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Dogmatic and Polemical Works

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St. Jerome’s reputation rests primarily on his achievements as a translator and as a scriptural exegete. The important service that he rendered to the Church in his doctrinal works is often overlooked or minimized by those who look for originality and independence of thought. St. Jerome was not a theologian in the strict sense of the word. He was no original thinker, and he never abandoned himself to personal meditation of dogma as St. Augustine did. Although he kept strictly to what he found in tradition, the importance of his doctrinal authority is not thereby lessened.

After spending twelve years of his early life at his native Stridon, he was sent to Rome in the year 359 to finish his literary studies. For the next eight years, from 359 to 367, St. Jerome studied very diligently grammar, the humanities, rhetoric, and dialectics. He also took a passionate interest in the Greek and Latin classics, in the philosophers and poets, and especially in the satirists and comic poets. These studies, it seems, tended not to soften, but to exaggerate the temperament of St. Jerome who was by nature irascible and impulsive, and sensitive to criticism and contradiction. The reading in the satirists and the comic poets developed in him a taste for caricature and a penchant for making damaging allusions. Moreover, the trials before the Roman tribunes, which he attended eagerly, and wherein the advocates indulged in mutual personal invective, further developed in him the art and science of polemics which he was to employ so effectively and skillfully in the controversies which were to engage his attention seriously.

St. Jerome stressed the fact that the Church must always be regarded as the supreme rule and decisive standard of the Christian faith; and that that Church gives the true sense of the Scriptures, and is representative of tradition. It was owing to this firm conviction on the part of St. Jerome that the years of his later life were consumed in endless conflicts with the enemies of the Church. St. Jerome never spared heretics, but always saw it that the enemies of the Church were his own enemies. His encounter with the Sabellians was St. Jerome’s first quarrel with an enemy of the Church. He gave notice early in his life that he would be a staunch protector of the doctrinal authority of the Church, and that he stood ready to attack any and all heresies that raised their heads against the Catholic faith.

For The Fathers of the Church series in its entirety, see Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.).

Key Features

  • Quality translation of attacks on heretical positions that are of immense importance for modern scholarship
  • His writings provide background on Saint Jerome and the theological setting in which he wrote
  • One of 127 published volumes in a well-respected series on the Church Fathers

Top Highlights

“The most important and fundamental principle of Pelagianism, which was evidently based on the Stoic conception of human nature, consisted in the affirmation of the moral strength and self-sufficiency of man’s free will. Relying entirely on his own power, man can always will and do good; in reality there have always been men who have never sinned.4 Man has always been created free; he has the power of choosing between doing and avoiding what is wrong. He is his own master and acts as he chooses. Willing and acting depend on man alone.” (Page 224)

“Certainly, no one but the ungodly will deny that Ezechias was a just man. You may say: ‘He sinned in certain things and, therefore, he ceased to be just.’ But Scripture does not say this. For he did not lose the title of just because he committed small sins, but he possessed the title of just because he performed many good deeds. I say all this to prove, with the testimonies of Sacred Scripture, that the just are not sinners, simply because they have sinned on occasions, but they remain just because they flourish in many virtues.” (Page 332)

“Slight offenses are compared with slight offenses and serious ones with serious ones. A fault that deserves the rod should not be punished with the sword; nor should a crime that deserves the sword be punished with the rod.” (Page 259)

“‘And he also told them,’ he says, ‘a parable, that they must always pray and not lose heart.’164 It is useless for us to pray always, if it depends on our own will to do what we want to.” (Page 319)

“When David, who was a just man and a prophet, and had been anointed as king, whom the Lord chose according to His own heart that he might do His will in all things, saw ignorance punished by the wrath of the Lord, he was afraid and was grieved; nor did he ask the Lord His reason for striking a man who was ignorant, but he feared a similar judgment happening to him.” (Pages 289–290)

  • Title: Dogmatic and Polemical Works
  • Author: Jerome
  • Series: The Fathers of the Church
  • Volume: 53
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America
  • Print Publication Date: 1965
  • Logos Release Date: 2014
  • Pages: 422
  • Era: era:nicene
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Theology › Early works to 1800
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2024-03-25T19:35:15Z

St. Jerome (c. 347–30 September 420) (formerly Saint Hierom) was an Illyrian Catholic priest and apologist. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia. He is best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin, and his list of writings is extensive. He is recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church, and the Vulgate is still an important text in Catholicism.


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    Digital list price: $39.99
    Save $9.00 (22%)