Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ – St. Jerome

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio on The Crossroads Initiative

St Jerome (340 - 420)

St Jerome (340 – 420)

“This famous excerpt from Jerome’s Commentary on Isaiah (Nn. 1.2: CCL 73, 1-3) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for the Feast (liturgical memorial) of St. Jerome on September 30. In it, St. Jerome firmly insists that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. A strong exhortation from a Father and Doctor of the Catholic Church to Christians urging all to recognize that serious Bible study is a necessity, not an optional luxury. The author, St. Jerome, was a monk and bible scholar of the 5th century, a contemporary of Saint Augustine.”

By St. Jerome
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church

I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old, and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved. In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet, but an evangelist and an apostle as well. For he says about himself and the other evangelists: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace. And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle: Whom shall I send, who will go to my people? And he answers: Here I am; send me. Continue reading…

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2 Responses to Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ – St. Jerome

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ – St Jerome”

    Well said. Would that pre-VII priests had preached that “serious Bible study is a necessity, not an optional luxury”. I don’t think Bible study by the Catholic laity was encouraged back in the day. Am I wrong?

    On a side note, much as I admire St Jerome and his Biblia Sacra Vulgata, which occupies a place of honour in the Catholic corner of my library (even though my Latin is extremely poor), he and St Augustine were very much at loggerheads about his use of certain Hebrew scriptures, especially (if I remember correctly) his (St Jerome’s) rejection of the Septuagint as the most authoritative Old Testament source. The Raven is much more knowledgeble about this than I am.


  2. The Raven says:

    JH, The front cover of my 1940’s Douay Rheims Bible sets out the terms under which ordinary Catholics could benefit from indulgences for studying sacred scripture and the preface is the encyclical “Providentissimus Deus” – I don’t think that the Church’s encouragement of ordinary Catholics to read the scriptures (in an approved version) has ever really varied and I don’t think that the modern Church does that great a job of encouraging the ordinary person in the pew to read scripture either.

    On the Vulgate version, you are right about the dispute between Ss Jerome & Augustine. Part of the reason for the dispute is that, in a number of places in the NT, many of the OT quotations are variant quotations found in the LXX rather than the Hebrew sources that Jerome had to hand (this is why the OT quotes in the NT are often worded differently to the translated sources – we see this in English translations which translate from the Hebrew sources).

    Henry Wansborough’s book on the evolution of the various biblical translations is very good on this (called, I think, “How the Bible Came to Us”).


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