Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Ancient Voice For The Day #24

Jerome (347-420):

"‘In his record of the peoples and princes the Lord shall tell of these who have been born in her.’ Now the psalm did not say, those who are born in her, but who have been born in her. ‘The Lord shall tell.’ How shall he tell? Not by word of mouth, but in His writings. In His writings of whom? Of the peoples. That is not enough, for it also speaks of the princes. And which princes? Those who are born in her? No, it did not say that; but, those who have been born in her."

Source:FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 18 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), p. 142.

Jerome then goes on to say a few sentences later in the same homily...

"‘‘In his record of the peoples the Lord shall tell’: in the sacred writings, in His Scripture that is read to all peoples in order that all may know. Thus the apostles have written; thus the Lord Himself has spoken, not merely for a few, but that all might know and understand. Plato wrote books, but he did not write for all people but only for a few, for there are not many more than two or three men who know him. But the princes of the Church and the princes of Christ did not write only for the few, but for everyone without exception. ‘And princes’: the apostles and evangelists. ‘Of those who have been born in her.’ Note ‘who have been’ and not ‘who are.’ That is to make sure that, with the exception of the apostles, whatever else is said afterwards should be removed and not, later on, hold the force of authority. No matter how holy anyone may be after the time of the apostles, no matter how eloquent, he does not have authority, for ‘in his record of the peoples and princes the Lord shall tell of those who have been born in her.’

Source:FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 18 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), p. 142-143.

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

18 comments:

BJ Buracker said...

Hey James,

Great quotes. Thanks for the post. Do you have any other recommendations for ECF quotes? I have the 38-volume series on their works, but it can be a daunting to try and find something in there, especially if I don't know where to look offhand. Books like this one would be helpful.

Thanks,

BJ
Stupid Scholar

Rhology said...

Anything by William Webster.
Try his Matthew 16 book.
And the latter 2 volumes of this 3 volume Holy Scripture set is virtually all CF citations.

Kimberly said...

Cool, thanks, Rho.

I want stuff like that to get me going and then us 28-Volume set to see context.

In Christ,

BJ
Stupid Scholar

Matthew Bellisario said...

If you read these texts in proper context you will find that Saint Jerome was anything but a Protestant.

www.catholicchampion.com

James Swan said...

If you read these texts in proper context you will find that Saint Jerome was anything but a Protestant.

I have never argued he was. Obviously, you misunderstand how a Protestant like myself regards the ECF's. I suggest first learning what the position is that I take, before attempting to refuter it.

James Swan said...

Hey James,Great quotes. Thanks for the post. Do you have any other recommendations for ECF quotes?

on the bottom of this entry, click on the label, "An Ancient Voice For The Day." It will lnik to many other quotes of similar content.

Saint and Sinner said...

"Thanks for the post. Do you have any other recommendations for ECF quotes?"

Check out Jason Engwer's "Catholic But Not Roman Catholic" series. It can be found somewhere on the internet and downloaded.

beowulf2k8 said...

the homily you are quoting isn't in the 38 volumes of the so-called 'fathers' is it?

------- Theo ------- said...

Dear James, brother in Christ:

May God bless you richly this Good Friday.

I humbly suggest that your criticism of Mathew's comment might be a bit out of balance with his comments. Please consider that the text you quoted from is subtitled, "The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura" I suspect he derived from this an impression you were affirming Jerome was in some way a "Protestant" in "sola scriptura" theology.

That Mathew or any knowledgeable person would react to such an assertion as he did is by no means surprising; after all, Jerome did not so affirm. Here's his own testimony:

"Yet, though your greatness terrifies me, your kindness attracts me. From the priest [Damasus] I demand the safe-keeping of the victim, from the shepherd the protection due to the sheep.

"Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! Matt. xvi. 18. This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. Ex. xii. 22. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails.”


The above is verbatim from Letter XV, Jerome to Pope Damasus, A.D. 376(7)

I humbly suggest to all who wish to know the truth about what the early church fathers believed, that rather than limiting your understanding to hand-picked excerpts in works intended to demonstrate their "Protestant" affirmations, you go directly to the writers themselves. Why not recommend "anything by Jerome, or Justin or Polycarp," or "anything by Augustine?" They were brilliant men, all well able to communicate their own thoughts.



Humbly submitted, I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo



PS:
Genuine students of truth who are nevertheless suspicious of "Catholic" archives might like to start with the growing on-line archives being amassed at Calvin College. Their Jerome collection begins here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf206.html.

beowulf2k8 said...

@------- Theo ------- the false god

Jerome had his fits of madness and his lucid days. On his lucid days he believed in sola scriptura. In his fits of madness he hated scripture (see his letter to Vigilantius).

Paul Hoffer said...

What is interesting about all of the discussion pertaining to St. Jerome is the fact that even though he had his opinion as to what he believed the canon to be, once the Pope spoke, St. Jerome submitted, affirming that he believed in the primacy of the papacy and the authority of the Church to teach. When Protestants disagree, they just form a new denomination. There is no binding mechanism to resolve such disputes other than placement of oneself as his own pope.

Saint and Sinner said...

"St. Jerome submitted, affirming that he believed in the primacy of the papacy and the authority of the Church to teach."

First of all, it is anachronistic to say that Jerome believed in the Jurisdictional Primacy (instead of the Primacy of Honor) of the Pope. Read Klaus Schatz's book Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present. I listed several quotes from the book here:

http://contra-gentes.blogspot.com/2008/02/papal-primacy-by-klaus-schatz.html

Most of the patristic prooftexts that RCs use read Medieval concepts back into the early church.

Secondly, Jerome never changed his mind on the extent of the canon, and many Christian scholars after him continued to hold that the Apocrypha was not canonical (witness: Cardinal Cajetan, Cardinal Ximenes, Pope Gregory the Great, etc., etc., etc.).

Saint and Sinner said...

"When Protestants disagree, they just form a new denomination."

That's better than unity in error.

"There is no binding mechanism to resolve such disputes other than placement of oneself as his own pope."

And yet, the Magesterium of Rome not only has not excommunicated theological liberals, it has promoted liberalism in its ranks by assigning men such as Brown and Fitzmeyer to Biblical Commissions. Go to Boston College and see the kind of stuff they teach there.

It has also failed to excommunicate abortionist politicians.

It seems that Rome's "binding mechanism" is pretty much worthless.

Carrie said...

Relevant to this discussion:

Did Jerome Change His Mind

------- Theo ------- said...

Saint and Sinner, beloved of Christ:

I'm afraid that I do not follow your reasoning. You appear to assert that I've retrofitted later theology onto St. Jerome's words, yet you do not demonstrate how this is so.

How I anachronistically display Jerome’s confidence in the authority of "the chair of Peter" and "the rock on which the Church is built" escapes me. His letter is written with the express purpose of appealing to the Pope’s Jurisdictional Primacy as "shepherd and protector of the sheep" as is their due (as is the Pope’s duty) and explicitly sets aside his “honorific” role (Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross.).

He also clearly identifies the role of the church under that authority as “the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten” and “the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails." If I am mistaken, could you be kind enough to supply the mediaeval interpretation you ascribe to me and also the "actual" meaning of Jerome?

You cite Klaus to tell me what Jerome said. I cite Jerome. As I said before, I humbly suggest to all who wish to know the truth about what the early church fathers believed, that rather than limiting your understanding to hand-picked excerpts in works intended to demonstrate their "Protestant" affirmations, you go directly to the writers themselves.

____________

Beowolf, my presious brother:

You ascribe St. Jerome’s theology to insanity: that he loved scripture while lucid and hated it while insane. This is a novel approach to claiming St. Jerome as a Church Father: whatever he believes that contradicts modern Protestant theology is not only insane but demonstrates “hatred” for things holy. What agrees, or what can be construed as agreeing with Protestant theology is lucid. Please know that I find this theory long on creativity but very short on soundness, and as such I am as lost in following your reasoning as I am Saint and Sinner's.

____________

With sincere prayer for both of your blessing in the power of The Risen Christ this Easter season,
I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

Matthew Bellisario said...

Saint Jerome with the identity crisis??

Saint and Sinner said in referring to the many disagreeing denominations of Protestantism,

"That's better than unity in error."

So are we to believe that no one had the complete truth? Are we to believe that no one has the complete correct interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures? What I find fascinating is that many of these Protestants think that everyone had their own copy of the Sacred Scriptures themselves. In fact very few people outside of the Church establishment had a copy of the Scriptures since there was no printing press. Where did people get their interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures from for almost 1500 years? You guested it, the Catholic Church.

The Scriptures were read and interpreted during the Divine Liturgy, or what is now called in the West, the Mass. Read the scholar Sebastian Brock, "The Bible in the Syriac Tradition" for some good info on the Sacred Scriptures. The only way you can argue for a Protestant interpretation of Scripture, is to hold that for the better part 1500 years went by before the public was able to get a hold of them and finally interpret them correctly. This is sheer nonsense. The Church Fathers hold to Catholic positions, not Protestant. Anytime a Protestant sees that one of them holds a Catholic position, then they assume that he was crazy or something, or schizophrenic. I don't think it was Saint Jerome who had the identity crisis, I think it is the multifaceted Protestant nightmare that has the identity crisis.

James Swan said...

Where did people get their interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures from for almost 1500 years? You guested it, the Catholic Church.

I would be interested in seeing the infallible interpretations of Scripture provided during these 1500 years. I would also be interested in knowing if Rome authorized and used the quadriga to arrive at these intepretations, and if so, on what basis did they get the authority to utilize such a spurious mode of interpretation.

Are we to believe that no one has the complete correct interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures?

If the RCC has this, I'd be interested in knowing where it's located, and when to expect the offical interpretation of the Bible. In fact, has Rome ever infallible defined any 1 chapter of the Bible, verse by verse?

I don't think it was Saint Jerome who had the identity crisis, I think it is the multifaceted Protestant nightmare that has the identity crisis.


Well, Jerome certainly wasn't having any unity with Basil. Also, Catholic apologist Gary Michuta has really "thrown Jerome under the bus" so to speak for his views on the canon, claiming that Jerome is responsible for all the canon confusion, and having different groups holding to different canons.

If you whitewash history, and if you attempt to force the ECF's to be Romanist, you will continually expose yourself as someone willing to slay the truth in the street.

dtking said...

If you whitewash history, and if you attempt to force the ECF's to be Romanist, you will continually expose yourself as someone willing to slay the truth in the street.

Indeed James! What a Romanist cannot appreciate about this letter (letter 15) of Jerome is that he writes as a theological novice, as he later describes himself during this period of his life, in the prologue of his commentary on Obadiah (PL 25:1098). In Letter 15, as well as Letter 16 (which was his 2nd attempt to get Damasus to respond to him, with Letter 15 having gone unanswered), he makes mention in both letters the three rival bishops of Antioch, "I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters; he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist."

With a true sectarian spirit, Jerome writes off all three of these rival bishops as being of "Antichrist" (LOL). Now, I laugh because Jerome makes the same youthful mistake of judgment that any of us are liable to make. After all, unknown to Jerome at this time, Damasus recognized Paulinus as the true "catholic" bishop of Antioch. And Meletius (and this is where it becomes comical when dealing with fanatical Roman apologists) whom Jerome rejects in this letter, and regards as one of "those Arians" because Meletius and others (most notably Basil of Caesarea) were using the language of "three hypostases" to describe the relationship of the persons in the Trinity. It is because this language is new to the ears of Jerome, that he dismisses it as "Arian," all the while informing his pastor Damasus that if he chooses to accept it, so will he! As Kelly points out concerning this language of Jerome, "It was sheer prejudice, or deliberate perversity, to dismiss the adherents of the ‘three hypostases’ doctrine as Arians. They were just as much opposed to Arianism, with its subordination of the Son to the Father and of the Holy Spirit to the Son and its denial of divinity to both, as he was." See J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), p. 54.

But what becomes even funnier against the Romanist paradigm of the alleged pristine unity of "catholics," in that day, is that while pope Damasus recognized Paulinus as the true bishop of Antioch, Basil of Caesarea (no small ecclesiastic of the east) and John Chrysostom recognized Meletius as the true bishop of Antioch, from whose hands Chrysostom was baptized and ordained to the diaconate! The third claimant to the throne of Antioch, who is mentioned by Jerome, Vitalis, fell into the error of Apollinarius.

Jerome isn't appealing to "the teacher of all Christians" who had the ultimate authority to adjudicate between the rival bishops. He was appealing to the pastor of his own communion in the western see where he had been baptized! Moreover, no one in the east had any notion of the papal primacy of jurisdiction. Basil of Caesarea and John Chrysostom, in supporting Meletius as the rightful bishop of Antioch, certainly held no notions of papal primacy, such as Leo XIII's Satis cognitum attempts to read back into this letter of Jerome. After all, according to the standard of Leo XIII's Satis cognitum, Basil of Caesarea and John Chrysostom were "outside the edifice," "separated from the fold," and "exiled from the kingdom," for the simple reason that neither of them joined Damasus in recognizing Paulinus as the rightful occupant of the Antiochene see! They "knew nothing (As Edward Denny points out in his helpful work, Papalism, p. 347) of the Papal Monarchy as an integral part of the Divine Constitution of the Church necessary to its very existence."

This is why I regard Romanists by this title. After all, there is no greater "anti-Catholic" spirit than that of a Romanist who maintains that communion with Rome constitutes the necessary requirement to be in the true Church of Jesus Christ. What can be more sectarian (as it was in Basil and Chrysostom's day) than this kind of party spirit!

No, I say to the above poster, who alleges that we are trying to turn the ECFs into Protestants! Even to express such a sentiment only underscores the ignorance for the reason we read and study the ECFs. We, as Protestants, are very content to let the ECFs be what they were. But it is the Romanist who, on the contrary, must read back into the ECFs the notions of modern day Rome and papal primacy that were never recognized by the eastern church. Again, for all this insistence on the ECFs being "catholic" I am in great agreement! But the true "anti-Catholic" title belongs to those who argue for the exclusive claims of Rome.

When the ECFs happen to support some of the positions that Protestants take today, I would be more sympathetic to the Romanist who can at least recognized where the ECFs took a different path from modern day Rome. But the radical, fanatical Romanist can entertain no such objectivity on this account, because for them it's a matter of all or nothing! That's what make it so laughable when Roman opponents begin immediately to shout “Foul play, out of context” at the faintest citation of any patristic witness whose words appear to be at odds with the modern day views of the Roman communion, whether they have actually investigated the context of any such citation or not. One would verily be led to believe, by such statements, that such members of the Roman communion possess the attribute of omniscience when it comes to the context of every quote that stands in contrast to their present day claims. So, go ahead and pretend that Jerome's appeal to his pastor in Rome concerning matters of which he is utterly ignorant as an example of papal primacy. But all you demonstrate to me is another excursion in "humble" (perhaps), but nonetheless real ignorance.

DTK