Who Was Jerome of Stridon?

Jerome of Stridon, also known as St. Jerome, was a 4th century Christian theologian and priest best known for his early translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin.

Mar 9, 2024By Ryan Watson, MA History, BA History

who was jerome of stridon


Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, known as Jerome of Stridon, or St. Jerome, is one of the most influential figures in Roman Catholic, and Christian, history. Working in the late 300s-early 400s CE, his translation of the Bible and commentaries are some of the first extensive studies of the Bible, and his copying of early Christian works allow us to examine both Biblical and post-Biblical Christian history.


Jerome’s Translations

Copy of Mark from Codex Amiatinus


Previously, the Septuagint – a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament – had been translated into Latin, but Jerome was concerned about possible errors and desired a Latin translation made directly from the original Hebrew. This translation became known as the Latin Vulgate (from the Latin name Biblia Vulgata, the Bible in the common or “vulgar” tongue).  While the Vulgate had other translators and authors involved, as well as revisions through the years, Jerome did much of the work and his imprint remains as the primary translator.


The Latin Vulgate

The Latin Vulgate. Source: Wikidot


The Latin Vulgate became the standard Bible of the Western Church for most of history after Jerome of Stridon, up until about the time of the printing press in the 1440s. At that point, the Roman Catholic Church made the Vulgate its “official” Bible at the Council of Trent in the late 1500s. Not until the 1900s did the Roman Catholic Church recognize non-Latin Vulgate translations as authoritative, and even now the translation issue remains a minor contested matter within the church. 


Jerome’s Theological Works

An Allegory of the Old and New Testaments by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1530. Source: National Galleries Scotland

Get the latest articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up to our Free Weekly Newsletter


Jerome of Stridon’s theological writings are second in quantity only to Augustine of Hippo, with whom he corresponded. He wrote commentaries on the 12 Old Testament prophets, the Psalms, Genesis, as well as Matthew, Galatians, Titus, Philemon, and Revelation in the New Testament.


Jerome’s Beliefs

The Icon of the Virgin Mary/Hodegetria by Berlinghiero, 12th century CE. Source: The Metropolitan Museum, New York


Jerome of Stridon believed in the necessity of the study of scripture, and in leading a simple, ascetic life, particularly for the clergy.  One of his more famous quotations is “The ignorance of Scripture is the ignorance of Christ.” He also defended the idea of original sin (where Adam’s sin affected humanity) against the Pelagians (who believed everyone was born innocent).  He also defended the idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a perpetual virgin, and other doctrines that have been core to Roman Catholic beliefs, such as the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope), the difference between mortal and venial sins, and the ability of priests to forgive sins.


Later Years

Statue of Jerome, Bethlehem.


Jerome lived for a time in Rome, but his emphasis on an ascetic life and friendship with influential women brought him into disfavor with the clergy in that city. Jerome moved to Jerusalem, and then to a monastery in Bethlehem, where he studied Hebrew and translated (or revised previous translations) the Old Testament into Latin. Most of his study and translation work occurred in Bethlehem, which he continued until his death in 420 CE.


Jerome’s Works Were Passed Down

Portrait of Ezra from Codex Amiatinus


Jerome’s work has been passed down through continuous copying through the years since he originally produced the vulgate. While we do not have any of his original manuscripts, copies from just a few hundred years after Jerome exist. The Codex Amiatinus, from Northumbria in northern England, dates from 716 CE and is the oldest complete single volume Latin Bible known to survive. Various other manuscripts of varying content from the Vulgate have been preserved from around the same time period.

Author Image

By Ryan WatsonMA History, BA HistoryRyan Watson is a husband, father, underwriter, writer, and reseller. He graduated with a Bachelor's and Master's in History from Louisiana Tech University in the early 2000s. He focuses on Biblical, post-Biblical, and medieval history with occasional dabblings in other arenas.