St. Jerome and the Deuterocanonicals: Response to a Critique

St. Jerome and the Deuterocanonicals: Response to a Critique

By Matt1618

I have written a paper documenting that the Church Fathers from the early centuries who wrote on the issue, accepted the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture. I also documented from every single Church Father, who is alleged mostly by Protestants to have denied their Scriptural status, in fact did indeed accept these very books as Scripture. Full scale documentation and analysis is found here: http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/deut.html. St. Jerome is often the one most referred to as denying Scriptural status to the Deuterocanonicals. I also gave extensive documentation which shows that despite reservations that he had, he did treat those books as Scripture, and used those books to teach doctrine: http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/deut.html#St. Jerome, [347-419/420 A.D] Apparently this section of the paper that I have written has been critiqued on a blog run by a Protestant by the name of James Swan. Mr. Swan put on his blog a guest writer by the name of James Avila who argued that I was incorrect in my assertions about St. Jerome accepting the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture. What will follow will be my original quotations and writing that are cited by Mr. Avila, which will be in black. His response/comments in his critique are in green, and my response to his comments will follow. Any new citations/quotations that I use will be in brown.

Mr. Avila’s comments are found here: http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/06/guest-blogdid-jerome-change-his-mind.html Now, he first started off critiquing Mark Shea, who had used an argument and citation that I did not use. You go down a bit and you will find his critique of my comments. I will pick up where he starts to critique me.

Some Catholic apologists play more loosely with Jerome’s words. An apologist who calls himself “Matt1618” asserts in his internet article “Did Some Church Fathers Reject the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture” (found here: http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/deut.html) that Jerome did indeed show an acceptance of these books because he never denied them inspiration and he called them “Scripture” in his later writings. This is merely “reading between the lines” in an attempt to find something more favorable to his position.
I documented through numerous quotations that Jerome saw them as Scripture. Avila is reading some quotations from 392 and 393 AD and making this color all of Jerome’s writings. Things that he wrote in 392 and 393 AD, and even later quotes that seemed to deny Scriptural status to the Deuterocanonicals, do not cover the intent of all of his writings on the issue. I demonstrated from 370 AD, when he began his writings, until 417 AD, his last writing that I am aware he has, that he treated the books as Scripture. Many more times in actual commentary on these books did he treat them as Scripture, than the few times he seemed to criticize these books. He went to these books as Scripture, and used them in exactly the same way as he did other Scriptures. Avila starts from the premise of St. Jerome‘s prefaces, while downplaying the way that St. Jerome actually used the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture. He said I was reading between the lines, no I was reading St. Jerome’s lines to come to the conclusion that I did. I do not intend to downplay his sometimes critical comments of these books. While critical in theory about these books, for the most part, when dealing with citations from these specific books, he speaks very highly of them and treats them as Scripture, as I demonstrated.
He states:

"In fact it is true that none of the Fathers, even St. Jerome, ever deny their inspiration."

I don’t know how “Matt1618” would define this “denial”, but all this amounts to wishful thinking. To put it simply, what Jerome states in his prefaces and commentaries amounts to a denial of their inspiration as well as their canonicity.

Here, Avila is totally taking my comments out of context. He tears one sentence that I made out of a much larger context, from where that statement is made. I was just stating that the Fathers would sometimes use the phrase that these books were non-canonical, which did not mean that they were not Scripture. Nowadays we think that if a book is not canonical, it is not Scripture. We nowadays put these words together as practical synonyms, and read our lingo back to 4th & 5th century terminology. That is a mistake that Mr. Avila makes. However, as I showed in every Father who used the term ‘non-canonical’ about these books, they all referred to these very books as Scripture. Let me give the context from which Avila tore the quote from. To make sense of this, I was quoting Mark Bonocore on this pointing to the fact that Fathers who called these books non-canonical also called these very books Scripture and treated them as Scripture:

We must remember what Sacred Scripture was originally for. Originally, it was not supposed to be one book ("the Bible") that we could carry around and use for our personal interpretation or personal prayer life. Indeed, this was not even possible until the invention of printing many centuries later (which made the Protestant reformation possible). Rather, the canon of Scripture's original and primary purpose was in the service of the various Liturgies of the Church. In this, we must remember that ...up until the 4th or 5th Century ...each city-church possessed its own Liturgy (its own form of the Mass), complete with its own liturgical calendar. And so, while the city-church of Rome might celebrate the feast day of a particular saint or martyr on March 1st, the city-church of Corinth might celebrate something else on that day (the feast of another saint), while the city-church of Antioch might celebrate still another feast. And so, the readings for this same Liturgical date were different in each city-church.

And, indeed, since there were just so many days in the year, each city-church used readings from different Scriptural books throughout the year ...and, in many cases, some books were simply not used (e.g. the Epistle of James or 2nd Maccabees, in many places); and for the simple reason that they did not fit in with the yearly Liturgical schedule of a particular city-church. And so, ... When some fathers speak of a particular book as "non-canonical," they do not necessarily mean that it is not inspired or authoritative. Rather, in many cases, they merely mean that it is not used in the Liturgy of their particular city-church ...thus it is a "hidden book" ("apocrypha"), which could be read privately for edification but not in the Liturgy itself (the public worship of the Church --"Lex orendi, lex credendi"). For example ... To this day in the Greek Orthodox Church, the Book of Revelation is not read in the Liturgy. You will never hear it at their Mass (or as they term it ‘Liturgy’). Yet, the Greek Orthodox would **never** say that Revelation is not Sacred Scripture or that it is uninspired. Yet, they will sometimes speak of it as "non-canonical" because it has no place in the "canon" of their Liturgy (e.g. a **canonized** saint is so-called because they have been granted feast days within our **Liturgical** calendars). So, throughout Church history, the word "canonical" has been used in several ways. It does not always mean what Martin Luther and the Protestants mean when they speak of a book being canonical or non-canonical. Rather, "non-canonical" can mean that:

1) a book is heretical (e.g. the Gospel of Thomas), or
2) That it is a good book with historical and spiritual merit, but uninspired (e.g. the Shepherd of Hermas), or
3) That it is an inspired book, but not used in the Liturgy of a particular city-church or even in the Liturgy of many city-churches (e.g. Revelation or 2 Maccabees). (end of citation),

(What follows below is my comments on this, in my original paper):

Mark’s theory seems to fit the evidence on most of the Fathers that had any reservations about the Deuterocanonicals. When these books are not on a list of the canon of a particular Father, it does not mean that they are less inspired, but only that these books were not read in the Liturgy in their area. They are sometimes termed 'Ecclesiastical.' In reference to these Fathers who indeed rejected their canonical status, the Deuterocanonical books seem more likely to fit the third category that Mark mentioned: These Fathers only mean that they are not read in the Liturgy, and are thus not in the canon, but still are inspired Scripture. Just because they are not in the canon does not reject their Scriptural status. We will see that these very Fathers quote them as inspired Scripture. This theory would mean that the Fathers are not contradicting themselves: In fact it is true that none of the Fathers, even St. Jerome, ever deny their inspiration. You will see that the Fathers who questioned them, never termed them as ‘Apocryphal’ in the sense that Protestants say they are (the standard term that Protestants use when speaking of them). None of the Fathers said that they were ‘against Scripture’, or contradicted Scripture, or had historical or doctrinal errors, as Geisler and Rhodes argue. When the Fathers spoke of real ‘apocryphal’ books, they would say those books have errors. They don't term the Deuterocanonicals as having errors.

Context of the quote gives a better idea of what I was saying. For the fathers, just saying that it was not canonical Scripture does not indicate that they are not Scripture itself. Every single Father who said that they might not be in the canon, which meant that in some cases those books that were not read in the Liturgy of the Church, still referred to them as Scripture. So St. Jerome saying it was not canonical Scripture really means nothing in this debate. I will admit that of all the Fathers, he most seemed to question their Scriptural status. Nonetheless, indeed St. Jerome never wrote that these writings were positively uninspired. Yes, when he wrote those prefaces, from 391-393 AD, he did seem to question their Scriptural status, but even there did not say they were uninspired. He may have seemed to indicate doubts about their Scriptural status in theory in other places as well. However, the history of Jerome’s writings covered much more of an area than what he wrote in those prefaces and even other times. From 370 AD to 417 AD he wrote, including many passages from the Deuterocanonicals in the midst of debate with others as proof for doctrine. He never quoted stuff just for the heck of it. He quoted these passages in things dealing with doctrine, despite his comments in the prefaces, 391-393 AD. From his very first letter, to his last doctrinal controversy against the Pelagians, he cited them, and treated them as Scripture. This is not wishful thinking on my part but St. Jerome’s own writings.
To put it plainly, if Jerome states that a book isn’t canonical it is only because Jerome doesn’t believe it is inspired. Scripture is “God-breathed” and men wrote as they were inspired of God. Inspired books are in the canon because they came from the very mouth of God. It defeats the purpose of the canon if some “God-breathed” Scriptures are included and others aren’t. If a book is not in the canon, it is because it is not inspired. In essence, “Matt1618” is implying that Jerome didn’t see “inspiration” as the criterion for inclusion into the canon and that a book can be “inspired” and “Scripture” and, for whatever reasons, be outside of the canon.
As I’ve indicated, this presumption is false. In 20th century lingo, yes if a book is not in the canon, it is not Scripture. But that was not the case in the 4th & 5th centuries. Every single Father who left them out of the canon, as documented in my piece, still referred to them as Scripture and thus gave them inspired status. The Fathers were not of double minds. I gave in my paper the whole reason why I stated that and Avila ignored it. What was in the canon often meant, what was read in the Liturgy of the Church. That would sometimes exclude books from the canon that were still inspired and Scripture. I will admit that Jerome did seem to exclude them from Scripture at different points in time. Nonetheless, his constant referral to these books as Scripture is what I focused on, and Avila is oblivious to and downplays the force of St. Jerome's specific references.

In his commentary on Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus, Jerome states:

"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two Volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church."

According to Jerome, these books are ecclesiastical, capable of spiritual teaching, but cannot be used for supporting church doctrine. This begs the question: Since when is known Scripture not to be used for supporting doctrine? Even Scripture itself attests:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Remember, him saying non-canonical Scripture proves nothing. Scripture could be non-canonical in the 4th & 5th century, as indicated by the Fathers who called them non-canonical, but still refer to them as Scripture, as shown in my piece documented by many Fathers. Notice the time line, he writes this is 393 AD. I never wrote that St. Jerome at all times in his life saw these books as full Scripture. Despite what he wrote in 391-393 AD and in a couple of instances later, he did use these books as Scripture in support of doctrines. When he actually uses these books in his writings, he actually makes no distinctions of any type between ‘ecclesiastical’, or ‘doctrinal’. He uses the Deuterocanonical Scriptures in the very same fashion as other Scriptures. As we will see in one of his references he will say his opponent may not see them as Scripture, but he himself gives scriptural status to them.
Furthermore, Jerome, emphatically states in his preface to the books of Samuel and Kings:
"This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a "helmeted" introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon."

In his preface to the Daniel he states:

"I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing to them an obelus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume."

Four things are to be noted here. The first being that the additions weren’t in the Hebrew Scriptures; secondly, that Jerome calls Bel and the Dragon a “fable”; thirdly, that they were appended to his Vulgate; and fourthly, that they were marked with an “obelus” which is a critical symbol used in ancient manuscripts to mark a questionable passage. Nothing here reveals any indication that Jerome held, at least, the additions to be inspired Scripture.

The preface to Daniel is 391 AD. The preface to Samuel and Kings was 392 AD. Avila implies that what he wrote here means that is how he felt, at least from this point to the rest of his entire life, towards all the Deuterocanonical books. That is misleading. St. Jerome had 20 years before this time, 27 more years after this time when he died. Especially when he quotes these books 55 times in my reading of the Schaff edition of his writings. Both before and after these prefaces, at least according to St. Jerome’s own writings, we see Susannah and the hymns of the three youths for example, treated as Scripture by him, as we will see. These things that are noted in the prefaces do not mean that he felt that way his entire life. So what if it is not in Hebrew? The New Testament is not Hebrew and it is inspired. We will see him citing Deuterocanonicals as late as his last writings against the Pelagians. He refers to Deuterocanonical books in combating the Pelagian heresy. In practice, he treats them just as he does other Scriptures that are unquestionably recognized by him.

With that said, St. Jerome, 11 years later after his preface, wrote that what he wrote in the preface to Daniel, did not reflect his feelings about the Deuterocanonical additions to Daniel:

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. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. St. Jerome, Apology against Rufinus, Book 2:33, 402 AD, Schaff, NPNF 2, Vol. 3, p. 517.
Thus, in writing about his comments about his own preface, he explicitly writes that his derogatory comments only reflected what the Jews said. So, this presumption even in the very preface that Avila points us to, shows us this is not what Jerome himself thought. He is explaining that even in 491-493 he never meant to take the position that Avila is saying he took. That would explain why three times he quotes these books favorably in conjunction with other Scriptures, as we will see.
Again, to Jerome, the extra books were “…not to give authority to the doctrines of the Church” and they “…are not in the canon.” Attempting to draw skepticism by claiming that he didn’t call them “uninspired” is leading the reader at best. Sure, they have some ecclesiastical value within them, but a book doesn’t need to be inspired or canonical to have ecclesiastical value. Although there are other passages from his writings that I can cite, I believe these suffice in showing that Jerome did not believe the Apocryphal books were inspired.
Again, as already noted ‘not in the canon’ does not mean what Avila thinks. ‘Not to give authority to doctrine’ is not how Jerome in practice referred to these books. When he referred to these books, he is often right in the midst of doctrinal controversies (as I proved in my original paper and will go over in this one) and he uses them right alongside Scriptures that Avila recognizes, to prove his case. What St. Jerome practiced in reality, at least when he discussed the Deuterocanonicals, in most cases was not in line with his prefaces, where he discussed theory.
Next, “Matt1618” states there is evidence that Jerome did indeed cite these books and cited them “…approximately 55 times.” This is easy to refute. After all, if Paul can cite pagan writers such as Menander, Epimenedes, or Aratus, I’m sure Jerome can cite from these books which he claimed were good for the edification of the church as well as others. But “Matt 1618” goes further and says that he cited them as Scripture. He then goes to give a few selected quotes from Jerome:
It is not so easy to refute, despite Avila’s saying so. Let us look at the way Paul treats Menander for example in his letter to Titus, 1:11-13.
11 they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith
He does not write, ‘It is written: Cretans are always liars, eveil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ That signifies Scripture. Paul does cite Menander but indeed never calls Menanders's quotation 'Scripture'. He does not call Menander a ‘prophet’ of God. It is not God’s prophet, but ‘a prophet of their own’. In Paul, this passage is not used in conjunction with other passages of Scripture in the same flow. It is totally set aside, and you know that Paul is not referring to Scripture. When Paul writes ‘It is written’ we know he is speaking of Scripture. St. Jerome uses the term ‘It is written’ only of the Deuterocanonical and other Biblical books. He uses the Deuterocanonicals right in the midst of other passages. On the contrary we will see Jerome refer to Baruch not as 'their own' prophet, but God’s prophet. Thus, as we will see, in practice, St. Jerome goes to them for explicit support for doctrine, calls them Scripture, calls them prophetic, and uses these books interchangably with books Avila recognizes. Paul does nothing like that with Menander.

(Again, my citations from my original paper are in black, Avila' s response is in green and in brackets)

Does not the SCRIPTURE say: 'Burden not thyself above thy power' [SIRACH 13:2] Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207
[* Matt1618 is correct, Jerome does call this verse from Sirach “Scripture”, but one must question if what he means is in the “inspired” sense. Considering he has already stated that “Ecclesiasticus” (Sirach) is not to be used doctrinally (see above) we can assume that this is not the case]
Avila was earlier stating that in order for this to be Scripture it must be inspired of God. Well, Jerome specifically calls the book of Sirach, 11 years after he penned the prefaces that Avila highlighted, Scripture. How can Scripture be uninspired? Now true in this specific instance he is writing this letter to comfort Eucshostium for the loss of her mother, and is not necessarily proving doctrine. But he calls it Scripture, right before citing another Scripture, a Psalm. We will see elsewhere St. Jerome using the Deuterocanonicals in dealing with doctrine. Nonetheless, nothing can be hidden from the fact that Jerome calls Sirach ‘Scripture.’ In any case, as Avila himself writes ‘Scripture is “God-breathed” and men wrote as they were inspired of God. Inspired books are in the canon because they came from the very mouth of God.’ If St. Jerome says it is Scripture, if Scripture means Scripture, it obviously is inspired. Obviously St. Jerome saw it as inspired Scripture and no amount of dancing by Avila will negate that fact.

Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: "wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]" Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion (Num. 11:16)? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age (Daniel 13:55-59, or Story of Susannah 55-59, only found in the Catholic Bibles) Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58, (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119

[* Matt1618 is reading too much into this citation, although he “cites” these books, citing them doesn’t mean he viewed them as “Scripture”, especially in light of the fact that he stated the books can be used “ecclesiastically”]
St. Jerome cites Wisdom and Susannah right in the midst of quoting Numbers. He doesn’t set it aside like Paul did in quoting Menander. He writes assuming no difference between Wisdom, Susannah, and Numbers. This citation after the preface that Avila points us to, specifically recognizes Susannah. St. Jerome uses Moses, young Daniel, Susannah, and Solomon in the same breath and legitimacy. That says a lot to us.
"I would cite the words of the psalmist: 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel 'I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] AND THOSE OF BARUCH,'Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] AND MANY OTHER PROCLAMATIONS MADE BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE PROPHETS." Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159
[* Same as above]
Not the ‘same as above’. Here in this passage, St. Jerome, right after writing of the Psalmist and Ezekiel writes also refers to Baruch. Not as Paul did, about the ‘Cretan’ prophets being 'their prophets.' The proclamation of Baruch is as one of the prophets. Obviously this is God's prophet. He uses Baruch, he uses the Psalms, and he uses Ezekiel. The three are on the same level: prophets. Nothing about 'only ecclesiastical.' If the book is written by a prophet, it is Scriptural.
[It is true that a festival such as the birthday of Saint Peter should be seasoned with more gladness than usual;] still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground. Your presents, indeed, remind me of the sacred volume, for in it Ezekiel decks Jerusalem with bracelets, (Eze. 16:11) Baruch receives letters from Jeremiah, (Jer. 36, Bar. 6) and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ.(Mt. 3:16) Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 31:2 (A.D. 384), in NPNF2, VI:45 [* In the beginning brackets, I added what “Matt1618” left out considering this adds context to the passage. If I would’ve left it exactly as he cited it, then it would seem as if this is one thought. However, the first “Scripture” is within the context of the festival of St. Peter. The second “sacred volume” is in the context of the presents given to Jerome. These are two thought and not one. Thus, when he cites Baruch, he isn’t specifically calling it Scripture and, again, Jerome could be citing it for its ecclesiastical value].
Now, I don’t see how the beginning sentence that Avila highlights that Jerome wrote helps his case. Let us though, suppose I grant his premise that the Scripture is within the contents of the festival and the second ‘sacred volume’ is in the context of the books mentioned by St. Jerome: Ezekiel, Baruch, and Matthew. (I don’t grant that because I still see it as one thought and Scripture referring to all the passages that follow because I don't see Scripture referred to in reference to the festival, but for the sake of argument I will). Even if this only refers to the Sacred Volume, instead of Scripture, what is that Sacred Volume? Baruch is right in the mix with Ezekiel and Matthew. Ezekiel and Matthew are Scripture and so is Baruch. I don't see St. Jerome calling 'sacred volume' Menander or even a Church Father. Right after he speaks of limits set by Scripture, he writes also of the sacred volume. He refers to Ezekiel, Baruch, and Matthew with no distinctions made between them. The Sacred Volume is nothing but Scripture, no matter if it is used ecclesiastically or not. If the argument is that this is only ecclesiastical, then the other Scriptures are used ecclesiastically in the same vein as well.
As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession. For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. [Sir. 27:5] "Potters' vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation." And in another place it is written: [Sir. 2:1] "My son, when thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation." Again, the same James says: [James 3:22]"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was." It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism. Jerome, Against Jovinianus,, Book 2, 3 NPNF2, VI:390
[* Matt1618 makes the assumption that Jerome’s usage of the phrase “it is written” is being used in the biblical sense—that there is an air of Scriptural credibility within this phrase—but he never stops to think if Jerome simply meant that these citations were “written”, nothing more and nothing less).
There are two things to note in this passage. This book Against Jovianus, Book 2 is a book dealing with heresies espoused by Jovinianus. In this section St. Jerome is dealing with Jovianius, who argues that those baptized can not be tempted by the devil. Jerome is going about proving that one can be tempted, but must have good works and work hard to stay in his grace. One can sin after baptism. That is clearly a doctrinal issue. Before this passage, St. Jerome refers to James, when he says that man is tempted by his own lust. He quotes Sirach twice in this very same vein. It speaks of how one must endure the trial of tribulation. This is specifically addressing a doctrinal issue combating Jovianus’ error and right in the midst of quoting James he quotes Sirach twice.

Next, in reference to the phrase ‘It is written’, that phrase is used exclusively in Scripture by the New Testament writers to refer to Old Testament Scriptures. The best way to figure out whether St. Jerome is just citing somebody instead of referring to it as Scripture is to see how St. Jerome uses the phrase ‘It is written’ followed by a quotation. I say it means that he is referring it to Scripture but Avila thinks that he also uses it when quoting poets, or Church Fathers, or opponents. I did a search of volume 6 of the Schaff edition, 2nd series, which contains all the times that St. Jerome uses the term ‘It is written’ followed by a quotation. Even though St. Jerome quoted many Church Fathers, friends, other historical figures, poets, opponents, throughout his writings, not one time did he use the term ‘It is written’ and follow with a quotation of them. Now I could be mistaken, but besides the times where he is quoting Scripture that says ‘it is written’, he quotes specifically using his own words ‘It is written:’ and following with a quote, only with Scripture. He uses it for Zechariah, Ruth, Job, 1 Kings, James, Ezekiel, Psalms, 1 Kings, Acts, Isaiah, Proverbs, Luke, 2nd John, 1 Timothy, and other Scriptures, but never for any poet, opponent, or Church Father. At my count, he used it 45 times for Scriptures that Avila recognizes. He uses it also three times of the Deuterocanonicals. I already quoted the above. Also the following two passages show his use of the phrase 'It is written:'

Wherefore, though you are already running in the way, I urge a willing horse, as the saying goes, and implore you, while you regret in your Lucinius a true brother, to rejoice as well that he now reigns with Christ. For, as it is written in the book of Wisdom, he was "taken away lest that wickedness should alter his understanding...for his soul pleased the Lord...and he...in a short time fulfilled a long time." [Wis. 4:11-14] We may with more right weep for ourselves that we stand daily in conflict with our sins, that we are stained with vices, that we receive wounds, and that we must give account for every idle word (Mt. 12:36) St. Jerome, Letter LXXV, 2 Schaff, Vol. 6, 399 AD, p. 155.

Our dear Pammachius also waters the holy ashes and the revered bones of Paulina, but it is with the balm of almsgiving. These are the confections and the perfumes with which he cherishes the dead embers of his wife knowing that it is written: "Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sins." [Sirach 3:30] What great power compassion has and what high rewards it is destined to win, the blessed Cyprian sets forth in an extensive work. [Cyprian, Of Works and Alms. It is proved also by the counsel of Daniel who desired the most impious of kings--had he been willing to hear him--to be saved by shewing mercy to the poor. [Dan. 4:27] St. Jerome, To Pammacuius, Letter LXVI, 5, 397 AD, Schaff, vol. 6, p. 136.

These are the two other occasions that I could find where he uses the term ‘it is written’ applying it to the Deuterocanonicals. As St. Jerome uses this terminology only when quoting Scripture (as mentioned it is used approximately 45 times in reference to Scriptures Avila recognizes), my assumption is correct and Avila’s is wrong. Even in the letter to Pammachius, there is a reference to Cyprian, with no such phraseology used about Cyprians writings. His use of the phrase: ‘It is written:’ followed by a quote only in this way vindicates my assertion that his use of that expression indicates the deuterocanonical books are Scripture.
"Yet the Holy Spirit in the thirty-ninth(9) psalm, while lamenting that all men walk in a vain show, and that they are subject to sins, speaks thus: "For all that every man walketh in the image."(Psalm 39:6) Also after David's time, in the reign of Solomon his son, we read a somewhat similar reference to the divine likeness. For in the book of Wisdom, WHICH IS INSCRIBED WITH HIS NAME, SOLOMON SAYS: "GOD CREATED MAN TO BE IMMORTAL, AND MADE HIM TO BE AN IMAGE OF HIS OWN ETERNITY."(Wisdom 2:23) And again, about eleven hundred and eleven years afterwards, we read in the New Testament that men have not lost the image of God. For James, an apostle and brother of the Lord, whom I have mentioned above--that we may not be entangled in the snares of Origen--teaches us that man does possess God's image and likeness. For, after a somewhat discursive account of the human tongue, he has gone on to say of it: "It is an unruly evil ... therewith bless we God, even the Father and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God."(James 3:8-9) Paul, too, the "chosen vessel,"(Acts 9:15) who in his preaching has fully maintained the doctrine of the gospel, instructs us that man is made in the image and after the likeness of God. "A man," he says, "ought not to wear long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God."(1 Cor. 11:7) He speaks of "the image" simply, but explains the nature of the likeness by the word "glory."

7. Instead of THE THREE PROOFS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, BEHOLD I HAVE GIVEN YOU SEVEN"--- Jerome, Letter 51, 6. 7, 394 AD, NPNF2, VI:87-8

[* In context, Jerome gives more then seven Scriptures within this passage and there is no way of telling whether the citation from Wisdom is amongst the “seven”, but for the sake of argument we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know why “Matt1618”capitalizes “which is inscribed with his name” and I can only hope he isn’t implying that “his name” refers to God, thus indicating inspiration. On the contrary, this evidently refers to Solomon who it is said wrote this book].
To be honest, why I capitalized it I don’t remember, it is a few years back. I don’t know what I was emphasizing at the time. Since I can't remember, on that page, I just removed the capitalization in the original paper. Avila is correct, it does refer to Solomon. I may have made the mistake of assuming that he was saying it was God's name. But much can be drawn from this without the capitalization being emphasized. Giving me the benefit of the doubt is saying much. St. Jerome refers to 'Scriptural' proof. He follows by quoting Sirach. This matter is dealing with doctrine. Just before the passage already given, he says:
For, if for one word or for two opposed to the faith many heresies have been rejected by the Church, how much more shall he be held a heretic who has contrived such perverse interpretations and such mischievous doctrines to destroy the faith, and has in fact declared himself the enemy of the Church! For, among other wicked things, he has presumed to say this, too, that Adam lost the image of God, although Scripture nowhere declares that he did….
No one can by twisting the meaning of words presume to say that this grace of God was given to one only, and that he alone was made in the image of God (he and his wife, that is, for while he was formed of clay she was made of one of his ribs), but that those who were subsequently conceived in the womb and not born as was Adam did not possess God's image, for the Scripture immediately subjoins the following statement: Jerome, Letter 51, 6, Schaff, Vol. 6, p. 87.
This is the background. In the context he first quotes Genesis. That is before the quote that I gave in my paper and is above. The church is rejecting heresies. St. Jerome is defending the idea that man retains the image of God. His opponent is arguing apparently the man is not made in God's image. Then he goes into a series of proofs that man does retain it. Right after quoting Scripture, he specifically quotes from Sirach which echoes that man is an immortal being, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. He then says ‘I have given proof from Scripture.’ He does not throw in ‘well, an apocryphal book also says this, but I don’t regard this as proof, and I am only using this ecclesiastically.’ He is specifically dealing with doctrine and goes to Sirach for proof that his opponent is wrong on doctrine. Avila is being oblivious to this fact that not only does St. Jerome refer to Sirach as Scripture, but he uses Sirach for doctrinal teaching. This disproves Avila's thesis that St. Jerome did not use the Deuterocanonicals to instruct for doctrinal purposes.
A. "Your argument is ingenious, but you do not see THAT IT GOES AGAINST HOLY SCRIPTURE, which declares that even ignorance is not without sin. Hence it was that Job offered sacrifices for his sons, test, perchance, they had unwittingly sinned in thought. And if, when one is cutting wood, the axe-head flies from the handle and kills a man, the owner is [Num. 35:8] commanded to go to one of the cities of refuge and stay there until the high priest dies; that is to say, until he is redeemed by the Saviour's blood, either in the baptistery, or in penitence which is a copy of the grace of baptism, through the ineffable mercy of the Saviour, who [Ezek. 18:23] would not have any one perish, nor delights in the death of sinners, but would rather that they should be converted and live. C. It is surely strange justice to hold me guilty of a sin of error of which my conscience does not accuse itself. I am not aware that I have sinned, and am I to pay the penalty for an offence of which I am ignorant? What more can I do, if I sin voluntarily?

A. DO YOU EXPECT ME TO EXPLAIN THE PURPOSES AND PLANS OF GOD? THE BOOK OF WISDOM GIVES AN ANSWER TO YOUR FOOLISH QUESTION: [Sir 3:21] "LOOK NOT INTO THINGS ABOVE THEE, AND SEARCH NOT THINGS TOO MIGHTY FOR THEE." AND ELSEWHERE,[5] "Make not thyself overwise, and argue not more than is fitting." And in the same place, "In wisdom and simplicity of heart seek God." You will perhaps deny the authority of this book;" "Jerome, "Against the Pelagians, Book II, NPNF2, VI:464-5, 417 AD"

[* He submits these together, but anyone can see that when Jerome refers to Scripture in the passage, he is referring to canonical Scripture (Job, Numbers, and Ezekiel). The citation from Sirach is independent of the above citation and there is no indication that Jerome cites it as Scripture].
Notice first that this passage is dealing with the Pelagian heresy, towards the end of St. Jerome’s life. This is 417 AD, one of his very last writings. Doctrine is at stake. Scripture is proving that ‘even ignorance is not without sin.’ He quotes Numbers, Ezekiel and Job. Right after this, Jerome goes to the Deuterocanonical book Sirach, though he quotes it as the book of Wisdom. Here this book is seen as explaining the purposes and plans of God, doctrinal to the core. This is not merely of ecclesiastical use. This is a continuing of his argument that his opponent goes against Holy Scripture, and he quotes the Deuterocanonical book to disprove him. This citation is a continuation of Scriptural use and nothing here says, 'well I am using Non-Scriptural stuff here.' Avila is being oblivious to the depth of his argument being destroyed.

Notice St. Jerome says ‘You will perhaps’ deny the authority of this book. He does not say, ‘I deny the authority of this book.’ He himself thus accepts the authority of the book. His usage here follows comments that specifically says Scripture teaches this, and this book explains the wisdom and purposes of God. Thus, this last comment even further seals the deal that he regards this as Scripture. It is his opponent who might not give the authority that he does. And again, he is dealing with doctrine.

"And in the proverbs Solomon tells us that as "the north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.(Prov. 25:23)" It sometimes happens that an arrow when it is aimed at a hard object rebounds upon the bowman, wounding the would-bewounder, and thus, the words are fulfilled, "they were turned aside like a deceitful bow," (Psalm 128:57) and in another passage: "whoso casteth a stone on high casteth it on his own head." (Sir. 27:25) Jerome, To Rusticus, Epistle 125, 19 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:251
[* Again, although Sirach is used in context alongside Scripture, it doesn’t prove much, especially in light of ecclesiastical usage]
It does prove much. St. Jerome quotes Proverbs 25:23 as fulfilling Scriptures, in the plural. Not just one Scripture. He then quotes the two Scriptures that it fulfills. One is Psalm 128:57 and another is Sirach 27:25. Scripture is thus fulfilled. Not ecclesiastical usage is fulfilled, but specific Scriptures are fulfilled. Notice that Psalm 128:57 is fulfilled by the proverb, but St. Jerome specifically also says ‘another’ passage, which happens to be Sirach, which is fulfilled by it as well. It makes absolutely no sense to interpret it as Avila does. He says ‘another passage’. When he says ‘another passage’ he is not saying ‘well, it fulfills this Scriptural Psalm, and also this ecclesiastical only passage’. ‘Another passage’ definitely implies that we are speaking of equal authority. St. Jerome writes it fulfills the Scriptures. He makes absolutely no distinction between the fulfillment of Psalm 128:57 as opposed to Sirach 27:25. No objective reader can read this passage and come to Avila’s conclusion that 'it doesn't prove much.'
9. Let me call to my aid the example of the three children, (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3) who, amid the cool, encircling fire, sang hymns, (Song of Three Holy Children, found only in Deuterocanonical portion of Daniel 3) instead of weeping, and around whose turbans and holy hair the flames played harmlessly. Let me recall, too, the story of the blessed Daniel, in whose presence, though he was their natural prey, the lions crouched, with fawning tails and frightened mouths.(Daniel 6) Let Susannah also rise in the nobility of her faith before the thoughts of all; who, after she had been condemned by an unjust sentence, was saved through a youth inspired by the Holy Ghost (Susanna 45, or Daniel 13:45). In both cases the Lord's mercy was alike shewn; for while Susannah was set free by the judge, so as not to die by the sword, this woman, though condemned by the judge, was acquitted by the sword. Jerome, Letter 1:9, to Innocent NPNF2, Vol. 6, p. 2, 370 AD
[* Jerome cites the additions to Daniel, but this doesn’t mean he cited this as inspired Scripture and not ecclesiastically]
Here is the beginning of St. Jerome’s career in writing and we just saw at the end of his life he was treating the Deuterocanonical books as Scripture and proof for doctrine. Here we see in his very first letter, 370 AD, he treats the Deuterocanonical portions of Daniel, exactly the same way as Daniel 6. Susannah, Daniel, and the Three Holy Children are spoken of at the same level. The Scriptures of the Deuterocanonical passage that speak of Susanna and the Holy Children, are not given any less authority than the mention of the lions den and Daniel. The Lord’s mercy is shown equally to Daniel in the Lion’s den, as well as the Three Holy Children amid fire, and to Susannah who stayed pure. He does not treat one thing as a fable and another thing as true. They are all true and all true displays of God’s mercy, not a fable. Notice by the way, there is no commentary by St. Jerome himself, writing that this ‘well, this is ecclesiastical, this is Scripture, and this is again ecclesiastical.’ St. Jerome gives no indication of Avila’s assumption.
6. I salute your mother and mine with the respect which, as you know, I feel towards her. Associated with you as she is in a holy life, she has the start of you, her holy children, in that she is your mother. Her womb may thus be truly called golden. With her I salute your sisters, who ought all to be welcomed wherever they go, for they have triumphed over their sex and the world, and await the Bridegroom's coming, (Mt. 25:4) their lamps replenished with oil. O happy the house which is a home of a widowed Anna, of virgins that are prophetesses, and of twin Samuels bred in the Temple! (Luke 2:36, Acts 21:9, 1 Sam. 2:18) Fortunate the roof which shelters the martyr-mother of the Maccabees, with her sons around her, each and all wearing the martyr's crown! (2 Macc. 7) For although you confess Christ every day by keeping His commandments, yet to this private glory you have added the public one of an open confession; for it was through you that the poison of the Arian heresy was formerly banished from your city. Jerome, to Chromatius, Jovinus, and Eusebius, Letter 7:6, NPNF2, 374 AD, VI:10
[* Jerome cited a historical fact which happens to be recorded in 2 Maccabees 7. Citing history doesn’t make the history book “Scripture”]
The point of citing this passage is just how fluidly this passage fits in with the other Scriptures. He refers to the historical facts recorded in Matthew, Luke, Acts, and 1st Samuel, and right alongside that he refers to the 2nd Book of Maccabees. It is treated as of equal value, no calling it of lesser value. Nothing like the Pauline reference to Menander singling out Cretan prophets. Nothing about ‘these ones are Scripture, but this one is only ecclesiastical.’
But now that a virgin has conceived (Isa. 7:14) in the womb and has borne to us a child of which the prophet says that "Government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called the mighty God, the everlasting Father," (Isa. 9:6) now the chain of the curse is broken. Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. And thus the gift of virginity has been bestowed most richly upon women, seeing that it has had its beginning from a woman. As soon as the Son of God set foot upon the earth, He formed for Himself a new household there; that, as He was adored by angels in heaven, angels might serve Him also on earth. Then chaste Judith once more cut off the head of Holofernes (Jud. 13).Then Haman--whose name means iniquity--was once more burned in fire of his own kindling (Est. 7:10) Then James and John forsook father and net and ship and followed the Saviour: neither kinship nor the world's ties, nor the care of their home could hold them back. Then were the words heard: "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) For no soldier goes with a wife to battle. Even when a disciple would have buried his father, the Lord forbade him, and said: "Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." (Mt. 8:20-22) So you must not complain if you have but scanty house-room. In the same strain, the apostle writes: "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married careth for the things of the world how she may please her husband." (1 Cor. 7:34-36). Jerome, to Eustochium, Letter 22:21, NPNF2, 384 AD, VI:30
[* Again, citing an apocryphal book doesn’t mean that Jerome viewed it as “Scripture” when he could be using it ecclesiastically]
Here again Jerome interchangeably uses the Deuterocanonicals just as he uses other Scriptures. Notice here that Mary is the new Eve, doctrine. He quotes the prophecies of Isaiah as pointing to Christ: Doctrine. He speaks favorably of the superiority of virginity and the benefits and points towards Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which shows that and speaks of how the apostles left everything to follow Jesus. Jerome is instructing the reader on this. Right in the middle when he writes of all the Scriptural passage he refers to Judith, right in the same breath with his mention of Jesus and Esther. Nothing about ‘these Scriptures are profitable for teaching, but this Judith is only a fable’ or something to that effect. No distinction even hinted at. This again shows us the Deuterocanonicals being used in doctrinal matters.
For it is not ecclesiastical rank that makes a man a Christian. The centurion Cornelius was still a heathen when he was cleansed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Daniel was but a child when he judged the elders.( Dan. 13:55-63, or Susanna 55-63) Amos was stripping mulberry bushes when, in a moment, he was made a prophet (Amos 7:14) David was only a shepherd when he was chosen to be king.(2 Sam. 16:11-13) And the least of His disciples was the one whom Jesus loved the most. My brother, sit down in the lower room, that when one less honorable comes you may be bidden to go up higher (Luke 14:10). Jerome, to Heliodorus, Letter 14:9, NPNF2, VI:17, 374 AD.
[* Jerome refers to a history recorded in Susanna. Again, nothing that would place Jerome as citing inspired Scripture]
The point here is just that right after he refers to Acts and before refers to Amos and 2nd Samuel, he inserts the usage of Susanna without any hesitation. He makes no distinction between the books. St. Jerome does not single out Susanna, in the book which mentions the prophet Daniel, as something as less worthy to read than the other Scriptures.
These things, dearest daughter in Christ, I impress upon you and frequently repeat, that you may forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto those things which are before (Phil. 3:12). You have widows like yourself worthy to be your models, Judith renowned in Hebrew story (Jud. 13) and Anna the daughter of Phanuel (Lk 2) famous in the gospel. Both these lived day and night in the temple and preserved the treasure of their chastity by prayer and by fasting. One was a type of the Church which cuts off the head of the devil (Jud. 13:8) and the other first received in her arms the Saviour of the world and had revealed to her the holy mysteries which were to come (Lk 2:36-38). Jerome, to Salvina, Letter 79:10, NPNF2, VI:168
[* Jerome explicitly calls the Judith account a “Hebrew story”, but the account of Phanuel in Luke 2 he calls “the gospel.” If he were citing them both as Scripture, why classify Judith this way and contrast it to a gospel account? I think the answer is obvious].
The 'obvious' answer is not so obvious. Avila is really reaching. There is no contrast at all. Avila did not note that when Jerome quoted as a fact that Judith had beheaded Holofernes, that he referred to Judith in the absolute same way that he referred to Esther and Haman, or the gospel of Mark (seen above). How come when they are treated the same way ‘nothing’ was obvious, and all of a sudden here just because he refers to the gospel and says Judith is a ‘story‘, that all of a sudden he’s contrasting them? The ‘gospel’ is the term used for the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. The term ‘gospel’ is only used about the life of Christ. Of course St. Jerome will not call the reference to Judith’s life a ‘gospel.’ By the way, if I say, that the gospel is the ‘story’ of Jesus’ life, does that mean I am denying inspiration? Neither St. Jerome nor any Father that I know of, uses the term ‘gospel’ about David, or Moses, or Abraham, or Samuel, or Samson, or any one besides Jesus, so the fact that Judith is not termed the 'gospel' is irrelevant. Just because St. Jerome uses the term ‘story’ about Judith does not mean it is not inspired Scripture.

Let us look at one example of St. Jerome’s use of the term ‘story’ in reference to analysis of other Scriptures that Avila accepts:

Some from a misapprehension number Deborah among the widows, and suppose that Barak the leader of the army is her son, though the scripture tells a different story. Thus in our own day we have seen repeated the story told us in the Prophets, (1 Sam. 1-2), of Hannah, who though at first barren afterwards became fruitful. You have exchanged a fertility bound up with sorrow for offspring which shall never die. Schaff, NPNF 2 St. Jerome, Letter CVII, 3 Hendrickson Publishers, 1994, p. 103.
Jerome calls the account about Hannah, which is referenced in 1 Samuel 1-2, a ‘story’. By no means is St. Jerome denying inspiration when he references 1st Samuel with the term ‘story.’ Another example of Jerome terming a thing a ‘story’ is when he speaks of Jacob & the story of the ladder sent up to heaven in Genesis (Schaff, Jerome, Letter CXXIII, 15, p. 235). In fact, in the earlier reference to Susannah and the young men who sang praises to God in the fire (St. Jerome, Letter 1:9, to Innocent) he mentioned at the same time the ‘story’ of Daniel in the Lion’s den. How come then Avila did not say St. Jerome was denigrating Daniel and the Lion’s den as a fable as opposed to the straight reference to the Deuterocanonical passages which were just noted as facts? Because using the term ‘story’ does not devalue the book. Mr. Avila jumps to a conclusion that would eliminate the books of Genesis & Samuel, and the portion of Daniel that he accepts, as well. I don’t think that is his intention. In fact, the mention by St. Jerome of relating Judith cutting off Holofernes’ head, as a type of the Church cutting off the head of the devil points us to a conclusion that says that he feels this passage is inspired.

Most of the other times that St. Jerome quotes the Deuterocanonicals he uses them for either teaching doctrine or giving advice. It is not preceded by the words ‘It is written’, just as most times he does not precede with the term ‘It is written’ for the protocanonical books. Nonetheless most of the times he uses these books they are intermixed with other Scriptures. Most often when he refers to Scripture he does not say ‘Scripture says’, just as he doesn’t say that for most references to the protocanonical books. Nonetheless most times his usage of the Deuterocanonicals are rarely singled out as anything different from the other Scriptural books. His use of the books fit quite nicely with the flow of the other Scriptures. True, when he talks in theory about the books, he will sometimes make a distinction that will seem to lessen their authority, but when he actually treats specific Deuterocanonical passages, they for the overwhelming majority of the time fit in quite smoothly with his use of other Scriptural passages.

To summarize, “Matt1618” has only one instance of Jerome calling an Apocryphal book “Scripture”, maybe two if we ease up a bit and include Jerome, Letter 51, NPNF2, VI:87-8. Yet, in neither of these instances do we have anything which would enthrall the reader into believing he accepted these books as inspired Scripture.
Well, I disagree that I only found one instance. A careful reading found where the books are referred to as Scripture 4 times. Granted some of the times, it was just one of many Scriptural verses. Independently of those citations we have one time where it is called a fulfillment of Scripture, which would be quite pointless if it was not Scripture itself. We saw the term ‘it is written’ followed by quotation of specific Deuterocanonical Scriptures three times, when he only uses that terminology in reference to Scripture. We have one time where St. Jerome calls a Deuterocanonical book done by a prophet. We have seen numerous times where these references are used as supporting specific doctrines in combating heresies. We also have other times seen the Deuterocanonicals smoothly fit in with other Scriptures and are used exactly like other Scriptures, even if they are not called Scriptures. Most citations that St. Jerome has of Scriptures that are not Deuterocanonical (also called protocanonical), also do not have him writing 'Scripture says', 'It is written', etc. Most references to these books are just as he used of the other Scriptures.

That is the last comment that he specifically critiqued me and he summarizes, but the basis of his assumption to make that summary is false, as this summary has shown. I do recognize that St. Jerome, out of all the Fathers who wrote on the subject, at other times, seemed to cast aspersions on those books. In this paper, I do not assert that he never wrote any thing that seemed to cast doubt even of their Scriptural status. He is a Father who no doubt when discussing in general at times gives the impression that these books are not Scripture. I will also admit that this outlook was not limited to the prefaces Mr. Avila quoted from 391-393 AD. Nonetheless, we see that when actually dealing with specific Deuterocanonical books, he did see them as inspired and still ‘profitable, useful for correction and training in righteousness.’ This from his very first letter to Innocent in 370 AD, to his last writing combating of Pelagian heresies in 417 AD.

Then at the end of Avila’s piece he basically argues that Jerome rejected these books and criticized Augustine as making emotional pleas. Well, the reason that St. Augustine accepted these books was not mere emotion but because as Avila himself cited JND Kelly in his work on St. Jerome:

J.N.D. Kelly sheds light on Jerome’s usage of these books and his usage of the word Scripture: Jerome’s conversion to ‘the Hebrew verity’ [i.e. in contrast to the LXX] carried with it an important corollary—his acceptance also of the Hebrew canon, or list of books properly belonging to the Old Testament:

Since the early Church had read its Old Testament in Greek, it had taken over without question the so-called Alexandrian canon used in the Greek-speaking Jewish communities outside Palestine. This had included those books (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, etc.) which are variously described as deuterocanonical or as the Apocrypha. Around the end of the first century, however, official Judaism had formally excluded these, limiting the canon to the books which figure in English Bibles as the Old Testament proper. Since Origen’s time it had been recognised that there was a distinction between the Jewish canon and the list acknowledged by Christians, but most writers preferred to place the popular and widely used deutero-canonical books in a special category (e.g. calling them ‘ecclesiastical’) rather than to discard them.

It wasn’t because St. Augustine was emotional about this, but the reason why these books were accepted by the church in the late 4th early 5th century is because the Church from the very beginning accepted these books. As Avila quotes from Kelly we see something else: the group that rejected the Deuterocanonical books were not Christians, but the Jews at the end of the first century. Judaism rejected not only the Deuterocanonicals, but the Messiah, 60 years after Christ established his Church. In fact, the Council of Jamnia issued curses against Christians. This can be documented here: http://members.aol.com/johnprh/curse.html .

Continuing Avila's quoting of Kelly on St. Jerome:

Jerome now takes a much firmer line. After enumerating the ‘twenty-two’ (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned ‘apocryphal’: ‘They are not in the canon.’ Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely ‘for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical’. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life—in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), pp. 160-161.
Kelly says that in practice he continued to cite them as they were Scripture. That is the point of this whole paper. If Mr. Avila grants what Kelly himself writes, his whole argument goes down in flames.

A few times in theory he would seem to belittle in some fashion these books, no doubt. Although we have seen that his comments on the Deuterocanonical portions of Daniel on Susannah and Bel were the views of the Jews who rejected those books, not his own view. However, when push comes to shove, he translated all the Deuterocanonical books. When push comes to shove, he cited all of the books as Scripture. We saw St. Jerome cite Susanna three times treating that book as Scripture, right in the middle of quoting other Scriptures. Susanna was a paramount example of what St. Jerome calls 'the Lord's mercy' four years after he wrote the preface which seemed to belittle the book. Another time we saw St. Jerome refer to Susanna when Daniel as a boy, with no qualms at all about mentioning it as fact. There is no basis for Jews to be amazed at specific 'amazing' stories when we hear about a big fish swallowing Jonah, in there for 3 days, and him coming out just fine. Joshua makes the sun stand still, and even when we have a talking snake in the garden of Eden, so how the Susannah reference is amazing compared to those references is beyond me.

RC apologists, those who argue this way, are merely using ‘sophistry’ to recreate Jerome and place him on the side of the Deuterocanonicals, but the evidence really doesn’t give them much to stand on. I guess this is due to the fact that Jerome is one of the Doctors of the Church and he happened to disagree that these books were inspired Scripture. It is a source of embarrassment to them so they attempt to salvage whatever they can and find themselves reading “between the lines” of his writings in a futile attempt to win him back. There is no record showing that Jerome had a change of heart regarding these books and the very fact that scholarly clergymen, such as the aforementioned Cardinals, used Jerome’s position as a catalyst for their own disagreements with these books shows an understanding that he never wavered, never changed his position. But some RC apologists choose to blind themselves from the facts.
The fact is that St. Jerome is the best example that Protestants have, of supposedly representing Protestant views on the canon. As Mr. Avila quoted earlier, ‘St. Jerome took a much firmer line’ than any other Church Father in his criticism of the Deuterocanonicals. I admit that. However, this example is no example of any substance for a Protestant, as he treated these books as Scripture. No other early Father wrote negatively about the Deuterocanonicals. Some Fathers, when in dispute with the Jews, thus did not quote the Deuterocanonicals. However, all the Fathers used these books as proof for doctrine to those in the Church. All the other Fathers referred to these books as Scripture, even if some did not have them in their ‘canon’, before (and some even after) the Councils of Carthage and Hippo ratified these books as Scripture. They did not criticize these books as St. Jerome did. That is because from the beginning, as Kelly, Avila's source writes, the Church unhesitatingly accepted these books ‘without question.’

Now in reference to the charge of Catholic apologists like me using 'sophistry' to say St. Jerome treated these books as Scripture. We see St. Jerome, although when speaking in theory sometimes harshly critical about these books, still treated these books as Scripture. It is not ‘sophistry’ that says ‘The Prophet said’ and wrote of Baruch. It is not ‘sophistry’ that wrote ‘Scripture says’ and quotes Sirach. It is not ‘sophistry’ that wrote ‘we must not forget the limits set by Scripture, and the Sacred Writers say’, and then refers to Baruch as a prophet. It is not ‘sophistry’ that says ‘it is written’ followed by a quotation from Deuterocanonical books three times. It is not ‘sophistry’ that used the phrase ‘it is written’, followed by a quotation only of Scripture approximately 45 times, and never used it of anything besides Scripture. Not of a Church Father, opponent or poet. It is not ‘sophistry’ that said I have given you proof from Holy Scripture, immediately after quoting the book of Wisdom. It is not ‘sophistry’ that says ‘The book of Wisdom’ explains the purposes and plans of God. It is not ‘sophistry’ that says that the words of Prov. 23:23 is fulfilled in ‘another passage’ and specifically quotes Sirach. It is not ‘sophistry’ that recognizes Daniel as a young boy, referring to Susanna, not as a fable, but as an example of God’s mercy. It is not ‘sophistry’ that recognized the three holy children who survived fire exactly as on the same level as Daniel surving the Lion’s den. It is not ‘sophistry’ that relates Judith cutting off Holofernes’ head, and relates directly to a type of the Church cutting off the head of the devil. It is not ‘sophistry’ that referred to the book of Wisdom as support in refuting a heresy which taught that man did not retain the image of God: doctrine. It is not ‘sophistry’ that referred to the Book of Wisdom in combating the Pelagian heresy: doctrine. It is not ‘sophistry’ that referred to the book of Judith in reference when defending the virgin birth of Christ and how ‘death came through Eve, but life through Mary’: doctrine. It was St. Jerome who did these things. It was St. Jerome, who despite seemingly mixed comments referred to these books as Scripture. When push comes to shove, ultimately he accepted these books, even if he criticized certain translations.

Although I am not quoting Mr. Avila on his last statements because his summary was not directly critiquing me, Mr. Avila wrote that St. Augustine appealed to pure emotion and relied on fables and emotion, and supposedly folklore. St. Augustine’s concern was what has the Church accepted, not on what better fed one’s emotions. Even if he may have been mistaken on some things, those ‘fables’ were not the basis of the Church’s acceptance of these books. Yes, St. Augustine had some influence on the Councils of Carthage and Hippo of 393 and 397, but to say that all the bishops of the Councils of Hippo went along with him because of folklore, as Avila writes, is ignorant to say the least. There were no arguments from folklore in those Councils. The Councils of Carthage and Hippo in 393 and 397 were well after the the Council or Rome in 382 AD. Pope Damasus I, in 382 AD gives us the following list of books well before St. Augustine became a bishop: Council of Rome, 382 AD:

It is likewise decreed: Now, indeed, we must treat of the divine Scriptures: what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she must shun. The list of the Old Testament begins: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book: Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Jesus Nave, one book; of Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; of Kings, four books; Paralipomenon, two books; One Hundred and Fifty Psalms, one book; of Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book; Ecclesiastes, one book; Canticle of Canticles, one book; likewise, Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), one book; Likewise, the list of the Prophets: Isaiah, one book; Jeremias, one book; along with Cinoth, that is, his Lamentations; Ezechiel, one book; Daniel, one book; Osee, one book; Amos, one book; Micheas, one book; Joel, one book; Abdias, one book; Jonas, one book; Nahum, one book; Habacuc, one book; Sophonias, one book; Aggeus, one book; Zacharias, one book; Malachias, one book. Likewise, the list of histories: Job, one book; Tobias, one book; Esdras, two books; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; of Maccabees, two books.

(He then gives a list of the New Testament books)

Likewise it is decreed: After the announcement of all of these prophetic and evangelic or as well as apostolic writings which we have listed above as Scriptures, on which, by the grace of God, the Catholic Church is founded, we have considered that it ought to be announced that although all the Catholic Churches spread abroad through the world comprise but one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless, the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Quote taken from here: http://home.inreach.com/bstanley/canon.htm

Those councils list of accepted Scriptures include the Deuterocanonical books. These Councils made no statement that based the acceptance on emotion or any thing of the sort at all. Pope Inocent accepted these books in 405 AD, with no emotion involved at all. The same with the Council of Carthage in 419 AD which again accepted these books. The Eastern Church accepted these books as well. Emotion not involved. They accepted these books, because these books were the ones accepted by the Church from the very beginning. Avila’s own quotation of Kelly shows that. We have references from the Didache, Barnabas, Polycarp, (believed to be St. John’s disciple), Clement of Rome, and other early Fathers who reflect the Church’s acceptance of these books, see here: http://www.catholic.com/library/Old_Testament_Canon.asp. That is the reason that St. Augustine and the Councils of the Church accepted these books. As evidenced here, St. Jerome’s opposition to certain translations notwithstanding, ultimately he treated these books as Scripture to the fullest.

©2006, "St. Jerome and the Deuterocanonicals: Response to a Critique", written by Matt1618. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

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