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Letters of Jerome

Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity

Letters of Jerome

Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity

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Hardback

£112.50

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199563555
Number of Pages: 304
Published: 19/02/2009
Width: 14.5 cm
Height: 22.3 cm
In the centuries following his death, Jerome (c.347-420) was venerated as a saint and as one of the four Doctors of the Latin church. In his own lifetime, however, he was a severely marginalized figure whose intellectual and spiritual authority did not go unchallenged, at times even by those in his inner circle. His ascetic theology was rejected by the vast majority of Christian contemporaries, his Hebrew scholarship was called into question by the leading Biblical authorities of the day, and the reputation he cultivated as a pious monk was compromised by allegations of moral impropriety with some of his female disciples. In view of the extremely problematic nature of his profile, how did Jerome seek to bring credibility to himself and his various causes? In this book, the first of its kind in any language, Andrew Cain answers this crucial question through a systematic examination of Jerome's idealized self-presentation across the whole range of his extant epistolary corpus. Modern scholars overwhelmingly either access the letters as historical sources or appreciate their aesthetic properties. Cain offers a new approach and explores the largely neglected but nonetheless fundamental propagandistic dimension of the correspondence. In particular, he proposes theories about how, and above all why, Jerome used individual letters and letter-collections to bid for status as an expert on the Bible and ascetic spirituality.

Andrew Cain (Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado)

As a contribution to the study of Jerome, Andrew Cain's book is a lively, readable, and valuable addition to a well-established field. As a contribution to the historical study of epistolography it is a challenging and innovative work in an area of relative critical neglect. Julian Haseldine, Journal of Medieval Latin a very fine study that is jam-packed with new and significant insights...An excellent book! Neil Adkin. The Journal of Theological Studies He was unlikely kind of saint but, goodness, he wrote great letters. Ancient rhetoric had three objectives: to instruct. to entertain and to persuade. Jerome was master of them all, so please read Cain's excellent book and then have a look at the letters themselves. Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald Epistolography is in vogue, and this engagingly written book shares in the revisionist spirit of recent scholarship on ancient letters ... This was a book worth writing, and is a book worth reading. J. H. D. Scourfield, Journal of Roman Studies The Jerome that emerges from this book is a more sympathetic (and less shrill) scholar and ecclesiastical operator than that of traditional scholarship. Cain's meticulous and sensitive analysis of the context for and dynamic of Jerome's letters builds on the scholarship of Conybeare and Trout on Paulinus of Nola's epistolography, and his exploration of some of the more obscure corners of Jerome's correspondence is particularly welcome. Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe, Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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