PODCAST: Jerome, Part 3 (History of Christianity #158 with Daniel Whyte III)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #158, titled, “Jerome (Part 3).”

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 2 Timothy 3:16 which reads: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. John of Damascus. He said: “It is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Jerome (Part 3)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Since Paula was rich, and Jerome was not lacking in means, they founded two monastic houses in Bethlehem, one for women under Paula’s leadership, and another for men under Jerome’s supervision. He then furthered his education in Hebrew, in order to translate the Bible, while he taught Latin to the children of the neighborhood, and Greek and Hebrew to Paula’s nuns.

Above all, however, he devoted himself to the work that would be his great literary movement: the translation of the Bible into Latin. By then there were other translations, but these had been done on the basis of the Septuagint [SEP-TOO-AH-JENT]–the ancient translation of the Hebrew text into Greek. What Jerome then undertook was a direct translation from Hebrew. After many years of work, interrupted by a voluminous correspondence and by the calamities that shook the Roman world, Jerome completed this enormous task.

Jerome’s version, commonly known as the Vulgate, eventually became the standard Bible of the entire Latin-speaking church. Particularly successful was his translation of the Hebrew Psalms into excellent Latin poetry. These Psalms were given wider use and circulation when used in Gregorian chant, to the point that they were still in use in the liturgy long after the Vulgate had been supplanted by more modern translations.

But at first the Vulgate was not as well received as Jerome had wished. The new translation, naturally enough, altered the favorite texts of some people, and many demanded to know who had given Jerome authority to tamper with scripture. Furthermore, many believed the legend that the Septuagint [SEP-TOO-AH-JENT] had been the work of independent translators who, upon comparing their work, found themselves in total agreement. That legend had long been used to argue that the Septuagint [SEP-TOO-AH-JENT] was just as inspired as the Hebrew text. Therefore, when Jerome published a version that disagreed with the Septuagint [SEP-TOO-AH-JENT], there were many who felt that he lacked respect for the inspired Word of God.

Such criticism did not come only from ignorant believers, but also from some very learned Christians. From North Africa, Augustine of Hippo wrote:

I pray you not to devote your energies to translating the sacred books to Latin, unless you do as you did earlier in your translation of the book of Job, that is, adding notes that show clearly where your version differs from the Septuagint [SEP-TOO-AH-JENT], whose authority has no equal…. Besides, I cannot imagine how, after so long, someone can find in the Hebrew manuscripts anything which so many translators did not see before, especially since they knew Hebrew so well.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Jerome.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

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.