogamy and trigamy[19] 2 homilies. At Tarsus[20] 2 homilies. Also scholia by Origen. Two books of letters from Firmilian,
Gregory and various persons: the epistles of the synods of Origen’s case are in Book II. Nine books of letters from him to various people; the letter in defence of his works is in Book II.

I imagine the footnotes that Crouzel gives are also useful:

3. Eusebius says 12: HE VI. XXIV, 2.
4. Perhaps it should be to the twenty-fifth: cf. Eusebius’s Iist below.
5. The psalms are numbered according to the Greek, not the Hebrew, system.
6. Etymologically: books (or Bible) only. We have no idea what that meant.
7. The famous Peri Archon or De Principiis.
8. 22 according to Eusebius HE VI, XXIV, 1: but we have Books XXVIII and XXXII.
9. This figure is certainly wrong. The von der Goltz codex only speaks of five volumes
covering the whole of the epistle and notes the verses commented on in each volume. See E. von der Goltz, Eine textkritische Arbeit des zehnten bezw. sechsten Jahrhundert. Texte und Untersuchungen XVII 4. Leipzig, 1899. p. 95. Jerome also mentions five books in Letter 112 to Augustine, §4.
10. In reality 3 books of which the von der Goltz codex notes the verses on which each
comments: see previous note.
11. A long passage of the third book is quoted in Latin translation by Jerome in Letter 119 to Minervius and Alexander, §§9-10 .
12. Sixteen homilies are usually reproduced but a Homily XVII is given in PG 13. 253-262: its text is the same as that of part of the De Benedictionibus Pamarchorum of Rufinus and it is eliminated as unauthentic for that reason, a faker being thought to have made up a homily of Origen out of that passage of Rufinus. I confess myself sceptical about this solution and think the opposite equally plausible: the early Fathers having no idea of literary etiquette – shown in numerous cases, the typical examples being Ambrose of Milan – Rufinus may well have sent to Paulinus of Nob who was asking for a treatise one which began by reproducing a homily by Origen which Rufinus had himself translated. In Letter 72 to Evangelus Jerome mentions a homily on Melchisedec which is no longer extant.
13. We have 13 of them.
14. We have 16 of them.
15. That is of Samuel.
16. These are the 14 that Jerome translated, but we have 22 and also in the Philocalia fragments of homilies 21 and 39.
17.  Perhaps we should read the ‘first epistle’, for we have numerous fragments on it published by Cl. Jenkins in the Journal of Theological Studies IX-X, 1908-1909.  Jerome says in Letter 48 to Pammachius §3 that Origen gave long expositions of this epistle. On the other hand we have no fragments on 2 Corinthians.
18. First or second?
19. These words mean in the primitive Church those who have been married once and
those who have been married three times successively. Three simultaneous marriages would have been illegal in the Greco-Roman world .
20. There is no other evidence of a stay by Origen in Tarsus. From this point on we
reproduce the text as corrected by P. Nautin.

Isn’t it odd that nobody has ever thought it worthwhile to produce an English translation of all of Jerome’s letters?  This awkward, difficult man stands at the foot of all western biblical studies, and is of incredible importance for the history of Christianity in the west.  Yet the majority of his works – written in simple Latin – remain untranslated.

  1. [1]H. Crouzel, Origen, tr. A.S. Worrall, T&T Clark, 1989.

Augustine to Jerome on the inspiration of scripture

An interesting article at ThinkTheology.co.uk draws together some useful quotations from St. Augustine on the inspiration of scripture.

The quotations come from Augustine’s letter 82, addressed to St. Jerome himself.

For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason.

I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error … (82.3)

But you will say it is better to believe that the Apostle Paul wrote what was not true, than to believe that the Apostle Peter did what was not right. On this principle, we must say (which far be it from us to say), that it is better to believe that the gospel history is false, than to believe that Christ was denied by Peter; and better to charge the book of Kings with false statements, than believe that so great a prophet, and one so signally chosen by the Lord God as David was, committed adultery in lusting after and taking away the wife of another, and committed such detestable homicide in procuring the death of her husband.

Better far that I should read with certainty and persuasion of its truth the Holy Scripture, placed on the highest (even the heavenly) pinnacle of authority, and should, without questioning the trustworthiness of its statements, learn from it that men have been either commended, or corrected, or condemned, than that, through fear of believing that by men, who, though of most praiseworthy excellence, were no more than men, actions deserving rebuke might sometimes be done, I should admit suspicions affecting the trustworthiness of the whole oracles of God. (82.5)

The translation is the 19th century one, which may be found online here.

I have never collected ancient statements concerned with the inspiration of scripture; doing so would certainly be an interesting and useful exercise.  But I do recall another passage of Augustine on scripture which deserves quotation here.  It is from De genesim ad litteram (On Genesis, literally expounded), book 2, chapter 9:

It is frequently asked what our belief must be about the form and shape of heaven according to Sacred Scripture. Many scholars engaged in lengthy discussions on these matter, but the sacred writers with their deeper wisdom have omitted them. Such subjects are of no profit for those who seek beatitude, and, what is worse, they take up precious time that ought to be given to what is spiritually beneficial. What concern is it of mine whether heaven is a sphere and the earth is enclosed by it and suspended in the middle of the universe, or whether heaven like a disk above the earth covers it on one side?

But the credibility of Scripture is at stake, and as I have indicated more than once, there is danger that a man uninstructed in divine revelation, discovering something in Scripture or hearing from it something that seems to be at variance with the knowledge that he has acquired, may resolutely withhold his assent in other matters where Scripture presents useful admonitions, narratives, or declarations. Hence, I must say briefly that in the matter of the shape of heaven the sacred writers knew the truth, but that the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, did not wish to teach men these facts that would be of no avail to their salvation.

This translation is as translated by J.H.Taylor, 1982.

All of this is sensible stuff.

We must always remember that there are only two groups of Christians; those whose ultimate authority is the word of scripture, and those who have come to think it is not the ultimate authority, and so, inevitably, give the last word elsewhere — invariably to the world, then to the flesh, and finally to the devil.  It is not enough to mean well; we must think well also.  It isn’t very clever to be so clever that we talk ourselves out of salvation.

Jerome’s Commentary on Jonah – online in English

I discovered today that there is online a thesis containing an English translation of Jerome’s Commentary on Jonah.  It was made by Timothy Michael Hegedus in 1991.  It’s here.  I am OCR’ing the PDF as I write!

I learned about this via AWOL.  There is a website Open Access Theses and Dissertations.  This is a portal to other online sites of dissertations.  A query on “Eusebius” quickly brought up the item.

Magic!

Mithras and Jerome

A comment draws my attention to E. H. Henckel, De philtris.[1]  On page 39, there is an interesting statement.

Magnam vim Basilidiani suo Deo ABRASAX (quem Basilides pro summo habebat numine, nomine prorsus fictitio; Sed quod litteris contineret numerum dierum, quos annus habet absolutus: unde & B. Hieronymi suspicio erat, Abraxas esse non alium, quam Persarum Mithram, hoc est, Solem, qui annuo cursu hoc spatium conficit. …

The Basilidians [assigned] the great power to their god ABRAXAS (whom Basilides considered the greatest divinity, under a fictitious name; but because the letters contained the number of days in a complete year: from which also the blessed Jerome suspected that Abraxas was no other than Mithras of the Persians, i.e the sun, which in the course of the year completes this total. …

This is a reference to Jerome’s Commentary on Amos, book 5, ch. 9-10, which may be found amid all the other literary testimonies to Mithras here:

Basilides gives to the omnipotent god the uncouth name of Abraxas, and asserts that according to the Greek letters and the number of the cycle of the year this is comprehended in the sun’s orbit. The name Mithra, which the Gentiles use, gives the same sum with different letters.  (Geden)

Geden’s footnote explains:

I.e. Μειθπας = 40 + 5 + 10 + 9 + 100 + 1 + 200 = 365; Ἀβράξας = 1 + 2 + 100 + 1 + 60 + 1 + 200 = 365.

Numerology attracts a certain kind of mind, and it’s something to be aware of.

  1. [1]Frankfurt, 1590