This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #157, titled, “Jerome (Part 2).”
When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.
Our Scripture for today is Jude 20-21 which reads: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Our History of Christianity quote today is from Jerome. He said: “Let the divine scripture be always in your hands, and give yourself so frequently to prayer that such shafts of evil thoughts as ever assail the young may thereby find a shield to repel them.”
Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Jerome (Part 2)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).
Eventually Jerome conceded that he was not made for the life of a hermit and returned to civilization probably before three years were up. In Antioch he was ordained a presbyter. He was at Constantinople before and during the Council of 381. He returned to Rome, where Bishop Damasus [DAEM-AA-ZHAHS], a good judge of human nature, made him his private secretary and encouraged him to engage in further study and writing. It was also Damasus [DAEM-AA-ZHAHS] who first suggested to him the project that would eventually occupy most of his time, and would become his greatest monument: a new translation of scripture into Latin. Although Jerome did some work on this project while in Rome, he pursued it most actively later in his life.
Meanwhile, he found a great deal of help amidst a group of rich and devout women who lived in the palace of a widow, Albina [AL-BEE-NAH]. Besides Albina [AL-BEE-NAH], the most prominent members of the group included her widowed daughter Marcella [MAAR-SELL-UH], Ambrose’s sister Marcellina [MAAR-SELL-EE-NUH], and the scholarly Paula, who–with her daughter Eustochium [YOU-STO-CHEE-UM]–would play a leading role in the rest of Jerome’s life. The bishop’s secretary visited that house regularly, for in its women he found devoted disciples, some of whom became accomplished students of Greek and Hebrew. It was in that company that Jerome felt most free to discuss the scholarly questions that occupied his mind–particularly questions having to do with the text of the Bible.
It is significant that Jerome, who never had any close male friends, and who was obsessed with sex, found such solace in this group of women. Perhaps he felt at ease because they did not dare compete with him. In any case, it was they who came to know the sensitivity that he desperately sought to hide from the rest of the world.
However, Jerome was not a tactful man, and he soon made enemies among the leaders of the church in Rome. When Damasus [DAEM-AA-ZHAHS] died, late in 384, Jerome lost his staunchest defender. Siricius [SI-RISH-EE-UHS], the new bishop, had little use for Jerome’s scholarship. When one of Paula’s daughters died, Jerome’s enemies, whom he had criticized for their comfortable life, claimed her death was due to the rigors recommended by Jerome. Finally, he decided to leave Rome and go to the Holy Land–or, as he said, “from Babylon to Jerusalem.”
Paula and Eustochium [YOU-STO-CHEE-UM] followed him, taking a different route, on a joint pilgrimage to Jerusalem. From there, Jerome went on to Egypt, where he visited the Alexandrine scholars as well as the desert dwellings of the monks. By 386 he had returned to Palestine, where both he and Paula had decided to settle and devote themselves to the monastic way of life. Their goal, however, was not the extreme asceticism of the desert monks, but rather a life of moderate austerity, spent mostly in study.
Next time, we will continue looking at “Jerome.”
Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.