Jerome’s Life (347-419)
- actual name: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus
- excellent Latin education, highly intelligent
- learned Greek and Hebrew
- lived as a hermit in the Syrian desert
- 382-385 served as secretary to Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome
- believed everyone should be celibate
- worked a lot with wealthy widows from the senatorial class and their daughters
- thought the only benefit from marriage was the production of more virgins
- after Paula’s daughter Blaesilla died, he moved to Bethlehem
- spent his time engaging in controversies by letter, translating the Bible and other literature into Latin, and writing commentaries on scripture
- though deeply influenced by classical literature, especially Cicero, he advocated only reading the Bible and Christian literature
- worked on the Vulgate (382-405)
- became the dominant Latin Bible for the Roman Catholic Church from 600 onwards, though in Jerome’s day many still preferred a translation of the Septuagint (including Augustine)
- translated Origen’s On First Principles, Pachomius’ Rule, and Eusebius’ Historical Chronicle into Latin
- Lives of Illustrious Men provides short biographies of many early Christians
- Commentaries on many books of the Bible
Augustine’s Early Life (354-430)
- grew up in North Africa with a Christian mother, Monica, and a pagan father, Patrick
- had an excellent education in Carthage
- particularly influenced by Cicero’s dialogues, especially his Hortensius
- became a teacher of rhetoric in Rome then Milan
Augustine’s Sexual Life
- stealing pears as a teenager
- “I was burning to find satisfaction… I ran wild in the shadowy jungle of erotic adventures.” (Confessions 2.1.1)1
- At Carthage, he said, “all around me hissed a cauldron of illicit loves” (Confessions 3.1.1)
- took a concubine from a lower class and lived with her for 13 years and had a son with her, Adeodatus
- his mother convinced him to send his concubine away so he could be eligible to marry a well-born woman
- couldn’t live chastely in the interval and took another concubine
Augustine’s Journey to Christianity
- had encountered the scriptures but said they “seemed to me unworthy in comparison with the dignity of Cicero” (Confessions 3.5.9)
- became a Manichaean for 9 years
- believed in Astrology for a long while
- found great satisfaction in Neo-Platonism, especially the writings of Plotinus and Porphyry
- checked out Bishop Ambrose just to listen to his rhetoric and was impressed
- heard a voice saying, “pick up and read [tolle, lege]” and opened to Romans 13.13-14
- 387 Ambrose baptized Augustine and Adeodatus
Augustine’s Bishopric (395-430)
- became bishop of Hippo Regius and served for 35 years
- preached regularly, held court twice a week, counselled people
- engaged in many controversies with Manichaeans, Donatists, Pelagians, and pagans.
- wrote approximately five million words
- Confessions: an autobiography
- City of God: responds to Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410 as well as lays out extensive interpretation of the Bible and key doctrines
- On the Trinity: defended the Trinity and explained it philosophically
- Also many letters, commentaries, and treatises
- original sin passed down a corrupted nature incapable of doing good
- God predestined the elect to be saved
- the elect go to heaven to live eternally
- the damned go to hell to be tormented eternally
- probably the most influential Christian of the first millennium
- codified Catholic doctrine that held sway throughout the Middle Ages
- Martin Luther was himself and Augustinian monk and the Reformation was largely a return to Augustinian Christianity
- Jerome and Augustine were influential Christians who shaped Christianity in the fifth century.
- Both received excellent educations and voluntarily chose ascetic, celibate lifestyles.
- Both were influenced by Origen, especially his allegorical hermeneutic.
- Jerome's translation of the Bible into Latin from Hebrew and Greek--the Vulgate--became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Augustine had a fraught and lengthy battle with lust that eventually led him to celibacy.
- Augustine was a Manichean, a believer in astrologer, and a Neo-Platonist before he became a Christian.
- Augustine battled Manicheans, Donatists, Pelagians, and Pagans throughout his career.
- He advocated original sin, infant baptism, eternal life in heaven, eternal torment in hell, predestination of the elect, and celibate clergy.
- More than anyone else in the first thousand years, Augustine's thought influenced Roman Catholic doctrine.
- To a degree, the Reformation itself was a return to Augustinian Christianity.