[The extant commentaries by Jerome on the books of Holy Scripture may be
arranged thus, chronological sequence being observed as far as possible:
    A. New Testament:
       The Epistles to Philemon, Galatians, Ephesians, Titus. A.D. 387.
       Origen on St. Luke. A.D. 389,
       St. Matthew. A.D. 398.
    B. Old Testament:
       Ecclesiastes A.D. 388.
       1. The Twelve Minor Prophets:
          Nahum, Michah, Zephaniah, Haggai, Habakkuk. A.D. 392.
          Jonah, Begun three years after the foregoing (Preface), Finished
between A.D. 395 and A.D. 397.
          Obadiah. A.D. 403.
          Zechariah, Malachi, Hosea, Joel, Amos. Finished by A,D. 406.
       2. The Four Greater Prophets:
          Daniel. A.D. 407.
          Isaiah A.D. 408-410.
          Ezekiel. A.D 410-414,
          Jeremiah. Commenced after the death of Eustochium in A.D, 418.
The commentary on this book, which stops short at chapter xxxii., was
therefore written in A.D. 419, the year which intervened between
Eustochium's death and Jerome's own,

We have thought it best to give the Prefaces as in those to the Vulgate, in
the order of the books as they stand in our Bible, not in the order in
which they were written.]


[The Preface, addressed to Eusebius of Cremona, was written A.D. 398.
Eusebius was at this time starting for Rome, and he was charged to give a
copy of this Commentary to Principia, the friend of Marcella, for whom he
had been unable through sickness to write on. the Song of Songs as he had
wished. Jerome begins by distinguishing the Canonical from the Apocryphal
Gospels quoting the words of St. Luke, that many had taken in hand to write
the life of Christ. He gives his view of the origin of the Gospels as

    The first evangelist is Matthew, the publican, who was surnamed Levi.
He published his Gospel in Judaea in the Hebrew language, chiefly for the
sake of Jewish believers in Christ, who adhered in vain to the shadow of
the law, although the substance of the Gospel had come. The second is Mark,
the (1)amanuensis of the Apostle Peter, and first bishop of the Church of
Alexandria. He did not himself see our Lord and Saviour, but he related the
matter of his Master's preaching with more regard to minute detail than to
historical sequence. The third is Luke, the physician, by birth a native of
Antioch, in Syria, whose praise is in the Gospel. He was himself a disciple
of the Apostle Paul, and composed his book in Achaia and Bceotia. He
thoroughly investigates certain particulars and, as he himself confesses in
the preface, describes what he had heard rather than what he had seen. The
last is John, the Apostle and Evangelist, whom Jesus loved most, who,
reclining on the Lord's bosom, drank the purest streams of doctrine, and
was the only one thought worthy of the words from the cross, " Behold thy
mother." When he was in Asia, at the time when the seeds of heresy were
springing up (I refer to Cerinthus, Ebion, and the rest who say that Christ
has not come in the flesh, whom he in his own epistle calls Antichrists,
and whom the Apostle Paul frequently assails), he was urged by almost all
the bishops of Asia then living, and by deputations from many Churches to
write more profoundly concerning the divinity of the Saviour, and to break
through all obstacles so as to attain to the very Word of God (if I may so
speak) with a boldness as successful as it appears audacious.
Ecclesiastical history relates that, when he was urged by the brethren to
write, he replied that he would do so if a general fast were proclaimed and
all would offer up prayer to God; and when the fast was over, the narrative
goes on to say, being filled with revelation, he burst into the heaven-sent
Preface: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God: this was in the beginning with God."

[Jerome then applies the four symbolical figures of Ezekiel to the Gospels:
the Man is Matthew, the Lion Mark, the Calf, Luke, "because he began with
Zacharias the priest," and the Eagle, John. He then describes the works of
his predecessors: Origen with his twenty-five volumes, Theophilus of
Antioch, Hippolytus the martyr, Theodorus of Heraclea, Apollinaris of
Laodicaea, Didymus of Alexandria, and of the Latins, Hilary, Victorinus,
and Fortunatianus; from these last, he says, he had gained but little. He
continues as follows:]

    But you urge me to finish the composition in a fortnight, when Easter
is now rapidly approaching, and the spring breezes are blowing; you do not
consider when the shorthand writers are to take notes, when the sheets are
to be written, when corrected, how long it takes to make a really accurate
copy; and this is the more surprising, since you know that for the last
three months I have been so ill that I am now hardly beginning to walk; and
I could not adequately perform so great a task in so short a time.
Therefore, neglecting the authority of ancient writers, since I have no
opportunity of reading or following them, I have confined myself to the
brief exposition and translation of the narrative which you particularly
requested; and I have sometimes thrown in a few of the flowers of the
(1)spiritual interpretation, while I reserve the perfect work for a future


[Addressed to Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 388.]

    A few days ago you told me that you had read some commentaries on
Matthew and Luke, of which one was equally dull in perception and
expression, the other frivolous in expression, sleepy in sense. Accordingly
you requested me to translate, without regarding such rubbish, our
Adamantius' thirty-nine "homilies " on Luke, just as they are found in the
original Greek; I replied that it was an irksome task and a mental torment
to write, as Cicero phrases it, with another man's heart(2) not one's own;
but yet I will undertake it, as your requests reach no higher than this.
The demand which the sainted Blesilla once made, at Rome, that I should
translate into our language his twenty-five volumes on Matthew, five on
Luke, and thirty-two on John is beyond my powers, my leisure, and my
energy. You see what weight your influence and wishes have with me. I have
laid aside for a time my books on Hebrew Questions because you think my
labour will not be in vain, and turn to the translation of these
commentaries, which, good or bad, are his work and not mine. I do this all
the more readily because I hear on the left of me the raven--that ominous
bird--croaking and mocking in an extraordinary way at the colours of all
the other birds, though he himself is nothing if not a bird of gloom. And
so, before he change his note, I confess that in these treatises Origen is
like a boy amusing himself with the dice-box; there is a wide difference
between his mature efforts and the serious studies of his old age. If my
proposal meet with your approbation, if I am still able to undertake the
task, and if the Lord grant me opportunity to translate them into Latin
after completing the work I have now deferred, you will then be able to
see--aye, and all who speak Latin will learn through you--how much good
they knew not, and how much they have now begun to know. Besides this, I
have arranged to send you shortly the Commentaries of Hilary, that master
of eloquence, and of the blessed martyr Victorinus, on the Gospel of
Matthew. Their style is different, but the grace of the Spirit which
wrought in them is one. These will give you some idea of the study which
our Latins also have, in former days, bestowed upon the Holy Scriptures.


[The Commentary is in three books, with full Prefaces.

Book I., Ch. i. 1 - iii. 9: Addressed to Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 387.

The Preface to this book begins with a striking description of the noble
Roman lady Albina, which is as follows:]

    Only a few days have elapsed since, having finished my exposition of
the Epistle of Paul to Philemon, I had passed to Galatians, turning my
course backwards and passing over many intervening subjects. But all at
once letters unexpectedly arrived from Rome with the news that the
venerable Albina has been recalled to the presence of the Lord, and that
the saintly Marcella, bereft of the company of her mother, demands more
than ever such solace as you can give, my dear Paula and Eustochium. This
for the present is impossible on account of the great distance to be
traversed by sea and land, and I could, therefore, wish to apply to the
wound so suddenly inflicted at least the healing virtue of Scripture. I
know full well her zeal and faith; I know how brightly the fire burns in
her bosom, how she rises superior to her sex, and soars so far above human
nature itself, that she crosses the Red Sea of this world, sounding the
loud timbrel of the inspired volumes. Certainly, when I was at Rome, she
never saw me for ever so short a time without putting some question to me
respecting the Scriptures, and she did not, like the Pythagoreans, accept
the " Ipse dixit " of her teacher, nor did authority, unsupported by the
verdict of reason, influence her; but she tested all things, and weighed
the whole matter so sagaciously that I perceived I had not a disciple so
much as a judge. And so, believing that my labours would be most acceptable
to her who is at a distance, and profitable for you who are with me here, I
will approach a work unattempted by any writers in our language before me,
and which scarcely any of the Greeks themselves have handled in a manner
worthy of the dignity of the subject.

[Jerome then speaks of Victorinus, who had published a commentary on St.
Paul, but "was busily engaged with secular literature and knew nothing of
the Scriptures," and of the great Greek writers, Origen, (1)Didymus, and
(2)Appolinaris, Eusebius of Emesa, and Theodorus of Heraclea, and says he
has plucked flowers out of their gardens, so that the Commentary is more
theirs than his. The expository part of the Preface is chiefly remarkable
as giving the view of St. Paul's rebuke of St. Peter in Galatians ii.,
which occasioned the controversy between Jerome and Augustin. Jerome says:]

    Paul does not go straight to the point, but is like a man walking in
secret passages: his object is to exhibit Peter as doing what was expedient
for the people of the circumcision committed to him, since, if a too sudden
revolt took place from their ancient mode of life, they might be offended
and not believe in the Cross; he wished, moreover, to show, inasmuch as the
evangelisation of the Gentiles had been entrusted to himself, that he had
justice on his side in defending as true that which another only pretended
was a dispensation. That wretch Porphyry (3)Bataneotes by no means
understood this, and, therefore, in the first book of the work which he
wrote against us, he raised the objection that Peter was rebuked by Paul
for not walking uprightly as an evangelical teacher. His desire was to
brand the former with error and the latter with impudence, and to bring
against us as a body the charge of erroneous notions and false doctrine, on
the ground that the leaders of the Churches are at variance among

[In the Preface to Book II. Jerome describes the origin of the Galatians as
a Gaulish tribe settled in Asia, but he takes them as slow of
understanding, and says that the Gauls still preserve this character, just
as the Roman Church preserves the character for which it was praised by St.
Paul, for it still has crowds frequenting its churches and the tombs of its
martyrs, and " nowhere else does the Amen resound so loudly, like spiritual
thunder, and shake the temples of the idols"; and similarly the traits of
the churches of Corinth and Thessalonica are still preserved; in the first,
the looseness of behaviour and of doctrine, and the conceit of worldly
knowledge, in the second, the love of the brethren side by side with the
disorderly conduct of busybodies. And he speaks of the condition of Galatia
in his own day as follows:]

    Any one who has seen by how many schisms Ancyra, the metropolis of
Galatia, is rent and torn, and by how many differences and false doctrines
the place is debauched, knows this as well as I do. I say nothing of
(4)Cataphrygians, (1)Ophites, Borborites, and Manichaeans; for these are
familiar names of human woe. Who ever heard of Passaloryncitae, and
(2)Ascodrobi, and (3)Artotyritae, and other portents--I can hardly call
them names--in any part of the Roman Empire? The traces of the ancient
foolishness remain to this day. One remark I must make, and so fulfil the
promise with which I started. While the Galatians, in common with the whole
East, speak Greek, their own language is almost identical with that of the
(4)Treviri; and if through contact with the Greek they have acquired a few
corruptions, it is a matter of no moment. The Africans have to some extent
changed the Phenician language, and Latin itself is daily undergoing
changes through differences of place and time.

[The Preface to Book III. opens with the following passage. describing, in
contrast with his own simple exposition, the arts of the preachers of his

    We are now busily occupied with our third book on Galatians, and, my
friends, Paula and Eustochium, we are well aware of our weakness, and are
conscious that our slender ability flows in but a small stream and makes
little roar and rattle. For these are the qualities (to such a pass have we
come) which are now expected even in the Churches; the simplicity and
purity of apostolic language is neglected; we meet as if we were in the
(5)Athenaeum, or the lecture rooms, to kindle the applause of the
bystanders; what is now required is a discourse painted and tricked out
with spurious rhetorical skill, and which, like a strumpet in the streets,
does not aim at instructing the public, but at winning their favour; like a
psaltery or a sweet-sounding lute, it must soothe the ears of the audience;
and the passage of the prophet Ezekiel is suitable for our times, where the
Lord says to him, "Thou art become unto them as the sound of a pleasant
lute which is well made, for they hear thy words but do them not."

[Jerome then speaks of the composition of his commentaries as follows:]

    How far I have profited by my unflagging study of Hebrew I leave to
others to decide; what I have lost in my own language, I can tell In
addition to this, on account of the weakness of my eyes and bodily
infirmity generally,, I do not write with my own hand; and I cannot make up
for my slowness of utterance by greater pains and diligence, as is said to
have been the case with Virgil, of whom it is related that he treated his
books as a bear treats her cubs, and licked them into shape. I must summon
a secretary, and either say whatever comes uppermost; or, if I wish to
think a little and hope to produce something superior, my helper silently
reproves me, clenches his fist, wrinkles his brow, and plainly declares by
his whole bearing that he has come for nothing.

[He then points out how the Scriptures have dispossessed the great writers
of the pre-Christian world.]

    How few there are who now read Aristotle. How many are there who know
the books, or even the name of Plato? You may find here and there a few old
men, who have nothing else to do, who study them in a corner.(1) But the
whole world speaks the language of our Christian peasants and fishermen,
the whole world re-echoes their words. And so their simple words--must be
set forth with simplicity of style; for the word simple applies to their
words, not their meaning. But if, in response to your prayers, I could, in
expounding their epistles, have the same spirit which they had--when they
dictated them, you would then see in the Apostles as much majesty and
breadth of true wisdom as there is arrogance and vanity in the learned men
of the world. To make a brief confession of the secrets of my heart, I
should not like any one who wished to understand the Apostle to find a
difficulty in understanding my writings, and so be compelled to find some
one to interpret the interpreter.


[This Commentary was specially prized by. Jerome as exhibiting his true
views (Letter LXXXIV. 2), and they became in consequence one of the chief
subjects of controversy between him and Rufinus, who traced in them not
unjustly, the influence of Origen. It was written immediately after that on
the Epistle to the Galatians, in A.D. 387, and, like that, addressed to
Paula and Eustochium. In the Preface to Book i. Jerome defends himself
against various accusations. He declares that he has been, in the main, his
own instructor, but yet that he has constantly consulted others as to
Scriptural difficulties, and that he had, not long before, been to
Alexandria to consult Didymus. "I questioned him about everything which was
not clear to me in the whole range of Scripture." As to his indebtedness to
Origen, he speaks as follows, certainly not blaming his doctrines: "I
remark in the Prefaces, for your information, that Origen composed three
volumes on this Epistle, and I have partly followed him. Apollinaris and
Didymus also published some commentaries, and. though we have gleaned a few
things from them, we have added or omitted such as we thought fit. The
studious reader will, therefore, understand at the outset that this work is
partly my own, and that I am in part indebted to others."

The Preface to Books ii. and iii. is short. It speaks in praise of
Marcella, who had invited him to his task, and declares that he in his
monastery could not accomplish as much as that noble woman amidst the cares
of her household. "I beseech you," he says, "to bear in mind that the
language of this publication has not been long thought over or highly
polished. In revealing the mysteries of Scripture I use almost the language
of the street, and sometimes get through a thousand lines a day, in order
that the explanation of the Apostle which I have begun may be completed
with the aid of the prayers of Paul himself, whose Epistles I am
endeavouring to explain."]


[Written for Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 387. The Preface is a defence of
the genuineness of the Epistle against those who thought its subject
beneath the dignity of inspiration. " There are many degrees of
inspiration," Jerome says, " though in Christ alone it is seen in its
fulness." Many of the other Epistles touch upon small affairs of life, like
the cloak left at 1roas. To suppose that common life is separate from God
is Manichaeanism. Jerome mentions that Marcion, who altered many of the
Epistles, did not touch that to Philemon; and brevity in a document which
has in it so much of the beauty of the Gospel is a mark of its


[Addressed to Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 387. The Preface speaks of the
rejection of the Epistle by Marcion and Basilides, its acceptance by
Tatius, but without assigning reasons. It ought, Jerome says, to be of
special interest to Paula and Eustochium, as being written from Nicopolis,
near Actium, where their property lay.]


[The Commentary in eighteen books, each with its Preface. It was written in
the years 404-410, and addressed to Eustochium alone, her mother Paula
having died in 404.

The Preface to Book i. touches generally upon the character and contents of
Isaiah, asserting that many of the prophecies are directly applicable to
Christ, and that the nations who are dealt with have a spiritual meaning. I
hose to the following books mostly give a short statement of the contents
of the chapters commented on, and entreat the players of Eustocbium for the
work. The Fifth Book (or chapters xiii. to xxiii.) had been published
before by itself, at the instance of a bishop named Amabilis, but he says
he must add the metaphorical and spiritual meaning of the Visions of the
various nations, which is done in Books vi. and vii. The Preface to Book x.
contains a bitter allusion to Rufinus, "the Scorpion, a dumb and poisonous
brute still grumbling over my former reply," and speaks of Pammachius as
joining in the request for the continuation of the Commentaries.

The Preface to Book xi. intimates that his commentary upon Daniel, which
expounded the statue with feet of iron and clay as the Roman Empire, and
announced its fall, had been known at the court and resented by Stilicho,
but that all danger from that source had been removed by the judgment of
God, that is, through the death of Stilicho by the command of his son-in-
law Honorius.

The Preface to Book xiii. records a severe illness which had stopped his
work, though he was restored to health suddenly; and that to Book xiv.
thanks Eustochium for her kind offices during this illness. The remaining
Prefaces, though they have occasionally some interest in the history of the
interpretation of Scripture, need not delay us.]


[The Commentary on Jeremiah is in six books; but Jerome did not live to
finish it. It was written between the years 317 and 319, but only extends
to chapter xxxii. It was dedicated to Eusebius of Cremona. The Prefaces,
which are full of vigour, contain many allusions to the events and
controversies of the last years of Jerome's life. In the Preface to Book
i., after speaking of the Book of Daniel and the apocryphal Letter of
Jeremiah as not belonging to the prophet's writings, he continues:]

    I pay little heed to the ravings of disparaging critics who revile not
only my words, but the very syllables of my words, and suppose they give
evidence of some little knowledge if they discredit another man's work, as
was exemplified in that[1] ignorant traducer who lately broke out, and
thought it worth his while to censure my commentaries on Paul's Epistle to
the Ephesians. He does not understand the rules of commenting (for he is
more asleep than awake and seems utterly dazed), and is not aware that in
our books we give the opinions of many different writers, the authors'
names being either expressed or understood, so that it is open to the
reader to decide which he may prefer to adopt; although I must add that, in
my Preface to the First Book of that work, I gave fair notice that my
remarks would be partly my own, partly those of other' commentators, and
that thus the commentary would be the work conjointly of the ancient
writers and of myself. [2]Grunnius, his precursor, overlooked the same
fact, and once upon a time did his best to cavil. I replied to him in two
books, and there I cleared away the objections which he adduced in his own
name, though the real traducer was some one else; to say nothing of my
treatises against Jovinianus where, you may remember, I show that he
(Jovinianus) laments that virginity is preferred to marriage, single
marriage to digamy, digamy to polygamy. The stupid labouring under his load
of Scotch porridge, does not recollect that we said, in that very work, "I
do not condemn the twice married, nor the thrice married, and, if it so be,
the eight times married; I will go a step farther, and say that I welcome
even a penitent whoremonger; for things equally lawful must be weighed in
an even balance." Let him read the Apology[1] for the same work which was
directed against his[2] master, and was received by Rome with acclamation
many years ago. He will then observe that his revilings are but the echoes
of other men's voices, and that his ignorance is so deep that even his
abuse is not his own, but that he employs against us the ravings of foes
long since dead and buried.

[The Preface to Book ii. is short and contains nothing of special
importance. In that to Book iii. Jerome declares that he will, like Ulysses
with the Sirens, close his ears to the adversary. The devil, who once spoke
through Jovinianus, "now barks through the hound of Albion (Pelagius), who
is like a mountain of fat, and whose fury is more in his heels than in his
teeth; for his offspring is among the Scots, in the neighbourhood of
Britain; and, according to the fables of the poet, he must, like Cerberus,
be smitten to death with a spiritual club, that, in company with his master
Pluto, he may forever hold his peace.

In the Preface to Book iv. Jerome says he has been hindered in his work by
the harassing of the Pelagian controversy. He regards Pelagius as
reproducing the doctrines of impassibility and sinlessness taught by
Pythagoras and Zeno, and revived by Origen, Rufinus, Evagrius Ponticus, and
Jovinian. Their doctrines, he says, were promulgated chiefly in Sicily,
Rhodes, and other islands; they were propagated secretly, and denied in
public. They were full of malice, but were but dumb dogs, and were refuted
in "certain writings," probably those of Augustin; but he declares his
intention of writing against them, which he did in his anti-Pelagian

The Prefaces to Books v. and vi. contain nothing noteworthy.]


[The Commentary on Ezekiel is in fourteen Books. It was dedicated to
Eustochium, and was written between the years 410 and 414. The Prefaces
gain a special interest from their descriptions of the sack of Rome by
Alaric and the consequent immigration into Palestine. We give several

In Preface to Book i.]

    Having completed the eighteen books of the exposition of Isaiah, I was
very desirous, Eustochium, Christ's virgin, to go on to Ezekiel, in
accordance with my frequent promises to you and your mother Paula, of
saintly memory, and thus, as the saying is, put the finishing touches to
the work on the prophets; but alas! intelligence was suddenly brought me of
the death of Pammachius and [3] Marcella, [4]the siege of Rome, and the
falling asleep of many of my brethren and sisters. I was so stupefied and
dismayed that day and night I could think of nothing but the welfare of the
community; it seemed as though I was sharing the captivity of the saints,
and I could not open my lips until I knew something more definite; and all
the while, full of anxiety, I was wavering between hope and despair, and
was torturing myself with the misfortunes of other people. But when the
bright light of all the world was put out, or, rather, when the Roman
Empire was decapitated, and, to speak more correctly, the whole world
perished in one city,[1] "I became dumb and humbled myself, and kept
silence from good words, but my grief broke out afresh, my heart glowed
within me, and while I meditated the fire was kindled;" and I thought I
ought not to disregard the saying,[2] "An untimely story is like music in a
time of grief." But seeing that you persist in making this request, and a
wound, though deep, heals by degrees; and [3]the scorpion lies beneath the
ground with [4]Enceladus and Porphyrion, and the many- headed Hydra has at
length ceased to hiss at us; and since opportunity has been given me which
I ought to use, not for replying to insidious heretics, but for devoting
myself to the exposition of Scripture, I will resume my work upon the
prophet Ezekiel.

[Book ii. has, instead of a Preface, merely a line calling the attention of
Eustochium to its opening words.

The Preface to Book iii. has a noteworthy passage on the sack of Rome and
its results.]

    Who would believe that Rome, built up by the conquest of the whole
world, had collapsed, that the mother of nations had become also their
tomb; that the shores of the whole East, of Egypt, of Africa, which once
belonged to the imperial city, were filled with the hosts of her men-
servants and maid-servants, that we should every day be receiving in this
holy Bethlehem men and women who once were noble and abounding in every
kind of wealth but are now reduced to poverty? We cannot relieve these
sufferers: all we can do is to sympathise with them, and unite our tears
with theirs. The burden of this holy work was as much as we could carry;
the sight of the wanderers. coming in crowds, caused us deep pain; and we
therefore abandoned the exposition of Ezekiel, and almost all study, and
were filled with a longing to turn the words of Scripture into action, and
not to say holy things but to do them. Now, however, in response to your
admonition, Eustochium, Christ's virgin, we resume the interrupted labour,
and approach our third Book.

[The Prefaces to Books iv., v., and vi. contain nothing remarkable. The
following is the important part of the Preface to Book vii.]

    There is not a single hour, nor a single moment, in which we are not
relieving crowds of brethren, and the quiet of the monastery has been
changed into the bustle of a guest house. And so much is this the case that
we must either close our doors, or abandon the study of the Scriptures on
which we depend for keeping the doors open. And so, turning to profit, or
rather stealing the hours of the nights, which, now that winter is
approaching, begin to lengthen somewhat, I am endeavouring by the light of
the lamp to dictate these comments, whatever they maybe worth, and am
trying to mitigate with exposition the weariness of a mind which is a
stranger to rest. I am not boasting, as some perhaps suspect, of the
welcome given to the brethren, but I am simply confessing the causes of the
delay. Who could boast when the flight of the people of the West, and the
holy places, crowded as they are with penniless fugitives, naked and
wounded, plainly reveal the ravages of the Barbarians? We cannot see what
has occurred, without tears and moans. Who would have believed that mighty
Rome, with its careless security of wealth, would be reduced to such
extremities as to need shelter, food, and clothing? And yet, some are so
hard-hearted and cruel that, instead of showing compassion, they break up
the rags and bundles of the captives, and expect to find gold about those
who are nothing than prisoners. In addition to this hindrance to my
dictating, my eyes are growing dim with age and to some extent I share the
suffering of the saintly Isaac: I am quite unable to go through the Hebrew
books with such light as I have at night, for even in the full light of day
they are hidden from my eyes owing to the smallness of the letters. In
fact, it is only the voice of the brethren which enables me to master the
commentaries of Greek writers.

[The Prefaces to Books viii. to xiv. contain nothing of special interest.]


[The Commentary on Daniel was dedicated to Pammachius and Marcella in the
year 407. It is in a single book, and is aimed at the criticisms of
Porphyry. who, like most modern critics, took the predictions in the Book
of Daniel as relating to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees,
and written near that date. The Preface is very similar to that prefixed to
the Vulgate translation of Daniel.]


[For the order and date of writing of these Commentaries see the Preface to
Amos, Book iii., and the note there.]


[This Commentary was dedicated to Pammachius, A.D. 406 (sixth consulate of
Arcadius--Preface to Amos, Book iii.). The Preface to Book i. is chiefly
taken up with a discussion on Hosea's "wife of whoredoms." He takes the
story as allegorical; it cannot be literal, for "God commands nothing but
what is honourable, nor does he, by bidding men do disgraceful thins, make
that conduct honourable which is disgraceful. Jerome then describes, as in
former Prefaces, the chief Greek commentators, of whom Apollinaris and
Origen had written very shortly on Hosea, Pierius at great length, but to
little purpose; and says that he had himself obtained from Didymus of
Alexandria that he should complete the Commentary of Origen. He had himself
often judged independently, though with little knowledge of Hebrew, but he
had been in earnest, while most scholars were "more concerned for their
bellies than their hearts, and thought themselves learned if in the
doctors' waiting rooms they could disparage other men's works."

In the Preface to Book ii. Jerome complains of his detractors, and appeals
from the present favour of high-placed men to the posthumous authority of
sound ability.

In Book iii. he claims Pammachius as his defender, though he fears the
judgment of his great learning.]


[This Commentary also is addressed to Pammachius, A.D. 406. It is in one
hook. It gives the order of the Twelve Prophets adopted by the LXX. and the
Hebrew respectively, the Hebrew order being that now in use. It also gives
the etymological meaning of their names.]


[In three books, addressed also to Pammachius, A.D. 406 (Preface to Amos,
Book iii.). The Preface to Book i. merely gives a description of Tekoa,
Amos' birthplace. That to Book if. speaks of old age, with its advantages
for self-control and its trials in various infirmities, such as phlegm, dim
eyesight, loosened teeth, colic, and gout. That to Book iii. contains the
passage several times referred to for the order of these Commentaries,
which is as follows:]

    We have not discussed them in regular sequence from the first to the
ninth, as they are read, but as we have been able, and in accordance with
requests made to us. Nahum, Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, [1]I first addressed
to Paula and Eustochium, her daughter, who are never weary; I next
dedicated two books on Habakkuk to Chromatius, bishop of Aquileia; I then
proceeded to explain, at your command, Pammachius, and after a long
interval of silence, Obadiah and Jonah.[1] In the [2]present year, which
bears in the calendar the name of the sixth consulate of Arcadius Augustus
and Anitius Probus, I interpreted Malachi for Exsuperius, bishop of
Toulouse, and Minervius and Alexander, monks of that city. Unable to refuse
your request I immediately went back to the beginning of the volume, and
expounded Hosea, Joel, and Amos. A severe sickness followed, and I showed
my rashness in resuming the dictation of this work too hastily; and,
whereas others hesitate to write and frequently correct their work, I
entrusted mine to the fortune which attends those who employ a secretary,
and hazarded my reputation for ability and orthodoxy; for, as I have often
testified, I cannot endure the toil of writing with my own hand; and, in
expounding the Holy Scriptures, what we want is not a polished style and
oratorical flourishes, but learning and simple truth.


[Addressed to Pammachius A.D. 403. The Preface records how in early youth
(some thirty years before), he had attempted an allegorical commentary of
Obadiah, of which he was now ashamed, though it has lately been praised by
a youth of similar years.]


[This was addressed to Chromatius,[3] but belongs to the year 395. It is
said in the Preface to be three years after the commentary on Micah, Nahum,
etc. The Preface merely touches on the various places of Scripture in which
Jonah is named.]


[Addressed to Paula and Eustochium. A.D. 392. It is in two books. In the
Preface to Book ii., Jerome vindicates himself against the charge of making
mere compilations from Origen. He confesses, however, his great admiration
for him. "What they consider a reproach," he says, "I regard as the highest
praise. since I desire to imitate him who, I doubt not, is acceptable to
all wise men, and to you."]


[Also to Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 392. The Preface contains little of
importance. Jerome mentions that the village of Elkosh, Nahum's birthplace,
was pointed out to him by a guide in Galilee.]


[Addressed to Chromatius, A.D. 392. The commentary is in two books. The
Preface to Book i. is long, but merely describes the contents of the book.
That to Book if. mentions among his adversaries, "The Serpent, and
Sardanapalus, whose character is worse than his name"--expressions which
have been referred to Rufinus; but the enmity between Jerome and Rufinus
had not broken out in 392.]


[Addressed to Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 392. In the Preface Jerome defends
himself for writing for women, bringing many examples from Scripture and
from classical writers to show the capacity of women.]


[Also to Paula and Eustochium, A.D. 392. The preface merely describes the
occasion of the book, but says that Haggai's prophecy was contemporary with
the reign of Tarquinius Superbus (B.C. 535-510).]


[Addressed to Exsuperius, bishop of Toulouse, A.D. 406, in three books, and
sent, "in the closing days of autumn, by the monk, Sisinnius, who had been
sent with presents for the poor saints at Jerusalem, and was hastening to
Egypt on a similar errand." The Prefaces to the three books mention these
facts, but have nothing in them of note which has not been said before.]


[Addressed, A.D. 406, to Minervius and Alexander, presbyters of the diocese
of Toulouse. The Jews, the Preface says. believe Malachi to be a name for
Ezra. Origen and his followers believe that (according to his name) he was
an angel. But we reject this view altogether, lest we be compelled to
accept the doctrine of the fall of souls from heaven.]

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