St Jerome and the DC's Part 1

This was a topic on another board concerning James Akin and his book: “Defending the Deuterocanonicals”. I’ll not post the entire debate. This was the refutation from a non-Catholic poster, and was in response to Akins section on Rewriting Church History, and specifically, Jeromes 'Apology against Rufinus:

The non-catholics words are in bold

**It’s ironic that this section is entitled “Rewriting Church History,” because this is exactly what Allen has perpetuated in the above paragraph! Of course, it’s not entirely his fault, for I am sure he relied on revisionist Catholic references in order to state such absurdities.

The first lie is that Jerome, on his own authority or just as an individual, rejected the deuterocanonicals in contrast to what the church held as canonical. The truth of the matter is that Jerome rejected the deuterocanonicals on the basis of the church’s authority. This is clearly seen in his preface to Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and the Song of Songs: **

As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees,but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.

**Did Jerome know what he was talking about? Of course he did. He was a baptized member of the church of Rome, and was commissioned by its bishop, Damasus, to produce a new translation because he was so knowledgeable on the subject. And Jerome unequivacobly states that it was the church, not himself, who rejected the deuterocanonicals as being included in the canon or used to give authority to the doctrines of the church, despite the fact that it was permitted to read these books.

The second lie, and one that will take a bit more explanation, is that Jerome “stoutly defended the deuteroncanonicals portions of Daniel” in his reply to Rufinius. Atkin quotes Jerome as saying: **

What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us.

**This is perhaps one of the most “pulled out of context” passages that Catholics use to prove Jerome accepted the deuterocanonicals. But when we take a look at a vew sentences previous, we find that the “judgment” of the churches" was not in approving of the story of Susana, but in the condemning of the Septuagint version and the choosing to read Daniel in Theodotion’s version: **

I also told the reader that the version read in the Christian churches was not that of the Septuagint translators but that of Theodotion. It is true, I said that the Septuagint version was in this book very different from the original, and that it was condemned by the right judgment of the churches of Christ; but the fault was not mine who only stated the fact, but that of those who read the version. We have four versions to choose from: those of Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy, and Theodotion. The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches?

**Thus it can be clearly seen what Jerome was actually alluding to when he spoke of the “judgment of the churches.”. Here Jerome is neither defending nor condemning the Story of Susanna, or even the deuteroncanonicals for that matter; on the contrary, he was only stating what version the churches read Daniel from.

So, then, what are we to make of the next statement? **

But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us.

Here Jerome is referring the reader back to his preface of Daniel, in which he gives an account of why the Jews criticized the Theodotion version of Daniel that the churches read from. Some of Jerome’s antagonists assumed or inferred these remarks were his own, but Jerome had to clarify that he was merely giving an account of the opinions of the Jews, and he thus silences his critics for trying to twist his words against him.

Please read Part 2 for the rest of theis thread.

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