Jerome Used His Pen To Bless the Church

This is the day that … Jerome died in AD 420, at the age of 89.

Born in Europe just 300 years after the birth of Christ, Jerome had a good education and learned several languages.

At the age of 18 he was baptised and joined the church, probably just to please his godly parents!

He writes concerning two things that happened later, causing him to think more seriously about his commitment. One was a dream in which he saw Judgment Day, and he heard a voice say: “You are not a Christian.”

History usually refers to him as Saint Jerome, but one gets the distinct impression that he was not all that saintly!

He was “controversial, argumentative and barbed in his attacks on those who opposed him,” writes M. Tengbom.

Another says: “He was unable to bear rivals … he died cantankerous and argumentative as ever.”

Another: “Jerome was so objectionable that no-one would live anywhere near him.”

Eventually Jerome went to live in Bethlehem … in a cave. It was in this cave that he translated the Scriptures into Latin, the tongue of the common (vulgar) people, hence it became known as “the Latin Vulgate version”. The “Latin Vulgate” was the main Bible in Europe for over 1000 years.

The story is told that one day while he was translating, a lion entered his cave. It had a thorn stuck in its paw so Jerome pulled it out and the lion became his pet and lived in the cave with him! Since then, whenever someone has painted Jerome doing his translation work, a lion has always been included in the painting.

Jerome produced a huge volume of works, including translations, commentaries and letters, which he intended to see published. He used the pen to argue his points and to press his interpretations.

Initially he looked on the Septuagint as an inspired text, but his continued study of Hebrew and his discussions with rabbis led him to revere the Hebrew text and disdain the Septuagint.

His correspondence is valued for the insight it give to the culture and thinking of his day, both in his own expressions and in the matters which he challenges. His contribution has greatly impacted Christendom.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Nailed in Place

On my first visit to Malaysia I spoke at a businessmen’s breakfast and shared about God’s call for men to be men. A learned man in the audience was so touched by my message that he asked me to take his speaking engagement at a luncheon that day and to share the same message.

One point I made strongly in that message was about being “nailed in place”. This issue comes from places where men were commissioned to be men. It is used when David commissioned Solomon to be king. It occurred when God called Joshua to replace Moses.

The actual term in the English translations is the call to “be strong”. The original Hebrew word, chazaq, means to “fasten” something in place or to take hold of something with no intention of letting it go. I use the term “nailed in place” to emphasize that real men, men who are fulfilling their godly destiny, do not change. Real men are nailed in place in terms of their commitment, faithfulness, determination to trust God, choice of values, and so on.

Western culture’s values are constantly shifting. Godly men do not change their values with the culture. What was evil and repulsive thirty years ago, is still evil and repulsive to them. What they stood for when they were full of zeal, is what they still stand for today.

Sadly, Christian men have allowed standards to crumble around them. What they once thought inappropriate, they now allow. What was once deemed offensive is now tolerated, or even promoted.

Western culture has slid downhill in succeeding generations because men who should have been nailed in place just kept stepping backwards with each new onslaught. Rather than holding ground they gave ground. Instead of seizing and fastening upon unchangeable things they went along for the ride and never regained the things they gave up.

It is time for a new generation of men to rise. It is time for men who will be “strong”, because they have fastened themselves onto things that they will not give up. It is time for such men to not only stand firm, but to work together to build stability and godly depth into their society.

I expect, however, that repentance might be a good place to start. Something like, “Lord God, forgive me for being weak in the knees and for compromising things which You want me to hold firm.”

Doing business with God is a powerful way to become strong. Then you can lend a hand to others who are looking for a mentor – someone who will stand up for what they believe.