Here's another question and response from the from the CAI Q&A page, home of Catholic apologist, Robert Sungenis:
Question 6- St Jerome and the Canon
"Robert, I have come across this article in which the writter claims that St Jerome never did accept certain books as canonical. The same books that Martin Luther kept in his German translation but also said were not canonical. I have always been under the impression that St Jerome submitted to the authority of the Church and accepted the books, whereas this author shows that he did not. Would you mind reading this article and comment on it? I believe that this article needs to be refuted and I do not have the knowledge to do so. Here it is: Guest Blog:Did Jerome Change His Mind on the Apocrypha ? By Ray Aviles
R. Sungenis: "Peter, besides the fact that none of us may really know the true story behind what Jerome thought about the deuterocanonicals, the fact remains that it means very little to us now. There have been Catholics who have contested the canon all the way up to Trent's infallible proclamation in 1563. In fact, it was Cardinal Cajetan who, along with Luther, precipitated Trent's final decree on this matter because he, too, was questioning the canonicity of the deuterocanonicals. As for Jerome, we should not be suprised that he would question their status. The Church herself didn't make the final infallible proclamation until 10 centuries after him. Moreover, Trent said it was bound by the consensus of the tradition, whether it was Hippo and Carthage or Pope Innocent I or the Council of Florence. That is all that matters now. I would hope that those who are vigorous in pointing out Jerome's doubts would be just as vigorous in acknowledging that Jerome answered to a higher authority, and that authority is everyone's authority. "
Hi Peter,I don’t know if this was amongst the “package” of emails that you sent to Shea, Sippo, etc. and not that you are still looking for some sort of concurrence, but Sungenis didn’t refute anything I said.
My point was merely to correct those who claimed that Jerome changed his mind on the matter and, as far as Shea goes, to correct his error that the term “judgment of the churches” applied to a declaration by the African Synods. Sungenis agrees that there were issues leading to Trent, but here is where we part company: Sungenis claims that none of us know the story behind Jerome, but this is appealing to silence. Although silence can sometimes speak louder than words, the factors point elsewhere.
Sungenis makes it seem as if Cajetan, along with Luther, spurred Trent’s reaction, but that’s not correct. Again, there were other contemporaries of Trent, such as Ximenes, Seripando, and his group, who were adherents of Jerome’s view as well. What this tells me is that this view was still very much extant and these folks KNEW Jerome never reneged on his position.
Sungenis also claims that Trent’s infallible declaration sealed the deal as far as the canon went, but the question must be asked:
WHY would it take almost 1,200 years to declare a canon, especially if various views existed throughout church history leading up to Trent? Wouldn’t the Church have positioned herself better especially after the African Synods? IOW, they allegedly made a decision on canon and others disagreed, so why take 1,200 years before making an “infallible” proclamation on canon?
WHY would there be contestation at Trent by the group headed by Seripando if the church had indeed decided on a canon approximately 1,200 years before AND the “judgment of the churches” was indeed in effect?
Sungenis states that one should be as vigorous in acknowledging that Jerome answered to a higher authority and that this authority is everyone’s authority. I assume that this authority is the Church, in particular Rome, but that’s an entirely different matter altogether and, not surprisingly, not one that I agree with. It’s beside the point. Rome didn’t make a decision and Jerome was free to indulge his position. His prefaces to the Vulgate were never changed and, in them, he was clear about these books being “ecclesiastical” but NOT Scripture. One would assume that if Jerome did indeed answer to that “higher authority” that he would have had to renege on anything which put skepticism on these added books, but that’s not the case and the prefaces remained. As far as the council of Trent and the goings-on regarding the canon, Roman Catholic scholar Hubert Jedin’s account (Cardinal Seripando: Papal Legate at the Council of Trent) is probably the best. Jim can send you a copy of the relevant chapter, in text format, via email if you’d like. Read it, mull it over, and ask yourself if Rome’s “infallible” declaration doesn’t seem more like a reaction to you—especially in light of the fact that the best scholars, albeit a minority, set themselves on the side which opposed the books. God gave us minds in which to think and discern. I don’t believe in Rome’s infallibility and declaring a canon under the pretense of it really means nothing to me.
Peter, on another note, my advice to you would be that you spend more time studying these issues for yourself rather then looking to those who can only give you opinion. Cast your all before God, read His Word, and pray for the illumination of the Holy Spirit to guide you. As always, I’ll keep you in my prayers.
For Further Reading:
Response From Catholic Apologist Mark Shea on "Did Jerome Change His Mind On The Apocrypha?"
Who were Some Of The Best Scholars at Trent, And What Did They Think Of The Apocrypha?